Exploring South of Launceston

16 February 2014

Statue with the penny farthing bike in Evandale, where the Penny Farthing Race is held each February

Today we decided to explore a number of the historic towns south of Launceston.  The first town we came to was Evandale, a lovely Georgian town with statues along the main street representing The Time Traveller (with his penny farthing bike), John Murray (a VC medal holder from WW1) and John Glover (an artist).

For such a tiny, sleepy town (for a Sunday) it was in fact a bustling place, the reason we discovered was the usual Sunday market, with cars coming in all directions all headed for the one place.

I could not resist taking photos of some of the buildings, including the Clarendon hotel erected in 1837 (a former convict station) and Solomon House erected in 1836.  It is such a quaint little town we were sorry to leave it.

One of the many well restored and maintained heritage buildings in Evandale south of Launceston

The next place was Campbell Town which has a wide main street, again with heritage buildings, and a park opposite the shops.  We had left before having breakfast, so we stopped at Zeps to eat.

At the entrance to the park was a statue of Eliza Furlong (nee Jack)  (1784-1859).  She had collected wool samples from all over Tasmania to decide with her husband the breed of sheep they should raise on their farm.  Quite an entrepreneurial woman of her time!  Along the entire frontage of the park is a single line of bricks, level with the pavement, each with the name and particulars of a convict from the area.

Statue of Eliza Furlong in Campbell Town’s park

In the town of Ross we again saw some lovely heritage buildings and homes – it seems Tasmanians love their heritage and are doing everything possible to retain it.  Our visit to the Ross Female Factory was touching and quite sad as we read about the lives of the women who lived and worked in the factory.  I remembered reading an article about bonnets being made to commemorate these women, and noticed a model of a woman’s head wearing a bonnet, and a photograph of all of the bonnets that had been made.

Originally the site of a male punishment station, from 1847-1848 the buildings were adapted for use as a probation station for women.  Known as the Ross Female Factory, it housed between sixty and one hundred and twenty women at any one time, as well as accommodating the inmate’s babies.  It operated as a hiring depot, nursery, probation and punishment station until 1854-1855.

The prison was demolished in the 1880’s leaving the foundations intact.  This has enabled many archaeological discoveries over a series of digs at the site.  Today the original overseer’s cottage remains, being re-modelled in the 1890’s to accommodate a Police Station and residence.  It now houses rooms of interpretive text and displays related to the history of the site.

One of the bonnets made to commemorate the women of the Ross Female Factory

Ross Bridge is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia

The well-known sandstone Ross Bridge was constructed by convict labour in 1836, and is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia. Commissioned by Lietenant-Governor Arthur, the bridge was designed by architect John Lee Archer, with the convict work team including two stonemasons James Colbeck and Daniel Herbert, the latter being credited with the intricate carvings along both sides of the bridge.  It is a striking structure, and quite beautiful.

Pressing on we came upon Poatina, once a busy Hydro Electric town, but now only a shadow of what it must have been.  It was sad to see, at the entrance of the town, a memorial of the past, present and future of Poatina that had once been beautiful, but damaged in a bad storm, and there are now no funds to restore it.  

The scenery had changed continually during the day, Tasmania is presently very dry.  We travelled past fields the colour of pale straw, but always framed with the majestic mountains in the distance, where there is mainly temperate rainforest.  Driving toward Poatina the land is very flat and one can see for miles.

Once we arrived at Poatina, we had started to climb Mt Blackwood on our way to see Great Lake, another winding road, quite steep and lots of hairpin bends.

The trout fishing in Great Lake is said to be excellent (as it is in most of the waters in this central highlands region) it is renowned for its summer ‘hatches’ of Highland Dun mayflies and the fat, speckled brown trout that dine greedily upon them. The Great Lake attracts fly-casting visitors from across the country and around the world.  The Great Lake, which is 22km long, has the distinction of being the highest lake in Australia and, until the HEC drowned Lake Pedder, it was also the largest freshwater lake in the country.

We finally came to Cramps Bay settlement which seems heavily populated with weekenders for those who enjoy fishing in the Great Lake. Once we started to climb into the mountain it was difficult to see into the distance due to the density of the forest trees.


Back to Poatina (along the winding roads again!) and on to Cressy.   Our next stop was Longford, of particular interest to Pete who was keen to find St John’s Anglican Church as his great-great-great-grandfather Harry Conway was the architect who had  overseen the installation of the stained glass window in this church.  There had been a fete the previous day, and the ladies were in the church guiding people through the floral display contributed by the parishioners, and they were very interested to hear Pete’s story.

Again the streetscape in Longford contains many heritage buildings, camera was working overtime and we decided to have a late lunch at JJ’s Bakery, before heading back to Launceston.

The beautiful stained glass window in St John’s Anglican Church at Longford

To finish off a busy but very interesting day we had booked dinner at The Black Cow, housed in a former butcher’s shop.  Again the food was delicious, mainly beef but I decided again on fish, can’t get enough of this delicious fresh Tasmanian seafood.

Tomorrow we leave Launceston and will again travel east through Bridport and Scottsdale to our destination of St Helens.

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