The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary, together with their tour documents, prior to departure. The tour includes meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Day 1: Monday 13 February: Arrive Hobart
- Morning at leisure
- Cascades Female Factory – World Heritage Site
- Fullers Bookshop: talk with Dr Alison Alexander
- Welcome Meal at The Old Wharf Restaurant
Meeting Point: Foyer of the Lenna of Hobart Hotel at 12.50pm.
Tour participants will make their way to Lenna of Hobart Hotel, a 19th-century sandstone mansion in the historic area of Battery Point and a short stroll from the Georgian warehouses of Salamanca Place. Our tour begins from there.
In the afternoon we visit the Cascades Female Factory, a purpose-built convict facility for women which operated from 1828 to 1856. Of the 25,000 women transported to Australia, around half were sent to Van Diemen’s Land. Most spent time in this grim, isolated and overcrowded factory, located in a cold, swampy valley in the shadow of Mt Wellington. The site is associated with the rise of segregated prisons for women during the 19th century. Its aim was to remove female convicts from the negative influences and temptations of Hobart. During our tour we’ll hear stories associated with this former workhouse, and view three of the original five stone-walled compounds (or yards) which accommodated, punished and aimed to reform female convicts, the Matron’s Cottage and substantial ruins of a perimeter wall. The site was included on the Australian National Heritage List and was inscribed on the World Heritage list in July 2010.
Fuller’s Bookshop was established in 1923 and is one of Hobart’s leading independent booksellers. We will visit the shop and meet with local historian Dr Alison Alexander. Alison is a seventh-generation Australian, with convict ancestors in the first, second and third fleet. She was formerly a lecturer in history at the University of Tasmania, and is the editor of The Companion to Tasmanian History. She is also the author of numerous books including Tasmania’s Convicts (2010), The Ambitions of Jane Franklin (2013), and Patricia Giles, painter (2019) who brought the wilderness to Tasmanians in her watercolours. Alison will talk to us about the history of Cascades Female Factory which she wrote with her book Repression, Reform & Resilience: a history of the Cascades Female Factory published in 2016.
The River Derwent (true Tasmanians never say ‘the Derwent River’!) rises in the Central Highlands and descends more than 700m and covers a distance of more than 200km to reach Hobart. It was named in 1793 after the River Derwent in Cumbria. Our tour welcome dinner will be held at The Old Wharf Restaurant at the MACq01 Hotel with commanding views over the river. (Overnight Hobart) D
Day 2: Tuesday 14 February, Hobart – Richmond – Hobart
- Lecture 1: ‘The Four Georges: The Birth of Hobart in its Historical Context’
- Lecture 2: ‘Literature of the Georgian Age’
- Tasmania’s History House, Richmond: guided tour with former senator Margaret Reynolds
- Talk by historian Henry Reynolds FAHA, FASSA & Walking tour of Historic Town of Richmond
- Lecture 3: ‘Marcus Clarke and For the Term of His Natural Life’
Hobart is Australia’s second oldest city and has a rich colonial heritage. The first European colony began at Risdon Cove in 1803, but it was soon found that the opposite shore was a more promising place to settle and Hobart started as a collection of tents and huts.
This morning we learn more about what those early settlers left behind, what political circumstances drove or forced them to the other side of the world, and how life in the early colony was controlled by Britain. Susannah’s book Jane Austen and Crime discussed the ‘criminal’ scene of the Georgian age and it was those crimes which resulted in Australia being used as a penal colony. Her first talk, ‘The Four Georges: The Birth of Hobart in its Historical Context’, will set the scene for the visits throughout the tour.
Early settlers brought books with them to Tasmania, and treasured them as expensive rarities. The Georgian era was a remarkably rich time for literature. Susannah’s talk ‘Literature of the Georgian Age’ will explore the books and authors whose works were shaping the way in which nature was regarded, influencing ideas on liberty and human rights and worth. These books were carried to Hobart, and were then shared and valued in a place where books were extremely scarce. Discover how authors in Britain helped shape colonial thinking on the other side of the world.
In the afternoon we travel to the historic town of Richmond. It was once a strategic military post and convict station and its heritage-listed arched bridge is the oldest stone span bridge in Australia. We will be guided around Tasmania’s History House by former senator Margaret Reynolds. This was once the Jolly Farmer’s Inn and was built by an Irish convict, Simon McCullough, who was granted a pardon after he apprehended a murderer in 1825. It’s a wonderful building, with cedar doors, original floors and Georgian features intact.
After our tour of the house and a light lunch, historian and author Henry Reynolds will talk about the history of Richmond and the first contact with Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Henry Reynold’s primary research focus has been the history of Aboriginal / white relations. His book The Other Side of the Frontier (1982) won the Ernest Scott Prize, and he has produced many acclaimed books on the subject. He will escort us around the delightful village of Richmond.
Novelist, journalist and poet Marcus Clarke was born in England, but emigrated to Australia in 1863. In 1870 he visited Tasmania in order to research articles on the convict period and it was this that inspired his novel For the Term of His Natural Life, some of which is set in Tasmania. The novel has helped define our perception of the Australian convict experience and it examined the issues of crime, punishment and human worth. Susannah’s talk ‘Marcus Clarke and For the Term of His Natural Life’ will look at his achievement and legacy, while you enjoy a pre-dinner drink. Dinner and the evening are at leisure. (Overnight Hobart) BL
Day 3: Wednesday 15 February, Hobart – Bruny Island – Hobart
- 3-hour wilderness cruise of Bruny Island’s rugged coastline
- Bruny Island incl. Truganini Lookout at The Neck & Adventure Bay
Charles Darwin never made it to Bruny Island, but he’d have loved its wildlife. Today the island is an important bird breeding sanctuary. From Hobart we take the 40-minute drive south to Kettering and then a ferry to the island. After morning tea, we will enjoy a 3-hour wilderness cruise to view Bruny’s rugged coastline and (hopefully) its spectacular wildlife. The flora and fauna were so strange to the new settlers who came from Britain. Unsure of what they could or couldn’t eat, they were forced to rely on trial and error and to experiment. To the Georgians, such places at Bruny Island felt like the very end of the world they knew.
After lunch there will be a tour of some of the other highlights of the island – the lookout above The Neck (the strip of land linking the northern and southern parts of the island), Truganini Lookout, and Adventure Bay. Many famous names from naval history visited Bruny – Captain Cook, Captain Bligh, Furneaux and Bruni D’Entrecasteaux (after whom the island was named). (Overnight Hobart) BL
Day 4: Thursday 16 February, Hobart – Hollow Tree – Hamilton – Pontville – Hobart
- Lecture 4: ‘Charles Darwin: Scientist, Reader and Author in Tasmania’
- Lecture 5: ‘Convict Writers’
- Strathborough, Hollow Tree (by special appointment)
- Prospect Villa: house and garden, Hamilton (by special appointment)
- Farewell Dinner & Concert by pianist, Jennifer Marten-Smith, Epsom House, Pontville
Charles Darwin travelled from the other side of the world via South America, the Galapagos Islands and the southern cape of Africa, in order to reach Australia, but his travels nearly came to a tragic end in Hobart. On 11 February, 1836, Darwin climbed Mt Wellington and tried to add what he was believed was a non-venomous snake to his collection. It was probably a black tiger snake and he succeeded in killing it, but what would have happened to the whole of western science had that snake killed him? This morning will begin with a talk by Susannah about Darwin’s visit: ‘Charles Darwin: Scientist, Reader and Author in Tasmania’.
For more than three decades Tasmania (or Van Diemen’s Land, as it was then known) was the most feared destination for British convicts. Penal settlements at Port Arthur, Maria Island and Strahan had terrible reputations and convicts lived miserable lives in them. But some convicts did manage to go on to better things and to forge careers for themselves in Tasmania. Some of them even became authors. While in prison, forger Henry Savery wrote sketches which were published as the Hermit in Van Diemen’s Land and, after his release, he wrote the first Australian novel Quintus Servinton (published 1831-32). But, sadly, Henry returned to his forging habits and he died, a prisoner, at Port Arthur in 1842. Printer and burglar Andrew Bent was involved with publishing some of Tasmania’s earliest newspapers and opposed attempts by the authorities to control the press. ‘Audacious and impudent” convict John Davies published The Hobarton Guardian and was greatly involved in promoting the Theatre Royal in the city. Danish Jorgen Jorgensen was transported to Australia in 1825. He wrote many articles for Tasmanian and British papers, and his Aboriginal Languages in Tasmania was published posthumously in 1842. Bigamist Robert Lathrop Murray was granted a pardon soon after his arrival in Hobart, but he used his pen to attack the administration and became editor of leading papers of the day. Susannah’s talk ‘Convict Writers’ will focus on these fascinating figures.
Midday we depart Hobart for the Central Highlands where we visit two of Tasmania’s significant early colonial private country houses. Our first visit is to ‘Prospect House’ located on the northern side of Clyde Hill overlooking the historic township of Hamilton. Originally named ‘Acacia Cottage’, it was built by convict labour on land granted to James Triffett in 1824. The house was further extended in 1834 for the district surgeon, Dr John Sharland, who named it ‘Prospect’. Today, the house is noted as one of the best surviving works by colonial architect Edward Winch.
At nearby Hollow Tree, we visit the heritage-listed property ‘Strathborough’. The European history of ‘Strathborough’ began with a 2,000 acre grant issued to Joseph Bradbury in 1823. Bradbury who had arrived from London in 1823, was appointed pound keeper (a stock controller authorised to impound trespassing animals) for the district. The large sandstone house was built by convict labour for Bradbury and completed in c. 1834. As was the tradition at the time, the convict foreman’s name was carved into the stonework at the rear of the chimney. The house’s current owners engaged architectural firm Core Collective to restore the house and stables back to their original fabric. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain an insight into the collaborative process of refurbishing and renovating a house of many histories.
Epsom House in Pontville dates from c.1829 and was built as a coaching inn, The Blacksmith’s Arms. It was an important place for local society as it had a large ballroom, where settlers and officers could dance and flirt in true Georgian style. Our farewell dinner will be held at Epsom House, preceded by a delightful concert by Jennifer Marten-Smith, solo pianist from the Tasmanian Symphonic Orchestra. (Overnight Hobart) BLD
Day 5: Friday 17 February, Hobart – Coal River Valley – Cambridge – Hobart Airport
- Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts – with Curator Caitlin Sutton
- Presentation by botanical artist, Lauren Black at the Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts
- ‘Winnie-the-Pooh and friends’ sketches with Principal Curator of Art at TMAG, Jane Stewart
- Farewell Lunch at Frogmore Creek
- Cilwen House, Acton Park
This morning we visit the Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts which holds a collection of significant Tasmanian paintings of the Georgian era (including works by John Glover and a portrait of him), along with rare books, manuscripts, early photographs and furniture. Curator Caitlin Sutton will prepare for our visit a special collection of rare books and sketches. One of Allport’s treasures is William Buelow Gould’s Sketchbook of Fishes, a UNESCO document of world significance.
We also meet with Lauren Black, one of Australia’s most accomplished botanical illustrators, who will show us examples of her work, and view a collection of historic Tasmanian watercolours by the renowned botanical artist Margaret Hope whose work was intended for publication in the 1880s.
Mid-morning we have a private appointment to meet with Principal Curator of Art at TMAG, Jane Stewart, for a special viewing of the gallery’s collection of original drawings of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends. Jane will show us a selection of the original drawings for A.A. Milne’s much loved children’s book done by artist and author E.H. Shepard (1879-1976). His illustrations are considered classics of children’s literature. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) owns 29 works by Shepard, which were donated in 1981 by the sister of Shepard’s second wife, Frances Carrol, who lived in northern Tasmania. The selection of images includes original studies for Milne’s When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and The House at Pooh Corner, as well as drawings of Ratty and Moley for Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
We then depart for the Coal River Valley to enjoy lunch at an award-winning winery, Frogmore Creek. The restaurant showcases local produce. Convicts relied on salt beef and weevilly biscuits, but Tasmanian food has come a very long way and today the island is noted for its gastronomy.
Our final visit is to Cilwen House, a sublime Georgian masterpiece dating from 1835 which stands on the foothills of Mt Romney. This magnificent early colonial home features a beautifully crafted blackwood staircase, timber floors, Baltic pine ceilings, crafted open fireplaces, cedar shutters and a superb ballroom (now used as the master suite). The home is set within architecturally landscaped gardens which features a 100-year old mulberry tree. We will enjoy a private tour of Cilwen’s house and gardens before heading to Hobart Airport where our tour ends at approximately 5.00pm. BL