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: Wednesday 12 January: Arrive Hobart
- Morning at leisure
- Walking tour of Battery Point
- Narryna: The Merchants House – guided tour with Scott Carlin incl. exhibition on Louisa Anne Meredith & afternoon tea
- Fullers Bookshop
- Welcome Meal at The Glass House
Meeting Point: Foyer of the Lenna of Hobart Hotel at 1.00pm.
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.
Behind Princes Wharf and Salamanca Place is the old port area of Battery Point, the historic core of Hobart. Its name comes from the gun battery that stood on the promontory. Its old homes, pubs, churches and narrow streets have been lovingly preserved. At its heart is Arthur’s Circus, a ring of old cottages surrounding a village Green. When Charles Darwin celebrated his 27th birthday at Battery Point, in a house called ‘Secheron’, he must have felt quite at home in such an English atmosphere. He was also hosted by Alfred Stephen at ‘Stephenville’ and was impressed by the elegance, the dinner, and the concert with which he was entertained. We will enjoy a guided orientation walk through this historic and charming district.
The 1830s merchant’s house of Narryna was built by Captain Andrew Haig, whose trade had been licensed by the East India Company. He built the first warehouses of Salamanca Place, and set up business as a shipbuilder, whaler and merchant. Narryna is a fine sandstone mansion which, after Haig’s time, had an intriguing history as home to distinguished citizens, then as a hospital, and now as a museum. Our tour of Narryna will be led by Scott Carlin, TMAG’s Director of House Museums. The house has a rich collection of decorative arts, portraits, textiles, scrimshaw (decoration on bone or ivory), furniture, and an extremely impressive dress collection.
Louisa Anne Meredith (1812 – 1895) was born and educated in England, where she published volumes of poetry, but in 1839 she and her husband Charles arrived in Australia. In 1840, after financial losses, they moved to Tasmania, and Louisa’s account of her time there was published as My Home in Tasmania in 1852. Louisa took a keen interest in flora and fauna and encouraged her politician husband to legislate to preserve local wildlife and scenery. She was also a talented artist and illustrated her own works. Her Tasmanian Friends and Foes: Feathered, Furred and Finned (1880) was popular in Australia and overseas. Narryna will be holding a special exhibition on Louisa Anne Meredith’s work, which we will view.
Fuller’s Bookshop was established in 1923 and is one of Hobart’s leading independent booksellers. We will visit the shop and will hopefully meet with a local author (to be arranged).
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 Glass House, perched on Brooke Street Pier with commanding views over the river. (Overnight Hobart) D
Day 2: Thursday 13 January, Hobart – Coal River Valley – Hobart
- Lecture 1: ‘The Four Georges: The Birth of Hobart in its Historical Context’
- Lecture 2: ‘Literature of the Georgian Age’
- Lunch at Frogmore Creek
- Tasmania’s History House with author and historian Henry Reynolds, FAHA, FASSA
- Walking tour of Historic Town of Richmond
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.
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.
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, 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 distinguished books on the subject. He will escort us around the delightful village of Richmond.
Evening will be at leisure. (Overnight Hobart) BL
Day 3: Friday 14 January, Hobart
- Lecture 3: ‘Charles Darwin: Scientist, Reader and Author in Tasmania’
- Lecture 4: ‘Convict Writers’
- Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts – with Curator Caitlin Sutton
- Presentation by botanical artist, Lauren Black at the Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts
- Cilwen House, Acton Park
- Lecture 5: ‘Marcus Clarke and For the Term of His Natural Life’
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.
In the afternoon 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.
Next, we visit 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.
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) B
Day 4: Saturday 15 January, Hobart – Bruny Island – Pontville – Hobart
- 3-hour wilderness cruise of Bruny Island’s rugged coastline
- Bruny Island incl. Truganini Lookout at The Neck & Adventure Bay
- Farewell Dinner & Concert by Jennifer Marten-Smith at Epsom House
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).
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: Sunday 16 January, Hobart – Tasman Peninsula – Hobart Airport
- The Port Arthur Historic Site with Dr James Parker
- Light lunch at the Bangor Vineyard Shed, Forestier Peninsula
This morning we meet with James Parker, an historian who has written about colonial times, with a focus on convicts, women and the Aboriginal people. James will accompany us on our morning visit to the Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman peninsula. A World Heritage property, Port Arthur consists of 11 remnant penal sites. It was named for George Arthur, lieutenant governor of Van Diemen’s Land. Novelist Anthony Trollope visited it in 1872 and sat chatting with some of the old convicts still held there.
On the Forestier Peninsula overlooking Blackman’s Bay is the award-winning Bangor Vineyard. We will enjoy a late lunch here, before heading to Hobart Airport where our tour ends at approximately 4.30pm. BL