On the last day in Hobart, we decided to see Port Arthur and a little town called Richmond.
Richmond is about 25 minutes drive from Hobart CBD. No regrets to go there. It was such a little gem. When we arrived in the morning, it was still quite early. Most of the shops were not open yet. Although I was desperate for my second coffee dose, I wanted to wait to get a decent cup from a local cafe. Travel doesn’t mean we have to compromise, right?
We took a walk to see this historic village full of heritage buildings and Georgian architecture. Most of the buildings are dated back early 19th century. Richmond was a military staging post and convict station linking between Hobart and Port Arthur.
Left the car-park, we turned left on Bridge St. It led us to the most famous landmark of the village, Richmond Bridge. It was the oldest bridge still in use in Australia. Walking over the bridge and looking down the Coal River, there was a lot of wild birds and ducks. Walked down the bridge, a picnic spot with tables and benches was right on the grassy river bank. We sat there for a while just watching the birds. At that moment, it felt like the time was stopped.
Walked a little farther, there was St John’s Catholic Church. It’s the oldest Roman Catholic church in Australia. The church was designed by a convicted convict, called Frederick Thomas. He was transferred to Australia from England back then. The church is not big, but very beautiful with stained glass windows and wooden ceilings. It is very well preserved and still functioning apparently.
We spent some time wandering around the town to see some antique shops. At last , I got my cup of nice coffee from Sweets & Treats. If you have a sweet tooth, you will find this shop is really irresistible with so many choices of ice cream, lollies and chocolate. I bought us waffles on a stick! They claimed it’s the best waffle ever. I don’t know about that. I do know it really felt like a kid there, especially watching my mom eating the waffles. We giggled a lot, like two school girls. Then, we bought some lavender tea and honey from another cute shop called The Sensory.
By the time we left Richmond, it started raining. There are many scenery spots with spectacular views on the way to Port Arthur, like Tasman Arch, The Blowhole, Devils Kitchen and so on. We only managed to stop at few places because of the rain. Still, I am grateful that we got to admire the true art of the nature.
Port Arthur is about one and half hour drive from Hobart. At the beginning, I didn’t really want to visit an old prison. Maybe a little superstitious somewhere deep down in me, especially after learning there are many ghost stories of that prison. However, Port Arthur played a very important role in Australia history. After England transported the prisoners to Australia, the prisoners were given chance to learn new skills. This also gave the prison a chance to achieve economic self-efficiency. Certainly, whatever products made or produced by the prisoners were sold to the outside world of the prison. Needles to say, the prison played a quite important role in the colonial economy. I wanted to show my mom the history of course.
We joined an introductory walking tour to learn the history and some stories about the prison. The prison was built in 1830 and closed in 1877. During that period of time, it was used to punish repeat offenders from all the Australian colonies for both adult and juvenile convicts. All the prisoners were used as hard labour to produce timbers, cut stones, build ships, do construction work and so on. Many prisoners died there.
This is a prison that doesn’t look like a prison with its huge gardens, beautiful landscape and ocean views. However, the ocean and forest surroundings form a geographical isolation for the prison which gave no chance to escape. Despite it was a place that the government tried to turn the prisoners to be more educated and useful, there are still so many dark stories about this place, the physical and psychological punishment, the infamous silent punishment caused mental illness and suicide.
Alrighty, that concludes our stay in Hobart. I hope you enjoy my mumbling. If you are not sick of my Tasmania travel posts yet, more will be coming your way. 🙂