Tuesday 9th February 2016
Back on the Highland Lakes Road we drove through the town of Miena a third time and continued on our way south. As we were driving through the Steppes State Reserve we saw a sign for the Steppes Stones and stopped to take a look. They are stones featuring sculptures of Highlands life and wildlife, gifted by sculptor Stephen Walker and dedicated to “those who share in the love and care of the Highlands of Tasmania”. Unfortunately the historic buildings on the reserve were not open, so we contented ourselves with looking at the sculptures.
Echidna and snake. Birds of prey. Platypus.
Another 35km south and we drove into the little town of Bothwell. Nothing of particular note here, though we did find some sculptures that now looked familiar to us and one of the oldest licensed hotels in Australia.
More stone sculptures by Walker. The Castle Hotel, Bothwell, continuously licensed since 1829.
St Michael & All Angels Church, Bothwell, c1887 20km to Melton Mowbray – looking forward to a pie...
At Melton Mowbray there was not a sign of a pie, but here we turned onto State Highway 1, the Midland Highway, and continued our journey south. We were aiming for Richmond as our stopover tonight, as we wanted to be within a reasonable drive of Hobart to return the camper van. We detoured off the main road into Kempton around lunchtime, but this sleepy little village didn’t appear to offer much in the way of a shop or cafe, so we drove on.
Sculpture on the way into town from the Highway. Kempton clocktower and war memorial.
Half an hour later we arrived in Richmond, and made straight for the town centre to find some lunch. The first place we came across announced Tasmanian scallop pies, and we’d been hoping to try these at some point, and now seemed a good time. We were somewhat surprised to discover that they are actually curried scallop pies. We had expected to find scallops in a white sauce inside, and wondered if these were traditional scallop pies. Sure enough, on enquiry we were assured that the traditional Tasmanian scallop pie is indeed curried. It was very nice, just not quite what we were expecting.
Tasmanian scallop pie.
After lunch we went for a stroll along the high street and over the bridge. Richmond Bridge spans the Coal River and is the oldest bridge in Australia, built by convicts in 1823-5.
Richmond Bridge with the spire of St John’s RC Church behind. Looking down from the bridge to the River Coal.
Looking across Richmond Bridge towards the hills beyond. The Millhouse, built in the early 1800’s and once a steam flour mill.
The bridge now bears a Historic Engineering Marker plaque. The hexagonal plan cutwaters on each pier were added in 1884/5.
Our wanderings then took us to Richmond Gaol, also constructed by convicts and is the oldest intact gaol in Australia. Begun in 1825, it was built over a period of 15 years. The oldest building provided day and night quarters not only for the convicts, but also for the gaoler and his family. More buildings were gradually added, and then a surrounding wall was built in 1840.
The 1825 building housed both prisoners and gaoler.
Examples of ‘crimes’ and the sentences imposed.
A solitary cell.
Prisoners could be locked in the solitary cells for up to 31 days on bread and water. They had a night barrel and a single blanket. They were not allowed out for exercise. 21 days in one of these for insolence sounds extremely harsh!
The original ‘wood-frame filled with brick’ walls. The ladies’ dunny – have a chat with a friend!
After a very pleasant afternoon exploring Richmond, we drove out of town to the campsite. The plan was to overnight here and ask if we could stay an hour or two after check-out and clean up the van ready for its return tomorrow afternoon. Well, two things had changed that plan – firstly, the dump station we were going to use to empty out the loo was locked up and out of action, and secondly, Steve had developed a toothache and needed to visit a dentist in Sorell tomorrow morning. A quick check of the dump station website showed us that there was one not far from where we needed to return the van, so we kept our fingers crossed it would be open and operational tomorrow. At least the van didn’t need to be back until 3 p.m., so plenty of time. We hope.