Nov
21
2013

Embark on a historical tour of Tasmania

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If you're a history buff, chances are you'll find Tasmania full of interest, because of the number of preserved historical sites in the area.

In case you are not aware of the region's rich background, here is a brief overview.

History

Originally home to the Tasmanian Aboriginals, the area was named Van Diemen's land by Abel Tasman when he discovered the land in 1642.

However, the first Europeans were not settled in the area until 1803, when Risdon Cove became the second British colony in Australia.

Hobart was established a year later, when Sullivans Cove was settled. While labour was completed by convicts to start with, it wasn't until 1822 that penal colonies were established.

Between 1829 and 1834, an effort was made to resettle and Christianise the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, but this was not successful as many died under colonial influence from disease, respiratory failure and poor food.

By the 1850s, every second resident was a convict and their settlements were hotbeds of disease and unlawfulness. Following this, the island was renamed Tasmania in 1856 in an attempt to remove the stigma of being a horrific destination for criminals.

Gold was discovered in the 1870s and many prospectors travelled over to see what they could dig up.

There are a few well-preserved sites in and around Tasmania where you can see relics of the island's interesting past. Keep an eye out for the colonial style buildings, which can be spotted throughout Hobart's streets, and consider a driving tour so you don't miss out on any of the historical highlights.

Port Arthur

Situated on the Tasman Peninsula, Port Arthur is home to the most intact penal colony in Australia.

With more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes, this 40 hectare site is rich with historical gems, so you will want to allow plenty of time to experience all it has to offer.

The date of the buildings correlates to the existence of the prison from 1830 to 1877, and you can only imagine the lives of the 12,500 convicts serving life sentences in the area.

Nowadays, the land is landscaped and you can take part in an interactive display at the visitor centre, including the 'Lottery of life' attraction.

If you've packed your hiking boots, you may also want to head down one of the walking trails the area has to offer. Take a stroll down the convict water supply trail, or visit the Dockyard and the Coal Mines Historic Site at Saltwater River.

Clarendon

Visit one of Australia's greatest colonial houses, which features the main house as well as farm outbuildings, convict quarters and what is now the Australian Fly Fishing museum.

Located around 19 kms from Evandale, the heritage site is open to the public and you can also enjoy an introductory tour so you better understanding what you're looking at. These tours take place multiple times throughout the day.

Keep in mind If you are taking a group, it might be best to book in advance.

Entally Estate

Located in the north at Hadspen, this house was named after a suburb in Calcutta. The estate was built for Thomas Reibey in 1819 and includes beautiful gardens, a greenhouse, chapel, coach house and stables as well as the main house.

Thomas Reibey reportedly had the most extensive library in the whole colony. Other features of the house include its array of Regency furniture and fine silver.

While you're in the area, you should also make sure you take a jaunt down to the historic towns of Longford and Westbury, and the city of Launceston.

Image Credit – Hobart Daily

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