Just 25 minutes from Hobart is one of Tasmania's most popular destinations. A leisurely stroll through Richmond will reveal a Georgian town lost in time. What was once a source of coal and an important police district between Hobart and the penal settlement of Port Arthur in the early 1800s was by-passed when the Sorrell Causeway opened in 1827. The town remained as much as it was 100 years ago, waiting to be rediscovered. Apart from the rich history, there are plenty of sights, sounds and scents awaiting visitors. Here are some of the best things to see and do on your sojourn of Richmond.
A leisurely walk through Richmond will reveal why it is Tasmania's most important historic town. The heritage streetscape with landmarks built in the early 1800s provides a picture of what life might have been like in the colonial era.
Richmond Bridge is Australia's oldest bridge still in use. It was built by convicts with sandstone in 1823. Richmond Gaol is the oldest intact gaol in Australia. Build in 1825, it predates the penal colony at Port Arthur in 1833. The oldest Catholic Church still in use in Australia is the St John's Catholic Church built in 1837. Tasmania's History House built in 1826 is one of Richmond's oldest colonial houses.
Richmond is home to some tasty casual and fine dining options as well as gourmet food shops. It presents great produce from the surrounding valley with local specialties such as salmon, fruits, breads, pastries, cheeses and wine.
According to Greg, my driver from Hobart Shuttle Bus Company, there is a famous food in this humble town. The must-try is the $7.50 curried scallop pie at The Richmond Bakery. The small pie is literally bursting from its generous stuffing of 5 scallops with roe covered by a light curry sauce.
You can find one of the highest quality hand-made cheese in Australia at Wicked Cheese. Sweets and Treats continue to sell old style lollies and check out the Tasting House for a large selection of Coal River wines, locally distilled spirits and gourmet Tasmanian produce.
Although Richmond is smaller than the Tamar Valley, it is still home to 4 wineries which make for an easy tasting day among the vines. Coal Valley Vineyard's cellar door has beautiful views out over the estuary of the Coal River; An 1830s Georgian home and old stables is the setting for wine tasting at Pooley Wines; Puddleduck Vineyard offers a leisurely picnic lunch and wine while watching the ducks; and award winning wines continue at Meadowbank Estate.
A collection of artisan craft shops and galleries showcase some of Tasmania's best ceramics, wood turning, glassware, paintings and antiques. There are products handcrafted from recycled timber and metal at the Richmond Emporium; Handmade Tasmanian teddy bears can be found at Richmond Park Bear House; The Woodcraft Shop offers a collection of quality Tasmanian woodcrafts; All products at the Peppercorn Gallery are handmade by Tasmanian Artists; and the perpetual Christmas shop called 'Christmas Christmas Christmas' with international and local decorations and tree never fails to amaze visitors.
Nestled in the Coal River Valley, the beautifully serene surrounds of Richmond are ideal for escaping the trappings of the city. In addition to immersing yourself in the well-preserved colonial landscape and village lifestyle, it is also a popular base for exploring Tasmania's southeast region. Located nearby is also one of the state's best wildlife parks, the Zoo Doo Wildlife Park.
Richmond offers many styles of accommodations from the budget to the luxury. Popular with visitors are the Georgian style and vineyard cottages that the dot the area. Hatcher's Manor is set among 100 acres of Woodburn Farm, one of Tasmania's most historical farms; The convict brick cottages of Bridge Cottage built in 1823 are among the oldest buildings in Richmond; A sandstone barn (circa 1830) was converted into the Daisy Bank Cottages; and Number 3 offers contemporary-style self contained accommodation in a heritage listed cottage.
Richmond is an easy 25 minutes drive from Hobart. If you prefer to leave the driving to someone else, the Hobart Shuttle Bus Company is a fantastic option. For $30 per person, you get commentary about Richmond from the driver, 3 hours of sightseeing time at your own pace and entrance to the Richmond Gaol. Pick up and drop off is at your hotel or the Hobart Information Centre. Check out www.hobartshuttlebus.com or call 0408 341 804