Richmond, TAS, Australia

A sixteen mile car ride from Hobart and into the Coal River Valley brings you to a delightful small town suspended in Tasmania’s colonial, early 19th century. In Richmond you will discover Australia’s oldest bridge, Catholic Church, stone arch bridge plus plenty of charm.

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1 St John the Evangelist in Richmond, Australia

John Bede Polding was born in Liverpool and was a Benedictine monk. In 1835, he was appointed Bishop of Van Diemen’s Land, making him Australia’s first bishop. As part of his mission to better serve the religious needs of Catholic convicts in penal colonies across the island, he founded St John the Evangelist parish during an initial mass at the Woodburn homestead of John Cassidy. This church was finished in 1837 on Cassidy’s estate. Its Gregorian design is not surprising because the architect, Henry Edmund Goodridge, lived in Bath, an English city renowned for its Gregorian architecture. A few years later, the structure was expanded by Fredrick Thomas, a prisoner who had been convicted of forgery and swindling. Enjoy your visit to St John’s, Australia’s oldest Catholic church.

38 St Johns Cir, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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2 Richmond Bridge in Richmond, Australia

This is Australia’s oldest stone-arch bridge. When Richmond Bridge was finished in 1825, the 135 foot span over the Coal River was named Bigge’s Bridge. Convicts quarried the sandstone by hand from Butcher’s Hill. The work was supervised by William Wilson, the Superintendent of Stonemasons and the first Colonial Architect of Van Diemen’s Land. During colonial times, this bridge was an essential transportation link between Hobart Town and the penal colony at Port Arthur. Now, the riverbank is a delightful place to picnic on the lawn and feed the ducks. Hopefully, your family time will not be spoiled by the ghostly appearance of George Grover. He was the cruel flogger at Richmond Gaol when convicts murdered him at this landmark in 1832.

Richmond Bridge, Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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3 Coal River Valley in Richmond, Australia

The rolling hills encircling Richmond makes it easy to see why early British settlers were attracted to this picturesque area. The land was perfect for growing wheat, raising sheep and cattle plus vineyards for making wine. The valley and the river flowing through it were called Coal because the mineral was plentiful and ideal for heating their homes. You can experience the colonial lifestyle by staying overnight in one of about a dozen historic cottages in Richmond. Shown here is the top-rated Mill House Cottage. In addition to vintage charm, the bed & breakfast offers great views of Coal River and Richmond Bridge. The house was originally a steam-powered flour mill operated by George Gunning Burn when it was built in the mid-19th century.

2 Wellington St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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4 Richmond Congregational Church in Richmond, Australia

A Congregational community was founded in Richmond in 1838 by Reverend Alexander Morison. The first chapel for the Reformed Protestants was built in 1845 but was soon considered inadequate. This stone replacement by architect Edward Casson Rowntree was consecrated in 1875. Over 140 years later, the last service was held in May, 2016.

25 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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5 Richmond Arms Hotel in Richmond, Australia

This façade immediately grabs your attention while walking along Bridge Street. In Australia, it is referred to as a terrace house, a popular design in the country’s inner cities during the 19th century. The elaborate, cast iron ornamentation is called the Filigree style. The Lennox Arms Hotel operated on this site from 1827 until it burned in 1888. The Commercial Hotel replaced it and was renamed the Richmond Arms Hotel in 1972. Their outdoor seating is a popular way to enjoy its bistro food and a local wine during a lovely afternoon.

42 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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6 Historic Origin of Richmond, Australia

In 1803, Rear-Admiral John Bowen was the first naval officer to discover a potential settlement in Tasmania at Risdon Cove. A year later, Captain David Collins moved it to Sullivans Cove and named it Hobart Town. Meanwhile, John Bowen continued exploring for two years. His travels included navigating a river he called Coal River where he identified an ideal tract of land. Colonists initially named their new home Sweetwater. In 1824, William Sorell, the third Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, brokered to purchase the 90-acre Richmond Park estate. After the sale, the village was renamed Richmond. The townspeople then harnessed convict labor to build their churches, a bridge, government buildings and homes. This influx of prisoners resulted in the Richmond Gaol, a harsh jail to manage the inmates. Hopefully, you can sense this history as you explore historic Richmond. Take time to visit the boutique shops and galleries along Bridge Street inside quaint, mid-19th century cottages such as Ewe Nique shown here.

44 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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7 Richmond Town Hall in Richmond, Australia

Richmond Town Hall is an example of the 80 heritage properties located in Richmond, of which nearly 50 have a Georgian design. That is very impressive for a town of about 1,000 residents. The Town Hall is the place to be on Saturdays for the Village Market. It features stalls of produce, food and crafts offered by local farmers, cooks, merchants and artisans.

54 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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8 Richmond Courthouse in Richmond, Australia

If your village has committed to having a gaol to incarcerate convicts, it stands to reason you need a courthouse. So, the two were built simultaneously starting in 1825. The colonial, Regency style building also housed soldiers stationed in Richmond. Soon the Courthouse began serving additional purposes. In 1829, judges were added to hear cases for the Police District of Richmond. Five years later, various religious denominations used the chambers to conduct their services. The property was enhanced with brick construction in 1834. From 1861 until 1993, it was home for the municipality’s Council Chambers.

52 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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9 Mill Cottage in Richmond, Australia

Mill Cottage has housed a long list of entrepreneurs since it was built in 1850. This includes a bootmaker, seamstress, piano school and tea room. In 1983, it reopened as Peppercorn Galley. They represent a dozen local artists by marketing their paintings, ceramics, woodcarvings, jewelry and handicrafts. It is one lovely example of why Richmond is such a popular attraction for international tourists and local Aussies. Visitors sense they are experiencing a British colonial village which is suspended in time.

58 Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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10 Richmond Gaol in Richmond, Australia

Starting in the 1820s, Richmond imported British convicts as slave labor for building their village. One of the criminals’ biggest projects was constructing their own jail from 1825 until 1840. The stories you will read while walking around the gaol are ghoulish. You will learn how prisoners huddled together in cramped cells called the Sleeping Rooms while wearing leg irons. They were the lucky ones. Others suffered solitary confinement, were subjected to repeated lashings in the Flogging Yard and executed by Solomon Blay, known as the “The Hangman.” This Gaoler’s Residence, created by John Lee Archer in the 1830s, is at one end of the Airing Yard where prisoners were allowed to exercise twice a day.

37 Bathurst St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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11 St Luke Anglican Church in Richmond, Australia

Convicts from the nearby gaol toiled for two years hauling sandstone blocks from Butcher’s Hill and lifting them into place in order to realize the Georgian Gothic façade of St Luke Anglican Church. Its square, embattled tower has changed little since it was designed by John Lee Archer and finished in 1836. The clock predates the church. It was crafted by Thwaites & Reed in London – the world’s oldest clock manufacturer – in 1828. After being used at St David’s Cathedral in Hobart, it was installed at St Luke the Physician in 1922. Inside, the stain-glass windows were added in 1864. Four years later, the parishioners began enjoying an organ from Bevington & Sons, also London based. It was replaced by an organ from an Australian company in 1984.

Church Street & Torrens Street, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
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12 Tasmanian Devil at Zoodoo Zoo in Richmond, Australia

Less than four miles from the heart of historic Richmond is Zoodoo Zoo. It was founded in 1999 as a rescue center and has grown into a collection of native and exotic animals plus birds. Foreign visitors often come to see a Tasmanian devil. These nocturnal carnivores live exclusively in Tasmania yet have an international reputation for their ferocity. Justifiably so. For their size – only 20 to 26 inches long – they have the strongest bite among mammals. Plus, Tassie devils are ravenous scavengers and extra cantankerous.

Zoodoo Zoo, 620 Middle Tea Tree Rd, Richmond TAS 7000, Australia
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13 Pair of Kangaroos at Zoodoo Zoo in Richmond, Australia

The Forester kangaroo is Tasmania’s largest marsupial, meaning they carry and suckle their newborns in a pouch. This animal characteristic is almost exclusive to Australia. There is an excellent reason this species is named macropus giganteus (giant large foot); a male roo can weigh 130 pounds and measure over 6.5 feet tall. The Tasmanian eastern gray is endemic to this island state. All kangaroos are nocturnal but you can walk inside their pen for a visit at the Zoodoo Zoo.

Zoodoo Zoo, 620 Middle Tea Tree Rd, Richmond TAS 7000, Australia
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14 Dromedary Camel at Zoodoo Zoo in Richmond, Australia

A highlight of Zoodoo Zoo is the Safari Tour. Climb aboard an open vehicle for a ride around some of the zoo’s 220 acres. Among the creatures you will meet are a flock of curious emus, a zebra herd (called a zeal) and a caravan of camels. They are all eager to be feed by you. This single hump dromedary, also called an Arabian camel, seemed more interested in kissing the passengers.

Zoodoo Zoo, 620 Middle Tea Tree Rd, Richmond TAS 7000, Australia
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15 Plains Zebra at Zoodoo Zoo in Richmond, Australia

For an extra fee, Zoodoo Zoo offers unique encounter experiences. Follow a keeper around the property while they introduce you to various animals, including meekats, marmosets, Tasmanian devils, snakes, koalas and these plains zebras. Then feed your new friends while your tour guide photographs your adventure.

Zoodoo Zoo, 620 Middle Tea Tree Rd, Richmond TAS 7000, Australia
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