Friday, February 18, 2011

Georgian Villages: Quaint Old English but in Oz?

A quick word about Nicole Ducleroir’s Bernard Pivot Blogfest. Quite simply what fun!
Thank you all who popped by for a look and stayed to comment or sign up as followers!

Now back in time to Tassie and back to another era in architecture.

On day five we left the north of Tassie and weaved south through the Central Highlands.

By Aussie standards Tasmania is tiny at 90,768 square kilometres (34,042 square miles). To put that in perspective it is almost exactly the same size as Maine in the US and about a sixth bigger than Scotland.

So from Launceston in the north to Hobart in the south is only about two hours drive along the main drag of the Tasman Highway. Even along the main highway there is little traffic because there are only about half a million people in the whole state.

We wanted to avoid the main road so our trip was about three hours driving time although we took most of the day to cover that with side trips and long pauses.

European settlement in Tassie began in the early 1800s and spread through the whole state quite quickly.

So most of the little villages scattered through the state are 1805 to 1830s in origin. And because very little development has occurred many original buildings are still standing.

Travelling through many Tassie villages you could convince yourself you were in the UK if you didn’t look too closely.

The main street of Longford for example. A row of classic Georgian era buildings. The only difference is these don’t have their original roofs. If their English born builders had put them up in the UK they would have Welsh Slate roofs. Here they used timber shingles that have been subsequently replaced by the incredibly practical Aussie tradition of corrugated iron.

At the highest point of the trip we paused near one of the highland lakes.

This is Arthur’s lake.I spotted these lovely Hyacinth Orchids growing there.This church is in Bothwell further south where we stopped for lunch.The main street of Bothwell is a funny mix of Georgian buildings and an Aussie Bush community.Our last stop before Hobart was Hampton. Every building in the main street of this village is 1830s to 1860s and most built from beautiful local sandstone quarried by convicts.

How hard life must have been for those poor souls torn away from their native Great Britain and sent half way around the world in stinking prison ships. Only to do hard labour once they got here.

The saving grace was that as a social experiment it ultimately worked for many of them once they were freed. And of course their children and grandchildren had opportunities that would have never been possible for slum dwellers in the UK.

I walked along Hampton’s main street clicking away to my heart’s content.
This gives an idea of just how rural this village is.
I liked this house. Replace the roof with slate and it would blend in to many English village streets.

This little place has been converted to a B&B. Johnson’s Emporium still bearing it’s builder’s name 170 years later.My favourite building in the village the original village school.This was the coach inn in the days when the Royal Mail travelled by stage coach from Hobart to Launceston.By UK standards Hampton is not old. But here in Oz as far as European settlement goes it is ancient.

The church in Hampton was completed in 1834.Which is the year before Melbourne was even founded.

As an aside, many Tasmanian churches are early enough to have burials in their churchyards. This is something that is essentially never seen in Mainland Oz. The practice was abandoned in favour of stand alone cemeteries and there are few churches (or churchyards for that matter) this old in most of the country.
The oldest standing church in Oz dates from 1809 and is just west of Sydney in NSW.


The Words Crafter said...

I see what you mean. They do look very English! In America, we're pretty young, too, and it's a treat to visit places like Williamsburg, Virginia (where I was born) and see the 'old' buildings. One of my favorite things to do was to visit one of the old churches. It had a graveyard and I loved reading the interesting inscriptions. There was one who'd been a pirate!

Thanks so much for sharing this. It makes me feel as if I'm traveling :)

Misha said...

I know what you mean.

South Africa also has towns like this, although few of them are only Georgian or Victorian. Those that are... are... well... different.

I don't think that the Dutch decendants relished the British rule much.

Maybe one day, I will go take some pictures of our old buildings. (Perfect as I live in some of the oldest colonized parts in South Africa.)

Thanks for this glimpse of Australian history. I really enjoyed it.


Old Kitty said...

Tasmania is such a FASCINATING place!!!! These pics show a really quaint, really picturesque and really really pretty awesome historical place!!!! I love that little B&B!!!!

Awww that little hyacinth flower is just perfect though! Take care

Jai Joshi said...

That first pic of the high street really does look like England. I was enchanted!

I didn't know these details of Tasmania's history. Nor did I know it was the size of Maine. Thanks for these great travelogue posts.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Al .. love the pictures .. looks like some of SA to me! The house you particularly like .. looked like the one I lived in in SA - where the roof was corrugated iron - but so too were the walls - they just had plaster over them!! Interesting it was .. sweet though - beautiful floors, but front room, bedroom, back room - 'kitchen-dining room and a stoop - that's it!! Built for the mine workers overseers pre 1900 ..

Love the story .. thanks Hilary

Myrna Foster said...

Arthur's lake is SO pretty! Thanks for posting pic of the interesting buildings.

Theres just life said...

As usual great pictures. I think my favorite is the Church in Hampton with the grave stones in front. What stories they could tell.

Kathleen Jones said...

Lovely tour, Al. I could be in England - it's eerie! Strange how we take our culture with us wherever we go - all those emigrants who couldn't wait to get away from britain but turned wherever they went into a little britain!

Al said...

Hi Words,
Graveyards are the best. I have had so many brilliant hours reading gravestones.
You’re welcome, enjoy the ride there is more to come.

Hi Misha,
The thing about Tasmania is the population is so small most of it has never been redeveloped much.
Photo’s from your neck of the woods would be great!

Hi Jennifer,
It is a gorgeous spot. The B&B is cute as!
I loved the orchid too!

Hi Jai,
It is amazing how like English villages some of the Tassie ones are.
You’re welcome Jai.

Hi Hilary,
I assume you mean South Africa. Because down here SA is our state South Australia :-)
From what Misha says above it sounds like parts of South Africa have escaped redevelopment too.
Plastered corrugated iron, something I’ve never seen!

Hi Myrna,
Pleased you like Arthur’s Lake .
You are most welcome.

Hi Pamela Jo,
The Church is Fab and you’re right about the stories on the gravestones, amazing!

Hi Kathleen,
It is kind of eerie. I hadn’t been to Tassie before. I knew there was a lot of Georgian era houses but wasn’t expecting so many.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

My son is studying about Australia this term, and the two of us are going to be visiting your blog a lot. Just wanted to tell you this!