Stepping back in time

Richmond Travel Blog

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The pretty trees with St Luke’s at the end of the lane

Just as I promised myself after my last little getaway - the one to soothe my soul, I got out of my house and took a day trip out of town to discover something about this pretty little state I hadn’t previously known.

Today I chose to explore Richmond. Only 15 minutes from my home, I have been to Richmond many times in the past but never taken to the streets and just walked; I have walked up the main street but never explored any of the back streets and lanes.

Driving into Richmond is like driving onto the set of an 1800’s movie without all the funny costumes. In 1872, the Sorell causeway opened, effectively bypassing all traffic away from Richmond which, in its favour was what prevented the destruction of all the gorgeous Georgian buildings, leaving Richmond as one of the best-preserved Georgian towns in Australia. When founded in 1824, Richmond opened up the route to the east coast of Tasmania from Hobart with the completion of the Richmond Bridge in 1825, making this the oldest bridge in Tasmania. It is hard to look at the bridge and not think of the convicts who laboured, probably under unbelievably harsh conditions, to build this beautifully elegant yet simple structure...

We’ll come back to the part in my story where I spend time at the bridge a little later; right now, I am going to take you back to the beginning of my story and to St Luke’s Anglican Church standing majestically at the end of a picturesque country lane.

A bench for friends to share

I parked my car on the street in front of the church where I could see the sandstone tower glowing in the mid-morning sunshine. Before going in to the church I strolled back down the street to take a picture of some pretty, colourful trees I had noticed. When I was taking my photo, a woman passed, walking the biggest dog I think I have ever seen. It was nearly as big as a Shetland pony and I said as much to the woman. She introduced me to the dog, and for the life of me, I cannot remember his name, but she did tell me that she named him after a big black grape growing in her back yard, because they were both big and black. After a few minutes, the woman and the dog continued on their walk and I stayed to take a few more photos before following in their footsteps and making my way back down the street towards St Luke’s Church.

Governor Arthur laid the foundation stone for St Luke’s Church in 1834. John Lee Archer designed the building, but again, convicts built it, with work finishing in 1836. The convict responsible for the original timberwork inside the building had his freedom granted as a reward for his work. He probably only stole a loaf of bread in the first place, so I think after having been sent halfway around the world away from family and loved ones, then labouring to help build a church, it was the least they could do. Not that they would have given him the option of returning to his homeland....

When I stepped into the cool interior of the church, I was surprised to see my new friend the big black dog lying at the back of the church in quiet contemplation while his mistress redid the church flowers. He was a big slobbery dog but I couldn’t resist another pat. He sat quietly while I explored the church, and as there was another person vacuuming up near the pulpit, I sat in the back row of the pews to ponder for a moment.

When I went back outside to explore, I found the owner of the dog and stopped for a chat. Apparently about four years ago, the pastor of the church tried to give the church to the local council as the church had fallen into disrepair and could not afford to do the work that needed doing in order for the church to keep its doors open.

Nice place to sit and enjoy
Some of the village people (no, not the singing group from the 1980’s :)) heard about the plight of the church and offered their assistance. As the council did not want to take responsibility for the church, the pastor took the town folk up on their offer. They sent a bunch of letters to various organisations, raised a substantial amount of money, and the work to restore the church began. The rafters I mentioned that gave the convict his freedom were falling down because the wooden nails or pegs used were rotting and these were one of the first things fixed, then the walls replastered and painted to match what would have been on the walls when the church was originally built.

I learnt the story of how much fun they had trying to find someone who could do the restoration works to the clock in the tower. Unable to find the help they needed here in Australia, in desperation, someone hopped on his or her computer and Googled the name of the clock maker. There was surprise all around when they found the clock maker, still in business in London and very excited to receive correspondence from a little village in ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ where they had sent five clocks 150 years earlier (the other four clocks are still in Tasmania, I don’t know if they are still in working order). The clock makers sent all the information they had on the clock, including the original plans to the people of Richmond who then had the task of finding someone here in Australia who could repair the clock. There was the option of sending the clock back to London for the repairs but with the size of the clock it would have cost a fortune and taken a very long time as the clock would had to have been shipped by sea (which is the way it would have travelled to Australia in the first place). After much searching, the group found a Sydney clock maker who could and would fix the clock. He travelled to Richmond to do the job and on completion asked the group, “who would be responsible for winding the clock?”, as he needed to give instruction on how to do it. He said to come back the next day with the clock winder and he would show them how it’s done. Once again, the villagers came through for St Luke’s Church finding 36 friends who volunteered to keep the clock wound.

Fruit trees and the beautiful clear sky
It is a two-person job and inside the front door of the church, you will find a roster for ‘The Worshipful Company of Clock winders of St Luke’s Church in Richmond’, as I was told they informally call themselves. On the roster is a note for the clock winders to “wear non slip shoes, tie back your pigtails and bring an accurate time piece with you.” The story completely enchanted me as did the person telling it.

After taking a little while to look around the grounds of St Luke’s, I made my way back down the street to the Richmond Bakery. What I wanted was a notebook from the little shop next to the bakery, as I wanted to make some notes of what I had just learnt, and I had left my journal at home. With notebook in hand, I went to find some lunch at the bakery, famous here in Tassie for their delicious pies. I tried one of their curried scallop pies. When my friend Renee came to visit last December and drove around the state with her boyfriend Brian, one of the things she raved about were the scallop pies she ate where ever she could get one, as I had never tried one, I thought I had better find out what all the fuss was about. I don’t know that I was that impressed with it, but I can see the attraction if you are into that type of thing. :) It was tasty enough, different, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing back for one anytime soon. (Sorry food lovers, I didn’t take a photo)

With my belly full, I was off to discover what I could of this idyllic little town.

I made my way to the old Richmond Gaol, just a short stroll from the bakery. I paid $7, and armed with my information pamphlet, took a self-guided tour. The Gaol, built in 1825 is small compared to some of the other prison institutes elsewhere in the state, but just as disturbing.

I explored the solitary confinement cells, which were the length of an average man and only a door width wide with no lighting, I can only imagine how horrible it would have been to be locked in one of these for any amount of time, I felt uncomfortable enough just walking into the one lit for our benefit. It was not a nice place.

Sunny yellow pears

The goal is full of all sorts of titbits about life in this prison in the mid 1800’s.

After leaving the gaol, I found my way onto a little country lane that passed fields of vegetables and gently rolling hills. The lane led down to the river and a path that I followed along the bank amongst the trees until the view opened up to reveal the gorgeous Richmond Bridge.

Completely mesmerised by the view in front of me, I pulled up at a park bench overlooking the river and the bridge with St John’s church poking its steeple up beyond the bridge straining to be seen from the hill in the background. There were children playing down on the banks, ducks floating on the water and big white fluffy clouds gently making their way across the beautiful light blue sky.

After a half hour or so of enjoying the idyllic scene and feeling as if I were witnessing a pretty painting come to life, I decided to go and become a part of this real life work of art.

I followed the path down to a little platform jutting out over the water with the perfect ducks eye view of the bridge. I sat down on decking and watched as the ducks played and swam among the reeds that softly swayed in the stream, and reflections played across the water; the trees on the other side of the bridge glowed golden in the late afternoon sun which made shadows on the arches of the bridge through which I could see the trees. I had walked into 1800’s heaven.

I climbed the path to the road and crossed to the other side of the river where I came upon a little school that has been educating our children since 1843. The little lane running down the side of the school led me to St John’s church sitting proudly up on a little hill next to an old gum tree. I wondered which of the two was older; people have been confessing their sins at St John’s since the doors opened in 1837. I didn’t have anything to confess today so continued down the lane peaking in backyards and day dreaming about buying the home I found for sale on the banks of the river.  

Back at the bridge, I strolled across the grass and took some photos of the warm sandstone of the bridge with the bright blue sky above before slowly making my way back to my car and making my way back home.

Just in case you forget my birthday this is the date, it’s August by the way. :)

Today was another lovely day. I came to sightsee, I came to take photos, I came to get out of the house; I am glad I did.

hummingbird50 says:
Oooo Elke...thanks for taking me along, it was sooo much fun...and we managed not to get into tooo much trouble...and that dog...well..and the sun...and ..well it was a great day!
Posted on: May 02, 2009
Sunflower300 says:
Thank you all so much. :)
I appreciate your kind words about my blog.

Bev, I'm looking forward to those cupcakes and a hot chocolate. :)
Posted on: May 02, 2009
hummingbird50 says:
Wow Elke...thanks for the great journey..I really needed that:):0 I feel so much better, and the clock maker came through...yipppeee!! I am going to go have a wee rest on the bench...better go get Rudolph, and I will bring some hot chocolate..and cupcakes:):)
Posted on: May 01, 2009
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The pretty trees with St Luke’s …
The pretty trees with St Luke’s…
Bye bye big black dog named after …
Bye bye big black dog named after…
A bench for friends to share
A bench for friends to share
Nice place to sit and enjoy
Nice place to sit and enjoy
Fruit trees and the beautiful clea…
Fruit trees and the beautiful cle…
Sunny yellow pears
Sunny yellow pears
Just in case you forget my birthda…
Just in case you forget my birthd…
The glowing tower of St Luke’s R…
The glowing tower of St Luke’s …
These little maps were dotted all …
These little maps were dotted all…
***SIGH***
***SIGH***
Such a pretty scene, this place go…
Such a pretty scene, this place g…
I’m going in...
I’m going in...
... well after I have a little loo…
... well after I have a little lo…
My beautiful new pal
My beautiful new pal
sitting in the back row
sitting in the back row
The flowers getting redone; you ca…
The flowers getting redone; you c…
One of the ‘The Worshipful Compa…
One of the ‘The Worshipful Comp…
Towering over me was the big tower…
Towering over me was the big towe…
Red Door
Red Door
The church has a wonderful view ov…
The church has a wonderful view o…
Love those clouds
Love those clouds
The side windows seemed to have wh…
The side windows seemed to have w…
There are two birds in this tree, …
There are two birds in this tree,…
Aussie paper bark
Aussie paper bark
Out on a limb
Out on a limb
Don’t fence me in
Don’t fence me in
Magnificent clouds
Magnificent clouds
One last look at St Luke’s
One last look at St Luke’s
Paris pops up everywhere, even in …
Paris pops up everywhere, even in…
MMmm lunchtime
MMmm lunchtime
These girls were having a wonderfu…
These girls were having a wonderf…
Love the little orange flowers
Love the little orange flowers
I weighed up for ages whether or n…
I weighed up for ages whether or …
I skipped the wine tasting this ti…
I skipped the wine tasting this t…
Nice pole :)
Nice pole :)
Hopefully the only time I head int…
Hopefully the only time I head in…
Not my kind of life
Not my kind of life
Pretty as a picture – now
Pretty as a picture – now
disorderly conduct; lucky that doe…
disorderly conduct; lucky that do…
Just  a minute or two was too many…
Just a minute or two was too man…
The stink of bodies, the clink of …
The stink of bodies, the clink of…
Step into my parlour
Step into my parlour
Australia’s early history is ext…
Australia’s early history is ex…
A rough night’s sleep – Sleepi…
A rough night’s sleep – Sleep…
They had a pretty view - well, onc…
They had a pretty view - well, on…
Nice job if you can get it
Nice job if you can get it
A well liked man
A well liked man
I had to do some time travel to ge…
I had to do some time travel to g…
Prisoners walk this way
Prisoners walk this way
Not quite sure why this is in the …
Not quite sure why this is in the…
The lamp above the original main e…
The lamp above the original main …
The same lamp – I love the diffe…
The same lamp – I love the diff…
The Airing Yard - This area is par…
The Airing Yard - This area is pa…
...repair that he was “in contin…
...repair that he was “in conti…
The courtyard between all the buil…
The courtyard between all the bui…
Leaving the old building
Leaving the old building
The pretty setting for the gaol
The pretty setting for the gaol
Some of the fields of vegetables
Some of the fields of vegetables
Yummy fresh food fields
Yummy fresh food fields
The Cole River and a place to sit …
The Cole River and a place to sit…
What a pleasant stroll along the p…
What a pleasant stroll along the …
This place is so pretty
This place is so pretty
From whence I came :)
From whence I came :)
I love the reflections on the water
I love the reflections on the water
Along the path
Along the path
Where’d you come from?
Where’d you come from?
Ahhh now that’s a pretty picture
Ahhh now that’s a pretty picture
Richmond Bridge with St John’s C…
Richmond Bridge with St John’s …
The weather was still warm enough …
The weather was still warm enough…
I loved this shot and the next so …
I loved this shot and the next so…
It’s a bridge-athon
It’s a bridge-athon
Birdie action shot
Birdie action shot
Ducks playing in the water
Ducks playing in the water
Anyone up for a drive in the count…
Anyone up for a drive in the coun…
The white building across the road…
The white building across the roa…
Oooo look, from another angle
Oooo look, from another angle
A skate by shooting – he skated …
A skate by shooting – he skated…
Looking back over the bridge
Looking back over the bridge
Peeking in a rather lavish backyard
Peeking in a rather lavish backyard
Peeking down someone’s driveway
Peeking down someone’s driveway
LOVE the colours
LOVE the colours
St John’s Primary School with bo…
St John’s Primary School with b…
St John’s Primary School
St John’s Primary School
The old church and the old Gum
The old church and the old Gum
The country lane running alongside…
The country lane running alongsid…
Peeking in backyards
Peeking in backyards
Still peeking in backyards
Still peeking in backyards
Coming back from my walk down the …
Coming back from my walk down the…
Follow the (yellow) brick road
Follow the (yellow) brick road
Little red shutters
Little red shutters
These lamp posts lines the streets
These lamp posts lines the streets
Richmond
Richmond
Another lamp setting the scene
Another lamp setting the scene
Richmond from another angle
Richmond from another angle
Gorgeous autumn colours
Gorgeous autumn colours
Wall lamp
Wall lamp
Another park bench for my friends …
Another park bench for my friends…
FORMERLY “RICHMOND HOTEL” (c18…
FORMERLY “RICHMOND HOTEL” (c1…
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photo by: Sunflower300