Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Smell the Roses! The National Rose Garden Celebrates Its 11th Anniversary and Woolmers Estate's Newly Minted World Heritage Listing

The exquisite National Rose Garden in Longford, Tasmania will be celebrating its 11th anniversary this summer, and is inviting visitors to the estate to take in the stunning sight and scent of the extensive rose collection. Open from 21 November 2010 to 1 March 2011, The National Rose Garden has one of the finest collections of historic roses in the southern hemisphere, ranging from the earliest European and Chinese roses to 21st century varieties.

Over 500 different varieties of the fragrant blossoms can be found in a typically English setting, with vast green lawns, sculptured beds, white pebbled pathways and a rose arbour transporting guests to yesteryear. Entry to the Rose Garden costs $14 for adults, $5 for children aged five to fourteen, and $12 for concession holders. The National Rose Garden is situated within the grounds of the historic Woolmers Estate (1817 - 1850s), one of the most important colonial-era heritage properties of Australia.

Established by Thomas Archer in 1817, Woolmers Estate is one of five convict sites across Tasmania that were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on 1 August 2010 as part of the Australian Convict Sites Inscription. The other Tasmanian sites include The Cascades Female Factory (1828 - 1856), The Port Arthur Historic Site (1830 - 1877), The Coal Mines Historic Site (1833 - 1848), and Darlington Probation Station (1825 - 1832; 1842 - 1850).

"The World Heritage Listing of the Cascades Female Factory, Port Arthur Historic Site, Coal Mines Historic Site, Darlington Probation Station and Woolmers and Brickendon Estate is a momentous milestone for Tasmania," Felicia Marini, CEO of Tourism Tasmania said. "It is an indication of our rich convict history as a state and nation, and an irrefutable testament of the need to keep the sites preserved for future generations. I am proud of the tireless measures taken to conserve them, and the opportunities we have provided visitors and ancestors alike to walk in the footsteps of history, and gain an invaluable insight into the lives and conditions of families and convicts in the 1800s."

The five World Heritage listed convict sites are as follows:

Brickendon and Woolmers Estates (1817 - 50s)
Consisting of two convict built properties established by two brothers, Thomas and William Archer, circa 1817, Woolmers Estate is the slightly grander of the two, is a convict built property and one of the most outstanding examples of 19th century rural settlements in Australia. It comprises more than 18 buildings over 13 hectares, including family houses, workers cottages, a former chapel, blacksmith's shop, stables, bakehouse, pump house and gardener's cottage.

Its neighbouring property, Brickendon (established in 1824) covers 420 hectares of farming land and 20 timber and brick buildings including the homestead and original farm village built with convict labour.

The two estates represent the convict experience of assignment where convicts both male and female, were assigned to private owners free as a labour source. Assignment was the most common experience, with 80% of all convicts being assigned to private owners and was key in settling the new colony, producing food and developing the economy. Combined the estates had an annual convict population of over 100, the second largest pool of convict labour in private hands in Van Diemen's Land. W:;

The Cascades Female Factory (1828 - 56)
Operating from 1828 to 1856, the Cascades Female Factory housed female convicts in the colony, and was one of the first purpose built femal penal establishments in the world. The site included five yards around which cells, storerooms, workrooms and offices were built, and housed over 5,000 female convicts and their babies throughout its history. The women were employed at the factory to wash, sew, card, spin and assigned out as domestic labour, greatly offsetting the penal costs of the colony. Today, the Cascades Female Factory is one of the most intact surviving female convict sites in Australia. W:

The Port Arthur Historic Site (1830 - 77)
Established in the 1830s, Port Arthur was built as a penal settlement and comprises over sixty buildings across 136 hectares including the Penitentiary (1843), Separate Prison (1850), Dockyard, Convict Church (1836 - 37), Hospital (1841 - 42) and historic houses where the Commanding and Civil Officers once lived. Most of the convicts here were employed in dangerous and hard labour including the felling of timber and the quarrying of sandstone. Convicts also worked at the dockyards, building boats for the government and private entities.

Today, the management of the Port Arthur Historic Site continue to undertake ongoing heritage and conservation management listed ruins, working in tangent with a team of archaeologists, architects, engineers, conservation professionals and trades staff to ensure that the buildings are carefully conserved for future generations. W:

The Coal Mines Historic Site (1833 - 48)
Named after the discovery of coal at the site in 1833, The Coal Mines Historic Site has a 40 year history of convict excavation, producing around 60,000 tonnes of coal throughout its lifetime. At its peak, it held up to 500 convicts, who worked arduous eight-hour shifts in the mines' appalling conditions. Other convicts were assigned to the building of infrastructures, quarrying of sandstone, brick-making and lime burning to extract lime for mortar and leather tanning. The Coal Mines were eventually closed on moral and economic grounds.

Today, the site comprises 25 buildings over 214 hectares, including the remnants of coal mining activities in the bushland. Ruins that once housed the stone prisoners' barracks, punishment cells, a chapel, bakehouse, store and quarters for the commanding officer, surgeon and soldiers still stand, providing an insight into the significant role convicts played in the early colony's economic development. W:

Darlington Probation Station (1825 - 32; 1842 - 50)
Built in 1825, Darlington Probation Station, on Maria Island off Tasmania's East Coast, initially served as a convict station, later becoming a probation station for male convicts. It was established to reduce the pressures placed on the other penal settlements as a result of the increasing number of convicts, and fulfilled its purpose well as its geographic location made escape difficult.

Today, Darlington is the most representative and intact example of a probation station in Australia, with its 14 convict buildings and notable ruins illustrating the key features of a probation system during the colonial era. At its peak, Darlington housed 492 prisoners. It closed in 1850 following the cessation of the probation system.

Travel to Tasmania
Travellers can fly to Tasmania on Jetstar, Virgin Blue, Qantas, Tiger Airways or Rex Airlines, or take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Port Melbourne (VIC) to Devonport (TAS).

Tourism Tasmania is a Tasmanian Government agency whose role is to lead the industry in jointly delivering marketing and development programs that drive benefits for Tasmania from domestic and international tourism.

Part of the wider Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts, Tourism Tasmania links government and the private sector in marketing Tasmania's unique assets.

Tourism Tasmania's new strategic direction has been shaped by the recognition for the organisation to continue to change to meet the challenges of a new world in Tourism.

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