Continuing on with my recent slew of posts about my favourite places in my homeland is today’s post about the historic village of Richmond. Located about a half-hour drive from the capital city of Hobart, going to Richmond sometimes feels a little bit like going back in time. The pace is slower than the city with colonial/Georgian architecture and history everywhere. But for a sleepy little town, it sure packs a punch as there are LOTS of interesting and fun things to do in Richmond and its surrounds! If you have a day or two to spare, you should definitely do some (or all!) of these things in Richmond.
1 – Walk on Australia’s Oldest Bridge
2 – Visit Australia’s Oldest Roman Catholic Church
Just up the road from the bridge is St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church. Built in 1836 it is considered to be Australia’s oldest Roman Catholic Church; St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was actually built first, but in 1865 the original chapel was destroyed by fire. So, St. John’s in Richmond is the oldest still-functioning, original church in Australia! The small church is quite pretty (some friends of mine even got married there) and worth a visit if you are interested in that sort of thing.
3 – Buy Lots of Lollies at a Traditional Sweet Shoppe
A Tasmanian institution, no visit to Richmond is complete without a stop at “Sweets and Treats”, a traditional-style lolly shop on the main road. With shelves lined with jars of different lollies, as well as special Tasmanian fudges, ice-creams and coffee on offer, this is a must-visit! Choose to get a couple of 100 grams of your favourite old-fashioned or modern lollies and watch the shop assistants measure them out then deliver them to you in paper bags, just like in the olden days! You can have a look at their website here if you feel like drooling over yummy treats.
4 – Learn about Convict History at the Oldest Intact Gaol in Australia
Another attraction that holds an ‘oldest in Australia’ title is the Richmond Gaol. A convict era building, the Richmond gaol was actually built even before Port Arthur. Nowadays it is a tourist destination, largely unchanged from convict times. You can explore the chain gang sleeping rooms, a female solitary confinement room, a flogging yard and cookhouse; all while learning about Tasmania’s convict past. You can plan your visit on the website here.
5 – Explore the Many Art Galleries
For a small township, Richmond is rather packed with lovely art galleries. Make sure you take some time to stroll down the main street and some of the side streets to pop into the galleries to see (and maybe buy) beautiful handmade Tasmanian glass sculptures, paintings, photography, jewellery and more. One of my favourites is probably the Saddler’s Court Gallery (next door to the lolly shop) which has a lot of pieces by Tom Samek – one of my favourite (Czech-born) Tasmanian artists.
6 – Visit a Poo Museum!
Richmond is home to a very unique museum… one dedicated to poo! The Pooseum is designed for curious kids, or just those with an interest in the workings of the natural world and looks at all sorts of facts about poop. For example, did you know that wombat poo is square? Or that there’s a type of caterpillar that can eject it’s poop 1.5m metes away from itself? These are just some of the fascinating facts that you will discover at the Pooseum.
7 – Do Some Shopping
As well as art galleries, Richmond is full of lovely gift and souvenir shops where you can go mad buying presents for people back home – or just yourself! One of my favourites I always go into is the Woodcraft Shop (pictured) which features, not surprisingly, beautiful hand-carved wooden items. I still have a little wooden mouse that I got here when I was a kid and the beautiful wooden fruits are enchanting. It always smells amazing in here too! Another one not to miss is “Ewe Nique” which has lots of lovely knitted or woollen items for sale, including gorgeous stuffed Tasmanian animals.
8 – Or Antiquing
Along with ‘regular’ shops, Richmond is home to multiple antique stores where you may find a treasure from the past. You could easily spend hours browsing, my personal favourite antique/vintage shops include Lafayette on Bridge (with Giraffic Park next door, a really cool shop with amazing Christmas items) and Anchorage Antiques (pictured above) where I had a lovely long chat with the man who was minding the shop for the owner one day! It’s also full of all sorts of cool old, and sometimes random, things.
9 – Walk around Colonial Hobart at the Model Hobart Village
Another one of my favourite attractions in Richmond is the Old Hobart Town model village. Exactly what it says, here you can wander among a miniature replica of Hobart as it was in the 1820s. Designed and built from actual historical plans it’s fascinating to see how Hobart has changed, as well as how many of the historic buildings are still standing. Not only are there models of buildings with trees, water and ships, but there are also over 500 figurines showing people going about their lives as they might have been during convict times. One of my favourite parts is seeing the little scenes happening throughout the model town, of a runaway horse and cart, escaping convicts, and even some Tasmanian Tigers! You should definitely check out their website, to see some of the photos of how cool this place is and to plan your own visit.
10 – Get Up Close and Personal with Animals at Zoodoo Zoo
10 minutes outside of the township of Richmond proper is the Zoodoo Zoo. This zoo features lots of Australian native animals (including Tasmanian Devils!), as well as more exotic ones such as camels, lions, tigers, meerkats, monkeys and zebras. I have been here a number of times and had a lot of fun, and it’s definitely also a great place to take kids. They have little ‘safari’ tours where you hop into a little bus and drive out into paddocks to feed camels (like in the photo above), alpacas, ostriches, camels and more. They have a walk-through aviary, daily animal encounters and you can also hand-feed and pet the kangaroos, wallabies, ponies and sheep. Prices are a little on the expensive side, but it is a lot of fun! You can have a look at their website here for more information.
11 – Gorge Yourself on Delicious Local Produce
One thing that Tasmania has in abundance is delicious food. If you are visiting Richmond then you will definitely need to try out at least some of their fantastic cafes, restaurants, farms and produce shops to have a taste of Tasmanian local fare. Coal River Farm and Littlewood Berry Farm both offer ‘pick your own’ fruits when in season, and there are numerous great cafes, restaurants and shops in and around Richmond that sell delicious local cheeses, chocolates and meals. A reader called Martin reminded me of Czeg’s Café (which I’ve also been to and did enjoy. The Richmond Bakery does excellent classic bakery foods, while Ashmore on Bridge Street is another one I’ve tried and found very good. But there are other places that even I haven’t been to. Have a wander and find your new favourite!
12 – Have a Tipple at one of the MANY Vineyards
As well as cafes and restaurants there are a LOT of vineyards in and around Richmond, as it is part of the Coal River Valley winery region. Most of these vineyards offer cellar-door sales as well as having great onsite restaurants, usually paired with fantastic views over the valley and river. Some of the more popular vineyards include Frogmoore Creek/Meadowbank Estate, Puddleduck Vineyard, The Coal Valley Vineyard (restaurant pictured) and Riversdale Estate. You might need to do some research to discover which vineyard(s) you want to visit while in the area!
13 – Experience a Classic Aussie Pub
The Richmond Arms is a quintessential Aussie pub, with a wrap-around verandah, beer garden, accommodation and good old-fashioned pub food! We had dinner here during an overnight stay and the steak, in particular, was fantastic. The local fire brigade was also running a raffle to win a meat tray or free beer, so it definitely felt like every other pub I’ve visited in Australia, although it’s a lot prettier from the outside. In summer it’s lovely to sit in the beer garden amongst the lavender and there’s an old claw-foot bathtub that’s been converted into a chair on the front verandah that’s been there as long as I can remember. Make sure you stop in for a pint or a meal if you’re visiting Richmond.
14 – Relive Your Childhood in the Peter Rabbit Garden at Riversdale Estate
While Riversdale Estate is itself a great place for a meal or high tea it also has another great attraction: The Peter Rabbit Garden! Located behind the main building is a quaint little garden, filled with pretty flowers and models that tell the Tale of Peter Rabbit. I loved Beatrix Potter’s tales as a child, and it was really fun visiting and seeing Peter’s antics through Mr. McGregor’s garden. The garden also features models of other tales in little sheds and windows, including the tales of Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddleduck and Mr. Jeremy Fisher. You can find out more about visiting the garden here, and read more about my visit and decadent high tea in the Orangery here!
15 – Meander Through the Village Market
Salamanca is not the only place featuring a charming Saturday morning market, Richmond has one too! The Richmond Village Market is, of course, much smaller than the one in Hobart, but it features lots of local products and the kind of charm you can only find in a traditional small-town market. A lot of the stalls feature home-grown produce from the Coal River region, as well as local crafts, jewellery, plants and entertainment. If you want to experience a little village market then make sure you visit Richmond on a Saturday between 9am and 3pm. The market is held in the town hall and surrounding areas, you can find more information about it here.
16 – Get Lost in Amaze Richmond
Ever since I was little there was a maze at Richmond, well technically two mazes but part of the one facility. I have childhood memories of visiting the mazes, one of which had a model minotaur in the centre, and having yummy treats in the on-site café. I originally had the maze included in this post, but it was being redeveloped for years and I removed it when it seemed to be closed permanently. But luckily a new set of two mazes has finally reopened, and one is even made of hedges! I haven’t been to the new version yet but the revamped Amaze Richmond looks just as much fun for kids and families. The photo above only shows the entrance but even that looks like a lovely spot to relax. Make sure you check out the website to see some aerial views!
17 – Sleep in a Cosy Georgian Cottage or on a Farm
With so many great things to see and do in Richmond, it would be very difficult to fit them all in with only one day to explore. So why not stay a night (or more than one) in the township itself? There are lots of quaint B&Bs, manor houses and other accommodation types available, many of which are in cosy little Georgian cottages. You can see what’s available here.
Previously – Dress Up and Have an Olde Time Portrait Taken
Another popular and fun activity you used to be able to do in Richmond is to dress up and have your photo taken in an old-fashioned style at Olde Time Portraits. This business is no longer located in Richmond but if you really want to do it you can in Blackmans Bay which is about a half-hour drive south of Hobart. You can choose to have your photo done in sepia or made into a ‘Wanted’ poster as well. My friend Robyn and I (above) dressed up as lovely ladies of Olde Hobart Town (back when I was blonde) and it was so much fun and a great memory to look back on! Check the website or Facebook page for more information, examples of other portraits and so forth.
Tour to Richmond?
If you really want to explore Richmond for yourself but won’t have access to a car, then you could join this half-day tour to Richmond from Hobart. I obviously haven’t done it myself, but it has good reviews!
Have you been to or are you planning to visit Richmond? Let me know your favourite part or what you’re looking forward to most in the comments and don’t forget to pin this for later if you are planning your own visit!