TASSIE CLASSIC: The bridge at Richmond Village was built by convict labour.
TASSIE CLASSIC: The bridge at Richmond Village was built by convict labour. CONTRIBUTED

Richmond a must-see

IF YOU'D like to get close to our convict past, Tasmania is one of your go-to places.

Hobart reeks of history along its waterfront, particularly the sandstone buildings which were dens of iniquity in the 1800s when freed convicts mingled with whalers, prostitutes and sundry riff-raff.

In the tiny town of Richmond, a short and pretty drive from Hobart, the convict history has been wonderfully preserved in the Richmond Gaol and Courthouse.

Intact as it was when it was built in the 1820s, the jail sends chills down the spine, at the same time drawing you in with dreadful fascination.

It had me so horribly intrigued I rushed to read again, Bryce Courtenay's The Potato Factory, a big work of fiction based on extensive research, covering the convict transportation period.

It follows the story of London's Ikey Solomon (a receiver of stolen goods, a real-life character who Dickens based his Fagin on) transported from England in 1828 who spent time at Richmond Gaol.

The lock-up is a small and handsome sandstone building which belies the horrors perpetrated there, especially in the courtyard where cruel floggings were carried out.

Nearby, the Richmond Bridge - built with convict labour from 1823 to 1825 - is the oldest bridge in Australia and with its striking sandstone arches, is an enduring emblem of Tasmania's convict heritage.

If you go...

JUST 20 minutes from Hobart, Richmond Village offers many styles of accommo

dation for the single traveller to families, with choices of many Georgian-style cottages, budget, luxury, modern, and vineyard accommodations.


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