Louise Archer greeted us with energy to match the sun casting a warm glow over the farm.
We were lucky to catch her, it was Monday and the World Heritage Listed Brickendon Farm was closed to the public. Monday is ‘tending to the estate day’ and Louise, hard at work, wandered past the old barnyards as we pulled up to the entrance.
There’s a lot to be done at Brickendon, not only is it still a working farm, it is also a living museum, a site that hosts weddings and functions, and a retreat for those wishing to enjoy a farm stay in one of Australia’s most important historical convict sites.
This Tasmanian historical site is situated in Longford, one of the only villages in Van Diemen’s Land formed by the free settlers.
We visited as part of our Tasmanian Go Behind the Scenery campaign and stayed in the gardener’s cottage the evening before and were keen to see more of the property.
Lucky Louise found us when she did and took us for a tour.
Despite never really having an interest in history, Louise’s passion for the stories that lie behind her family home shone through as she took us through the farm sharing with us the convict tales that gave this property so much depth.
Turkeys gobbled at our feet and ducks followed us through the small brick-nogged cottage where William Archer, the original owner of Brickendon stayed as the farm was being built.
William’s brother Thomas settled the Woolmers Estate just over the river at the same time in 1824. The two estates are regarded as the most significant rural estates in Australia, having the second largest number of convict workers and retaining a living history from Early European settlement to the present day.
Brickendon’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is still a lived in and working farm. It has moved with the times, unlike Woolmer’s Estate across the river which has been encapsulated into the era when the family moved out and left it as is.
What I loved about Brickendon is that it still retains the look and feel of the farm from when it was settled in 1824.
Brick and large timber framed buildings that once housed grain, flour, oats and hay remain standing.
Smokehouses and ovens, outhouses, and shearing sheds can still be wandered through and the old blacksmith shop is left as it was when last used in the 1930’s.
Markings on the ground are laid out to depict where the old convict barracks once stood and the old dairy has been converted into a convict centre designed to share the history of the farm.
Brickendon is one of Tasmania’s oldest farming properties, and has been continuously operated and lived on by its direct descendants. Louise’s husband is 6th generation Archer and their children 7th.
Their son has just finished agricultural college and is returning to manage the farm and employ what he has learned to merge modern farming methods with a traditional farming landscape.
The natural hedges dividing one tract of farmland from the other is an indication of how the Archers have already managed to retain some of the old charm with modern farming techniques
“We have to trim the hedges so the irrigators can send the water up over the top of the trees to the next field.”
A Victorian chapel is built on the site of the original convict chapel, which was provided for the convicts to stop them from going into nearby Longford to worship. With the number of pubs in the village they would never return.
Once the worshipping rule had passed the church was used as a hay barn. Louise reconverted it back to the days of its worshipping glory and now hosts around 26 weddings a year. The small, historic chapel has a stunning outlook on the farm and guests can dance up a storm later in the barns used for the reception parties.
Louise took us through the paddocks to the newly built farm cottages. A herd of sheep ran to greet us and much like cats affectionately brushed past our legs with their thick, downy fur coats.
The friendly pets and guests can help feed them of a morning. A stay here at the farm can be as involved or relaxing as you like.
The rustic cabins, recently built to keep up with demand, have a stunning view overlooking the paddocks. They fit perfectly into the historic nature of the convict and farm buildings without deceiving you into thinking they are original structures.
Louise wanted them to be built as they used to at the beginning days of the farm—using what was left lying around cast aside by nature. Chunks of wood were used to line the fireplace, the walls put together with small pieces of wood and hessian bags stapled to the walls to act as wallpaper—a feature I loved.
Brickendon also has accommodation options for those wanting a more traditional feel. Two original farm cottages close to the homestead are available.
We stayed in the Gardner’s Cottage, an original building which was brought back to life in 1991. It’s located in a secluded part of the main gardens, with a private veranda overlooking the farm.
It still has many original features such as an open fire and old fashion bath. It’s quaint and cosy and so peaceful. I loved the old wood fire in the kitchen and the low ceilings and wooden, rickety interior. It;s great for a romantic weekend away.
if you want more of a historic experience for the family, Brickendon also has the larger Coachman’s cottage available, which has a very cute picket fence wrapped around it.
Brickendon Homestead and Gardens
Brickendon gardens include one of the most unusual collections of trees in a private garden in Australia surrounding the Georgian Homestead.
The family home is closed to the public but visitors can wander through the gardens which has a very English feel with its flowering beds of roses, camellias and wisteria. The gardens also feature trees from around the world, oaks, elms, pines and more.
You can of course visit Brickendon on a day trip, but I highly suggest diving more deeply into the experience by staying on the farm.
There are very few places in Australia that provide you with an opportunity like this: a rich Australian history of convicts and free settlers working together and a landscape that remains virtually untouched for 200 years.
Watch this video on Brickendon and short interview with Louise, including why she thinks you should visit Tasmania:
Brickendon – The Facts
- Where: 236 Wellington St Longford Tasmania http://brickendon.com.au/
- When: Open Tues- Sunday 9:30- 5pm Animal Feeding starts at 10am daily.
- Cost: Adult $12.50 Child $4.50 Family $35
- Accommodation: Starts from $130 a night Book your stay here
- Want more information? Read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor