The magnificent Boab Tree

If you want to see a Boab Tree, head to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This unusual looking tree is found everywhere across the region, from around Kununurra all the way down to Broome you will see these incredible trees.  They are quite the sight to see and we really love these beautiful ancient trees.

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Boabs are a very slow-growing tree and it takes many hundreds of years for these to grow.  They love well-drained sandy soil and the Kimberley region is the perfect growing environment for Boab’s as they receive plenty of warmth and water during their growing season (which happens to be the wet season) and then during their dormant period (the winter months / dry season) they prefer the drier conditions.

The boab tree is deciduous and loses all its leaves during dormancy in winter.   As these winter months are the ‘dry season’ this is the time most travellers are in the area.  Therefore, it’s generally a bare brown skeleton of a tree that is seen.   The new flowers usually start to open around November.

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Every boab tree is unique and some of them are said to be over 1500 years old.  As for the history of the trees, the Aborigines used them for shelter, food and medicine.  Once the white settlers arrived they were more commonly used as meeting points, or as described later, prison cells.

We’ve heard a few stories of why the boab tree looks the way it does, but one such story is that, initially the boab was one of the most beautiful majestic trees ever created.  After a while it began to boast of its beauty to the other trees.  It was after this that a higher being decided to punish it and turned it upside down to expose its roots and hide its beauty forever.

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Food

Boab trees have a ‘nut’ which grows and inside the nut are seeds.  As mentioned previously, the indigenous people used this tree as a food source as most parts of the tree are edible.  Apparently parts of the tree are very high in Vitamin C content.

Nowadays boabs are grown commercially and the boab roots are sold and make their way into many gourmet foods.  We actually purchased the most amazing mango and boab chutney while we were in WA.


Art & Craft

The nuts themselves are covered in a fine hair which, once scraped off, reveals the dark brown boab nut.  In many of the art galleries and craft stores around the Kimberly you will see the most amazing carvings that have been carved out on these nuts.


Boab Prison Tree

While on our Western Australian trip a few years ago we visited to Boab Prison Tree in Derby (pictured below).  This tree is said to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres.  It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.  This tree is now a registered Aboriginal Site.

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As the trees age, their trunks become hollow.  It was said that this tree was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners over night, on their way to Derby for sentencing.  It’s recently been reported that there is no evidence that this particular tree was ever used as a prison, but there was also another similar one at Wyndham.

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We really do love these trees, there is just something about them.  At the end of the day it is just a tree, but they are all so different and there is something slightly magical about these ancient creatures.  We even brought our own boab home with us which sits proudly on our front entrance.

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A day of tragedy … and the luckiest Monaro around

This story starts on Sunday 5th January 1975 and it details the incredible life and death situation that one family found themselves in.  This was definitely one lucky family, someone was certainly watching over them that night.

On this fateful night the Lake Illawarra cargo ship lost control and collided with the pylons of the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania and this resulted in a large section of bridge collapsing into the river, taking the ship down with it.  Unfortunately a number of cars that were travelling on the bridge at the time were also sent crashing down into the Derwent River.

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Frank & Sylvia Manley and their young children were returning home from a day out and were unfortunately crossing the bridge at that exact moment.  They were travelling along the bridge when Sylvia noticed the lights disappear in front of the car and then realised that the bridge was gone and she screamed for Frank to stop.  The car slid towards the edge of the bridge, coming to a halt with the car swinging and front wheels dangling over the edge.  As the car teetered on the edge of the bridge, they slowly made their way out of the vehicle.  All this while, the Manley’s had no idea what had even happened as this emergency situation was unfolding around them.

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According to Frank, the only thing that stopped their car from tipping over the edge of the bridge was the casing of the automatic transmission, which gripped into the surface of the bridge.

From stories we’ve read, Frank has joked that he was glad he purchased an automatic as if he’d purchased a four speed manual they would have all died that night!

Little did the Manley’s know that what started out as a family day out would end in such tragedy and their car would be splashed across news screens and newspapers across the country …. and would ultimately make this probably the most famous and photographed HQ GTS Monaro of all time.

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Another vehicle, a Holden station wagon was also left stranded on the edge of the bridge and is seen in all the photographs from that night, but this vehicle did not receive the same publicity.  Although, the owners of the wagon were also very fortunate that night as they were hit from behind by another vehicle that couldn’t stop and luckily they too came to rest safely at the edge of the bridge.

This exact car is on display at the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania in Launceston

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Click here to see a video about this unfortunate event and an interview with Frank & Sylvia Manley.

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Sadly, 12 people died that night, seven crew from the cargo ship and five people from within the cars that went over the bridge.

The bridge collapse had a huge impact on the residents of Hobart as the city was suddenly cut in two.  As most schools, hospitals and businesses were located on the western side, the eastern residents were severely affected.   The bridge was subsequently repaired and reopened in late 1977.

On the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, a plaque was unveiled that simply read ….

In memory of those who died

In recognition of those who were affected

In acknowledgement of those who assisted

The Tasmanian Community remembers the Tasman Bridge disaster of 5th January 1975.

Another plaque was unveiled for the 40th anniversary and at 9.27pm, the exact time of the event 40 years earlier, the lights were dimmed, traffic was stopped and there was a minute’s silence to remember and pay respects.

A very interesting story, one of tragedy and of luck but one that has been firmly placed into the history of Tasmania forever.

Tassie Trip Day 5: Richmond

What a beautiful old town Richmond is, you can see why this is one of Tasmania’s most popular destinations for tourists.  This town is steeped in history and as you take a drive through the village your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful architecture of the old buildings, some dating back to the early 1820’s.

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You’ll find Richmond about a 20 min drive from Hobart, in the Coal River Valley.  The town itself is home to many cafes, restaurants and galleries, each operating out of resorted Georgian buildings that line the streets.  Visiting this town is like taking a step back in time, there is so much to learn and the buildings are like a work of art.

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Many of the homes are restored to their original standing, whilst the newer style homes are built to fit in with the surrounding architecture.  It’s hard to explain just how picture perfect Richmond is.  Even the surrounding towns are filled with beautiful wineries, it simply is one of the most spectacular areas of Tasmania.

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In the 1820’s, the gaol and courthouse were built, as Richmond had become an important convict station and a military post.  Built in 1825, the Richmond Gaol is the oldest gaol in Australia.

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Unfortunately both times we drove through Richmond were outside the opening hours of the gaol, so we were unable to stand inside the stone walls.

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The most famous landmark of Richmond (and our initial main reason for visiting) is the Richmond Bridge.  Building of the bridge commenced in 1823 and the bridge was officially opened in April 1825.

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This Heritage Listed sandstone bridge spans the Coal River and it is now the oldest bridge in Australia.  This amazing structure was built by convict labour and the design was an engineering achievement at the time.  In fact, for 10 years after it was built it had the longest span of any bridge in Australia.

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Now I’m sure that this isn’t the only one in the area, but the ghost of George Grover reportedly haunts the bridge.  Legend has it that Mr Grover was not a nice man by any means and often whipped the convicts as they quarried sandstone from nearby Butchers Hill.  One night he was attacked by the work gang pushing the cart and they threw his body onto the rocks below the bridge and his ghost is said to have haunted the arches of the bridge ever since.

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Never one to pass up the chance to visit a cemetery or photograph a church, next on our stop was St John’s Catholic Church.  Built in 1836, this is Australia’s oldest existing Catholic Church.

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Should you pay a visit to Richmond?  ……. for sure!  This area is beautiful beyond words.  I don’t think either of us could live in Tasmania as we like our hot sunny days too much (definitely couldn’t survive a winter in Tasmania!), BUT if we were to move there, we both agreed that this was the perfect place.

Tassie Trip Day 3: Woolmers Estate & Brickendon

Whilst driving to Launceston we passed a turnoff to Woolmers Estate & Brickendon and decided to go and check them out and we are so glad we did.

Both of these places are World Heritage Listed Convict Sites.

Four Archer brothers emigrated from Hertford, UK between 1811 and 1833 and all settled close to one another, in fact William and Thomas farmed side by side.  Thomas Archer settled on Woolmers Estate which was a pastoral operation running sheep and cattle, while William Archer settled on Brickendon, an agricultural property.  Both estates were run independently of each other, but they did share their assigned convicts.

Both Woolmers Estate and Brickendon took part in the convict Assignment System which operated in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) until 1840.  Under the Assignment System, convicts were assigned to free settlers.  They were responsible for feeding, clothing and housing the convicts in return for their labour.  This helped convicts as they could then have skills or a trade when they received their ‘ticket of leave’ and were then free to leave and obtain paid employment anywhere.  It’s understood that they were so well looked after at these two properties that many stayed on for years or decades after receiving their ticket of leave.

 


Woolmers Estate

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Woolmers was owned by six generations of Thomas Archers.  The first Thomas founded the property in 1817 and the final Thomas passed away in 1994.  He did not have any heirs and left the property and it’s contents to the Archer Historical Foundation.

The property has numerous buildings where convicts once worked and lived.  It’s the perfect place to reflect on colonial life and look back at the heritage that has been preserved over the years.

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The Rose Garden was created in 2001 on the site of the original apple orchard.

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Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee applicable and you are provided with a booklet that allows a self guided tour around the property, except the main house.  There is an extra fee if you would like to see and go on the tour of the main house.

Address:  658 Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 2230

Website:  http://www.woolmers.com.au


Brickendon

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Much like the Woolmers Estate, there are numerous buildings to view and walk through in the farm village area.  There is a lot of information on the history of the property and the convicts that lived and worked there.  After walking around the village, it’s then time to explore the estate garden which is beautiful.

Brickendon has remained the same 1150 acres (465 hectares) as originally granted in 1824.

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It’s amazing to see the crimes that these poor souls were sentenced for …… 7 years for stealing some handkerchiefs or life for stealing a pair of trousers, wow!  It really starts to put things into perspective doesn’t it, we really do have it easy nowadays.

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The photo below was taken in the estate garden.  There was a wedding just finishing up the day we were there and its no wonder they hold so many weddings here, the backdrop is spectacular.

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Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee and you can take yourself on a self-guided tour, maps supplied.  This also gives you entry to the gardens which are across the road.

address:  Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 1383

Website:  http://www.brickendon.com.au


 

Autumn Harvest at Rouse Hill House & Farm

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This morning we headed out for a taste of country life ….. 10 minutes from home!  We have been talking about going to Rouse Hill House & Farm for years and now we will definitely be back, what a beautiful place!  Today we went to the Autumn Harvest.  This featured markets, which had local produce such as chutneys, honey, oils and vinegars, fruit and vegetables and yummy scones, jam & cream!

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Rouse Hill House & Farm is a 19th century sandstone house set on 13 acres of rural property, including lots of barns and outbuildings.  The views from here are great, surrounded by lush green paddocks and bush.  You wouldn’t think you are that close to the city ……. until you look across the road through the trees and see the big ‘bunnings’ sign!!

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Richard Rouse and his wife, Elizabeth, were granted the land and built the house in the early 1800’s.  Six generations of the Rouse family then occupied the house consecutively from the 1800’s until the late 1990’s, how amazing is that.  It was then opened as a museum to share it’s amazing history with the public.

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 We will be back to tour the house itself, so much more history to learn.   You tend to take your local surroundings for granted, but you’d be amazed at how much history surrounds us, get out there and find out about your local areas too!

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