things to do in devonport tasmania - the spirit of tasmania car ferryContinuing on from the last few post’s theme of close towns to visit while staying at Glencoe, here are some options for Devonport Tasmania attractions to see. When you want to explore the north west of Tasmania, the two closest towns to Glencoe Country B&B besides Sheffield are Latrobe and Devonport. Both towns are only a 25-minute drive away and are linked through history. Glencoe Guesthouse is also near Cradle Mountain, where many visitors go to see the amazing scenery and wildlife, or go hiking. Today, the car ferry (called the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’) sets sail from Melbourne on the mainland and comes in to Devonport.

Early explorers and settlers to Tasmania tended to bypass the Mersey River, as it was blocked by a sandbar and the banks were heavily timbered. It wasn’t until 1826 that the first close investigations of the river were made by the advance party of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, and on the 7th July of that year, the river received its name – after the River Mersey in Liverpool, England. In 1835, the Frogmore settlement – now known as Latrobe – became the focus of life in the district, as vessels small enough to cross the bar could sail up the river to this point where there was plenty of good land along the Mersey flats.

Latrobe, on the upper reaches of the Mersey River, would become the most important settlement on the central north coast and was considered the capital of the region. At the turn of the 1890s, it had a population of more than 1500, the largest of any community in Tasmania’s north coast region, and a rural district of 50,000 acres under cultivation and improved pastures. Its dwellings were connected to a gas supply, it had its own newspaper and hosted numerous major community and sporting events.

things to do in devonport tasmania - city and riverUntil the mid-1890s, Latrobe was Tasmania’s third largest settlement and the major northern port, exporting timber and then produce to the mainland during the Victorian gold rush, but it began to fall into decline by the end of the century as Devonport grew in importance. You’ll still find several historic buildings dating from Latrobe’s heyday, including St Luke’s Church and Vermont from the 1860s, the Lucas Hotel from 1870, Hamilton House from 1872 and Frogmore from 1880. The Court House was built in 1883 and now houses the Court House Museum.

Sherwood Hall is a historic home built in 1850 for Thomas Johnson and his wife Dolly Dalrymple. They are two historic figures in Tasmanian history – Thomas, an emancipated convict, and Dolly, the first recorded child of an aboriginal mother and white father – becoming two of the most prominent people of the era. Sherwood hall is open for visitors. No visit to Latrobe is complete without visiting Reliquaire. It is a store which is a magical wonderland of surprises; you just don’t know what you will find inside.

While in Latrobe, you should visit the Australian Axeman’s Hall of Fame. The United Australian Axemen’s Association was formed in Whittaker’s Coffee Palace in Latrobe in June 1891 to plan the world’s first axmen’s carnival, which took place in the town later that year. Woodchopping events have since become part of the national culture and many Tasmanians have excelled in them. Latrobe’s Australian Axeman’s Hall of Fame salutes both the pioneers of the industry and those who have triumphed in the competitive woodchopping. The Platypus Interpretation Centre is located in the Axeman’s Hall of Fame and home to the ‘Big Platypus.’ Platypus tours can also be arranged.

Close to Latrobe is Ashgrove Cheese – a cheese lovers delight, The Cherry Shed – promoting locally grown cherries…and driving back towards Devonport you pass House of Anvers – a chocolate lovers delight.

In the mid-19th century, the city of Devonport was made up of twin settlements Formby and Torquay, which were located on opposite banks at the mouth of the Mersey River. A river ferry service connected the communities, and it wasn’t until 1890 that a public vote declared them united as the town known as Devonport. The shipping industry featured prominently in its growth and the oldest standing building in town to this day is the Marine Board building, built in 1882. Once the mouth of the river was deepened, regular steamer services between Melbourne and Mersey began and contributed greatly to local commerce and trade. The Bluff lighthouse was completed in 1889.

sailing and ports on the Mersey River, TasmaniaThe turn of the century brought even more progress and economic boost to the region in the form of railways. A wharf was created on the west bank, close to the railway and warehouses. Coal, timber and limestone further boosted Devonport’s prosperity. There are several museums in Devonport tracing the history of the railways, shipping and local Aboriginal people. Other places to see in the vicinity: visit Home Hill, a National Trust Property which was the home of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. Have a look around the Antique Emporium, grab lunch at Coles beach, a tipple at the Southern Wild Distillery, and for the train enthusiast, visit the Don River Railway.

On the way back to Glencoe, stop in at the Tasmanian Arboretum at Spreyton. You could actually spend the whole day here. Extensive 66 hectare grounds, an old limestone quarry, 80 bird species, wild platypus, a variety of macropods and occasionally echidnas can be seen. After such a busy day you could arrange to have dinner at Glencoe and fall into bed.

So, why not book now to come and stay with us at our relaxing B&B, as you explore the Devonport Tasmania attractions and the wider area.

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