Friday, May 12, 2017

Rediscovering Tasmania - Oast Houses

It is some years since I last wrote a blog about this beautiful island of Tasmania. It is not that I stopped enjoying the amazing beauty, but rather that other priorities placed rediscovering Tassie on the back burner. Jan and I continue to love driving around the island and last week enjoyed revisiting the Derwent Valley as part of my programme of rehabilitation following a serious operation.

Autumn is a great time to drive into the Derwent Valley with dazzling 'gold' autumn around the Derwent River. It includes old historic buildings that are always worth revisiting, soaking up the atmosphere of years long gone. With autumn colours now fading fast, last Friday was really our only remaining opportunity to make the drive. We had no special plan; just drive to New Norfolk & Bushy Park, a snack somewhere and enjoy!

We followed our usual northern route along the Derwent River to New Norfolk. Once through the township, we knew of a rather beautiful Oast House dating back to the nineteenth century. It is normally closed, but to our surprise, the gate was open and the entrance looked inviting enough for us to drive in and park the car for a wander around. This property, known as Valleyfield Oast House, is always spectacular, but rarely open to the general public. With cameras in hand we did our usual; Jan went one way and I the other, clicking away to our hearts content without anyone challenging us. We just loved it and now just wish to share our impressions with you. This was our first stop on this wonderful day of rediscovery with so much still to see. For that reason, I will limit the number of pics I will now post. Here goes...........!

Autumn colours assist in showing off these old style fences.

Our first view of the first oast house.
Going back to 1870. A new venture in Tasmania.

  Valleyfield Estate still looking impressive. There are plans for renovations.

The present homestead looking impressive!

What is an Oast House? I searched for a brief definition of a what an Oast House is and quote from Wikipedia that 'An oast house or hop kiln is a building designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process.'

Growing hops was an important part of the Derwent Valley History in the nineteenth century during the colonial era. I found the following website a useful source of information and will quote from it.       

The website suggests that:
From the very early days of colonisation in Australia, huge attention was given to trying to get hop cuttings to grow, so as to encourage the more wholesome consumption of beer by the early settlers and stamp out all the evils associated with the rum trade.
I find it intriguing that the beginning of hops plantations in Australia found its genesis in 'stamping out the evils associated with the rum trade.' For beer lovers, I am sure, this was quite welcome and even today, hop fields in the Derwent Valley, especially around Bushy Park, remain an important cash crop for the area. With hop fields came the need to build hop kilns to dry the hops once harvested. These hop kilns became known as oast houses of which a few are still in existence in the area. Indeed, I believe them to be quite important landmarks. For Jan and I it was a wonderful start to our day of rediscovering this part of Tasmania. Driving through country filled with gold autumn colours and stopping at one place where blackberries were still ripe and inviting to be picked and eaten, was the perfect recipe for the day!

Arriving in Bushy Park we found a delightful old cottage - Hawthorn Lodge, that dates back to 1869. Being close to lunch time, we did not hesitate to knock on the door to enjoy a light and adequate lunch, all home cooked. Soup was great, as were the scones with cream and raspberry jam. Yum! But, we especially enjoyed the atmosphere of this historic cottage. Click on the next photo for an enlargement and it will provide you with some important information about this place.

As you can read, Ebenezer Shoobridge was a bit of an entrepreneur with lots of energy. The cottage has a large garden, which you can wander through and includes a Magnolia tree that is understood to be the oldest Magnolia tree in Australia - according to a report done by the ABC.

Hawthorn Lodge C1869 
Golden Autumn!

An interesting chat with our hostess directed us to Text Oast House, not far from Hawthorn Lodge. I had not seen this amazing property - it is just a little of the main road and not easily seen from the road. It is privately owned and not generally open to the public. However, it sounded so interesting that we decided to find our way there and seek permission to have a look around. We were intrigued in part because of what the Hawthorn Lodge lady told us about the Text Kiln. We also wanted to know a bit more about this property and why it was so named and the contribution of Ebenezer Shoobridge. I can do no better then to quote from the link that I referred to at the beginning of this blog:
 In 1867 William Ebenezer Shoobridge (1846-1940) came to the Styx valley and began growing and processing hops. He was the first to plant hops at Bushy Park in 1864. His 3 hectares of planting are now known as the Farm. In 1867 he built the Text Kiln to dry the hops, and as Ebenezer was a religious man, the kiln served as a place for prayer. On the walls of the Text Kiln are quotations from the Bible, such as 'And these words that I command thee this day shall be in thine heart and thou shall write them on the posts of thine house and on thine gate'. Appropriately in the middle of the building is the sign 'God is Love' and on the far side is 'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life'.
When we arrived at Text Kiln farm, there was no one in sight to ask permission to have a look. Respectfully, we wandered around the establishment. It was outstanding - very beautiful - interesting and more. We did what we always do; Jan went one way and I went another way. The cameras were busy and the following is but a small sample of what we saw:
Our first glimpse of Text Kiln Farm. Wow!

What an amazing setting!

The Text Kiln. The text plaques are visible on the walls

The Text Kiln showing its size!

For a closer look. You can see the text plaques set in the wall
Truly, a labour of love. Great core value:
Union is Strength!
But above all, God is love. So much so that He gave His only son! 
That is love!!!

I get the feeling that Ebenezer practised what he believed!

A final look at this bit of history

And this is what it is all about. Hops!

And something so natural and beautiful.
Love this pic, loved our visit!

Hope you enjoyed the journey with us.