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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

10 things to see and do in Hadspen Tasmania Australia

Only eight kilometres (5mi) from Launceston is the town of Hadspen. With a population of just over 2000, it is situated on the banks of the South Esk River. Most buildings here are residential. Yet, there is a lot this town has to offer for visitors. It still retains a country vibe, even though close to the large town of Launceston with a population of around 123,000.

Declared a town in 1866, Hadspen was on the original main road from Launceston to Devonport. The town has been bypassed in the late 20th century.

1. Entally House

Built in 1819 by Thomas Reibey, this heritage-listed site is a grand colonial estate. The house and gardens are open to the public. It was a joy to wander through the property and enjoy an afternoon tea there. The volunteer guides were amazing with the information they shared about the property and the Reibey family. Thomas was the son of Mary Reibey, a former convict and highly successful businesswoman. Her likeness is on the Australian $20 note, the only banknote in the world to feature a person convicted of a crime.

Read more about Entally House here.

2. Entally Lodge

The only licensed venue in Hadspen is The Lodge. With a bistro, bar and café, function rooms and affordable motel accommodation, this is a perfect place to stay while visiting the local area. Bookings are essential for meals, as they are not open every day. Entally Lodge specialises in locally sourced produce straight from farm to table. Their delicious food is served in an environment that feels like home (without you preparing, cooking or cleaning!)

3. Heritage-Listed properties

There are some heritage-listed properties in town, as well as others dating back to the colonial times. You can see them as you wandering along the main street, however there is no information readily available on these properties. Oh well, at least I can admire the architecture and imagine the history. The nearby town of Carrick has a very well presented brochure that allows visitors to self-guide through the historical properties in their town. This small building below could have been either a shop or a dwelling.

There are four simple Georgian cottages nestled together, two which provide a good heritage streetscape on the main thoroughfare.

4. Old Convict Era Gaol

This stone gothic style gaol is still standing at in the main street.

5. Church of the Good Shepherd

This is a church that took ninety years to build! Plans for the Anglican church were drawn up in 1857 and the foundation stone was laid on 23 December 1868. Thomas Reibey from the nearby Entally House was an Archdeacon and funded the one thousand pounds it was estimated to cost. The plans were to build it in a Gothic Revival style. Thomas had been conducting services in the chapel at Entally, which a lot of the local townsfolk attended. When the church was almost complete a scandal erupted. Thomas was accused of “indecently dealing” with a married woman.

He withdrew his funding and from 1870 worked ceased on the building. There was no roof and the walls were unfinished. For a while, Anglican services were held in a wooden church, St Stephens, next door.

As the one hundred year mark was approaching, in 1957 it was decided to finish building the church. Finally completed on 20 May 1961, the long awaited first service was held the following Sunday. Even after the scandal and drama, Thomas Reibey and his wife Catherine are both buried in the graveyard behind the church.

6. Old Gravestones

A Taphophile is a person interested in cemeteries, funerals and gravestones. They are known as Tombstone Tourists and some people think they are strange, while others understand the fascination. Reading epitaphs can be both heart wrenching and loving at the same time. "Did they have a family etc?" "How do we want to be remembered on our own gravestone?"

At Hadspen there are indeed some old stones. Aged with moss is the headstone of Robert Paling who died in 1879 aged 67, with no other details. Further research has uncovered that Robert was a convict from England. He was sentenced to life in 1835 for "counterfeiting the coin" and was assigned to Longford, Tasmania. He met his wife Eliza Clayton and they married in Longford in 1947, she was ten years younger than him. Nothing more is known of Robert.

Compare this to the grand structure of William Hadfield who also had a poem engraved on his tomb.

In my research, I found that William Hadfield had a fear of being buried underground, which is why his crypt is above ground, diagonally opposite the house he had owned. Hadfield had also been a convict, but he became a prominent landowner/businessman & remained in the Hadspen area. In 1835 at age nineteen, together with his father Thomas, he received a life sentence in Lancaster for killing a man in a pub brawl. Thomas was sent to New South Wales and William to Tasmania.

Hadfield worked for the Reibey's at Entally and eventually went to Victoria where he made a fortune on the goldfields. He married former convict Eliza Williams and went on to become a wealthy man in Hadspen. He owned a house, shop and two acres of land. He later bought more land and shops and became a landlord.

These two vastly different headstones reflect the alternative paths that both former convicts took.

7. The Red Feather Inn

This heritage listed building is located in the main street of Hadspen. Built of convict-hewn sandstone in 1842, its original purpose was as a coaching inn. From the street it looks like a single-storey building, but the land drops away and the building’s rear consists of two storeys.

This was an important stop for early travellers on the way from Launceston to Deloraine. They could change their horses here, receive food and refreshments and even stay overnight. The inn was successful until the rail line from Launceston to Carrick was built in 1869. Both people and goods could be transported faster, safer and cheaper by rail, rather than by horse or wagon.

The building has served various purposes over the years, and in 2004 it was run as a restaurant. In 2008 it started to provide four star accommodation and a cooking school also now runs from the premises.

8. Bridge

When I stand near a bridge and admire the architecture and design, it is the feat of engineering that amazes me. I imagine how it changed the life of people since it was built.

The South Esk River at Hadspen was first crossed by a ford near Entally House. In 1828 Thomas Reibey installed a punt which he charged a toll for people to use. By 1843 a bridge was built, partly funded by the Government, partly by the Reibeys (who were allowed to charge a toll for crossing, until their contribution was repaid). Several bridges have been built over time, most washed away or damaged due to the river flooding.

The Bass Highway now bypasses Hadspen and the current bridge is a 240 metre (790 ft) long two lane structure.

9. The countryside

Surrounded by rich green farmlands, undulating pastures and hills, there is a great sense of peace amongst this beauty.

10. Lions Park Reserve

Located on the banks of the South Esk River is a delightful park to stop and enjoy the day. A boat ramp enables watercraft and kayaks to be launched from the shore. A perfect place to relax.

On the day I visited, there were people fishing there in hopes of catching dinner. If successful, they could use the free undercover electric barbeques located here. The public toilets on site were very clean. There is no overnight camping allowed here, but as a day spot, it is a great resting area.

In summary, Hadspen is a gorgeous small town with enough to see and do to keep visitors occupied for the better part of a day. It is close to Launceston and definitely worth visiting.

Happy Travels!

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