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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

10 things to see and do in Ross, Tasmania, Australia

Sightseeing, soaking up history or eating your way around the delicious food establishments, Ross is a definite place to visit in Tasmania. This beautiful Georgian village is located 78km (48 mi) from Launceston and 117km (73 mi) from Hobart. The population in 2016 was just 404. For such a small town it certainly has enough here to see and do over several days.

1. The four corners of Ross

Located at the crossroads in the middle of Ross are the famous four corners. One corner is temptation (the hotel built in 1831).

Another corner is salvation (the Roman Catholic church). Originally a store, residence and bakery, it was converted to create the church in 1920.

A third corner is damnation (town gaol and now a private residence).The watchhouse was built in the 1830s on this site, with the old police building attached.

The fourth and final corner is recreation (the town hall). Built in the 1830s, this was once a scene of town entertainment and is now used as Council Chambers.

2. Convict Bridge

Built in 1836, there is no other bridge in the world like this three span bridge over the Macquarie River. A total of 186 carvings of animals, birds, insects, plants, Celtic designs and heads of local persons decorate the arches. Most bridges are not decorated in such an elaborate and intricate way. This was not just a practical thoroughfare, but a work of art.

The sandstone was obtained from the nearby quarry and built by convict chain gangs.

3. Churches

Along the elm-lined Church Street stands three churches. The most photographed is the Uniting Church, build in 1885, as it often appears in the background of the bridge photos.

The church was open when I visited and a wander through this small building revealed gorgeous blackwood pews. A set of beautiful stained glass windows were donated by the Old Students of the nearby now defunct Horton College.

4. Female Factory

The Ross site was one of only a few female convict compounds in Australia. It lasted from 1848 to 1855. It was designed to cater for 200 inmates and their children. All that remains today is the Assistant Superintendent’s Quarters which now houses a display of the area.

Spare a thought for poor Mary Ann Elliott. Her brief sad story is on one of the information boards relating to past residents in the display.

A walk around the excavated site takes you past informative signs. Conditions were tough at these times. One sign tells visitors “It was not uncommon for female passholders to fall pregnant when assigned as domestic servants. Under these circumstances, they were returned to the Female Factories to bear their children and receive further punishment for their crime.”

5. The bakeries

Tasmania is famous for its wonderful bakeries, and Ross houses two delicious examples.

The Ross Village Bakery is of interest to anime fans. It is often called the Kiki bakery as it resembles the bakery in the 1989 animated film Kiki’s Delivery Service. The bakery has been operating on the site since 1860 and their traditional semi-scotch brick oven can bake 300 loaves at a time! This is a full brick wood fired oven and produces the delicious tasting bread.

Bakery 31 and Tasmanian Scallop Pie Company is an award winning bakery in the main street where you can eat in or take away. I dined in and had a late brunch that was absolutely divine. The portions are large and filling, the staff friendly and the smells are incredible. The dining room features a pressed metal ceiling and sandstone walls. Originally built as a family home it was converted to a shop in 1880 and has had several incarnations, including a butcher shop. Relics from these bygone days are seen hanging from the roof.

6. The Little Lolly Shop

This cute shop stocks both imported and local sweets and lollies.

The sweets are reasonably priced for both locals and tourists. They stock what the customers want. The locally made delights are a big hit.

7. The Post Office

Built in 1896, the operational post office is also a great place to buy gifts and souvenirs.

A sandstone mounting block is still visible outside. Riders would step up on this to help them mount their horses.

8. Wool and Heritage Galleries

In this building is the Visitor Information Centre, a museum and a shop selling woollen clothing.

In its early days, Ross was a large sheep growing area. Its merino wool was prized world wide. In the wool exhibition here you can see a recreated shearing shed with a thrown fleece on its sorting table. You can smell the wool when you enter and are even able to feel the fleece.

The history gallery has several displays, including school stories, convict stories and details of the now defunct Horton College (although the impressive facade is still located in a nearby paddock, and is heritage listed). It was definitely worth a look around at both the static displays and video presentations to see how life was in the early settlement days and details of the significant milestones in Ross' history.

The wool shop is a perfect place to buy Australian woolen garments. I succumbed to temptation and bought a gorgeous red woolen skirt.

9. Historical building

If you are a lover of old buildings, as I am, then the Georgian town of Ross will delight you. Wander around the streets and gaze at 18th century homes and businesses that are well maintained and loved. You may even see a few relics from bygone days as well.

10. The Quarry

It is worth visiting the historic quarry on the outskirts of town. As it is up on a hill, you get a great view over the village and farmlands. The stone left here has a variety of vibrant colours. Interpretation signs at the site give visitors an insight into the different quarrying methods and tools used to painstakingly gather this precious material. The site is also a natural ampitheater and has hosted concerts and theatre performances. Sing a song when you are here and listen to the wonderful acoustics.

For years this site was used as the local rubbish tip. Fortunately, it has been restored to its original use. There is interpretation before the entrance to the quarry site and visitors can gain an understanding about colonial quarrying methods, tools, and the trades who toiled at the rock.The sandstone was of such superior quality that it promoted a letter to the editor in the Colonial Times in 1827, stating, “perhaps one of the finest quarries of freestone in the world for building, is contained in a small hill in the township of Ross.”

Happy Travels!

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