The marvellous miniature model village of Old Hobart Town, in Richmond Tasmania, presents a visual history in a fun environment. Often, when we look at books or paintings, we cannot “see” the actual three-dimensional realities of daily life in the past. This exceptional village provides that stimulus and visitors walk around and admire the displays. They are presented in a way that enable you to see the ordinary everyday situations that would have been the harsh, pioneer reality of the 1820s fledgling Hobart Town. Hobart was originally settled with only 300 people, mostly convicts and soldiers. The 2022 population was just over 200,000.
Opened in 1991, this fascinating model village is an award-winning tourist attraction. It took Andrew and John Quick over three years to develop. Open every day except Christmas, it is wheelchair friendly. As it is an outdoor attraction, umbrellas are provided on wet, raining days.
Most visitors to Tasmania are interested in Australia’s heritage. Early Hobart has a very special place in our history. In 1800 England was at war with France. After Sydney was settled the British became concerned that France would claim Tasmania and control Bass Strait, which was the sea route to Sydney. To prevent this, Hobart was settled in 1804 and became a strategically important settlement and the second English colony in Australia- from a sign at the village.
There are over 60 miniature buildings at Old Hobart Town are on a scale of 1:16, covered in cements and plasters. Look closely and you can see that the doors are genuine wood, and the windows are real glass. The attention to detail is amazing.
Pictures of the same buildings in more modern times have been placed here for comparison. I liked this feature. It pays homage to the craftmanship of the original, and also the dedication of people who have restored them over the years.
The miniature trees in the village are bonsaied Tasmanian myrtles, which are normally a large rainforest tree. Everywhere you look here makes you admire the ingenuity and craftmanship of the artisans who created these displays.
The people figurines have been created in clay, fired and painted, all individually. The whimsical poses and situations of the people here are entertaining. The fact that you are learning about history at the same time, seems to almost happen accidentally. People of all ages will be entertained by the antics of the figurines. A stolen kiss and cuddle in the back of a hay wagon? A sneaky drink or three? Bushrangers holding up a stagecoach?
I love the ordinary day activities that have been captured too. Wives doing their shopping, people doing their daily work, and convicts at labour gangs.
We can never forget that Australia was originally a penal colony for England. Law and order was upheld by overseas, soldiers and the courts. Some trusted convicts were assigned to free settlers, but reoffenders were often harshly punished.
The village is a brilliant way to delve into the history of Hobart in an entertaining way, suitable for all ages. I highly recommend coming here before you go to modern day Hobart. Then, when you walk the modern streets, you can appreciate the progress and development of this most Southern Capital city of Australia.