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Bothwell, TAS

Historic town on the Clyde River.

Although less well known than Richmond or Campbell Town, Bothwell Historic Town, with 60 buildings and locations of historic significance, is one of the most important Georgian towns in Tasmania. Beyond its historic significance it is a quiet, pretty agricultural town on the Clyde River.

Location

Bothwell is located 76 km north of Hobart and 350 m above sea level.

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Origin of Name

Governor George Arthur named Bothwell after a town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland which lies to the east of Glasgow.

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Things to See and Do

Bothwell Historic Town
Bothwell Historic Town is one of the most historically significant towns in Tasmania with a total of 60 buildings and locations of significant historic interest. The Visitor Information Centre has a small brochure titled Let's Browse in Bothwell which provides a useful map to the town as well as short descriptions of the places of interest around the town. Some notable buildings - well worth inspecting - include:

(1) Australasian Golf Museum
Located in Market Place in the Old School House (1887), the Australasian Golf Museum houses a comprehensive collection of golfing memorabilia, an amazing collection of golf clubs and explains "The evolution of the game through the different eras, as defined by the changing golf ball; from Feathery (1400s to mid 1800s) to Gutta-percha (1850s to 1900) to Haskell (turn of the century to World War II) and the modern balls." It is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm daily. Check out http://www.ausgolfmuseum.com for more details.

(4) St Michael and All Angels Church
Located at the corner of Patrick Street and Market Place is the town's Anglican Church - St Michael and All Angels - which was built in 1891 by the stonemason Thomas Lewis using local stone. Enter the church and admire Lewis's particularly beautiful stone staircase and the simple, elegant stone seats in the porch. It is a comment on Tasmania's weather that one of the most appealing aspects of the church is the fire place on the western wall which is used to heat the church on winter nights.

(26) Queens Park and Memorial Sundial
Erected in 1915 at the western end of Queens Park is the Bothwell Memorial Sundial. The sundial has been described as "the most interesting sundial in Australia" and perhaps the oldest free standing vertical sundial in the country. There is a brochure available at the Visitor Centre which explains how to read the time from the dial.

(47) St Luke's Presbyterian Church
St Luke's Presbyterian Church, now St Luke's Uniting Church, is also located in Market Place. It was designed in 1828 and completed in 1831. Of particular interest are the carvings above the main doorway. Daniel Herbert, the genius convict stonemason-sculptor who carved the images on the sides of the bridge at Ross, is credited with creating these strange images which may depict a Celtic pagan god and goddess. Herbert was known for his droll sense of humour. If they are pagan it is amusing to note that Governor Arthur upon inspecting the church ordered the architect, John Lee Archer, to change the rounded windows because they were 'unchristian'. The church was shared by Presbyterians and Anglicans until around 1880 when the Anglicans built their own church.

(55) Ratho and Wentworth
There are two 19th century 'gentlemen's residences' near Bothwell. 'Ratho', which lies to the west of the town on Highland Lakes Road, is a single storey stone house with wooden Ionic columns at the front. Built in the 1830s to a design by architect Andrew Bell it was the home of Alexander Reid. Ratho's great claim to fame is that the Ratho Golf Course is the oldest course in Australia and the oldest known course outside Scotland. Ratho is still a working farm with "grazing sheep maintaining the fairways and fences to keep them from the square greens, the course is a time capsule of how the game began and the way it was played during its first 500 years." It is now over 170 years old. Check out http://www.rathofarm.com for more details.
'Wentworth', on Wentworth Street was built for one of the town's early Police Magistrates, Major D'Arcy Wentworth. It is a gracious two storey home built in 1833 and originally known as Inverhall. D'Arcy Wentworth was the brother of William Charles Wentworth (who achieved fame when he was one of the first Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains) and son of D'Arcy Wentworth of Sydney. Although the home is now called Wentworth, D'Arcy only lived in it for a short time before he was replaced as the local police magistrate.

(61) Nant Estate
Located at 254 Nant Lane, Bothwell and listed on the National Estate, the Nant Estate dates back to 1821. Today, after meticulous restoration, this idyllic and historic building is home to a whisky distillery located in Australia's oldest working flour mill. It produces Nant Single Malt Tasmanian Whisky which was rated amongst the top fifty whiskies in the world in 2012. It scored 95.5 out of 100. There are daily tours of the distillery at 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. As well the Estate offers Whisky Packages including a Highland Shoot Package (with clay target shooting); a Nant Whisky Lovers Package and a Nant Whisky Connoisseurs Country Estate Package. Check out opening times and information at http://nant.com.au/ or tel: (03) 6259 5790

Other Significant Historic Buildings
* In Market Place - Over the road from St Luke's church is Rock Cottage which was built in 1864 by Thomas Lewis.

* In Alexander Street -  Heritage Tasmania lists White's Store at 20 Alexander Street (continuously owned by the White family for over 140 years); the Literary Society Library at 19 Alexander Street - a building occupied in 1837 by the Bothwell Literary Society which, under the patronage of Sir John Franklin, established the first public library in Tasmania; the Bothwell Store at 12 Alexander Street; the Crown Inn (first licensed in 1846) at 15 Alexander Street; and the elaborately carved Post Office (1891) at 10 Alexander Street which still has a hitching rail for customers who arrive by horse.

* In Patrick Street - The Castle Inn dates from 1829 and is recognised as the second oldest continuously licensed hotel in Tasmania. So old is the hotel that there is evidence that local Aborigines performed a corroboree in front of the hotel in 1832.

* About midway between Alexander and Patrick Streets is the Falls of Clyde also known as the 'Coffee Palace'. This two storey brick and stucco building was constructed around 1831. This attractive Georgian building operated as The Young Queen Hotel from 1851-77. It has nine bedrooms.

* In High Street - Slate Cottage, named  because of its slate roof, at 4 High Street (1835) was built by Edward Boden Snr. one of the town's early settlers. The cottages at 6 and 8 High Street have also been listed.

For a comprehensive list of the heritage buildings in the town check out http://www.heritage.tas.gov.au/media/pdf/THR_2013_07_17.pdf.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Thorpe Watermill
Thorpe Watermill should probably be called Axford's Watermill as it was Thomas Axford who built the corn mill which was fully operational by 1825. Axford ran the mill until 1865 when he was killed by the bushranger, Rocky Whelan. In 1899 the 800 acre property known as Thorpe (the name came from Thorpe Farm in Berkshire) was purchased by Frederick McDowall who continued to operate it until 1916. It ground wheat until 1907 and then cut chaff until 1916. It was restored in the mid 1970s by the Bignell family. Today John Bignell runs Thorpe Farm Cheese at 189 Dennistoun Road, Bothwell and uses the mill to grind grain for specialist bakers. There is an interesting account of the restoration of the mill in the Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology which can be read at http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/29543212?uid=3737536&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104143253417. It notes that "Thorpe Watermill is the only known Australian example of a traditional water-driven flour mill, that can be operated in the original manner. This uniqueness results from restoration work that was undertaken during the 1970s by the Bignell family, who own the mill. The work was carried out particularly by John and Peter Bignell, with very few resources."
Inspections of this historic mill can be arranged by contacting (03) 6259 5678.

Fishing
The area has a reputation amongst trout fishermen with local lakes being well stocked with wild brown and rainbow trout. Anglers are drawn to the area by the challenges that await them in Arthurs Lake, the Great Lake and in Bronte, Little Pine, Penstock and Dee Lagoons.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area around Bothwell was occupied by the Lairmairrener Aborigines

* The first European in the district was Lieutenant Thomas Laycock who crossed Van Diemen's Land from Port Dalrymple (Launceston) to Hobart in 1806 and camped beside the Fat Doe River (now the Clyde River) near the present site of Bothwell.

* Explorers, led by Surveyor J Beaumont, moved through the area in 1817 and by 1821 settlers, mostly Scots, had taken up land along the banks of the Clyde River.

* Bothwell's first European settler was Edward Nicholas who arrived in 1821 and built Nant's Cottage, a simple Georgian dwelling with an iron-hipped roof and 12 pane windows.

* When the town was laid out in 1824 the main streets were named Alexander (after Alexander Reid of 'Ratho') and Patrick (after Patrick Wood of Dennistoun) after the town's two most prominent citizens.

* St Luke's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church was built between 1828-31 and, after the church at Ebenezer on the Hawkesbury River, is the second-oldest Presbyterian church in Australia.

* In the 1820s Alexander Reid built a golf course on his property 'Ratho' and it was here that the earliest game of golf was played in Australia.

* Captain Patrick Wood is credited with creating Australia's first Aberdeen Angus stud on his property Denistoun.

* Nants Cottage, now Nants Estate, was home to the Irish political exiles, John Mitchell and John Martin in the 1850s. Both rebels had been arrested for treasonable writings with Mitchell writing in The United Irishman and Martin in The Irish Felon.

* Today Bothwell is a small and charming historic town which is a magnet to those who want to explore the Georgian architecture of early Tasmania.

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Visitor Information

The Bothwell Visitor Information Centre is located at the Australasian Golf Museum, Market Place, Bothwell, tel: (03) 6259 4033.

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Useful Websites

There is a local website which has interesting historic pictures and details about accommodation and eating in the town. Check out http://www.bothwell.com.au and there is also useful information and suggested activities at http://www.riversrun.net.au/index.php/bothwell-miena-highland-lakes-othermenu-74.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

22 suggestions
  • Dr Grote Reber, from Wheaton, Illinois, the founder of radio astronomy, who build the world’s first cosmic ray receiving antennae dish in his front yard, also built a large antennae over several acres in a sheep paddock at Bothwell in the 1960s. He built an electric car and a house there. The house is notable for its north facing glass wall as a heat collector – the heat was stored by boulders in the floor which radiated through floor boards at night. I interviewed Dr Reber there for an ABC radio program in 1981 and we kept up a correspondence until his death some years ago. I made a point of visiting him when in Tasmania, either at his office at the CSIRO in Hobart and later, when he retired at his home in Bothwell, where he had the electric car in his garage. Hitchhiking to Bothwell and back from Hobart is a fond memory. He was a remarkable man as a search on Wikipedia will confirm.

    Russell Guy
  • Many people are also interested in convict ancestors such as Thomas Sullivan and Ann Carton (misspelt as ‘Caston’ in some records) who were both convicts. They received permission to marry and were married at Bothwell 18th September, 1850. Their stories are quite interesting. For example, he was formerly a clerk serving in the Cape Regiment, South Africa and decided to take a trooper’s horse and ride off. Ann Carton was a country servant from Wexford, Ireland and she was accused of burning down a barn. They sent Ann to the Ross Female Factory prior to organising a position as a maid. I’m not sure if anyone has written stories about early convict families in the Bothwell area but it’s interesting to look at a variety of families, not just the famous.

    Sue Roberts
    • I am a descendant of Ann and Thomas. I am a descendant of Selina Sullivan born at Oatlands 2-7-1859. Selina moved to NSW with her second husband. I have information on Thomas’s demise but can’t find out what happened to Ann. Do you know when and where Ann died and is buried?

      Can anyone help?

      Richard Gentle
      • A reply for Richard Gentle in relation to Ann and Thomas Sullivan.They are my paternal ancestors so hello to my new cousin.I am descended from their daughter Alice Maria Sullivan a sister of Selina. I have been unable to find when and where Ann Sullivan died but it could have been in Victoria as some of the family moved there before moving to Sydney. Selina’s second husband was a licensee of a hotel. Ann Sullivan (nee Carton) was also called ” Annie”. regards,Sue susanroberts60@hotmail.com

        Susan Roberts
  • In 1869, a Mr Wise cycled between Bothwell and Hobart on a velocipede he had built. Was this Henry Wise, of Rock Cottage, pictured above? I don’t know – but I’ll let you know if I find out any more. Whoever Mr Wise of Bothwell was, he was amongst the pioneers of cycling in Tasmania, although not the first.

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/8859244
    http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8859561
    http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137565737
    http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8860226
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/8860496

    Rosemary Sharples
  • I think you need to check those links! Neither of them seem really relevant…

    Rosemary Sharples
  • Does anyone know where William Thornley and Samuel Crab are buried?

    John Sakana
  • I have forebear John Cameron who was bountied along with two others both female to a Mr P Russell whose property shows up in 1842 census just before my John arrived in Tasmania…Nov 1842… are there still Russells living in Bothwell – does anyone know?

    Jan Williams
    • I have just visited the Bothwell information Centre and there is a record of a Phillip Russell of property named Clyde being assigned 2 convicts. There were quite a few Russells in the area and I believe some descendants are still there. Call the Tourist information Centre for more information.

      Michelle
  • My ancestors John Miller and Mary Donovan, both convicts, settled in Bothwell in 1853 and had 8 children. I hope to visit Bothwell one day.

    Michelle Marshall (née Miller )
  • Does any know if there are any McCarthy’s still living in Bothwell? My partner is looking for his birth mother and any siblings. He was born in May 1960 in Royal Hobart Hospital and adopted from the hospital after 3 months (he was a very sickly baby). He knows his birth family came from this area in Tasmania and is hoping someone may remember his mum’s family.

    Christine Jackson
  • Just found a family connection to Bothwell! Very exciting and looking to any info on their time there…
    KNIGHT — George and Maria moved to Bothwell between 1862 – 1864. Their first two children, Louisa (1864) and George Fredrick (1865) were born there. Louisa died at 3 months old in Bothwell.
    3rd child, Madeline Francis Knight born in Clarence River so they obviously moved on.

    Any help with cemetery records or newspapers (i’ve searched trove but can’t find anything), would be much appreciated 🙂

    Jo Fairclough
  • In January in each of the last three years I have had a holiday in Tasmania (many earlier),
    getting to quite a number of places but by bus. Not being a motorist (and in any case 81, an ancient C.of E.parson),I have never been able to get to Bothwell. Major interests include history and architecture, and conservation. I think I am right in saying that no bus goes there (and indeed Tasmania has fewer bus services I think than 50 years – when e.g. one could go for the day to Stanley from Launceston). However, I thought it would do no harm just to ask if anyone has any suggestions as to how one might get to see it if I come over next January. Am too told to hitch-hike, & walking, with a walking stick, is slow.

    John Bunyan
  • Don’t forget the tartan street signs that are scattered throughout the town. Also, Bothwell is the home of the first radio telescope and where its inventor, Grote Reber, lived. His head stone is located in the town’s cemetary. Some amazing Irish patriots were loosely imprisoned in the town. The same Australian author (Thomas Keneally) who wrote ‘Schindler’s List’ also wrote about them and included a few chapters about their life in Bothwell. Outside the town, on the way to the lakes is a stone circle. Did you point out that St. Lukes has a window dedicated to a Polish saint?
    I used to live in Bothwell for a short time and thoroughly enjoyed its people and its history (best home made vanilla slices at the bakery, too, on Patrick St).

    Dr. David Boyd Somerville
  • Is there good shopping in town?

    Stan
  • First of all … sorry for my poor English but I want to show how much I love this town so badly. Even if I just stay there for about 1 hour. It’s the first town we pass during Tasmania drive-travel. It’s different from Beijing or Shanghai. The peace and the view is better than most places I’ve ever seen and the people were so nice . Two young girls,swing far away from us, used many languages trying to say hello to us. It’s funny but also very warm hearted. I promise I will go back Tasmania again someday – pass the town, walk at Cradle Mountain, lay down at Bay of Fire and watch the sunset at the Nut. Thank you Australia.

    CN28
  • I happen to be reading a book by Simon Barnard about convicts and tattoos and he mentions a Marion Telford who married James Groundwater and who settled in Bothwell. I wonder if they have descendants in the area?

    Scott
  • Looking for descendants of William Fenton Hilder and Clementina. Or of Ivy Rossendell.

    Jo Hilder