“That used to be mine,” came a voice from over the road. I didn’t know someone was watching me photograph their rubbish, and the Richmond local seemed amused enough to peer over her newspaper.
“I decided it was time to get rid of it. It’s quite old,” she carried on with a smile. She wore a patterned summer dress and was taking a moment to enjoy the afternoon sunshine.
She was right. There are plenty of things that are ‘a bit old’ here in Richmond. But unlike her television set, these are not the type of things to be left on the curb. Old is new again here in Richmond. And gosh they’re doing it well.
The locals here enjoy a steadier pace in life and it doesn’t hurt to join them for a day. A good way to do so is to equip yourself with two wooden oars. There’s a certain old-fashioned charm that comes with rowing someone upstream. And if you’re slower than the family of baby ducklings bobbing beside you, you’re on track to becoming a local.
We Tasmanians can likely all say we’ve seen the Richmond Bridge, but have you seen its underbelly? Floating in the shadow of convict-laid bricks is a special way to see Australia’s oldest bridge still in use. Swapping seats in a tiny wooden boat to capture it on camera is less wise. But that’s another story.
For those who prefer dry land, the Richmond Boathouse offer more than just rowboats. They have two-wheeled transport and gourmet picnics too- including one offering that brims with fresh Tassie berries. It’s the perfect reason to find a shady patch of grass to park on.
Wander the town, step inside the maze, swing a golf club, visit a Tassie devil, sip a Pinot, stock up on old-fashioned lollies. A trip down the Coal River Valley to Richmond is an experience that will take you back. That will slow you down. Even the bathroom at a local vineyard, Pooley Wines, invites you to stay a while.
Wind your way round a few more bends and you’ll find a cheery local at Littlewood Strawberry Farm. Who wouldn’t be smiling if they looked out over a giant strawberry patch? When asked if I should pay my $3 now for the punnet we were about to pick ourselves she began to laugh.
“I’m not going to chase you down the road,” she said smiling behind her sunglasses. “And make sure you try some as you go, won’t you?” With that, she stepped back into her makeshift office and sat down to the paper.
Another lesson learnt. Honesty is a given in these parts, it’s important not to hurry and savouring the experience is a must. We did just that. Next stop, a favourite, Puddleduck Vineyard.
This is a quick hello to the ‘wine corgi’ and of course the owners Darren and Jackie – a place where reverse BYO is quite the trend. They supply the Bubbleduck bubbles or award-winning pinot for instance, and you bring your own tasty treats to enjoy by the lake.
A quick wander through the vines at Frogmore Vineyard, and a late afternoon drink, then its time to head back to Hobart. But not without hopping on the children’s play equipment first. No, it’s probably not allowed, but it’s a fitting way to end a day in the Coal River Valley.
Start the day rushed, ease into a locals’ pace and by the end of the day you too might find yourself perched on a bobbing barrel. Not because you planned to, but because when the day slows you can see it through the eyes a child might. Where abandon replaces restraint- and you’re in the moment. Hell, at least kick off your shoes and feel the grass beneath your toes. The city can wait.
Words & images: Alice Hansen
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.