Country Houses of Tasmania by Alice Bennett and Georgia Warner

‘Behind the closed doors of our finest private colonial estates.’

Although I grew up in Tasmania and am aware of many of these twenty-five historic homes, the only one I’ve visited is ‘Highfield’.  In 1982 the Tasmanian Government acquired the Highfield property with funds from the National Estate and has carried out extensive restoration works. The Highfield Historic Site is open for public inspection from 9.30am – 4.30pm seven days a week during September to May, and from Monday to Friday between June and August. There are other historic homes in Tasmania, open to the public, but many of the homes included in this book are privately owned. With the permission of the owners, Ms Bennett and Ms Warner have been able to photograph aspects of these properties and include a little of their history.

I’ve dipped into this book a few times since I’ve owned it, but more recently my reading of Louisa Anne Meredith’s ‘My Home in Tasmania’ (first published in 1852) had me looking more closely.  I was delighted to find that ‘Cambria’ was one of the homes included.  ‘Cambria’ belonged to Louisa Ann Meredith’s father-in-law, and is located near Swansea on Tasmania’s east coast.

These homes were built by Tasmania’s early pastoral settlers who, with access to convict labour in the early years, were able to build these imposing mansions.  Tasmania thrived for most of the nineteenth century, and these elaborate Georgian and Victorian mansions reflected the wealth of those who became Tasmania’s landed gentry.

I enjoyed reading about these homes, learning something of their history and admiring the glorious colour photographs.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith