Life Trading Places 2015 Trading Places town five: Richmond, Tasmania
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Trading Places town five: Richmond, Tasmania

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History buffs, look no further. The tourist town of Richmond, 27 kilometres north-east of Hobart, is not just pretty and pleasant to live in but is also home to some of Australia’s oldest buildings and structures.

The famous heritage-listed town bridge, reproduced in numerous tourist brochures, was built by convict labour between 1823 and 1825 and is Australia’s oldest bridge still in use, while the town’s Roman Catholic Church is the oldest in Australia.

Map Richmond BIG-01“Our old buildings are the reason people come here and the bridge has become an icon,” says the owner of B & B Mulberry Cottages, Miriam Cooper.

There are fewer than 1100 residents in the town, but it becomes much busier on weekends as tourists swarm in from nearby Hobart to this quintessential Georgian village to admire its trapped-in-time prettiness, and browse its arts and crafts stores.

“There are a lot of places in Tasmania where you can really be out in the wilds,” says Mrs Cooper.

“While in Richmond it feels like you are, but you actually aren’t.”

What’s to love

Nestled on the Coal River, Richmond retains many buildings from its settlement era in the 1820s when it was used chiefly as a military staging post and convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur. Our researchers described the main street as “a knock out” with its stunning Georgian buildings housing galleries, restaurants, pubs and museums.

No surprises then that they also gave the town above-average scores for both food and arts and crafts.

Richmond has a healthy employment market, which is aided by the town’s close proximity to Hobart (high marks for connectedness), although it’s only slightly cheaper than the capital.

The surrounding landscape is described in our study as “pleasant” rather than stunning – and gets an average an average score as a result – by Tasmanian standards, but there is a healthy occupancy rate of 81 per cent in the town meaning Richmond is far from being a magnet for weekenders.

Don’t miss

Richmond Bridge is rated the number attraction, but it isn’t the only architectural wonder in the town. For a slice of colonial life check out the Richmond Gaol, which was built in 1825 as part of Governor Arthur’s police districts, and was last used as a jail in 1928. One of its infamous inmates was convict Ikey Solomon, said to be the inspiration for Charles Dicken’s Fagin in Oliver Twist.

Locals also point tourists in the direction of the Old Hobart Town Model Village, which allows people to walk among a model village of life in the 1820s. Then there are Tasmania’s History House, Richmond maze, national trust property Oak Lodge, the churches, the cafes, the teahouses …

What the locals say

Local winemaker John Pooley says he wakes up everyday thrilled to be living in this particular corner of Earth.

“My wife and I would never live anywhere else, we pinch ourselves that we get to live here,” says Mr Pooley, who also runs a cellar door experience offering wines and cheeses.

“We live on 70 acres (32 hectares) in a Georgian house and have a vineyard. It is a great lifestyle.”

Our researchers rated Richmond highly in the x-factor stakes, and Mr Pooley agrees.

“It is hard to put your finger on exactly what makes the place special, but I would liken it to a Cotswolds village in the English countryside,” he says.

Perfect for

Richmond wouldn’t be a bad spot for tree changers keen to start up their own restaurant. With a viable tourist trade that shows no signs of slowing and a hearty local population, it would be a great town to make use of the region’s stellar produce and cool-climate wines.

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