Young George Frederick was given the surname of his wet nurse, “Read” and was sent off to the merchant navy in the early 1800’s. He became very successful and eventually settled in
around 1815 and began acquiring properties across Tasmania
including what became Redlands.
The oldest building on the site is the Bakery which was constructed in 1822 and is considered to be the oldest continuously used bake oven in
Like all the other buildings at Redlands,
the bricks were made on site and its likely the roof shingles were made from
split timber removed to make way for the developing farmland. The bakehouse has
been restored and is used to bake old style loaves of bread that can be
purchased on site.
Many convicts lived and worked at
Redlands from 1819 until the end of transportation
in the 1850’s. Redland predates Port
Arthur by around 12 years and in the early days of Van
Diemens Land, convicts were assigned to land owners to help create buildings
and farmland. Convict labour was used at Redlands
to develop bushland into fertile farmland, make bricks for the buildings (over
500,000 convict bricks were fired in a kiln that was located near the weir on
the nearby . Plenty
The convicts also hand dug over 5kms of canals throughout
which was the first farm in Tasmania
to be fully irrigated using gravity. Some of the canals were lined with Huon
Pine. Some of the canals can still be seen in the main yard of the estate.
The convicts were housed in tenement buildings which were constructed as two story rooms by convict made bricks. Once the convicts left the site, the tenement building was used to house seasonal hop pickers. According to reports, the convicts were also housed in a cellar at the end of the tenement building. This cellar was converted in the early 1900’s to house a wood heater used to dry tobacco when
grew tobacco for a short time.
There was also a separate set of hop pickers huts which accommodated one to two people. These were situated on the other side of the main yard and were surrounded by towering poplar trees which formed a kind of “poplar cathedral” around the huts. This area really retains a mystical feel when you enter the area.
Built in 1867 is the Oast House which was one of three built at
This construction marked the start of Redlands
100 years as one of the country’s largest hop farms. At its peak Redlands grew hops on 50
acres and had over 250 workers and their families living and working on the
site. The surviving Oast house was constructed with convict bricks and was one
of three originally on the site. The others unfortunately fell into disrepair
and were pulled down in the 70’s & 80s, coinciding with the downturn in the
From the late 1860’s to the 1970’s, Redlands Estate was a large and productive hop farm and had its own cobblestone village which included a bakery, general store, butcher and belltower to service the workers and their families who lived on the farm during hop picking season. The general store was stocked with goods and merchandise for the workers to purchase and was serviced by businesses from New Norfolk. Permanent employees and hop pickers received meat supplies twice a week from cattle killed on the property. The bell in the belltower was rung to start and finish the work day and also in the case of emergencies.
Redlands House, the main manor house of the estate is a beautifully conserved family home and shows all the grandeur of the 1840s. It is in magnificent condition and is still used as a family home to this day.
Amongst the beautiful English style gardens that surround the house, is an area that was known as the “
”! This part of the
garden was out of bounds to the hop pickers and was reserved for the family and
managers of the estate. There was only one way to enter the “ Secret
and that was through a door in the manager’s office which opened directly into
the garden. With over 400 people working on site during the heights of hops season, the need for privacy was understandable. The secret garden features a
huge Magnolia Grandiflora which is one of the oldest magnolias in Secret Garden Tasmania. The gardens
were not always private as in the early days the area contained a public bath.
The exact site of the bath has yet to be located but is thought to be behind the
tennis court towards the back of the tenement buildings.
An interesting sideline to the history of the
Redlands occurred on a
winters evening in August 1845 when the manor house was held up at gunpoint by
the notorious bushranger, William Westwood aka Jacky Jacky! The lessee of Redlands at the time, Mr
Harrison, was ill in bed upstairs while his wife and son in law were
downstairs. Through the front door of the house, the armed bushranger burst in.
Within half an hour, Jacky Jacky and his collegues had rounded up the convicts and
workers and all the prisoners were tied up on the kitchen floor. More
information regarding the hold up can be found on information signs at the
front door of the house.
Redlands Estate is literally steeped in early colonial history and is a wonderfully preserved example of a colonial estate with manor house and out buildings. These days
grows wheat and barley and is the home of the recently established Redlands
Distillery. The Redlands Distillery is one of two “paddock to bottle” single
malt whiskey distilleries in the world. There are great plans for the
redevelopment of Redlands,
including the refurbishing of the tenement buildings to provide colonial style
The ongoing works around
are finding new things of historical significance regularly. Recently, during
routine gravel maintenance of the yard, a sandstone road, most likely built by
convicts between the 1820’s and 1840’s using sandstone from a quarry near the
railway bridge on the nearby Derwent River, was discovered in front of the Oast
I spent a good half day wandering the grounds and taking in the colonial atmosphere. A wonderful place to visit with plenty more to see than what has been mentioned in the text.
Website: Redlands Estate
Text & Information sourced from Redlands Estate website and information boards around the