Located in Longford, Tasmania, is one of the most historically important farming properties in Australia: the Woolmers Estate. Well preserved and maintained, with a wealth of artefacts, the estate remains one of Australia’s best glimpses into colonial history and life in 19th-century Tasmania.
In 2010, it was one of 11 places awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO for its role in telling the story of the convict Assignment System, which operated in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) until 1840. The Assignment System was an arrangement that saw transported convicts, referred to as ‘assigned servants’, work in exchange for shelter, clothing and food. This system was founded on the premise that gainful employment and moral guidance would be successful in reforming convicts – and the fact that it also benefited their masters by providing labour at little cost and relieved the government of almost all expenses was a bonus. Woolmers Estate was built with the labour of ‘assigned servants’ – without the Assignment system, Woolmers might not have become the sprawling estate that we see today.
Included in the National Heritage List on 23 November 2007, Woolmers Estate is unique in how intact it is. The building and its large collection of cultural artefacts are kept in pristine condition, providing an intimate glimpse into six generations of the Archer family. Towards the end of his life, Thomas Archer VI decided to set up a trust to ‘research, collect and preserve the Thomas Archer Family heritage and legacy and to conserve, interpret and promote Woolmers Estate for the benefit of current and future generations’. This trust is now known as the Woolmers Foundation Inc, an organisation dedicated to sharing the estate’s colonial history and heritage with the public.
One of the estate’s most notable attractions is the National Rose Garden, which is one of the most beautiful gardens in Tasmania. Arranged into a 19th-century layout, it was added to the estate’s grounds in 2000. Funded and supported by the government, businesses and private individuals, a group of dedicated individuals aimed to create a formal rose garden that would both showcase the beauty of roses, and the estate’s 19th-century surroundings. Opened to the public in 2001, the rose garden houses more than 3000 roses, from 30 different families, representing the flower’s historic journey and development globally.
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