Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
Behold, the wonder that is the oldest bridge still in use in Australia.
Without out getting all sappy about tourist traps, I have to admire the empty boasts that country towns come up with to make them important enough to warrant stopping at on the way between points A and B. Tasmania is full of them, especially along the Midland Highway, a 200km stretch of road between Hobart and Launceston. Since there’s no passenger train on the island, it gets some decent traffic.
Richmond Bridge, in Richmond, is admittedly a pretty decent distraction on the road compared to some others you might get. It was built by convicts from local sandstone and completed in 1825. It was originally named Bigges Bridges, named after John Bigges who commissioned it.
Like all good heritage areas there’s a ghost story attached to it. The bridge is said to be haunted by George Grover, a former convict who was employed during the 1829 construction of the bridge as a ‘flagellator’, a technical term for someone who hit convicts with a whip for money. He reportedly sat on top of the sandstone blocks and whipped the convicts like they were horses. I take it he was too good at the job (he sounds like a real bastard), as he was thrown off the bridge to his death in 1832 after getting drunk and falling asleep there. As an extra added bonus, the bridge is also haunted by his dog.
If that isn’t a good enough reason for you to stop, Richmond also boasts a model replica of Hobart as it was in the 1800s, just in case you have a burning desire to check out what that would look like. You can pretend you’re a giant invading the place.
Or, you know, just drive on through to Launceston…