DM's Hobart 2017 Diary

Day 3 - Cascades Female Factory and Brewery

Sunday 24 December, 2017

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We slept well overnight, and my back feels much better today. We got up a bit after 07:00 and had the cereal we bought for breakfast. Although I'd turned the fridge off overnight so it wouldn't make noise, the milk carton inside was frozen and icy! I'd put it in the freezer compartment in an attempt to just keep it cool, but now the milk inside seemed to be icy slush. I put it in a sink of warm water for a few minutes to melt it, but M. didn't wait and ate some of her muesli dry.

We decided to change our plans to visit the Tasmanian Museum today, and instead head out to the Cascades Female Factory, which is a World Heritage site as part of Australia's convict history, followed by lunch at the nearby Cascade Brewery, where we could relax for part of the afternoon before heading back to our motel. It was about 40 minutes walk away. We stopped first at the Pigeonhole Cafe again where M. had a coffee and an almond biscuit, while I tried one of the Christmas cookies, which had chocolate and pomegranate in it.

On the way to the Female Factory, M. wanted to get some throat drops for her sore throat, so I checked Google Maps and found a supermarket along the way, although we found a service station before we got there and they had some of the drops she wanted. It rained while we were walking, but not very heavily, and we continued on our way, stopping only briefly to seek shelter before it eased off and the sun came out. The air was chilly but we got hot when the sun was out.

Cascades Female Factory
Yard walls of Cascades Female Factory

We reached the Cascades Female Factory at 10:45, and there was a guided tour starting at 11:00, which the guy at the counter recommended as he said most of the original buildings were gone and the best way to get an understanding of the history was to listen to the tour guide. We checked out the Matron's cottage, which was the only building remaining in original condition, while waiting for the tour to start. This had a half dozen rooms in a sandstone cottage, which contained archaeological relics from the site and historical explanations.

Our tour guide was a guy named Anton, who first took us out of the walls of the factory site to the small rivulet running down the valley towards Hobart. He explained how this was the water supply for the colony, and the site for the factory was chosen here on the site of what was originally a distillery that turned out not to make a profit for the builder, so the colony bought the property.

Female Factory yard
Courtyard, Cascades Female Factory

It expanded from a single courtyard over time to a total of five adjoining courtyards, with various classes of prison accommodation for the female convicts. The best class were minor offenders who behaved well. These were housed in communal dormitories and did light work like sewing. They could also be assigned to free settlers as servants and taken to live out in the colony. The next class did harder work, and the final class did the hardest of all, which was washing clothes. Then there were solitary cells with no light used for punishment of malcontents.

Solitary confinement
Outlines of solitary cells, Cascades Female Factory

There were also an infirmary for sick convicts and ones giving birth, and a nursery for children. Conditions were poor and infant mortality high, with over a thousand children dying in a two year period of records. The facility was overseen by a superintendent and a matron, a married couple, who lived there for twenty years. Anton painted a vivid picture of the harsh life the inmates faced, and concluded with the later history when the facility was closed down and sold off to various companies for use as workshops and storage houses. The new owners demolished most of the original buildings, leaving only the yard walls and the Matron's cottage to survive to the present day.

Matron's cottage
Matron's cottage, Cascades Female Factory

After the tour, we walked the few blocks over to the Cascade Brewery, also named after the river cascades coming down off Mount Wellington, but otherwise completely unrelated. The old original brewery building looked amazing, but the visitor area was in a new building across the road, where we found a modern bar and cafe. We grabbed a table at the bar and ordered a cider for M. and a Cascade pale ale for me, until we were ready for lunch. Then I went to see if I could book us onto a brewery guided tour after lunch. There were spots available on the 14:15 tour, but then the woman at the counter said not to drink any alcohol before the tour, as there was a strict rule about that for safety reasons. Given we'd already purchased drinks, I had to tell her we couldn't do the tour. We later saw tour groups leaving for the old factory across the road, all dressed in high visibility safety vests, so presumably there is some crawling and climbing around active industrial equipment on the tour.

Cascade Brewery
Old Cascade Brewery building

We ordered lunch: a beef and stout pie with mash and mushy peas for me, and a bowl of potato wedges for M. We ate slowly and relaxed, reading some books on our iPads. The bar got busy and the burgers seemed very popular. We watched rain squalls interspersed with bright sunshine sweep across the lush garden outside, where kids were playing and people were eating outside on picnic benches. Later we ordered a serve of apple cider scones, with jam and cream, which were also good.

Pie and mushy peas
Pie with mash and mushy peas

At about 15:00 we left to walk back to our motel, waiting for another shower to pass before heading out. We made it most of the way back before getting caught in another light shower of rain, which became a bit heavier once we were inside. The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading, and I did some back stretches as well.

Around 17:00 we went out to the supermarket just a couple of blocks away, further up the hill. This was a general store and post office, with a small but varied selection of grocery goods. We bought a loaf of bread to use to make sandwiches for tomorrow, plus a packet of cheese slices, more milk for breakfasts, and some dark Lindt balls for energy. This place is open every day until 20:00, except Christmas Day (tomorrow!), so it might come in handy again for supplies later in the week.

Then we returned to our room for the evening and relaxed watching some TV and reading into the night.

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