A classified historic town, Bothwell is the southern gateway to the central Highlands. In season Bothwell is known as the gateway to some of the best trout fishing in Australia.
Bothwell is the home of Australia’s first Aberdeen Angus stud. The town, laid out in 1824, was populated by mainly settlers of Scottish descent and today still has a distinct Scottish flavour. It was here that the famed Irish political exiles John Mitchell and John Martin lived during their stay in Tasmania in the 1850s. Both had been arrested for treasonable writings
True to its Scottish Bothwell has one of Australia’s top whiskey distilleries, Nant Distillery, housed in the historic Nant Mill. Here you can sample the fine single malt whiskeys made using pure local Highland waters.
As a classified historic town, Bothwell has 18 buildings classified by the National Trust and a further 34 listed. These include St Luke’s Presbyterian church (1831); Wentworth House (1833); Nant Mill, a massive rough-masonry building erected in 1857; Clifton Priory, on Barrack Hill overlooking the township. The Anglican Chapel of St James, at Montacute, a nearby hamlet, was built by Capt. William Langdon in 1857. It is one of the few surviving ‘estate’ chapels. A hitching rail and ring are still outside the post office.
St Luke's Uniting Church
St Luke’s Uniting Church has what appears to be carvings of a Celtic god and godess beside the front doors. They have been attributed to the convict sculptor, Daniel Herbert, who was also responsible for the excellent work on the bridge at Ross. No attempt has been made to remove them even though their identity is now known. In an ironic twist, Governor Arthur is said to have ordered the architect, John Lee Archer, to change the rounded windows because they were ‘unchristian’. The church was used by both Presbyterian and Anglican worshippers for over 60 years.
Australia’s first golf course – on the grazing property Ratho at Bothwell – is still in use today, and the Bothwell Golf Club, on the edge of the Central Highlands, is home to the Australasian Golf Museum, with the largest display of historic and modern-day golfing memorabilia outside of St Andrew’s, Scotland.
The Ratho Golf Links is a time capsule, among the best preserved of all the world’s early golf courses. Its most apparent uniqueness is the sheep, which graze and keep the playing areas short, with fences to keep them from the square greens. At first glance, this appears to be little more than a backwards blend of farming and recreation outside a small country town. And so it is. But so golf began.
The story of how golf evolved from a crude game played by a handful of Scottish villagers to a truly international game, and why the early settlers in Bothwell became Australia’s first golfing community, is told at the Australasian Golf Museum.
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Where Is it?
Bothwell is 76 km north north west of Hobart; 350 metres above sea level.
The Australian Golf Heritage Festival, held each May, the festival provides players with traditional hickory clubs, gutta percha balls and period costumes for The National Hickory Championships.
Bothwell is also home to the International Highland Spin-in, a wool spinning competition marking the town’s agricultural heritage and linking spinners throughout the world in friendship. It is held in March.
Lake St Clair
Lake St Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It is 2 1/2 hours west of Hobart via the Lyell Highway (A10) and a similar distance from Launceston via Longford and Poatina. At Derwent Bridge turn right onto the 5 1/2km long access road to the lake at Cynthia Bay. From Queenstown the Lyell Highway is a winding and narrow 1 1/2 hour drive.
Both the Lyell Highway and the access road from Derwent Bridge may occasionally be closed by snow in winter.
There is no direct road link through the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park. Visitors may most easily reach Cradle Mountain via the Cradle Link Road (C132) and the Murchison and Lyell Highways (A10).
Central Highlands Drive
Central Highlands Drive: A drive through the highlands north from Hobart via Bothwell and Miena, is an interesting alternative to the Midlands Highway if you are heading for Tasmania’s North West. The landscape consists of mountain peaks rising from button grass plains. During winter, snow settles on the shores of the lakes and clear crisp days satisfy those who enjoy feeling close to the environment.