Tourist appeal of a land steeped in history

HALFWAY between Hobart and the East Coast, outside the village of Buckland, is Twamley Farm, a property steeped in history and long since entwined with the development of the region.

Twamley Farm can trace its farming origins to the 1820s, when a 2000-acre property in what was then known as Prosser Plains was granted to Frances Smith, a free settler to the colony from London.

The first building erected was the homestead in 1842, the unique white sandstone brought 100kms from Bellerive by Frances Villeneuve Smith, the son of the original owner and a future Premier of Tasmania, though he would never live on the homestead.

The area had been renamed ‘Buckland’ after William Buckland, a man who never stepped foot in Australia, but was one of the world’s first palaeontologists, and who also, interestingly, ate a 200-year-old piece of a French king’s heart.

By the time the stable was built from local sandstone and blue gum timber some five years later, the area had undergone change.

The property was undergoing a change itself, soon coming under the ownership of Charles and Louisa Anne Meredith, who is now remembered as one of Australia’s earliest authors and photographers.

For years, Louise would pen some of colonial Tasmania’s most iconic writings from the homestead, before it finally sold to the Turvey family, who still operate the property, in the 1870s.

Today, the property has expanded to 2800ha that operates predominantly as a grazing property for the 1300-odd head of Cormo ewes and Hampshire rams producing fat lambs, the wool that helped establish the farm not having been the major output of the farm since the wool crash in the 1990’s.

Angela and Alistair Turvey

“With the droughts and the crash in the wool market 30-odd years ago, we moved away from wool on the property and dabbled in mixed cropping,” said Alistair Turvey, who oversees the farming operation on Twamley.

“We had mixed success with poppies and seed brassicas.

Potatoes grew well until the processor pulled out from the south of the state, so we’re now back to focusing on the fat lambs and getting those stock numbers up again, to where we’re able to look at getting back in to wool again.”

The property is now overseen by the sixth generation of Turvey’s born and raised on the property.

“There are also tree plantations on the property which are due to be harvested soon, which adds in a bit of extra revenue from land we wouldn’t otherwise be using.”

Twamley Farm is perhaps best known to the public for its on-farm accommodation, which couples the use of existing buildings and the allure of an operating farm to entice guests and cultivate an additional revenue.

“The idea sprang up in around 2014 after we’d had a bit of success with one of our properties in Buckland, the storekeeper’s hut,” said Angela Turvey, who manages the accommodation side of the business with her sister Elizabeth.

“We found we were on the tourist route, close enough to Hobart, the East Coast and Port Arthur to make a pretty tempting spot to stop.”

In the following years, the stable was converted into boutique accommodation and the circa-1920s shearers hut following a few years later to accommodate people seeking the tranquillity that on-farm living offers.

“There certainly are people that come for the farm experience, but most of the people are coming here for that feeling of escape from everything they’re used to,” Angela said.

“We actually close off certain parts of the farm when we’re weening lambs because it’s just too noisy.

“We absolutely don’t shy away from that fact.

“We obviously get people who think it’s a hobby farm or petting zoo, and while we do sometimes have pet lambs or sheep that we’ve bottled fed that are quite tame, we must have good communications that this is still a completely operational farm.

“We just need to make sure we aren’t yelling at the dogs or swearing at the sheep too close to a wedding or the accommodation.”