Located 350 metres above sea-level and 74 km north of Hobart (take the Midland Highway - it is located 21 km from Melton Mowbray on the A5), Bothwell is a quiet farming town on the Clyde River. It was named after a town in Lanarkshire, Scotland by Governor George Arthur in 1824.
The first European into the area had been Lieutenant Thomas Laycock who, while traversing the island from Port Dalrymple (Launceston) to Hobart in 1806, camped beside the Fat Doe River (subsequently renamed the Clyde River) near the present site of the town. Laycock was trying to reach Hobart because the settlement at Port Dalrymple was running out of food. The area was explored in some detail in 1817 and by 1821 settlers had taken up land along the banks of the river.
It is widely accepted that the first European settler into the area was Edward Nicholas who arrived in 1821 and built Nant's Cottage, about 1.5 km from the town centre on Denistoun Road. This simple Georgian cottage with an iron hipped roof and 12 pane windows was used by the Irish political exiles, John Mitchell and John Martin, during their stay in Tasmania in the 1850s. Both had been arrested for treasonable writings with Mitchell writing in The United Irishman and Martin in The Irish Felon.
The town was laid out in 1824 with the two broad main streets being named Alexander (after Alexander Reid of 'Ratho') and Patrick (after Patrick Wood of Denistoun).
The strong Scottish element in the early population is evident everywhere. The town's St Luke's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church, which was built between 1828-31, is the second oldest Presbyterian church in Australia. It is claimed that the first game of golf in Australia was played on Alexander Reid's property 'Ratho' in the 1820s - the course where this famous event took place is still in use and can be played by keen golf lovers. And Bothwell is the home of Australia's first Aberdeen Angus stud.
Things to see
Bothwell Historic Town
Today Bothwell Historic Town, with 18 buildings listed by the National Trust and over 50 buildings of interest, is one of the most important historic towns in Tasmania.
The town's most interesting historic buildings include Thorpe Watermill (out near Nant's Cottage), a brick flour mill powered by water which was built by Thomas Axford in the early 1820s. It operated for seventy years, was closed down, and was restored in the mid 1970s.
St Michael and All Angels Church
The town's Roman Catholic Church of St Michael and All Angels, at the intersection of Patrick Street and Market Place, was built out of local stone in 1891. Built by the stonemason Thomas Lewis the church has a particularly attractive stone staircase and stone seats in the porch. Perhaps its most appealing aspect is the fire place on the western wall which is used to heat the church on cold winter nights.
St Luke's Presbyterian Church
St Luke's Uniting Church, which is further up Market Place, was designed in 1828 and completed in 1831. This simple stone chapel has interested carvings above the doorway which may depict a Celtic god and goddess. They have been attributed to the convict sculptor, Daniel Herbert who was also responsible for the excellent work on the bridge at Ross. It is typical of the errors that are often made by the self righteous that these possibly pagan images still exist while there is a story that Governor Arthur 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.
Over the road from the church is Rock Cottage which was built in 1864 by Thomas Lewis.
Alexander Street, which runs from St Luke's Church towards the Clyde River has a number of interesting buildings including Twin Cottages, White's Store (continuously owned by the White family for over 140 years before it was closed), the Literary Society (this remarkable building was occupied in 1837 by the Bothwell Literary Society which, under the patronage of the remarkable Sir John Franklin, established the first public library in Tasmania), the 'Original Bothwell Store', the Crown Inn (first licensed in 1846) and the charming and elaborately carved Post Office (1891) which has a hitching rail and ring for customers who arrive by horse.
The Castle Inn, in Patrick Street, dates from 1829. There is a record of Tasmanian Aborigines actually dancing a corroboree in front of the hotel in 1832.
About midway between Alexander and Patrick Streets is the 'Coffee Palace'. This two storey brick and stucco building which was constructed around 1850. This attractive Georgian building operated as The Young Queen Hotel from 1851-77.
Slate Cottage in the High Street (1835) was built by Edward Boden Snr. It has been restored to its original condition with suitable furnishings from the period and is open for inspection. Contact (03) 6259 5554
Ratho and Wentworth
There are two elegant 'gentlemen's residences' in the district. 'Ratho', which lies to the west of the town on the A5, is a single storey stone house with wooden Ionic columns at the front. Built in the 1830s it was the home of Alexander Reid.
'Wentworth', on Wentworth Street across the Clyde River from the town, is a two storey dwelling built in 1833 and originally known as Inverhall. It was built for Major D'Arcy Wentworth, brother of William Charles Wentworth. Although the home now bears his name, Wentworth had only lived in it for a short time (and it was much smaller than it is today) when he was replaced as the local police magistrate. He duly sold the house and left the area.
In season Bothwell is known as the gateway to some of the best trout fishing in Australia.
Bothwell Visitor Information Centre
Australasian Golf Museum Market Pl.
Bothwell TAS 7030
Telephone: (03) 6259 4033