Hobart Model Village

In the historic and picturesque village of Richmond there’s an ode to the past hidden away down a narrow little lane. It’s a model of Hobart town as it would have looked in 1820 and portrays life in the burgeoning colonial town down at the bottom of the World. There’s always an inherent whimsy with model villages and dioramas and that’s certainly the case here albeit with a certain unease brought about by the reality of Tasmania’s past.

The earliest modern arrivals to Tasmania came by boat and rather small ones at that. They certainly wouldn’t be allowed do so now with Australia’s modern day policies on “boat people”.
The overview of old Hobart Town paints a scene of quaint country life.
The original hospital is a far cry from the massive multi-storey structure that towers over the modern day city.
Childhoods were no doubt different in 1820 but also no doubt had many similarities.
A tranquil scene by the Hobart rivulet.
Native forests and lands were quickly cleared to make way for European farming methods.
The characters are quirky and all have their own little personalities.
Most of the original buildings from the 1820s are long gone or upgraded beyond recognition of their former selves.
Getting ready for the advent of planes and helicopters with some rooftop signage.
Ah the days of hats, bonnets and all too fancy clothing.
The picture of quaint village life starts to be put into question as you walked around and notice the uniforms of convicts were a constant fixture of Hobart life.
A horse-drawn baker would probably make an absolute fortune nowadays and charge $50 a loaf….bloody hipsters 🙂
This fella looks awfully contemplative.
A picturesque scene down near the site of the modern day Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
Hunter Island (now the site of the Henry Jones Art and MACq 01 hotels) used to be connected to the rest of Hobart by a narrow causeway.
Here’s something from 1820 that’s definitely not around any more, the Tasmanian Tiger. Scenes like this start to unravel the quaint picture postcard atmosphere and highlight the darker side of history.
Another scene portraying the impact of European people of the native wildlife. Snakes amongst many other species were mercilessly killed for being a “nuisance” or simply had their territory where the new settlers wanted to develop.
The Hope & Anchor as it looked in 1820. Unlike the Tasmanian Tiger, this slice of early colonial life is still there and claims to be the oldest pub in Australia.
Tasmania’s place as a penal colony is never far from display in the model village.
Convict life was hard and many were transported to Tasmania for very low level crimes, destined to never see their loved ones again.
The price for further wrong doing was rather high….
……rather high indeed.
This grim spectacle of butchery is one of the first things you see and is rather a poignant allegory for a distinctly lacking feature…
The Palawa people numbered between 3,000-15,000 before the invasion of their lands at the turn of the 19th Century. Just 15 years after the setting of this model village, their numbers were as low as 400! Disease was a key feature in the deaths of so many aboriginal people but mass killings that amount to genocide also wiped out a great deal of the population.

The distinctive lack of aboriginal people in the model village reflects society both at the time and indeed now. A quick look at Facebook comment threads when there’s a story on Tasmania’s aboriginal heritage shows that racism is still just as rife now as it was 200 years ago. The deep disrespect shown to the first peoples of this island makes me very uncomfortable and ashamed. No amount of time can heal those wounds or bring back the land as it was before. 200 years later, Tasmania’s stunning natural resources are still being exploited, perhaps even more than ever. It seems not many lessons have been learned.


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