QVMAG at Inveresk

Image QVMAG Inveresk entrance
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk, Launceston

It’s not very often that I get to visit the northern part of Tasmania but last week I was lucky enough to make two trips to Launceston with my sister. We spent a lot of that time visiting museums.

One that I had been wanting to visit for a long time was the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery which is housed in the old railway workshops at Inveresk just outside the CBD.  When I first visited Tasmania in the late 1990’s the Inveresk Precinct as it is now known had not yet been developed. I was looking for the old railway station and when I found it I discovered that the abandoned workshop site was to be redeveloped but at that stage there was nothing there so I went for a walk around the outside of the buildings. The museum and art gallery were at that time housed in a lovely old building in Wellington St, Royal Park which is just a stone’s throw from the CBD. It  has since been restored and since 2011 it houses the art collection while the museum collection including the Planeterium relocated to the Inveresk site.

image Dinosaur display
Dinosaur Display


Tasmanian Connection

The first thing that impressed me when we walked into the museum was that admission is free. You do have to pay for the Planetarium but I don’t think it was expensive. As we had a lot to pack into our day we didn’t stay for a show but I certainly intend to on a future visit. The museum is divided up into sections and the first one people usually visit is The Tasmanian Connection. This has the dinosaurs as seen above. There is a special section of animals only found in Tasmania and you can also see other parts of Tasmanian life including a display of old bicycles, bi planes and even an old caravan. The displays are interactive, press a button on the display panel for more information about different types of animals for example.

image bicycle display
Old Bicycles


For Kids

The next section we visited was The Phenomena Factory. This is really for kids but we big kids enjoyed it too. It has a lot of fun things to try. There is a visual perception test, a rocket launcher, a board game depicting the hazards faced by insects and various other things. Unfortunately a few of the exhibits were out of order which I suppose is unavoidable in an area frequented by kids large and small. I definitely recommend it though.

There is a theaterette in this part of the museum too showing films at various times of day. We didn’t stop for these but again I’ll check them out next time I’m there.


Also in the main building is the astronomy display which is free to visit and the Planetarium which isn’t. The astronomy display has information and photos about telescopes in Tasmania.


The rest of the main building is devoted to the railway display. This is not a display of locomotives although there are a couple. Most of those are in the Tasmanian Transport Museum at Glenorchy which I referred to in my Model Railway post.

Narrow gauge steam locomotive
Narrow gauge steam locomotive
TGR "Y" Class diesel
TGR “Y” Class diesel

This display is more about railways in Tasmania and the people who worked on them.

image signs
Signs from around the workshops
image display
The Paint Shop
image banner
The Railway Workshops banner.

Outside in the courtyard you can walk around the rest of the buildings. Most of them are not open to the public but have interpretive panels to explain what was done in each of them, the age of the building and sometimes reminisces of former employees. As my sister and I both worked at the old railcar depot in Adelaide for some years  this was a bit nostalgic for us as we recalled the good and bad times of our days as cleaners there. Inveresk is more like South Australia’s Islington Workshops than the railcar depot of course. I liked that no attempt had been made to improve or embellish the original buildings. They were mostly rusty corrugated iron. One shed was open to walk through on a boardwalk and had the sounds of the machinery playing in the background. You could imagine how it would have been on a hot day.

image workshop
The old workshops
Image iron shed
Rusty Iron
image interior shed
Inside one of the workshops. Inveresk
A former worker returned to his old work site.
A former worker returned to his old work site.

Now a few practical details if you are planning to visit and I recommend that you do. There is a website with all the information you need: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/qvmag/ but also keep in mind the following. You can take photographs but in some areas flash is not permitted. There is a museum shop which is quite good and not overly expensive.


Although there is a cafe on site when we visited it was empty and up for lease. I did see a drink vending machine. We asked where we could get lunch and a staff member recommended the Blue Bar Cafe which is nearby at 2 Invermay Road. http://www.bluecafebar.com.au/ however when we arrived on a Friday lunchtime it was very busy and as we hadn’t made a booking we were directed to picnic tables outside, alright with us as the noise was incredible but when we saw the menu we decided it was way too upmarket for us and left. My suggestion for a cheap lunch would be to go across Invermay Road and you will find the Gourmet Bakery who have very nice pies and pasties. I also saw a smallgoods place selling amongst other things Blackforest Cake and another place selling baked potatoes so you don’t have to go hungry.


Parking is very easy, it is metered but you can park all day for only $3. My suggestion would be to do that and use the  free Tiger Bus to go to the CBD as it would be much cheaper than parking in the city carparks. We spent $13 parking for a similar amount of time at the car park in Paterson Street on another visit. In fact the CBD is within walking distance of the museum which is another option if you are not weighed down with gear. The Tiger Bus is operated by the council and runs Monday to Friday and weekends in December. http://www.launceston.tas.gov.au/lcc/index.php?c=284

Lastly, the Inveresk Precinct is also home to a college and Aurora Stadium so it may get busy at times especially if there is an AFL football match on.

In my next post I will talk about two other interesting Launceston Museums.

Travel – Riding the Bus

It’s been a while since I wrote anything for this blog. I have been busily blogging away in my head but that is as far as things have got as life, in the form of a broken bed and the need to renovate the bedroom before it is replaced, intervened.

One of the things that I often find myself thinking about when I have time to daydream is travel. Not necessarily travel to faraway places although I do think about that a lot but just about the pleasure I get from journeys no matter how short or mundane they may be. This is particularly true if I travel alone.  I often think that the best part of a journey is the beginning, the sense of anticipation you get from setting out to see something new and the departure from the daily routine.

The Redline Bus Depot in Hobart doesn’t have the atmosphere of an international airport or one of the great railway stations of the world but it is the starting place for one of my most frequent journeys the 80 kilometre trip to Oatlands that I make every month or so.

I usually catch the Launceston bus that goes at 5:30pm. At this time of year by the time I arrive at the Depot it is nearly dark. There is not much to the place, a large room with a row of seats for waiting passengers, a vending machine and a television with the sound turned down. In summer I can watch the cricket while I wait for my bus but in winter it’s generally more interesting to read a copy of “Tasmanian Travelways” from the pile on the table or as most passengers do play with their phones or iPads.

The usual passengers on a Friday evening are a mixed bunch. There are unaccompanied children being sent to spend the weekend with their fathers, teens going to sports events in Launceston, university students going home for the weekend, mothers with small children and older people from the country going home after a day of shopping and doctor’s appointments in Hobart.

Around 5:15pm the driver starts loading luggage onto the bus. It’s usually the same driver and I say hello to him when he picks up my bag. Once most of the luggage is loaded we are allowed to board. I like to sit near the front of the bus as my stop is only a bit over an hour away and I always take a window seat if I can get it. Usually the bus is full and I have a seat mate. Sometimes we’ll chat but more often we don’t.

The bus departs and the driver goes into his usual spiel about the features of the bus. He reminds everyone that they are required by law to wear their seatbelts. Hardly anyone does. As we make our way through the early evening traffic we make a couple of stops to pick up more passengers. It’s too dark to see the view as we go over the Bridgewater Bridge but the successive bumps in the road tell me when we’ve reached it. Once we get on to the new Brighton bypass I tend to lose my sense of direction in the dark. There is not much to see and in the dimmed lighting most passengers doze including me.

I wake up with a start, it’s dark and I have to get my bearings. Usually we are still twenty minutes or more from Oatlands. I can feel that the bus is climbing and decide that we are probably somewhere around Constitution Hill one of the steeper parts of the Midland Highway.

Finally the bus turns off the highway and takes the road into Oatlands. I try to see into the window of the supermarket as we go down the High Street as I know my sister is in there working. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of her. The bus stops outside the pub and I say goodbye to the driver before walking the few metres to her house. On Monday morning I will be heading home on a bus full of sleepy people from Devonport and Launceston and will be able to enjoy the journey in daylight.

Council Offices-snow
A snowy day in Oatlands

Daily Prompt: Singing In The Rain

When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them.I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.

However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home.  It feels good to be in a warm room listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof . “It’s really coming down out there.” my husband and I say to each other. “I’m glad we’re not out in it.” Of course there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads.  After a hot dry summer it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.

Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live,  is the driest.

image topiary group by dry lake.
Lakeside Topiary group, July 2008

There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid 2000’s and the midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I walked around the lake and saw the remains of moorings and there was the sailing club but the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.

It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.

image dry lake & sign
What Water?

Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.

So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when my husband spatters the washing with mud with his car  I really do love the rain because it brings new life.

image topiary group by lake.
Topiary Group December 2009
image fisherman
Fisherman December 2009

My Main Street-Rural Revival

The other night I watched a movie called Main Street. I picked it at random because the blurb made it sound interesting and it had Colin Firth in it.

The blurb said that it was about a town that had fallen on to hard times and a stranger who had arrived in town with a proposition that could change everything.

Well, the proposition turned out to be the storage of hazardous waste and while the characters in the film all had happy endings it was not certain if the town would take this route to prosperity.

That was the real story for me. Is the risk of bringing hazardous waste into  your town worth the financial gain?

I can see both sides of the arguement. On the one hand nobody wants to see their town die, their shops closed and their young people move away to look for work elsewhere. The people in my area where have lived through this. Apples, farming and timber were the industries that the Huon Valley depended on for many years but gradually they have all declined. Locals tell me that in the early 1990s so many people were leaving that houses were almost being given away. There are towns like ours all over Australia and it’s understandable that when a large company wants to build, say a pulp mill, there are many people who think it’s a good thing for the district even if it’s environmentally questionable.

I know that I would have no problem in saying no to a hazardous waste dump in my town no matter how much money it would bring I just feel that it would not be worth the risk.However, the issues we have here in Tasmania are more difficult.

When I first came here over ten years ago I realised that forestry was something that people were very passionate about. I worked with women whose husbands income depended directly or indirectly on it. I saw cars with stickers that said “Greens Tell Lies” which I found very disturbing. It is very much a personal matter to many people. The very strong dislike that many people here have for green politics has probably pushed me in that direction out of sheer contrariness.

I’m a moderate myself, I hate confrontation and always look for compromise. I wouldn’t want to ban all logging but in my heart of hearts I feel that cutting down old growth forests to make woodchips is just wrong. If we must do this I’d prefer to see the timber used for something that people can appreciate like some of the lovely timber furniture that is made here. I know that forests that are logged are replanted but will they be allowed to live to over a hundred years without being disturbed.? I’m not sure. Once you cut down an old tree it’s gone forever. You can put another tree there but it won’t be the same. I know there are a lot of people like me and others more extreme who will go to any lengths to stop timber processing. I don’t always agree with their methods.It’s not a problem we’re going to solve very easily.

Image big log
Swamp Gum, Geeveston, Tasmania.

So if a town decides to take the moral high ground and say no to industry there has to be something else. I like the idea of making communities more self sufficient with things such as community gardens and co-ops to help people feed themselves and survive the hard times. I like the idea of farmers diversifying to other products and manufactureres finding niche markets, maybe a lot of little things are better for the community than one big one.

I have also read of many rural towns in Australia who have encouraged new residents to move there by offering cheap rents. It seems to work well for some.


Thinking about all this led me to discover the website of Renew Australia, This is an organisation that works with communities and property owners to take otherwise empty shops, offices, commercial and public buildings and make them available to incubate short term use by artists, creative projects and community initiatives.


I think these sorts of ideas can work. Recently I went to a meeting about the demolition of buildings at the local school. It was reassuring to see that the hall was full of a diverse group of people, from elderly residents who had gone to the school themselves, former teachers, young parents and people like myself who have come here in past few years and care about the community as a whole.I do believe that if communities can come together things can change for the better and we won’t need to compromise our ideals.

Links to organisations and businesses in Geeveston.