Historic Village of Ross
Located on the Heritage Highway between Launceston and Hobart is the famous convict village of Ross. Soak up the serenity of a close friendly community, delight in the wonderful variety of convict built sandstone homes in which they live. A most popular pastime for visitors to the historic village of Ross is simply strolling the leafy elm tree lined streets absorbing its atmosphere and history. Follow the links below to more specific information on facilities, accommodation, eating out, attractions and a little about our famous bridge:
Never Heard of Ross? It has been included in the federal government’s list of significant places of Australia as the “Most significant convict village in Australia”. During 2005 it was rated as one of the top ten most wanted to visit places in Australia! You still wonder why you haven’t heard much about the village? Don’t just take our word for it. Here is what the Age Newspaper has to say:
-The Age Feb 2004-
The most beautiful historic town in Tasmania.
Tasmania has an excess of beautiful and fascinating 19th century colonial towns. Places like Campbell Town and Richmond are famous for their gift shops, their pretty vistas and their overt tourist appeal. But, of all the early 19th towns, there is nothing quite the equal of Ross.
The secret is that the Midland Highway (the main route between Hobart and Launceston) by-passes Ross thus preserving the original, sleepy character of the town.
The great quality of Ross is that it has not been overly corrupted by modern tourism. The town is very typically English and, with its warm Ross sandstone, is reminiscent of the towns which can be seen in the Cotswolds or in north Oxfordshire. In many ways Ross is a town which has been held in aspic. It is beautifully preserved.
Located 117 km north of Hobart and 78 km south of Launceston, Ross is 76 metres above sea level. The district was first explored by Europeans in 1807 when the surveyor Charles Grimes travelled from the north to the south of Tasmania’s central valley area. He mapped sections of the river which subsequently became known as Macquarie River (Governor Macquarie named it after himself when he travelled through the area in 1811).
On his second journey through central Tasmania, Macquarie chose the location beside the river for a township. He called it Ross after the home of his friend H.M. Buchanan who lived on Loch Lomond in Scotland. At that time the river was forded. Later that year a wooden bridge was built and by 1836 the stone bridge, one of the finest in Australia, was completed.
Throughout the nineteenth century Ross was an important stopover point between Launceston and Hobart. As such it was a horse coach changing point, a town for the local garrison and an important destination for produce from the surrounding farms.
Today it is arguably the finest nineteenth century village in Australia. It has resisted the excesses of commercialism and the combination of the tree-lined main street, the beautiful bridge and river, and the location of the Wesleyan Church at the top of the slight hill, combine to give it a remarkable aesthetic beauty and tranquillity.
We are only a small intimate historic village of around 300 people. Real estate is hard to find here. The businesses are all owned by small operators, no national chain-owned businesses here. We don’t have the massive budgets of other parts of Tasmania. We (the village) rely on our strong reputation of authentic history, quality service, peace and tranquillity. Word of mouth is our best form of promotion. The village can’t afford other forms of glamorous promotion. Many people change their itineraries during their stay in Tasmania to visit Ross. They hear from other tourists while they are travelling as to how lovely Ross is. Good thing is, we get them staying with us when they return to Tasmania. Our advice to the reader, book with us BEFORE you visit Tasmania, you know then that you have your home in this superb village.
Our unofficial list of attractions and businesses in the village.
It is our own description and not sponsored by anyone. Its aim is to give the potential guest staying with us and idea of what they can expect in the village. We don’t guarantee any businesses’ opening hours or products will always match what we have stated here. We have put this page together as a response from requests from guests to get a brief list of what is in the village. Hope it is helpful.
Tasmanian Wool Centre
* the retail area offering fine wool products
* a wool exhibition area outlining the history of the wool industry in Tasmania, and
* the history museum telling the fascinating story of Ross’ past.
The wool exhibition and history museum both feature audio-visual displays and many interesting artefacts. The Feel-and-touch wool display allows visitors to experience wool produced by a range of sheep breeds, and of course features the superfine merino wool the region is reknowned for.The Tasmanian Wool Centre combines a quality shop outlet with a wool and local history museum.
A large collection of antiques, collectibles and gifts shared among a variety of antique shops. Even the local Ross Post office is worth a visit. This very attractive stone building offers more than a place to post your mail.
Ross Female factory
The Ross Female Factory operated from 1848 to 1854 during transportation and housed female convicts and their babies. The site was originally established to house the male convicts working on the Ross Bridge and establishing the road between Hobart and Launceston. The ‘factory’ accommodated two classes of convicts. The crime class – these women were kept on the site and worked in either the kitchen, laundry or garden and The hiring class – better behaved women who would be ‘hired out’ to the surrounding farms and houses as domestic servants. Today the site has the remains of the assistant superintendant’s and overseer’s cottages which house recently updated interpretive displays and information on the history of the Female Factory. Open daily.
The Ross Bridge
This is undoubtedly our most famous icon. In fact one of the most famous icons of Tasmania. This convict bridge with all its carvings holds visitors spellbound. It is one of the most recognised tourism icons of Tasmania. So what is all the fuss? Click here for more about the Ross Bridge
Our Convict History
Tasmania was a draw card for early European settlement for several reasons. Access to the southern waters for seals and whales was one. Excellent farming districts for stock and grain to feed the rest of the colony added to the appeal to settle. The third reason, the island was ideal to send convicts to. The size allowed security of the convicts to be more manageable. A road was needed between the North and South of the state. White man had discovered the original aboriginal inhabitants had already carved trade routes throughout the state. One such trade route was between the Launceston district in the North and the “Hobart Town” district in the South. This trade route is now called the “Heritage Highway”. The best source of labour to construct the road was convicts. The cheapest convicts to use needed less supervision, so low security convicts were used. Places like Ross were set up at river crossings along the route. The convicts could build and maintain the road and river crossing (in our case the famous convict built bridge). The convicts also had to build the accommodation for themselves and the officers in the village. As sandstone was more readily available than other building materials, a lasting legacy of convict built sandstone buildings now provide the visitor with an amazing experience. These early European settlers aimed at recreating a familiar environment to them. It is no mistake that the village is English in style complete with English Elms, cottage gardens and quaint Georgian style cottages.
Staying in one of our cottages or at the Ross B&B Accommodation provides the ideal opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of the Ross historic village.
Eating out in Ross
Ross is a famous place for day tripping from all over the state. By late afternoon the day visitors have reluctantly moved on. There is a wide choice of places to eat through the day. In the evenings, there is still a good choice, but not all outlets stay open. Once settling in to your cottage you may decide you don’t want to leave. Guests staying in the cottages often decide to buy something from one of the takeaway or bakeries and reheat in the oven or microwave. Some outlets provide a reheat-able takeaway.
Bakeries, Takeaways and Tea Rooms
Ross has two thriving bakeries. The wood fired bakery is located opposite the Ross B&B Accommodation, it makes convenient choice for day snacks, real coffee. The bakery is eat in or take away. We recommend the breads, a wide choice usually available. This bakery is also licensed. Down the street the Old Ross General Store and Bakery. This bakery has been made famous for a mean scallop pie. A wide range of other pies and pasties are also available. Like the wood fired bakery, they provide eat in or take away and has alfresco or inside dining. A section of the store also carries a range of groceries and convenience store lines. The village has other tea rooms and nice places for Coffee. The Ross newsagency and Takeaway also has a small range of grocery lines. This is the place to go to for the fish and chips, BBQ chickens etc. They don’t usually close till early evening, so you could get something to take back at the cottage. They can also fill the tank of your car.
The Man O Ross Hotel counter meals are available for mid day and evenings. A cleansing ale awaits you.
Accommodation in Ross
Ross B&B Accommodation and the Colonial Cottages of Ross are the best places to stay if you wish to be centrally located in the village and enjoy comfortable historic accommodation.
Hosts of the Ross B&B Accommodation and the Colonial Cottages of Ross: Tim & Sue Johnson