A classified historic town, Bothwell is the southern gateway to the central Highlands. In season Bothwell is also known as the gateway to some of the best trout fishing in Australia.

Bothwell is the home of Australia s first Aberdeen Angus stud. The town, laid out in 1824, was populated by mainly settlers of Scottish descent and today still has a distinct Scottish flavour. It was here that the famed Irish political exiles John Mitchell and John Martin lived during their stay in Tasmania in the 1850s. Both had been arrested for treasonable writings

Where Is it?: Bothwell is 76 km north north west of Hobart; 350 metres above sea level.

True to its Scottish Bothwell has one of Australia s top whiskey distilleries, Nant Distillery, housed in the historic Nant Mill. Here you can sample the fine single malt whiskeys made using pure local Highland waters.

Bothwell is the home of Australia's first Aberdeen Angus stud.

The area has a reputation amongst trout fishermen with local lakes being well stocked with wild brown and rainbow trout. Anglers are drawn to the area by the challenges that await them in Arthurs Lake, the Great Lake and in Bronte, Little Pine, Penstock and Dee Lagoons.

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Around Town
Heritage Buildings
As a classified historic town, Bothwell has 18 buildings classified by the National Trust and a further 34 listed. These include St Luke's Presbyterian church (1831); Wentworth House (1833); Nant Mill, a massive rough-masonry building erected in 1857; Clifton Priory, on Barrack Hill overlooking the township. The Anglican Chapel of St James, at Montacute, a nearby hamlet, was built by Capt. William Langdon in 1857. It is one of the few surviving 'estate' chapels. A hitching rail and ring are still outside the post office.

The town's most interesting historic buildings include Thorpe Watermill (near Nant's Cottage), a brick flour mill powered by water. It operated for seventy years, was closed down, and was restored in the mid 1970s. Thomas Axford built Thorpe Watermill, which was fully operational by 1825. Axford ran the corn-grinding mill until 1865 when he was killed by the bushranger, Rocky Whelan. In 1899 the 800 acre property known as Thorpe (the name came from Thorpe Farm in Berkshire) was purchased by Frederick McDowall who continued to operate it until 1916. It ground wheat until 1907 and then cut chaff until 1916. It was restored in the mid 1970s by the Bignell family. Today John Bignell runs Thorpe Farm Cheese at 189 Dennistoun Road, Bothwell and uses the mill to grind grain for specialist bakers. Inspections of this historic mill can be arranged by contacting (03) 6259 5678.

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 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 Uniting (Presbyterian) Church was built in 1831 to a design by John Lee Archer. The dripstones were carved by Daniel Herbert. St Luke s has what appears to be carvings of a Celtic god and godess beside the front doors. They have been attributed to the convict sculptor, Daniel Herbert, who was also responsible for his excellent work on the bridge at Ross. No attempt has been made to remove them even though their identity is now known. In an ironic twist, Governor Arthur is said to have ordered the architect, John Lee Archer, to change the rounded windows because they were 'unchristian'.

The church has what appears to be carvings of a Celtic god and godess beside the front doors. They have been attributed to the convict sculptor, Daniel Herbert, who was also responsible for the excellent work on the bridge at Ross. No attempt hs been made to remove them even though their identity is now known. In an ironic twist, Governor Arthur is said to have 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 St Luke's Presbyterian Church is Rock Cottage which was built in 1864 by Thomas Lewis.

Priory Country Lodge

The magnificent Tudor mansion, Priory Country Lodge, was built in 1848 on Adelaide Hill overlooking Bothwell. Londoner Greg Peacock took two years to transform the then decrepit building into a very special retreat in the true style of the Scots. The 'country luxe' property was the only Australian hotel to make Travel and Leisure's 'It List' in 2009.

Alexander Street, which runs from St Luke's Church towards the Clyde River has a number of interesting buildings including Twin Cottages (c. 1850) and the charming and elaborately carved Post Office (1891) which has a hitching rail and ring for customers who arrive by horse.

The Crown Inn, Alexander Street, was first licensed in 1836. The fully restored building is now called Bothwell Grange.

The name of White's Store, the original Bothwell Store at 20 Alexander Street, recalls the continuously ownership of the establishment by the White family, who ran it for over 140 years before it was closed). The original White s Store dates back to c.1837 and the later larger store on the corner of Alexander and Queen Streets was constructed around c.1850. The larger brick building includes sandstone paving along the footpath.

The Literary Society, a remarkable building on Alexander Street, 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. It once housed a collection of books which formed the oldest country library in Australia, founded in 1834 and moved into this building in 1856. The building is noe the Municipal Council Chambers.

The Castle Inn, in Patrick Street, dates from 1829 and has been continuously licensed since that year. 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 Falls of Clyde Inn, also known as the Coffee Palace. The Falls of Clyde was constructed in 1831 as a house for for Sandy Denholm, a blacksmith. It is a two storey brick and stucco Georgian building with a stone rear section, It was first licensed in 1836 as The Falls Of Clyde, later called The Young Queen from 1851  1877 and still later it was known as Maskell s Hotel. By the late 1800 s the building was known as The Coffee Palace, a coffee house hosting accommodation forming part of the temperance movement from the mid 19th century. The building is a private residence today and is a really distinctive part of the Bothwell streetscape.

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, built by Andrew Bell, a local stonemason, is also home to the oldest golf course in Australia and possibly also has the country s oldest fowl house. Golf has been played here since 1839. Alexander Reid, the original owner of Ratho, brought out from Scotland several wooden clubs and featheries (feather-stuffed balls). The club was officially formed in 1902.
Priory Country Lodge

The Nant Distillery is located on the Clyde River, 3 km outside the town. First settled in 1821 the historic convict built sandstone Nant homestead and farm complex are an important part of our national heritage. Today Nant is still a working farm breeding Angus cattle and Suffolk sheep. The old flour mill (circa 1823) has been converted into a full production whisky distillery. In 1823 Nicholas built a water driven flour Mill at Nant and the later new mill built in 1857 is now home to the Nant Distillery.

Golf and Bothwell

Australia's first golf course  on the grazing property Ratho at Bothwell  is still in use today, and the Bothwell Golf Club. The Australasian Golf Museum has the largest display of historic and modern-day golfing memorabilia outside of St Andrew's, Scotland. The Museum has its home in an old school house on Market Place in town.

The Ratho Golf Links is a time capsule, among the best preserved of all the world s early golf courses. Its most apparent uniqueness is the sheep, which graze and keep the playing areas short, with fences to keep them from the square greens. At first glance, this appears to be little more than a backwards blend of farming and recreation outside a small country town. And so it is. But so golf began. The story of how golf evolved from a crude game played by a handful of Scottish villagers to a truly international game, and why the early settlers in Bothwell became Australia s first golfing community, is told at the Museum.

Bothwell Golf Club is based at Ratho Farm Golf Links, Bothwell. The golf course is said to be the oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe the oldest course outside Scotland, and is situated on a farm established in 1822. Driving north from Bothwell Village, you will find Ratho Farm Golf Links on your right as you cross the bridge over Clyde River and head up Highland Lakes Road. The first turn-off after crossing the bridge leads to the old Ratho Farm homestead and cottages, which are being converted to become the place to go when visiting Ratho Farm Golf Links. That's where you book your rounds of golf, and that's where you pay your Green Fees.


The Australian Golf Heritage Festival, held each May, the festival provides players with traditional hickory clubs, gutta percha balls and period costumes for The National Hickory Championships.

Bothwell is home to the International Highland Spin-in, a wool spinning competition marking the town s agricultural heritage and linking spinners throughout the world in friendship. A unique festival the Spin-In is held every second year in March and celebrates fibre arts such as spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting, knitting and allied fibre crafts. The three day event consists of many activities including presentations, demonstrations, mini-workshops, parades, and competitions as well as a variety of interesting displays.

With international, national and state guests, visitors and participants have many opportunities to build their skills and keep current in their field through peer association and the opportunity to learn about similar activities in other cultural contexts, The cultural exchange that occurs between participants and the official guests are one of the Spin-In s special highlights.

Bothwell Spin-In is the home of the Guinness Book of Records listed Longest Thread Competition that attracts entries from across the world. This uses 10gr of wool fleece spun and plyed. A new feature of the 2015 event will be the introduction of an Alpaca section. The Spin-in is organised entirely by a committee of volunteers known as The International Highland Spin-in Association Inc.

In The Area
Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain  Lake St Clair National Park, which is is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Carved out by ice during several glaciations over the last two million years, this is the deepest lake in Australia and the headwaters of the Derwent River, upon which the capital city of Tasmania is located.

The area around Lake St Clair offers a wealth of walks, ranging from leisurely strolls to overnight bushwalks, as well as beautiful forests to explore. Lake St Clair is also the end point of the famous Overland Track, a long-distance walk which runs from Cradle Mountain in the north to Cynthia Bay on the southern shore of Lake St Clair.

We suggest you start your visit to Lake St Clair by calling in to the impressive park centre. There, via innovative displays, you can take a trip through time that shows how the Lake St Clair area has developed from ancient times through to the present day. There are picnic facilities with barbecues at Cynthia Bay. Wheelchair accessible toilets are located at the park centre. The area also has a general store and restaurant, public telephone and outdoor seating facilities. Through a Private Operator, canoes, bicycles and motorised dingies are available for hire. Contact the Private Operator on (03) 6289 1137 for details.

Day visitors have a number of contrasting walks to choose from. Whether walking to an alpine lake, a mountain summit or an ancient rainforest, staff at the park centre will be able to assist you. A day walk map can also be purchased there if you want to go on one of the longer walks.

A passenger launch operates from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Bay at the northern end of the lake. It provides a leisurely way to experience the lake and mountains of the Lake St Clair area. For the more energetic it is possible to walk back via part of the Overland Track. Launch bookings can be made at the general store or by phoning (03) 6289 1137.

Camping is available at Cynthia Bay. For further details please contact the concessionaire on ph (03) 6289 1137. A Backpacker/Travellers Hostel is also available at Cynthia Bay with 2 and 4 bunk rooms and refectory kitchen. Unique alpine-style units are also operated privately by the concessionaire - phone (03) 6289 1137. Accommodation is also available outside the park at Derwent Bridge.

Lake St Clair is 2 1/2 hours west of Hobart via the Lyell Highway (A10) and a similar distance from Launceston via Longford and Poatina. At Derwent Bridge turn right onto the 5 1/2km long access road to the lake at Cynthia Bay. From Queenstown the Lyell Highway is a winding and narrow 1 1/2 hour drive.

Both the Lyell Highway and the access road from Derwent Bridge may occasionally be closed by snow in winter. There is no direct road link through the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park. Visitors may most easily reach Cradle Mountain via the Cradle Link Road (C132) and the Murchison and Lyell Highways (A10).

Central Highlands Drive

A drive through the highlands north from Hobart via Bothwell and Miena, is an interesting alternative to the Midlands Highway if you are heading for Tasmania's North West from Hobart. The landscape consists of mountain peaks rising from button grass plains. During winter, snow settles on the shores of the lakes and clear crisp days satisfy those who enjoy feeling close to the environment.
  • More

  • History of Bothwell

    The town, laid out in 1824, was populated by mainly settlers of Scottish descent and today still has a distinct Scottish flavour. It has 18 buildings classified by the National Trust. Bothwell has two particular distinctions - the town council claims the Australian rate collection. Between 1862 and 1963, there was only one defaulting ratepayer who, in 1968, still owed the council 10 shillings ($1.00); and it was here that the Irish political exiles John Mitchell and John Martin lived during their stay in Tasmania in the 1850s. Both had been arrested for treasonable writings.

    Before permanent settlement the area was used for grazing stock by the early entrepreneur, Edward Lord. Hunters and bushrangers roamed the district. Mike Howe, a callous bushranger, was captured near the Shannon River in October 1818 and his head was carried back to Hobart Town for the reward.

    Bothwell was originally called Fat Doe River (subsequently renamed the Clyde River) and the area was explored in some detail settled in 1817. By 1822 the district had been surveyed and the first settlers, many of them Scots, had taken up their grants. Because of the large number of Scots, Fat Doe River was re-named after Bothwell on the Clyde River in Lanarkshire, Scotland, near Glasgow by Governor George Arthur in 1824. Fat Doe River was renamed after the Clyde River, because Bothwell in Scotland is on the Clyde 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. 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). Wentworth Street is named for D Arcy Wentworth, an early Police Magistrate, who was a son of the famous Dr D Arcy Wentworth of Sydney.

    Assigned convicts contributed to the work force. Descendants of all these pioneers  settlers, servants and convicts  continue to live in the town. Surveyor Scott planned a large township in 1823 and this layout continues with an extra street, Elizabeth Street, to the north that was part of an 1832 subdivision by Thomas Burrell of Grantham .

    In the first two decades of settlement a church, school, soldiers  barracks and hotels were built from the local sandstone or from hand-made bricks. Building materials continued to be found locally until the end of the nineteenth century. The last major building constructed of local materials was the Council Chambers opened in 1902. Soldiers  barracks were first constructed in Barrack Street, but in 1832 they were re-built in sandstone in Wentworth Street on Mt Adelaide. Later this building housed the police. It is now a private home.

    The strong Scottish element in the early population is still evident. The town's St Luke's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church is the second oldest Presbyterian church in Australia. One of the pioneers, Captain Patrick Wood, a retired officer of the East India Army, introduced a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, founding what is believed to be the oldest pedigree herd in Australia.

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