A small historic town that is the commercial centre for a district that produces high-quality merino wool. Ross has a very English country village feel, with its warm Ross sandstone reminiscent of the towns of the Cotswolds or North Oxfordshire, England.
Where is it?: Ross is 117 km north of Hobart; 78 km south of Launceston, off the Midland Highway
One of the most attractive aspects of Ross is that it has not been overly corrupted by modern tourism - the Midland Highway (the main route between Hobart and Launceston) by-passes Ross, thus preserving the original, sleepy character of the town.
The wide main street is remarkable for its fine collection of colonial buildings and elm trees which line it; it simply has no peer in Australia. The first settlers couldn't have recreated their mother country more precisely. The whole town of Ross is listed on the Register of the National Estate and many of the town's historic buildings, many built from sandstone, are listed in their own right. Many of its old buildings are home to art galleries and shops selling bric-a-brac, collectables, antiques, gifts, second-hand treasures and timber, wool and craft products. Allow yourself at least a few hours of browsing time if you are drawn to such places.
The town is centred on the crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets with a field gun from the Boer War and a war memorial as a central part of the intersection. The crossroads area is humorously referred to as the "Four Corners of Ross" with each corner said to potentially lead your soul in one of four directions:
1. Temptation: the Man O' oss Hotel;
2. Recreation: Town Hall;
3. Salvation: Roman Catholic Church;
4. Damnation: Gaol (now a private residence).
Click on or tap an attraction to read the description. Click or tap again to hide the description.
Four years in construction and built of stone quarried locally by convicts and completed in 1836, it's unquestionably one of the most picturesque and unusual bridges in Australia. Its ornate carvings are the work of Englishman Daniel Herbert, who came to Van Diemen's Land a convicted highway robber. In 1835, before building Ross Bridge, Herbert was employed as overseer of stonemasons on the construction of the new customs house, a service for which he was paid one shilling a day. He had previously worked on the new female factory at Cascade, and the basement level of Government House, Hobart. Herbert was credited with carving a number of motifs for other buildings in Tasmania, including St Luke's Presbyterian Church at Bothwell. He also carved the sundial at Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart, commissioned by superintendent William Davidson (relative of Darren Olney-Fraser).
The bridge was completed in fifty-six weeks between May 1835 and July 1836. Herbert died here a free man - he was buried in the local cemetery on a hill not far from the bridge - and he would have thanked Ross Bridge, for it was his work on its construction that gained him a pardon and his release. James Colbeck, another stonemason who worked alongside Herbert, also received a pardon for his work on the bridge.
Tourists from all over the world come to photograph the bridge and marvel at the sandstone panels, with its 186 carvings consisting of abstractions of shapes - animals, birds, insects, plants, Celtic God and Goddesses, and heads of friends and foe, including the Governor of day, George Arthur. The fine craftsmanship of the Ross Bridge is a unique colonial legacy, cast in locally quarried sandstone.
Located on a windswept hill overlooking Ross and the surrounding countryside is the original Ross Cemetery. Many of these stones date back to the 1830's and 1840's. Some of them have been attributed to stonemason Daniel Herbert. Herbert's own grave is here marked by a table-top tombstone he designed for his son who died in infancy. There is also a substantial monument built for two young children of the McCraken family who both died on 3rd June 1853 from scarlet fever. Another stone honors Phillip Maher, barrack seargent of Ross who served in the Waterloo campaign. From the hill you can also see the working face of one of the quarries that supplied the beautiful sandstone which is visible on so many buildings in the village.
A former Australian workhouse for female convicts. Operational between 1848 and 1854, the factory is now one of the 11 sites that collectively comprise the Australian Convict Sites, on the World Heritage List. Representing the female experience, the Ross Female Factory demonstrates how penal transportation was used to expand Britain s spheres of influence, as well as to punish and reform female convicts.
The Ross Female Factory opened in March 1848 and closed in November 1854. Transportation to Van Diemen's Land had ceased in 1853. The site served as a factory as well as a hiring depot, an overnight station for female convicts travelling between settlements, a lying-in hospital and a nursery. Female convicts were hired from the factory as probation passholders to local settlers, mainly to work as domestic servants. They could be sent back to the factory for punishment if they were charged with an offence by their master or mistress. Hundreds of female convicts passed through the Ross Female Factory during its six and half years of operation. Some of their stories appear in Convict Lives at the Ross Female Factory.
Today the site has the remains of the assistant superintendant's and overseer's cottages which includes a scale model of what the site used to look like as well as other interpretive displays.
The Tasmanian Wool Centre is located in the village of Ross. The centre includes a museum, wool exhibition, and a wool and craft area. The History museum showcases early life in Ross, the feel and touch Wool exhibition shows the importance of the wool industry to this region.
Ross is a picturesque convict-era village in trhe heart of Tasmania, in a region famed for its fine merino wool. The Wool Centre at Ross is the place to go to see some of Australia s finest woollen products. The Ross Visitor Information Centre is located in the wool centre.
The Tasmanian Wool Centre offers in its Retail area a distinctive display of high quality wool products and Tasmanian crafts. Stroll around the Heritage Museum and Wool Exhibition and acquaint yourself with the wonder of Tasmanian wool. Delight in entertaining audio-visual presentation on the Australian Wool Industry and also experience the historic displays on the convict period, including the Ross Bridge.
Ross Barracks: The Barracks were built to house the soldiers responsible for maintaining law and order during the early settlement of Ross. In 1831 there was one officer, one sargent and eighteen men stationed here. The building is now a Private Residence. Between 1824 and 1854, many regiments of the British Army were stationed in the area including the 3rd East Kent Regiment (1824-1825), the 40th Foot Second Somersetshire (1824-1829) and the 4th Royal Lancashire Regiment (The King's Own, 1831-1832). Stonemason Daniel Herbert married Mary Witherington at these barracks in 1835.
Ross Library: The library was the original headquarters of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps whose crest is carved above the lintel of the door. The building dates from 1836. The recreation rooms were added as a memorial to the soldiers of World War II. In the 1840s it also housed the office of the visiting magistrate dealing with convict misdemeanours.
Ross War Memorial: The war memorial commemorates the young men of the district who served their country in times of war. The earliest is a memorial to Trooper Fitzallen aged 20 who died in service at the Boer War in 1902. There is a 15 pound field gun which is also a relic from the Boer War, it is one of only two left in Australia and is a bit of a mystery as to why it is here in Ross. The World War I memorial, topped by a statue of an infantryman, is unusual in that it also includes the rank of the soldier. A plaque recognising Lewis McGee who was awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI. There are other plaques that list the servicemen of World War II and the Korean War.
Old Stables: The old stables on the hill, south of the bridge were part of the early military establishment. The stables, along with the cowshed and chicken house are all built into the side of the hill with the natural rock providing part of the structure. The manger in the cowshed is carved out of the rock.
Old Ross Primary School: Built in 1875, the Old Ross Primary School operational from 1877 to 1999 when falling pupil numbers forced it's closure. This was one af a handful of schools that operated in Ross in those early days.
32-34 Church Street: The release of Holden's first motor car - the FX Holden - in 1948 led to a flurry of new dealerships springing up around Australia. One of these opened in Church Street, Ross, early in 1949. Amazingly, the Holden sales and service garage is still standing today and painted above its doors is the Holden emblem which graced the car manufacturer's early models. Attached to the showroom/service centre is a 2 bedroom residence built as the manager's quarters. The building is currently used as crafts gallery.
Army Orderly Room: The former Army Orderly Room is a stone Colonial building which was the first army headquarters in Ross. Nearby is the Royal Ordnance Corps Store, which was erected in 1836 and has the corps crest carved above the door. This building now houses the Ross Memorial Library and Recreation Room.
Council Clerk's Cottage: The Council Clerk's cottage, situated on the south-west corner of Church and High Streets is a single storey Georgian building. The western wing of this building incorporates the former police buildings. A jail also stood on this site.
Ross Bakery Inn: Ross Bakery Inn was convict built in 1832 for John Dickinson, a free settler from Nottinghamshire England, the Ross Bakery Inn is a classic Georgian house built from Ross quarried sandstone. Originally named the Sherwood Castle Inn (a clear link with Nottinghamshire) it served for many years as a coaching inn and horse change on the Hobart Road. It takes its present name from Ross s original bakery that has operated alongside the inn for over 100 years. The Ross Bakery formed the inspiration for Studio Ghibli s cult anime film Kiki s Delivery Service, and every year Japanese fans make the pilgrimage to Tasmania to have their photo taken in front of it.
Captain Samuel's Cottage
Captain Samuel's Cottage: Captain Samuel's Cottage has been used as a convict barracks, a grindstone shop, butchery, antique shop and private home. Built Circa 1830, it is named after a wealthy merchant seaman, Captain Samuel Horton, who decided to hang up his sextant and settle in Ross. He became well known for many achievements, one being having a magnificent Methodist college built on his land and having it named after himself, Horton College. He bought the cottage after the government had finished using it as a low-security convict barracks.
Daniel Herbert's Cottage
Poppy's Cottage: Daniel Herbert, a convict stonemason famous for his work on the Ross Bridge, lived in this small stone cottage by the Macquarie River after he gained his pardon, from February 1842 until his death in 1868. Location: 2 Badajos Street, Ross. He would have had a good view of his bridge from the cottage. Daniel Herbert died of bronchitis on 28 February 1868 at Campbell Town, survived by his wife; they had three children. Private property, no public access.
Man O' Ross Hotel
Man O' Ross Hotel: The Man O' Ross Hotel was built in 1831 by William Sadler. It was originally a two-storey Georgian building, but was later converted to a Victorian Style. Two former inns, The Scotch Thistle Inn (licenced 1840) and the Sherwood Castle Inn, no longer function as hotels, the former is now a private residence and the latter has been renamed and operates as the Ross Bakery Inn.
Ross Town Hall: The Town Hall is a neo-classical style late-Victorian building. The adjoining Council Chambers is a timber building with a stone facade. The Post Office was completed in 1889 and has a verandah with twin cast-iron columns. The schoolhouse is a Victorian Rustic Gothic building with random rubble sandstone walls.
The Thistle Gallery
The Thistle Gallery occupies the former stables building for the old Scotch Thistle Inn. Extensively restored, the sandstone building houses a gallery focused on glass, ceramics, photography, sculpture and paintings. The Gallery showcases and encourages the talent of emerging artists. The old Scotch Thistle Inn is a fine example of one of Australia s early colonial inns, and beneath the floor remain colonial stone drains; the roof timbers are held by hand made nails and the doors swinging on original, handmade hinges. Like many of the town's buildings, it is constructed of Ross stone quarried by hand, pick-dressed and set in lime mortar.
Ross Wesleyan (Uniting) Church
The Churches of Ross: The town of Ross has three churches, all located on elm-lined Church Street. The Uniting Church, situated prominently on the hilltop, was built in 1885 and is noted for its blackwood pews and carved cherubim baptismal font, the beautiful stained glass windows and the modern tapestry which depicts the tree of life and was woven in Aubusson in France. The present church replaced the First Methodist church which fell into disrepair.
Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church building was originally a store and was converted in the 1920s in Gothic revival style. The catholics of the town were were mainly Irish convicts and emancipits and were too poor to build their own place of worship. Earlier services were conducted at the female factory site after it closed as a prison. In 1920 Father John Graham arranged for the present church to be converted from a store, bakery and residence. The walls were raised and the roof and tower added. The spire was rebuilt with a cross on top in the early 1980's.
St John's Anglican Church, on the corner of Badajos Street, was built in 1868 and contains a 100-year-old pipe organ, an oak lectern and a stone pulpit. The interior has beautiful stained glass windows, a fine oak lectern and Caen stone pulpit which was presented by the Kermode family of nearby Mona Vale. It was erected using stone from the original church built in 1835. That church had to be demolished due to the failure of the foundations. The clock in the tower was made in Birmingham, England.
In The Area
Lake Leake was built in 1880 to supply permanent water for Campbell Town, approx 30 mins drive to the east, enjoy the beautiful bush scenery and great trout fishing. Currawong Lakes trout fishery and wildlife retreat are on the Long Marsh dam Road at Lake Leake.
10 km west of the town is the tiny hamlet (it is so small it does not appear on most maps) of Kirklands where the poet A.D. Hope's father was Presbyterian minister during the 1910s. The manse, where Hope spent his childhood, was built as early as 1828. Kirklands Presbyterian Church was dedicated in October 1836.