Bothwell (popn.~400) is situated in the beautiful Clyde River Valley and as the southern gateway to the Central Highlands has much to offer the visitor.
The town itself is in a peaceful rural setting with an old world atmosphere, and contains many interesting buildings of both architectural and historical interest. A large number of Bothwell’s buildings date from the early 1800’s, and 52 of them have either been classified or registered by the National Trust.
Self-guided walking tours are the best means of seeing and learning about Bothwell’s history, and the self-guided brochure is available from the Golf Museum.
The walk to Mt. Adelaide Lookout takes the visitor down Alexander Street, through Croaker’s Alley and passed Fort Wentworth.
Mt. Adelaide is a wonderful vantage point to view the village and gaze along the extent of the Clyde River Valley, from the snowcapped peaks of Mt. Field National park to the south, and the bluff of Table Mountain to the north
Sheep grazing and beef cattle properties are predominate throughout the surrounding areas. There is also a variety of new industries operating to support the traditional farm based enterprises. These include tulips, cereal grains crops, poppies, pyrethrum, strawberries and sheep and goat cheese making. Bothwell also relies on its historic value to attract visitors.
Bothwell’s name was chosen by Governor Arthur after a Scottish town that also spans the River Clyde. He rejected the suggestion of New Lanark, which was the name of another Clyde mill town that had recently been built as an example of social reform.
The lakes and mountains of the central highlands are a popular destination, offering superb fishing and camping.
The central highlands is renowned for its beautiful isolated wilderness
A must see is the Australasian Golf Museum and Visitor Centre, which complements the area’s rich golfing heritage and provides information on the area. There are several high quality craft shops and galleries in the town centre.
Queens Park in the center of town is a particularly pleasing sight with barbecue facilities and public toilets nearby.
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.
The local Aboriginal band was called the Big River tribe. This group was known for its ferocity. Following the opening up of the area to settlement in the decade of the 1820s numerous clashes between the group and the ‘invaders’ are listed for the area. For more details of this subject see N. J. B. Plomley’s The Aboriginal settler clash in Van Diemen’s Land 1803-183, (Launceston, 1992). The famous colonial painting, ‘The Conciliator’, by Benjamin Duterreau includes members of this group posed around George Augustus Robinson. Members of the tribe danced their last corroboree in front of Bothwell’s Castle Hotel on 5 January 1832.
Left: ‘The Conciliator’, by Benjamin Duterreau
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. The first two farms on the Upper Clyde were ‘Nant’ and ‘Norwood’, which were taken up by the Nicholas family and Rowcroft brothers respectively. They came out on the Grace in 1821.
Immediate right: Edward Lord.
The next big influx came on the Castle Forbes in March 1822. Their leader was Captain Patrick Wood who settled at ‘Dennistoun’. Others in the group included the Pattersons at ‘Hunterston’ and the Reids at ‘Ratho’. Tradesmen and servants accompanied them and the little settlement burgeoned. 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.
Left: Entrance to the historic Commandant’s quarters in Botwell
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. Bothwell once had four substantial churches. The Methodist church was demolished when the railway failed to reach Bothwell (it terminated at Apsley on the Jordan River). The Catholic Church was also demolished and re-built on its original site. The earliest church was constructed with government and local help and was used jointly by both Presbyterians and Anglicans for sixty years. It was designed by John Lee Archer. The Anglicans, with financial support from Mrs William Nicholas of ‘Nant’, built their own church in 1891. This was designed by Alexander North of Launceston.
There were once four substantial Georgian-style hotels. Only one, the Castle Hotel (pictured right), continues to ply this trade.