Clarendon, the perfect setting for the Australian Fly fishing Museum
The Fly Fishing Museum committee includes well known fishing identity Rex Hunt along with representatives from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. The Museum is now open and offers a fascinating insight to this Iconic pastime.
Walking up the nationally significant elm avenue at Clarendon on a frosty Tasmanian morning with the ground crunching under my feet, on my way to the first committee meeting of the Australian Fly fishing Museum, I had a feeling of great excitement about the project.
At the National Trust we all work on many very important projects, however, every now and then a project comes along that feels right, there is a natural fit, to coin a totally cliché expression ‘the stars are aligned’. I get to the end of the avenue and am stopped in my tracks by the sight before me. Early morning fog is lifting from the magnificent façade of Clarendon and the first rays of sun are filtering through what promises to be a clear blue Tassie winter sky. What a perfect setting for the home of the Australian Fly fishing Museum.
Built on the banks of the South Esk river in 1838 by James Cox, Clarendon today is the legacy of an inspirational visionary. Cox’s agricultural enterprises prospered at a time when northern Tasmania was the food bowl for Australia exporting large quantities of grain not only to New South Wales but also India, Mauritius and the Cape Colony. As well as growing grain, Cox was involved from the beginning in the development of the fine wool industry in Tasmania having imported merino rams from both the Macarthur stud in NSW and directly from Europe.
Cox also had a keen interest in rare breed poultry and took an active role in the introduction of brown trout into Tasmania. It is reported that in 1867, Cox imported some 200 to 300 trout ova which were placed in northern Tasmania’s first purpose built holding ponds.
Throughout 2011 significant conservation work took place on many of Clarendon’s out- buildings which previously were not available to the public due to a range of conservation and safety reasons. With support from the Tasmanian Community Fund, the bakery, laundry, dairy, shearing shed, poultry shed and stables have subsequently been interpreted under the careful direction of Curator Rhonda Hamilton, and now provide visitors with a broader view of what life may have been like at Clarendon.
Located in the Shepherd’s Cottage, The Australian Fly Fishing Museum is also a beneficiary of the completed conservation work and its inception is another important component to the future vision planned for Clarendon. This vision is focused on enhancing the visitor experience and presenting specific aspects of Clarendon’s rich history in a contemporary, engaging and relevant manner.
The concept of representing fly fishing at Clarendon, located on the banks of the South Esk river has been in the pipe line for several years and to see the project finally come into fruition under the direction of a newly established steering committee with national representation is very exciting.
Curator Rhonda Hamilton has performed research work on what is an international standard exhibition including static and interactive displays. An experienced angle fly – tyer will be in residence offering visitors the opportunity to try fly fishing on the South Esk River and to witness the art and skill of fly tying.
Rhonda is continuing a national search seeking the donation of objects to help enrich the collection representing Australia’s extraordinary fishing heritage. Should anyone owning fly fishing objects and considering entrusting them to an organisation dedicated to increasing the public awareness of Australia’s angling history, we would encourage them to call National Trust Tasmania State Office.
For further information contact: Matt Smithies, National Trust of Australia (Tasmania)
Land line: 03 6344 6233 Mobile: 0457 880 288