We haven’t spent a lot of time in Devonport since moving to Tasmania, despite living only a half hour drive away. On the banks of the Mersey River, Tasmania’s third largest city has undergone quite a transformation in recent years with exciting future developments in the pipeline. After spending some time at Mersey Bluff, we lunched at The Harbourmaster Café. The building on the left is the original, heritage listed harbourmaster’s cottage that has been tastefully extended to house the dining area.
The décor has a quirky nautical theme, half a rowing scull is suspended upside down from the ceiling.
There was plenty to choose from on the menu but we couldn’t go past a Tasmanian scallop pie.
Across the water, the Spirit of Tasmania rested ahead of another overnight crossing of Bass Strait,
destination Port Melbourne a few hundred kilometres away.
There is a walking & cycle path along the river that enticed us to negate some of the calories consumed at lunch.
It turned out to be a very interesting stroll, with many surprises along the way. An unassuming rock is actually a memorial to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the naming of the Mersey River in 1826 by Edward Curr, chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company.
From Vision to Reality, a sculpture of bronze poppies, is a fitting tribute to the man who pioneered the Tasmanian poppy industry. Stephen King was the director of poppy research and production for Glaxo in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Unreliable English summers led him to seek an alternative location for poppy production and, after studying climate data, it seemed Tasmania was the answer. Since 1966, poppy cultivation has been concentrated in Tasmania where 50% of the world’s crop of legit opium poppies is now grown. Stephen King received an OBE in 1979 for his services to the poppy industry and the sculpture was erected by the poppy growers association in 2003.
The path wends its way through well-kept lawns dotted with magnificent trees, their autumn foliage carpeting the ground.
Mussel Rock is a popular fishing spot, named, not surprisingly, because of the array of molluscs found nearby. The beacon was erected in 1896 to guide vessels into the river.
Bronze busts of Joseph and Enid Lyons have pride of place at Roundhouse Park.
Joseph was the Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928 and went on to be the tenth Prime Minister of Australia from 1932 until 1939 when he died in office. He is the only Tasmanian to have been Prime Minister and the only Australian to have been both Premier and Prime Minister. Dame Enid became a politician in her own right and, in 1943, was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Six years later, she was sworn in as the first woman Cabinet Minister in Menzies’ Liberal government. Enid was the first woman to receive damehoods in different orders; the Order of the British Empire in 1937 and the Order of Australia in 1980. As if that wasn’t enough, Joseph and Enid had twelve children, residing at their homestead , ‘Home Hill’ in Devonport.
The Victoria Parade Cenotaph was originally erected in memory of the fallen soldiers of World War I and now commemorates those who served in other conflicts in which Australia was involved.
Next to the cenotaph is a seemingly simple fountain.
On closer inspection, the water spouts from a solaqueous fountain. The shadow on the dial made by the stream of water tells the time. As you can see, we were there at 2pm.
A little further along the path is a memorial wall commemorating the 22 servicemen from Devonport who were killed at Gallipoli in 1915.
Standing alone on a rocky outcrop, Spirit of the Sea has been the source of much controversy even before it’s installation in 2009. The 700kg bronze statue was erected at the mouth of the Mersey and public opinion has been divided, so much so, the artist and his wife left the state. According to the description at the site, the sculpture reflects the elements of wind and sea and, facing the mountains, represents the connections between man, the sea and the land. I don’t really have an opinion either way but I think it would be nice to beautify the area and make a feature of the almost invisible water jets.
Mersey Bluff and lighthouse were silhouetted against the wispy sky in the northwest.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall bears a white marble replica of the Long Tan Cross and honours those who gave their lives between 1962 and 1973 during the Vietnam War.
Just beyond, at the end of Victoria Parade, is a restful avenue of Norfolk Island pines. Between the trees, each plinth bears a plaque to commemorate the seventeen Tasmanian servicemen who did not return from the Vietnam War.
There is more to Devonport than meets the eye, we shall return soon.