Tasmania’s Travellers’ Rest traded as a pub for almost a century before becoming the Red Feather Inn

The Red Feather Inn, Hadspen, Tasmania. Picture: Google

THE Red Feather Inn is a heritage listed building in the main street of the historic Tasmanian township of Hadspen.

Hadspen is a town on the South Esk River in the north of Tasmania, near Launceston.

The inn, known as the Travellers’ Rest, was the first horse-change point on the road from Launceston, 8 miles (13 km) away, to Deloraine. Work began in 1842, and the building was completed the following year by John Sprunt (also builder of Macquarie House in Launceston’s civic square) using convict hewn sandstone blocks and convict labour for local police magistrate Charles Arthur.

The Travellers Rest Inn was first licensed as a hotel in 1844. The inn’s fortunes declined during the 1870s when a rail line was built from Launceston, reaching nearby Carrick in 1869, meaning an end to coach travel.

The economy of rail transport took goods and passengers away, forcing wagons from the road. This reduced the demand for coaching inns, and led to a general decline in traffic through and business in the town.

The historic building traded as the Travellers Rest Hotel until 1930 when it closed for business. Within a couple of years a fire had destroyed much of the building. The Hobart Mercury reported on May 30, 1932:

Dangerous Ruins

The ruins of the Travellers’ Rest Hotel, Hadspen, which was destroyed by fire a few years ago, constitute a danger to the children who frequently play about the walls. During recent weeks a number of bricks have fallen from the walls, which are rapidly crumbling away. Where the windows and doors were, the openings are rapidly caving in. A fence round the remains with a danger notice displayed in a conspicuous place may be the means of preventing serious injury or loss of life to children who, heedless of the danger, make the hotel a playhouse.

In 1971, the Clarke family bought the derelict building, restoring it to its former splendour for tourism purposes, and renaming it the Red Feather Inn (The red feather being a symbol of good luck). The Australian Women’s Weekly, reported on October 8 1975:

A convict-built sandstone coaching inn is home for 15-year-old Veronica Clarke, of Hadspen, Tasmania, and her parents.

“The Red Feather was the first changing post for horses pulling coaches and carts from Launceston to Deloraine and Westbury,” Veronica said.

Built in 1845, the inn closed its doors in the early part of this century and fell into total disrepair – aided by vandals – until 1971 when the Clarkes bought the inn and restored it.

Today they have a sound-and-light presentation in which visitors are taken back in time to 1845. Seated on hay bales, they listen to tales of the early days of the inn and hear the clatter of coaches arriving. Finally a Waggoners’ Supper is served.

The building was given approval to operate as a restaurant in 1983. The Red Feather Inn was owned and operated by Julian Adkins as a licensed restaurant in 1994. It was furnished with period style tables and chairs with an atmosphere of an old coaching inn.

Julian Hadkins outside the Red Feather Inn, 1994. Picture: Western Tiers

As of 2004 it continued to operate as a restaurant and, after another refurbishment in 2008, was used for accommodation and a cooking school.

The building’s frontage is a substantial sandstone single-storey building. Land falls away sharply from the street and the building’s rear has two-storeys.

For more on today’s operation as of the Red Feather Inn visit their website HERE.

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Categories: Tasmania hotels

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1 reply

  1. I used to own that Inn. It was actually built in 1843 by George Sprunt for his wife Grace.

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