Currently we are camped in my favourite Tassie hamlet – Ross. It is my favourite for a variety of reasons. In 1966 when I was a callow youth, the bus from Launceston stopped at the C19th pub to allow for mid journey refreshments, so it brings back memories. Ross is crammed with history. Various British regiments were based here in the first half of the C19th. The barracks, bridge, pubs, churches and many houses go back to that period. The ghosts of convicts still haunt the place through the buildings and even the sites of past buildings like the unusually named, “Female Factory” where convict women were put to work.
Ross is not the only town like this, in fact there are a number like it, such as Richmond and Campbell Town to mention two. Here you do not have to scratch very deep to see Australia’s convict past. On this trip we purposely haven’t stopped at Port Arthur because we wanted to explore the many other rich veins of history in Tasmania.
I have often written about the slow death of Christian culture. It is, sadly, no different in Tasmania. Looking for a church in which to worship this Sunday was impossible. Three beautiful churches – but none were rostered to have a service this Sunday. There was a time, not even that long ago, that these institutions were one of the centres of country living.
In Ross at the main intersection in town the four key buildings were a church, town hall, pub and prison – Salvation, Recreation, Temptation and Damnation. Now only the Temptation is open all the time.