Photo credit: Greg Scott

John Pooley could be a walking, talking ­advertisement for the virtues of taking on a project to stave off retirement. The owner of Pooley Wines has spent $3 million restoring Prospect House, a stately, convict-built property on the outskirts of Richmond, 20 minutes’ drive north of Hobart, to its former glory, and he doesn’t even look tired.

The luxurious private hotel is reminiscent of the kind of country estate you might expect to find in Derbyshire, not down the road from Hobart airport. The English influence is pervasive all throughout the Coal River Valley, but the area’s most striking feature is the disproportionately large number of original stone buildings and structures still standing.

Throughout the mid-1800s Richmond was a significant town, located on the busy road to Sorell and Port Arthur, and a major source of wheat for Sydney. The heady days weren’t to last, however. In 1872 a new causeway across Pitt Water isolated the town from trade and it declined to a largely forgotten rural village until its historic buildings sparked an unlikely tourism resurgence a hundred years later…

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