One great thing about travelling in Tasmania is all of the unique accommodations you can find. In Norfork Bay, we stayed in a B&B built by convicts in 1838 as Australia’s first railway station and later used to ship convicts between Port Arthur and Hobart. In Queenstown we discovered another great lodging full of history and character. The Penghana B&B is a grand old mansion that was once the residence of the town’s mine manager. It’s strategically situated on top of a prominent hill where the manager could see everything happening throughout the town.
Today the house is much as it once was, restored by the National Trust to its original grandeur after years of being forgotten about.
I’m not usually one for luxury as I’ll happily stay in a hostel or campground but there’s something quite special about being surrounded by history. You can imagine yourself as the mine manager, overseeing your empire and ordering servants to do your bidding (they weren’t allowed to be seen – there’s a hidden super narrow staircase just for them).
No self-respecting 1890s mansion would be complete without a resident ghost and this place just might have one. The previous B&B manager swore that late one night, when there were no guests at all, he heard his dog barking and a ball bouncing upstairs. When he went up to chastise his dog, who knew full well she wasn’t allowed on the guests’ floor, he then heard a young girl giggling and laughing. As he opened the door a blast of icy cold air caught him by surprise. He peered inside to see his dog standing upright on her hind legs as if begging for the ball. Was it a ghost?
What better place to find a ghost than in the attic? Steve who, along with his wife, has just started managing Penghana, gave us a personal tour of the attic to see what we could find. No phantoms appeared but we did get to see some fascinating things like a telephone from the 1890s and the old water heating system that required a servant to pump water from the floor below, not to mention piles of Christmas decorations from nearly every previous resident. We stepped over the same furniture that the mine manager would have used and peered out of the same windows, ensuring that our imaginary miners were hard at work below.
Penghana was a real treat for me. I love discovering places that are full of character and history. I can’t wait to see what else there is to discover as I continue to travel through Tasmania.
Up next, I get back on the bike and make it to the West Coast!