Australian Garden History Society
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Tas Branch: Villa Gardens of Hobart

28 February 2021 @ 1:00 pm AEDT

This afternoon of garden visits includes the gardens of marine villas, Runnymede and Lauderdale Cottage and the extensive gardens of Kaoota at Bellerive. Volunteer guides will lead us through the garden at Runnymede. The owners of Lauderdale Cottage and Kaoota will speak to us about the history of their properties and garden development and we’ll have the opportunity to explore these gardens. Afternoon tea will be served in the garden at Kaoota.

Runnymede 61 Bay Road, New Town, Hobart
Now a National Trust property, the colonial marine villa Runnymede was built in 1843 by Robert Pitcairn on land originally granted to Captain John Bell. Pitcairn was one of the first lawyers admitted to the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land and a leading campaigner against the transportation of convicts. Later owners were Bishop Francis Nixon, Tasmania’s first Anglican Bishop and Captain Charles Bayley. Runnymede was the name of the captain’s favourite ship.

The garden dates from 1840s, and initially was part of a large estate which extended to the bay (now reclaimed land) with an anchorage. The estate produced its own fruit, vegetables, milk and bacon and fields below the house grew potatoes and onions used in the provisioning of ships.

The front lawn was originally crossed by two paths and contains a fountain which emphasises the view from the front door down to the bay. The east lawn contained a flagpole surrounded by paving and the bank to the east garden at one time had the house flag of red and white checks laid out in geraniums.

The garden today is filled with heritage trees, flowering shrubs and bulbs, fruit trees, heritage roses, herbs and hedges. Some of the rhododendrons are said to have been sent here by the botanist Hooker as early as 1844. Volunteer guides will give us a tour of the garden.

Lauderdale Cottage, 68 Risdon Road, New Town
Lauderdale Cottage was built in 1844 for John Metzger, a Hobart publican. Bordered by the New Town Rivulet, and once on the waterfront like Runnymede, it is classed as a marine villa of which there are only three in Australia: Runnymede, Poplarville (next door) and Lauderdale. The large garden around the house contains old trees, a glass house and a carriage turning circle. The orchard at the rear predates the house by several decades and has been productive for almost 200 years.

The property sold to the Jordan family in 1867 and remained in that family until 1945 when it passed into the Tolman family. It was a working farm until the death of Wilfred Tolman in 2004. It was then sold to Tony Baldwin who had plans for a retirement village. Developers then held it but didn’t maintain the orchard or gardens which fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 2017 by Ben Hutchinson and Vicki McKenzie.

Kaoota, 29 Alma Street, Bellerive
‘Kaoota’ owner Jane Luckman writes: ‘Kaoota’ was built in 1896 by Thomas Augustus Reynolds, on 5 acres of land. It was reported in the Mercury in 1897 that “Mr Reynolds had selected a most appropriate spot of tranquillity and loveliness…” And “on all sides the view hence is a grand one. He is devoting much of his time to horticultural pursuits, and the fertility of the soil may be gauged by the fact that on three vines he has harvested half a ton of pumpkins. He has grown ornamental trees and shrubs and very shortly Kaoota should be a veritable paradise…Paul and I bought ‘Kaoota’ in 1992, and it was not a veritable paradise. The education department had acquired the building in the late 1940s for housing for overseas teachers’ accommodation.

The house was turned into five flats and the garden was bare. Our first priority was to turn the house back into a family home. The garden started taking shape after that. Initially exotic trees, roses, flowering cherries, weeping elms and maples to mention a few, were planted. We also established a productive kitchen garden with apples pears, cherries, apricots, figs, two mulberry trees, berries, grapes, persimmons, and of course vegetables.

In about 2005 we employed Sue Small to draw up a concept plan for the garden and since then we have had a very talented stonemason build the hard landscaping. This gave the garden a more formal appearance and made maintenance of the garden less onerous and we regard the garden as our little piece of paradise.

The Luckmans are using our visit as an opportunity to support The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program and will be donating the fees from our visit to this charity.

1 pm Runnymede, 61 Bay Road, New Town, guided garden tour. Car parking adjacent via bitumen driveway with level access through side gate.
2.15 pm Lauderdale Cottage, 68 Risdon Road, New Town, talk by owners, garden visit.
3.15 pm Kaoota, 29 Alma Street, Bellerive, talk by owners, garden visit, afternoon tea.

$25 for members, $35 non-members if places are available. This includes afternoon tea at Kaoota.

Book at Trybooking.


Numbers are limited and priority will be given to members’ bookings. Non-members are only able to book if places are available after the closing date. A waiting list is available on the booking site, and those on the waiting list will be contacted after the closing date if places are available.


28 February 2021
1:00 pm AEDT
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