Woolmers Estate in Tasmania is one of the most well preserved 19th century Australian homesteads developed during the convict era. Using convict labour, Thomas Archer established Woolmers Estate in 1817, with the house being a rare example of a property remaining within the one family for close to 180 years, surviving six generations.
Many convicts who were sent to Australia were assigned to provide labour on settler properties in exchange for food and clothing. It was thought that convicts could be reformed through hard and constant work and the government saw this as a cost effective way to develop colonial infrastructure.
Built between 1819 and 1821, the Estate’s original single story house is still evident and illustrates the architectural evolution of a gentlemen’s rural residence over time. In 1840 the first architect born in Tasmania, William Archer, made some modifications to the property, with the formal gardens in contrast to the convict workplaces, such as the woolshed, blacksmith’s shop, stables, coach house and the convict chapel.
Once one of the largest privately owned properties in the Tasmanian colony, Woolmers Estate is unusual due to the amazing condition of the buildings. The surviving farm diaries, correspondence and conduct records paint a detailed picture of early 19th century convict farm workers. Many of the convict workers can be identified through the remaining artifacts, making Woolmers Estate a rich source for research and a vital contribution to the history of Australia.
In 1994 the last heir, Thomas William Archer VI, died, leaving the estate and its contents to the Archer Historical Foundation Inc (now called the Woolmers Foundation Inc.) as it was his wish to share this historical treasure with the public.