Single Officer’s Quarters
Restoration of the Officer’s Quarters followed. It had been used as a shearing
shed, many internal walls were missing and the exterior wall was
An Australian Heritage award was received for the work carried out on this building in 1986
Workshop window replacement
In the 1987 the Overseer’s Quarters and Workshop Complex was restored
and now houses the private museum as well as an accommodation unit. The
northern end of the workshop complex (the luxury cottage) was restored
in 2002 with the help of a grant and now stands as an example of original
convict building while retaining an ambience of the days when it was
used as a cool store for apples.
The final project started in 2005 was the Married Officer’s Quarters, also known as “Rotten Row”. Here the rustic exterior remains, while the interior has been painstakingly reinforced and rebuilt, in some places brick by brick.
Each building took about 12 months to restore and has been carried out by the owner, his son and their neighbour, a real labour of love.
The restoration has been extensive and began in 1981 with the prison hospital,
(now a private residence). Listed with the National Trust and part of the National
Estate it was with extreme care and authenticity the work was carried out.
Within a year the building was open for use as tourist accommodation.
Workshop facade rebuilt
At the same time as restoring the buildings, the Clark family also created a private museum to display artifacts from both the convict and post-convict eras of Cascades. This museum is open only for guests.
The basic income for the Clark family since its ownership of Cascades
in 1915, has been from fruit (mainly apples and pears), the farm having
supported four families full time, living in cottages on the place,
with up to 20 people working during harvest and packing (Feb-May).
At its peak during the 1950’s and 1960’s up to 22,000 bushels
of fruit was picked from about 45 acres. With the decline of export
markets during the 1970’s most of the orchard was bulldozed and
another 200 acres of adjoining land was bought to supplement the meagre
income from fruit by raising fat cattle and lamb for the local market.
For the Clarks, the opportunity to diversify beyond traditional farming brought with it a challenge requiring long term vision. The convict heritage, so much a part of the property, would not be denied and the commitment was made to restore as much of the settlement as possible and transform it into a totally integrated accommodation experience.
An interesting note of the post convict era is contained in an article about Koonya that appeared in the Hobart Mercury in the 1930’s. “… the brick walled enclosure which formed part of the model prison, is now owned by Mr E Brown, and used as a cow yard…..the old rectory, officer’s quarters are not useless, being occupied as dwellings…”
Much of the land during this century was used for orchards and dairying. Indeed about 1930 one of the first cool stores in Tasmania was built in an old convict building that once had been a cheese factory when James Lacey ran the property.
As a final touch even the cascade – the waterfall – has its share of historical significance, for Belmont Clark built his own hydro-electric system there to provide electric light for the residents of Koonya. When it came time for lights out, he simply leaned out the window of his bedroom and pulled a rope that switched off the power to everyone at the same time.