Some places may fly a little under the radar compared with their high-profile, well-established cousins in Tasmania’s tourism sector. But we love to share all manner of places with readers. So when we were invited to experience Shene Estate at Pontville, we were very excited.
Shene Estate: Pontville Tasmania
If you like attention to detail and top-quality, personalised customer service, we can highly recommend Shene Estate. From the moment we arrived via a long, tree-lined carriageway off Shene Road in Pontville, we felt so welcome. Dressed in fabulous outfits, custodians Anne Kernke and daughter Myfanwy (aka Myf, for short) waved us in to the car-park with personal greetings and wide smiles. We were off to a terrific start.
Myf’s attention turned to a van-load of gents on a whisky tour for a bucks party. Shene is promoted as “a historic estate with modern ideas” and just one of the fabulously innovative ideas on the go right now involves the distillation of spirits. To quote Tasmanian Whisky Tours, Shene is…
set to become the site of the tenth distillery in Tasmania, new owners David and Anne Kernke, together with their daughters Myfanwy and Ceridwen are the perfect hosts, guiding us through the past and into the future of a new age for Tasmanian distilling for both gin and whisky.
Myf left us in the very capable hands of Anne, who surprisingly thanked us for helping Shene survive and flourish. To share such a rich and colourful past requires much work, finance and dedication; so the current owners of this heritage site cherish visitors for their vital role in the restoration process. We’re just happy to see such enthusiastic experts breathing life into this magnificent property.
Shene was previously locked away from the general public, surrounded by a working sheep farm. Layer upon layer of intriguing Tasmanian stories collected dust instead of new memories. Until 2007 that is, when the passionate Kernke family purchased the once dilapidated heritage portion of the estate and began the arduous task of conserving the history and preparing the collection of sandstone monuments for show.
Story of Shene
There’s too many components of the Shene story to list them all here. An escorted tour helps visitors discover details of Tasmania’s colonial and convict past and provides access to the homestead, stables, barn and outbuildings. The meat-hanging room and dairy room have wonderful heritage features.
You simply cannot imagine the grandeur of the sandstone buildings without seeing them in person. Shene Estate was developed by English lawyer Gamaliel Butler, who settled in Van Diemen’s Land after a chance voyage to secure investment opportunities. The astute businessman forged a wealthy landholding in Tasmania and with his son (architect Francis Butler) designed the iconic Gothic Revival style stables, a fitting monument to the family’s substantial position of influence in the colony.
Throughout our walking-tour, Anne recounted dozens of stories without missing a beat, all while answering our never-ending questions! Her depth of knowledge is inspiring. The sandstone walls were crafted by convicts, but they tell additional stories of the family’s adventures via engravings and unique markings. Excavation works have uncovered shards of pottery and remnant glass bottles, now incorporated into the visitor experience. If you have the slightest interest in history, you will find Shene Tasmania (which dates back to 1819) a fascinating addition to your itinerary.
The Barn: Butler’s Bounty, Whisky & Events
We were reunited with Myf in the sensational barn for our Butler’s Bounty afternoon tea. Real tea made in a real teapot, along with a box full of delicious homemade cakes. Anne is quite the baker, having owned a successful cafe in Queensland before moving to Tasmania.
A leading hand in the whisky project, Myfanwy is also the event coordinator for Shene Estate. There are quite a few individual and unique function spaces available at Pontville for private events. The stables can be hired for an indulgent private dinner or would make the ultimate high tea venue by a roaring fire. Weddings, special occasions, wine tastings and corporate events are all catered for.
The 1846 convict-built barn makes the perfect location for a small to medium wedding ceremony, for example. Intending brides will love the photos from Myf and husband Ben’s wedding. The setting at Shene Tasmania… just brilliant. For more information, contact Myfanwy by phone 0432 480 250.
The historic site is located just north of Hobart (only 15 minutes from MONA or Richmond) at 76 Shene Road, Pontville. The site is currently only open by appointment, but stay tuned for further developments! Bookings for guided walking tours can be made online and are subject to availability.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll meet the true lord of the manor, Rupert Archibald… a westie/poodle cross and the most gorgeous canine ever. Just another reason to add Shene to your bucket list.
Think Tasmania was a guest of Shene Tasmania Historic Site. For more information, visit the official Shene Tasmania website; contact Anne Kernke by phone 0408 020 007. You can also follow Shene Tasmania on Facebook.
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