Oatlands Kenmore Arms property for sale for the first time since 1829

The township of Oatlands in southern Tasmania is well known for its perfectly preserved colonial-era sandstone buildings.

Now history buffs and restoration project seekers have the opportunity to purchase one of the city’s significant Georgian properties – Kenmore Arms.

The property, located on the Midland Highway, which connects Hobart and Launceston, comprises a house, a shearing shed and a number of outbuildings.

It was built by Daniel O’Conner, a demobilized soldier who was given 100 acres of land on the stretch of road known as St Peters Pass as a military claim.

He began building the house in the late 1820s and it was used as an inn from 1832.

Askin Morrison also owned land in Ross and Hobart.(Provided)

After Mr O’Conner’s death, Kenmore Arms was absorbed into the neighboring estate of his business partner Askin Morrison and has been part of the Morrison family ever since.

Mr Morrison owned a number of other properties across Tasmania and his status as a landowner elevated him to political office in the Legislative Council of Tasmania.

The listing describes the 503.7 sq m two-story residence as “gracefully imposing”.

Estate agent and heritage property expert Dominic Romeo said he expected it to fetch between $1.3 million and $1.4 million.

A Georgian style bedroom inside a house.  The walls are vermilion, there is a fireplace and the walls are cracked.
A room inside Kenmore, which has potential for restoration.(Provided: Circa Heritage and Lifestyle)

“I think the price reflects its location. If it was away from the freeway, I’d say you could easily add half a million dollars to it.”

He said he expected the house to require around half a million dollars of work.

“The rest is cosmetic…probably another $300,000 to $350,000.”

Example property of former ‘coaching inn’

The house is a classic example of a coaching inn, which traditionally housed travelers commuting by horse and cart between Hobart and Launceston.

Southern Midlands Council heritage projects manager Brad Williams said they were needed at a time when the trip was three to five days long.

“I guess a coaching inn with its stables is like a hotel and a parking lot these days,” he said.

Artist's representation of an old street, sheltered by trees planted on either side of the road.
An old depiction of St Peters Pass. (Provided)

He said Oatlands and surrounding towns are still home to a number of colonial buildings due to a slower rate of development compared to mainland towns.

“This whole heritage place, the building itself, the setting, the outbuildings, the walled garden and the tall trees, it’s very iconic. It’s in remarkably good condition.”

The property is listed on both the Tasmanian Heritage Register and the Council’s Heritage List.

Mr Williams said the council would work with the new owners to ensure they restore the property taking into account the applicable rules.

The family bids a bittersweet goodbye to the property

Farmers Kate Morrison and her husband Askin Morrison, a descendant of the Askin Morrisons four generations before them, are selling the property because the shearing shed attached to it no longer meets their needs.

They subdivided the land in order to be able to keep part of it for their agricultural exploitation and sell the part which contains the house, a number of outbuildings and the mowing shed.

Ms Morrison said it was both exciting and sad that the house was leaving their hands.

Dozens of sheep gathered in a shearing shed.
The Kenmore Arms Shearing Shed, which is still used by the Morrison family to this day. (Provided: Circa Heritage and Lifestyle)

“Each of the generations has their own memories,” she said.

“For my now deceased father-in-law, his memory of the shearing shed is this very strict hierarchy for staff seated at mealtimes.”

“The wool grader and the owner were seated at the head of the table and on the sides were the various members of staff as they were considered in the hierarchy.

A black and white photo of a group of men and women standing and sitting in rows.
Shearing crew at Kenmore Arms, year unknown.(Provided)

“My husband’s memory is only the large amount of food that the shearers prepared for each meal, the pans of food that came out of it.”

For her boys, it was the birthday parties they had in the kitchen.

What she really loves about buildings for sale are the “layers of history” in the walls.

Ms Morrison said the family preferred the house to remain a residential property.

“The house is a beautiful house and it would make a beautiful home, so I would love it if it became someone’s home,” Ms Morrison said.

Mr Romeo said there was interest from across Australia and “a lot” just within the state.

He received around 100 calls in the first 24 hours of listing and said the fact the property was not on a huge chunk of land was a rare opportunity.

“It makes it more affordable for someone who is really more interested in building and restoring something special on small acres, and that doesn’t happen often in the Tasmanian market,” he said. .

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