Steppes Homestead

Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania

An urgent need for a photograph of the Steppes Homestead for a work-related project had me rising early and heading to Tasmania’s Central Highlands one recent morning, camera in hand. I’d passed this way along the Lake Highway (A5) many times, it being my usual route from Hobart to the North West Coast, but had never managed to stop and explore this historic spot, a few kilometres to the south of Great Lake.

The Steppes Sculptures - a little Stonehenge of native fauna in bronze by Stephen Walker
The Steppes Sculptures – a little Stonehenge of native fauna in bronze by Stephen Walker
Steppes sculptures
Steppes sculptures
Tasmanian Tiger - Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Tasmanian Tiger – Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker

Approaching from the south, the first sign is not for the homestead, but for the Steppes Sculptures. A short pathway from the carpark reveals a sort of mini Stonehenge of rocks, each adorned with bronzes depicting Tasmanian native animals – everything from Tasmanian tigers to tiger snakes.

Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Wombat - Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Wombat – Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker

The centerpiece of this little bronze zoo is a baby wombat, and all are the work of that most prolific and ubiquitous artists, the late Stephen Walker.

Wombat and snake - Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Wombat and snake – Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
Steppes Sculptures by Stephen Walker
A short walk leads through the forest from the sculptures to the homestead
A short walk leads through the forest from the sculptures to the homestead

The Steppes Homestead itself is a few hundred meters further along the highway, although parking is not plentiful, so a pleasant short walk has been provided from the sculptures through the forest. It is a lovely way to approach the historic homestead, which from the highway does look like a small cottage that is still someone’s home.

The Steppes Homestead in Tasmania's Central Highlands
The Steppes Homestead in Tasmania’s Central Highlands
The heavy stone chimneys of the Steppes Homestead contrast the light timber construction of the dwelling and outbuildings, a sign perhaps of the harsh winters endured here
The heavy stone chimneys of the Steppes Homestead contrast the light timber construction of the dwelling and outbuildings, a sign perhaps of the harsh winters endured here
A timber trough outside the window of one of the outbuildings at Steppes Homestead
A timber trough outside the window of one of the outbuildings at Steppes Homestead
A watertank at Steppes Homestead
A water tank at Steppes Homestead
A modest outbuilding with shingle roof and latticework window
A modest outbuilding with shingle roof and latticework window

Approaching from the forest, the first things one sees are the rustic outbuildings, displaying some well-maintained examples of vernacular building techniques born of remote necessity.

Woodshed goals at Steppes Homestead
Woodshed goals at Steppes Homestead
Post and rail fence at Steppes Homestead
Post and rail fence at Steppes Homestead

There is plentiful information available on the history of the homestead (see the links below), so I won’t say more than that the homestead was built on the conjunction of some key stock droving routes between the Tasmanian highlands and the grasslands of the midlands plains. A police presence was established to counter stock theft and to serve the highlands community, lasting until the 1890s. Later, the land occupied by the police reserve was designated as a nature reserve.

Garden fence at Steppes Homestead
Garden fence at Steppes Homestead
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania

The homestead was home to the Wilson family, who occupied it from their arrival in the 1860s until the last resident family member died in the mid-1970s. At this time, the homestead and its outbuildings were added to the previously gazetted nature reserve, as a heritage site and to commemorate the family and their contribution to the highlands’ community and its way of life.

Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania

The site can be visited at any time. There are toilet facilities and fresh water available. The interior of the Homestead itself can only be visited on infrequent Open Days.

The Lake Highway at Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania
The Lake Highway at Steppes Homestead, central Tasmania

More information

 

Map

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