Platypus Playground Riverside Cottage once stood across the road from its present location and up the ridge, behind the town of Westerway. It was one of several cottages built for workers of the town's timber mill. A thriving timber industry had been the the catalyst for the building of the mill. The arrival of the train line in 1909 was a boon - logs were transported to Boyer and Hobart.
In more prosperous days the Derwent Valley Railway line passed through Westerway transporting day trippers and tourists to the National Park. Currently, a group of dedicated volunteers hopes one day to reopen sections of the line - which you see and cross several times on your way to Mt Field and the surrounding area. The mill has long gone and the cottage appears to be the only surviving building from that era. Just when the cottage was moved to its present site is not known - nor is the method that was used, although rolling the structure on logs repositioned repeatedly is the likely means.
The cottage was quite run down and damaged when it was rescued in 2003 by Tony and Alison - a couple with an eye for heritage and no fear of hard work. The exterior had been clad in fake white sandy-textured 'brick'. The front left room had no floorboards - they had been pulled out and used for firewood! Under other floors Tony found some pennies minted in the 1930s and 1940s. One keepsake was a 1921 half penny. Tony recalls the neighbours recommending that the cottage be bulldozed. Undeterred the pair set about bringing the old cottage back to life with as much authenticity as modern times allow. During renovations Tony removed hessian wall linings behind which he found newspapers dating from the 1930s, stuck to the walls. Newspapers were often glued over the interior boards and walls of houses, as a way of sealing over gaps to keep out drafts. Then hessian was nailed to the walls - fabric wallpaper - sometimes then treated to a coat of whitewash.
You will be surprised when you open the bathroom door that leads to the courtyard: there is an intact chimney breast with an open fireplace - and no room attached to it. This is where the kitchen was at one time, so that the living room and kitchen fireplaces backed on to one another, with separate airways inside the chimney.
In 2007 on a trip to Tasmania, Rob was told by a local about the sleepy little "investment opportunity" of Westerway, just down the road from Mount Field National Park. The town is on what was touted as "Australia's finest trout fishing waterway", the Tyenna River. A quick plane trip from Sydney settled it for Rob when he laid eyes upon Platypus Riverside Cottage - catching four trout in the river right outside was enough to sell him but he fell for Tony's renovation, sharing sympathetic appreciation for a house brought back to life. Some 30 years prior Rob had had the privilege of living in an original stone and thatch cottage belonging to a brewery in Africa. Smitten by cottages evermore, he bought Platypus Playground Riverside Cottage and decided to share it with others who are similarly touched by living history.
In 2017 we did a major refurbishment to bring the cottage up to top quality sleep standards and installed new beds and mattresses, new linen, cooking facilities and lighting as well as crockery and cutlery.
To read about The Derwent Valley Railway go to http://www.dvr.org.au