Quamby Estate boasts a tennis court, tree-lined laneways, hiking and bike trails, lakes and streams and a golf course in which Sir Richard Branson holds the Number 1 Membership.
Guests can enjoy a stay in their own luxurious room or hire the whole estate exclusively for a special event.
Sir Richard Dry, was the Estate’s first owner of note. His achievements in serving Tasmania are plenty and included:
- The first native-born knight of the Australian realm (knighted by Queen Victoria, May 1858)
- The first native-born Premier and Speaker of the House of Assembly in the Tasmanian Parliament
- The first Australian-born Premier of any State in Australia
- A member of the “patriotic six” – a committee of eminent colonial persons influential in initiating the cessation of convict transportation to Tasmania
- A member of the ‘select committee’ appointed to draft the Tasmanian Constitution
Current owners, Brett Godfrey and Rob Sherrard conceptualised what became Virgin Australia in 1993 on the back of a dozen beer coasters while enjoying a pint or 2 in a London pub. Together they spent the next five years refining the business plan and looking for investors. They found their white knight in the form of a British knight; Sir Richard Branson and convinced him to back their plan. Together as the CEO and Deputy CEO respectively and with just $10m in seed capital they took Virgin Blue from two aircraft and 2 routes at launch in August 2000, to an IPO in late 2003 valuing the airline at $2.5B, operating over 60 aircraft and 5,000 staff. Together they have also invested in several other Tourism assets including Tasmanian Walking Company, Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk, Lake House and Low Head in Tasmania and Makepeace Island in Queensland.
Quamby Estate is steeped in Tasmanian history as the home of Sir Richard Dry – the first Tasmanian born premier of the State. During his time as Premier, Quamby Homestead became known as the “Government House of the North”. Here eminent colonial grandees gathered to campaign for an end to convict transportation to Tasmania, to debate and draft the Tasmanian constitution and to plan the expansion of the State’s rail transport system.
Sir Richard’s portrait currently hangs in the pre-eminent position in the long Room of Tasmania’s House of Parliament in Hobart. The hey-days of Quamby coincided with the peak of his political career. Today, walking around the grounds with its wonderful old English elms and poplars, it is not a stretch of the imagination to visualise the peacocks that once strutted the front lawns and deer that graced the parklands. Twelve gardeners were employed in the ornamental sunken garden and a large part of the Estate was put aside for tenant farmers based on the English tradition of the time. An Estate office of classical Georgian design with a front gabled porch was constructed as a residence for the estate manager. This is today used as the office for Quamby Golf Club.
Sir Richard Dry was born at Elphin Farm Launceston on 7th September, 1815. His father, Richard Dry Senior had been transported as a political prisoner for his part in the Irish rebellion of 1804, but was granted his freedom in 1818.
Legend has it that in 1828, at a time when Tasmanian estates were restricted to 3,600 hectares, the enterprising wife of Richard Dry Senior charmed the colony’s governor into granting her family as much land as she could ride around in a day. Stationing at intervals with the fastest horses she could find, Anne Dry galloped in relay to claim her 12,140-hectare prize.
Mr. Dry was a man of ability, integrity and industry, and when he died in 1843, was able to leave to his son Richard the vast Quamby Estate of 30,000 acres in the Meander Valley. He had built the fine old homestead of Quamby House, which was completed in 1838, with its well laid out gardens, farm buildings and winding avenue of English trees and shrubs.
In adulthood Richard Jnr. married Clara Meredith and applied himself wholeheartedly to the public life of the colony, a task in which he was greatly assisted by his charming wife. They had no children. His parliamentary career began when, late in 1845, he was appointed to the Nominee Council by the Governor (Sir John Eardley Wilmot). In 1846, following a clash with Governor Eardley Wilmot, Richard Dry and five other Legislative Councillors — soon well known as the `Patriotic Six` – resigned their seats as a protest against what they considered the unconstitutional conduct of the Governor. They were later reinstated by Queen Victoria. The colony at that time was in turmoil, because of the Home Government’s determination to make Tasmania a dumping ground for all English convicts. Dry strenuously opposed this policy and was one of the prime movers in the Anti-Transportation League, which was founded by Rev. John West of Launceston. When partially Representative Government came into being in 1851, Richard Dry was elected the member for Launceston in the Legislative Council, and on 30th December of that year was unanimously chosen as the first Speaker.
Ill-health forced his retirement in 1855 amid general regret and accompanied by his wife he set out early in 1858 on a two-year visit to England. In May of that year, Queen Victoria bestowed on him a knighthood in honour of his outstanding service to the little colony. Returning in 1860, greatly restored in health, Sir Richard Dry was content to live at his beloved Quamby for a couple of years until December, 1862, when he allowed himself to be nominated for the Tamar seat on the Legislative Council. He was elected after only a three-day campaign. Perhaps his greatest triumph came on 24th November, 1866, when following the fall of the Whyte Ministry he became the first Tasmanian-born Premier.
The whole colony and the Quamby district in particular, suffered a grievous blow when on lst August, 1869, at the peak of his career Sir Richard Dry died at Holbrook Place, Hobart. He had expressed a wish to be buried at his own church at Hagley, and a State funeral was arranged to leave from Hobart. For four days the procession, headed by a horse-drawn hearse, traversed the long, rough road from the capital in the south, stopping on the third night in Launceston where the body was laid in state at Holy Trinity Church. A service was held in the church the next morning, after which the procession continued its journey to the village of Hagley, with its church on the hill. There, in the presence of the Governor and Sir Richard’s colleagues, they laid his body to rest.
Sir Richard Dry had no heirs and just prior to his death in 1868 he had begun to shed the vast acreage of Quamby Estate. Sir Richard was buried beneath the chancery in the Church he founded, St Mary’s at Hagley. Soon after Lady Dry sold Quamby and sailed for England. Today Quamby’s wealth of mature trees remains a lasting tribute to the foresight of the remarkable dry family.