Open Days & Events


Alexander Laing Fiddle Excursion May 2017

Click on images above to open and move through the gallery.

 On Sunday May the 14th 2017 the Derwent Valley was alive with the sound of music. It might seem a little cliché, but what better way to describe the complimentary sounds of guitar and violin echoing around the valley. The valley and some of the many heritage listed homesteads, churches and significant locations such as Willow Court, played host to people from all over Tasmania. First of its kind here in the valley the day showcased many nineteenth century Australian bush style folk tunes written by Alexander Laing. 

Delighted to receive the positive and rewarding feedback on the day’s achievements, the Friends of Willow Court were also pleased to have raised funds for the Willow Court Restoration Fund, and acknowledge and thank all stakeholders who contributed to the success of the event.

Reported by Nadia Lobb.


Archaeology Open Day 2017

(c) Copyright Sunday Tasmanian.

It was great to be a part of the Archaeology Open Day at Willow Court on Sunday 12.02.2017. Despite heavy competition from the Wooden Boat Festival and Hobart Regatta in the south of the State and Festivale in the north, we were not disappointed with the turn out. A few hundred people took advantaged of the free entry, free history walks and free archaeology tours while some people took advantage of the two short plays presented by the Derwent Valley Players and a wonderful high tea in the Barracks.

Promotional Flyer Willow Court event February 2017

Archaeology Students @ High Tea

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Waiting on higher quality copy from Southern Cross 



Heritage Festival 2016


This is the second year the the Friends of Willow Court Special Committee of the Derwent Valley Council have had to run activities outside of the Council owned property for Heritage Festival. While no restoration works or setup work for the upcoming Dark MOFO event happened on the site, paying visitors had to look through the locked gates while Heritage Plasterer Mark Woodley and Associate Professor of Archaeology Heather Burke pointed to the last few years of work or investigation that they had been involved in. Despite this embarrassing stand by Councillors to not vote or discuss the Friends of Willow Court Heritage Tasmania proposal last Council meeting the visitors were treated to wonderful experiences, displays and discussions from the two arrange speakers.

Heritage week 2016 010

Guests look through locked gates (c) Copyright 2016

Guest Bronwen Gunning Wrote

Thank you to Heather Burke for such an enthusiastic talk on Saturday.
A highlight was to be able to experience first hand such a fascinating collection of personal items from so long ago.
It was also encouraging to see so much interest in the site and it was especially pleasing to hear of future plans to continue uncovering more of the Willow Court story.

During the talk there was discussion of the lack of interest and funding from all levels of government. It is quite unbelievable that such an important aspect of not only Tasmania but Australia and Britain’s history has been so neglected.

Today there are those in public life who champion the acceptance and treatment of those suffering mental illness.There also seems to be many organisations; government, business and private based with similar aims.
Perhaps if those groups could also become advocates for the people for whom Willow Court was home it may well help in achieving their goals. Hopefully this exposure would also increase awareness and support for the conservation of Willow Court.

During the talk I suggested that perhaps an “Antique Roadshow” type event may encourage people to share theirs stories, photographs and items relevant to the history of Willow Court. If widely promoted throughout Tasmania, as well as the mainland, this event could promote research and conservation work and encourage community support and participation in preserving this site for future generations.

A big thanks to all those behind the scenes who made it all possible. If not for the tireless efforts of a few then the story of Willow Court and all the souls who once dwelled there would be lost.

Wonderful words Bronwen Gunning, I’m sure the Friends of Willow Court agree with your suggestions.

May 2015

The Derwent Valley Players performance at

Frascati House for the Heritage Festival.


 Conflict and Consequences Display held in the

old K Ward for Heritage Festival May 2015

DSCF0824It has been a big weekend at Willow Court and the place was buzzing today and yesterday with anyone who has a passion for the place. Friday started early for some and was the accumulation of months of research and sourcing of information, personal stories, interviews, meetings, rehearsals and the extensive hunting for authentic items for display and for costumes for the drama. The Governor of Tasmania Professor Kate Warner opened the Friends of Willow Court Display and Play which were advertised during the Tasmanian Heritage Month. Along with invited guests she looked through the professional display which was an intersection between the lives of people who served in conflicts or behind in the local community effort and the Lachlan Park Hospital’s history and the lives that these people had before, after and during such conflict. Limited themes were chosen which told this story and also the story of the consequences of such conflict and the care and compassion of others. The generous support of many people and businesses has to be acknowledged because without this community effort this wouldn’t have happened. A special thank you to those families that allowed us to respectfully tell the stories of their loved ones, patient and worker alike. Of particular interest to me was the story of returned serviceman Bruce McLean, whose story of life within Millbrook Rise post WWII was told and while Bruce wasn’t the only person to return after conflict and time incarcerated as a prisoner of war, his is one of the limited stories we have permission to share.

Here is a small selections of photos of the display.


The opening night for the Heritage Festival 2015 and a Friends of Willow Court Member, Mr Tony Nicholson introduces Her Excellency The Governor of Tasmania Professor Kate Warner who inspects the Conflict and Consequences themed display which showed the junctions between conflict and the compassion and dedication of the hospital’s staff and patients alike during time of war. DSCF0652DSCF0665

Here is a sneak peek at the activities from the Friends of Willow Court during the National Trust Heritage Festival this Weekend 10 am til 4 pmheritage week flyer


Great event on the weekend from the Derwent Valley Players. Here are the photos. 11th -12th May 2013

A selection of media showing Open Days at Willow Court help by the “Friends of Willow Court”.

A short video of some highlights of the Open Day held on the 18 November 2012

An advertisement for a short play by Sharon Hutchison called “Meet The Matron” based on stories from the book “The Troubled Asylum”