The restoration process has started and we want to follow progress of the physical and social history of Willow Court /Royal Derwent Hospital. Each story, audio and film will cover the slow process of Willow Court evolving into a new, sensitive reuse of the site, something that respects its rich history. Over the coming months/years we will follow those trades people with the skills to restore our heritage, we will talk to the people about its social history and we will involve those that called Willow Court /Royal Derwent Hospital home. It is then that we can have a true picture of ALL of this history.



November 2015

476Willow Court wall restoration project has begun and the time consuming task of conserving the outer wall has been undertaken by the Friends of Willow Court/Derwent Valley Council and the Members of the Tidy Towns Committee in a joint project. These walls once were lime washed which protected the brickwork from excessive weathering. The picture above shows how badly the bricks have survived over their lifetime along with graffiti and the odd human intervention, these walls are in great need of some restoration works. The project which is about to start, and is calling for interested people to join will start by applicants obtaining their “white card” WH&S qualification. Training is offered to the applicants and skills in heritage restoration will be taught throughout the project’s life. Applicates are expected to develop heritage conservation, some building skills and employability skills that will assist them obtain work in the building and or heritage conservation industries.


 October 2015

LYON_LIB_HutchinsonNew Norfolk News has reported that Willow Court Historic Precinct (stage 1) conservation work has now been complete. It was believed that Reporter and Councilor Damian Bester attended the Lyons Community Breakfast and has reported the words of Eric Hutchinson MP Members for Lyons.

“Mr Hutchinson touched on the significance of hosting the event at Willow Court, where the $2 million first stage of a conservation and redevelopment project has just been completed”

Eric Hutchinson also went on to update the gathered crowd about the Heritage listing of Willow Court

“He said the site’s nomination for National Heritage List status had progressed to the full assessment stage.”

May 2015


New security is now visible at Willow Court despite people on social media helping others enter the site with their knowledge of security.

“In future give me a PM and I will fill you in on everything you need to know that includes the risks. I’m no angel I have been there plenty of times in my life but I have also had a phone call from the Police re trespass charges, we just want you to be safe and are aware of the risks..”

“Wards like Ward 10, and the Derwent ward are not guarded at all (I have been in them)”

Yep it’s open For how long we are unsure” Ward 10

“Be careful when entering any of the buildings, some floors are not sound so test them first. Around some buildings there are holes/ditches that cannot be easily seen due to long grass, brambles etc. take care and take photos only”

“Ward 12 is next door to the derwent valley resort Aka the nurses home building”

While many people wish to see the site, the Derwent Valley Council is not allowing anyone except those that have had private tours escorted by Councillors.

Mayor Martyn Evans reported on the Friday of the opening of the Friends of Willow Court Heritage display that the key could be handed over as early as the end of June this year. As with may statements and announcements we will have to wait and see if this is true. Asked what the Derwent Valley Council are going to do when the site is in their possession and one Councillor stated “nothing”.

March 2015

mms_img-906583095_20150324T113238-003The start of the Willow Court Front Fence panels are being assembled outside the Barracks. This is an interesting design with lots of metal and bent top and bottom rails, there are also some metal spikes to go on top. This is going to be interesting to see the finished product and it is best to see it in it’s entirety as this will make a statement when anyone arrives at the site.

The fabrication of this fence, the new gates and the ramps for access to Bronte have held up the finishing date by some months. The remaining grounds will then be landscaped and hopefully the front of the Barracks greened up (again) and the site will be ready to hand over to the Derwent Valley Council.

December 2014

Sealasash Willow Court Restoration:
Sealasash Willow Court

November 2014

Associate-Professor-Heather-Burke © 2015 Copyright Willow Court History Group Inc. Transcript service provided by Michelle Eastwood at

Chantelle in the tunnel
Part of the restoration and conservation work at Willow Court is understanding the history from documentation and by the archaeology of the site. This week Associate Professor Heather Burke has visited the site to assess it’s potential as a significant convict and early Australian historic site. She was not disappointed. Along with her Assistant both Heather and Chantelle descended into the tunnel today and have described their adventure for us in the audio interview above. Picture above, Chantelle, pictures below Heather Burke and Chantelle.

November 2014

right click image to open in new tab.

October 2014

Annual General Meeting: Report from David Llewellyn 2014: david

August 2014

mt field 7.2014 and TasTAFE 006The Derwent Valley Council has proposed new (revised) dates for the opening of the Heritage Precinct of Willow Court. After being informed about possible dates and then having them changed a number of times, it is great to see that the end of the current conservation works and the proposed times look like this may be it.

“It was generally agreed that an open day for the community to tour the Willow Court site be held in September 2014.”

“It was generally agreed that the official opening of the site be held in October 2014.” 

FoWC call for membership gazette 2014 page 1

FoWC call for membership gazette 2014

May 2014

willow court 202Senior Project Manager of the Willow Court Precinct restoration, Mr Brett Noble confirmed that the project is running two months behind. A look around the site today revealed a lot of work, from guttering, painting , landscaping and soon to be connected electric power. The centre area of the Barracks will soon have lawn seed laid which will frame the oldest asylum in the southern hemisphere. Painters were working on Bronte house today and the finish for the Barracks still needs to be applied. New pathways were undergoing final works around Bronte, which look great. Many items throughout the site have been methodically cataloged and bear the tags. The toilet block at the back of Bronte will be demolished in the coming week and the original veranda will be restored.




February 2014


What has been happening at the site during the last couple of months?

Quite a lot.

As with any project of this nature, a lot of time and energy is being   devoted to planning and detailing the works , which doesn’t immediately translate into visible activity on the site. The Development Application (DA) and heritage permit are now secured.  Tenders and negotiations with contractors for substantial elements of the works are well progressed. Getting the sequence of works right — between conservation, visitor   access and services — has been organised, but is an ongoing   management task.

If you walk past the site along The Avenue today you will see a very active construction site.

Ø  Scaffolding has gone up around The Barracks, in preparation for roof plumbing and painting

Ø  Landscape works have begun in the Barracks forecourt and along the access route to The Avenue

Ø  The Barracks  windows and doors have been uncovered and restored to working order

Ø  The Barracks verandah posts have been repaired and painted and the base rendered in preparation for lime washing

Ø  Work has also begun  inside the south wing of The Barracks.

Ø  Five rooms have been selected to be opened up for visitors.

Ø  A considerable amount of carpentry, masonry and rendering work has  already been completed

Ø  One room has been lime washed

Interior works will be continued, but roofing works will be the priority while scaffolding is up. The scaffolding will be up around The Barracks for about four weeks, and then will be erected around Bronte in  preparation for roofing works there.

Work has also begun on an inventory of artefacts held in storage, supported by an Arts Tasmania grant. The focus of this work is on understanding what has been collected, how to keep it in good condition, and what items will help tell a story for visitors.

Brett Noble

Senior Project Manager

Willow Court

February 2014

Sealasash Willow Court Restoration:
Sealasash Willow Court

In this 8 minute video the owners of Sealasash take us through the restoration process on the Barracks building. Working in partnership with Heritage Building Solutions, part of the Centre for Heritage at Oatlands, Sealasash were responsible for renovating and draught proofing windows at the Barracks, part of the heritage precinct at Willow Court in New Norfolk, Tasmania. The building dates back to 1828 in parts and many of the windows were in a severe state of disrepair. This video shows some of the work entailed to bring the windows back to draught sealed working order.

December 2013

From Brett Noble, Senior Project Officer Willow Court.

WC 002As many would have noticed, there is currently considerably activity at The Barracks. Over the last couple of weeks, all the windows facing into The Barracks courtyard have been restored to working order.  The windows retain all the marks of their 180 years of life – patches, different paint layers, repairs, and breaks – but are now in working order.  Some very intriguing metal work, hand stamped with the ‘convict arrow’, was uncovered during this work.  The ‘convict arrow’ was also found on many of the window frames. Work has also begun on a couple of the original doors, as a test of what this work will entail. In addition, specialist renderers have been working on the verandah plinth, removing cement render and bits of loose render, ahead of applying a poultice.  The poultice will be on for a few weeks, to draw out the moisture and salts that had been trapped in the masonry, before a new lime render is applied.  Part of this work involved the removal of some of the brick pavers that were hard against the verandah plinth, and a little excavation along the face of the plinth.  This work has shown that along the southern side of the building the original ground level was much lower that at present. Behind the scenes, the head contractor requests for tenders is nearing completion, which should see the selection of a head contractor in the next week.  As you will recall, part of the selection criteria for this work is the involvement of local sub-contractors.

September 2013

ABC-936David Llewellyn is getting the word out into the broader Tasmanian community about the restoration efforts with Leon Compton on ABC local radio last Thursday 12.09.13. Although nothing was revealed as “new” news, David again referred to the site as a site of conscience. This is the second time that this has happened and a reassuring statement that the Chairperson of the Willow Court Conservation Committee has a good understanding about the people (social) history of Australia’s oldest asylum.

Part of getting more funding for Willow Court relies on a successful conservation plan and some physical evidence to show that current funds are being spent wisely. One of the ways to get that message out about Willow Court and how the restoration process is going is to hit the media. The interview was edited as a lot of political and forestry talk happened as David is preparing to campaign to re-entry the political lime light again in March 2014 at the Tasmanian State elections.






August 2013

cropped-S5000223.jpgWork started on Monday 5\8\13 at the Barracks at Willow Court. Contactors moved in to start the investigation stage of restoration. Once this stage is complete and all the elements of the building are known the approvals will be sort from Heritage Tasmania and it is expected that major works will commence in November this year. Some “maintenance” works can start immediately which will include the windows of the Barracks. Full report of current works HERE

June 2013

Bronte Ward under repair

John working in the afternoon sun as it streams through the Bronte ward windows. He is applying a coat of paint to the restored frames.

This is what restoration looks like! So many of us have been looking forward to seeing some photos  and evidence of work starting at the site.







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Power to the Avenue

Aurora’s activities today in the Avenue are working towards Willow Court having a good supply of electric power along with others in the Avenue, by the photos this is very close to finishing. The last photo shows a new power pole with a transformer in front of Bronte Ward ready and waiting to be connected. Connection will allow better security for the Historic Precinct of The Barracks, C & A Wards and Bronte Ward. Local businesses on the east side of George Street went without power for most of the day to cater for this connection, costing over $75,000.

Click on an image to start the slideshow and continue by clicking the arrow that appears either to the left or right of the image or click on slideshow and the images will progress automatically.

November 2012

Willow Court Gates and Fence Restored

At long last the fence and old gates are finished. Rod and Scott along with all the various volunteers deserve a beer and a pat on the back. What a transformation!

Just imagine this transformation to the Barracks and Willow Court site? It’s possible within our time but takes a community that is willing and able.

Volunteers are needed, if you have a passion for history to be respectfully and sensitively restored and told, why not put your name down at the next open day on the 18th November.

Open day details  HERE

See the full evolution HERE


October 2012

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The last 10 photos are from this weekends working bee to finish off the fence and gates and WOW they look fantastic with a coat of pitch and kero. Well done Guys and Girls.

October 2012

Dr Dianne Snowden and Willow Court Conservation Committee Chair David Llewellyn with restoration expert Rod Quarell

October 6th-7th Working Bee started restoration of the Willow Court entrance, in this interview I talk to Rod about the finer details of restoration to Heritage Tasmania Standards.