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The Shot Tower at Taroona

23 November 2011 No Comment

Shot tower information HobartWhen I mention to international visitors that Princess Mary hails from Tasmania, their reaction is always “who?”

It seems that the fairytale story of Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, is little-known outside Australia. Mary Donaldson, who grew up in Hobart and attended high school in nearby Taroona, shot to fame when she met Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark and heir to the throne, at a Sydney pub during the 2000 Olympics. They married in 2004.

A cab driver in Sydney told me years later that many Danish tourists still ask to be taken to The Slip Inn, the pub where the royal couple met. The beautiful and glamorous Mary features regularly on the front cover of Australian women’s magazines as well as in Hobart’s daily newspaper The Mercury every time she visits family here, especially if she has one or more of her four young royal children in tow.

If you only have a couple of hours to spare one day in Hobart, you can squeeze in a visit to Taroona. However, Princess Mary isn’t the reason to go there.

The National Trust listed historic shot tower at Taroona is a well-known local landmark. Scottish engineer Joseph Moir designed and built the tapered tower, made of curved sandstone blocks, to manufacture the lead shot that was used in firearms. Molten lead from a cauldron at the top formed spherical droplets and cooled as it fell before plunging into a tub of water at the bottom. Moir’s calculations dictated the required height of the tower for this process to work.

At 58 metres tall, the shot tower at Taroona was Tasmania’s tallest man made structure for more than 100 years.

For a small entry fee, you can climb the 300-or-so internal steps to the top for a nice view of the Derwent River estuary. It’s a good way to tire the kids out. On the way up, there are displays and a video explaining how shot was made.

When you make it back down the stairs to the bottom, reward yourself with delicious scones, jam and cream in the cosy basement café and a stroll in the surrounding gardens.

The shot tower is an 11km drive down the Channel Highway from Hobart. To get there, follow the signs to Sandy Bay and keep going, or take the Metro bus from Stand O at Franklin Square in the centre of Hobart.

For more information, visit the Parks Tasmania site.

Susan Moore lives in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. She shares a glimpse of daily life in Tasmania, as written by a “blow in” from the mainland, on her fascinating site Houn View. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive her regular articles.
Image: Thomas Rutter via Flickr

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