For the term of your married life
Southern charm for gay grooms at Red Feather Inn, Hadspen
Words: Damien Woolnough
20th August 2018
Sometimes the groom of your dreams can be right under your nose and the same applies to destination wedding venues.
For too long Tasmania has been overshadowed by the siren call of far-off Tuscany and Seminyak but Australia’s island state offers an otherworldly environment to say 'I do'.
The Red Feather Inn in Hapsden, on the outskirts of Launceston, with its 1842 colonial structure is like stepping back in time, without the convicts and buggery charges. Today there’s just a burning desire to make gay grooms’ wedding dreams come true.
"We have had so many wonderful wedding celebrations here," venue manager Dani says, "We haven’t had a same sex wedding yet and we’re ready. This is a magical place for everyone."
The Red Feather Inn is like stepping back in time, without the convicts and buggery charges
Lydia Nettlefold at The Red Feather Inn.
The Inn is a compound of cottages, an old jail, stables and the main structure, lining the quiet street but the romance takes place behind the stone structures with the sweeping lawn and its magnificent oak tree, budding daffodils patient wisteria and ordered vegetable patch.
"There are so many opportunities," Dani says. "You can have a marquee on the lawn and be seated at long tables, have a band or dessert buffet in the old barn and be served at the bars outside… the possibilities are endless."
The Inn has been transformed by Lydia Nettlefold who trained at the London Cordon Bleu School and has a knack for creating cosy spaces at the Red Feather Inn, which nod to the past while accommodating contemporary tastes. Built by architect John Sprunt, using local sandstone and convict labour, the building fell into disrepair in the last century before Nettlefold’s investment of style and substance.
A striking portrait of Nettlefold by Judy Cassab takes pride of place in the Inn’s dining room where we sampled local delights prepared by the Inn’s talented chef Liz, who brought succulent lamb and duck to life with freshly picked crisp vegetables.
Liz also works at the Inn’s well-respected Cooking School, which is the perfect place to introduce in-laws before the ceremony. The family that bakes together, stays together or at least can be charming throughout the toasts.
The Library Suite.
The core of your wedding crew can easily be accommodated at the property, which can sleep 14 guests. We trialled the library suite with a spacious bedroom, adjoining sitting area and bathroom with enough elbow-room for duelling grooms. There’s also a bathtub too big to tackle alone.
Nettlefold’s Franco-phile touches and subdued palette add plenty of atmosphere, without suffocating the building’s intrinsic charm.
All of the key ingredients are in place but there’s plenty of wiggle room for you to create a personal celebration, whether that’s by utilising the converted caravan-bar for craft beers or positioning a string quartet in the garden.
The cooking school can also be used for wedding breakfasts.
"We like to work closely with the couples to create something special for them," Dani says, before sharing the lengths she will go to for a day filled only with positive memories.
"At one wedding I heard my name being screamed from the windows and when I got there they were asking for pins. One of the bridesmaid dresses had come undone at the zip and I’m afraid pins weren’t going to do the trick." Armed with a needle and thread Dani went beneath the skirt and stitched the bridesmaid in. "We got pretty close and the dress held."
All grooms are advised to check their zips before arriving and then you can forget all other worries.
The verdict: Downton Not So Shabby.
Red Feather Inn, 42 Main Street Hadspen.