Located 34 km south west of Launceston, Cressy is a small, attractive, and historically significant town which came into existence in the 1850s to service the surrounding wheat farms. It was named after a land grant which was taken up in 1826 by a British company which had been formed to exploit Van Diemen's Land's agricultural potential. This substantial wheat farm prospered until 1856 when it was broken up. It was around this time that a distinctive settlement emerged. The Cressy Hotel had been opened in 1845 and the town came into existence around 1855.
Cressy was established as the main centre for the Cressy Company. The company's first director Captain Bartholomew Boyle Thomas chose to name company after the Battle of Crecy in the 14th Century, in which one of his ancestors fought. Cressy was a large agricultural company which owned a significant portion of the Norfolk Plains. The first building in Cressy was The Cressy Hotel built in 1845 by William Brumby. Cressy became an official township in 1848. Much of the land in the area was owned by the O'Connor family, founded by Irish migrant Roderic O'Connor.
Cressy is known as Tasmania's Trout capital for the good fishing in the area and is home to the well-known Tasmanian Trout Expo, held every September. Known as the Gateway to Trout Fishing Paradise, the Cressy area is a mecca for fly fishing, being the gateway to Brumby's Creek, the Weirs, and the Macquarie, Lake and Liffey rivers, all top spots that attract anglers from around the world.
The area of Norfolk Plains, which takes in the Cressy district, was at one time the richest wheat growing area in Tasmania. Today more specialised crops are grown such as poppies for the pharmaceutical industry.
Today many of the original homesteads and farm buildings exist around the tiny township and the area is still noted as an important producer of oats, barley, peas and beans.
The Lake House
The Lake House was built in 1830 by London shipowner Robert Corney, inspired by British architect Sir John Soane. Corney drowned soon after it was finished, while fording the river with an ox cart. With its faux-sandstone lime-rendered facade, this stately colonial property is nestled among oak trees and forms the centrepiece of a 490-hectare irrigated pastoral and cropping property south of Launceston. Built by Van Diemen s Land convict labour in the late 1820s, using bricks fired on the property, it languished in disrepair before heritage architect David Denman was engaged to restore it to its former glory in the early 2000s. It has eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms over its three levels. There are two renovated farm houses, stables, coach house and gardener's cottage on the 490 hectares. 591 Delmont Road, Cressy. Private residence, no public access.
Of particular interest are 'Panshanger' house and gardens (privately owned and not open for inspection) 3 km east of Cressy. This Classical house with its Tuscan portico and beautiful gardens was built by Joseph Archer, one of the early settlers. The acres of parks and gardens feature stable yards, a water tower, horse-operated pump house, remains of a cider press, and a gardener s cottage. Hawthorn hedges, oaks, elms, laurels, lindens, maritime pines and sweeping lawns all create an atmosphere of serenity from an earlier era. After two generations of Archers the property was sold in 1908 to Thomas Mills, a gold miner from Charters Towers in Queensland. It was purchased as a wedding gift for his son, Charles. Today this six-thousand acre property is still run by the Mills family, producing a range of irrigated crops, sheep and cattle." It has operated as a bed and breakfast. Private residence, no public access.
Richmond Hill Granary
Richmond Hill (St Wilfred's College), on Cressy Road 1 km north east of Cressy, is a particularly attractive single storey brick Georgian house which dates from 1823. Its location on the Macquarie River, its 12 panel windows and six panel front door, all contribute to an air of gracefulness and gentility which seems to have characterised the lives of wealthy Tasmanians in the early nineteenth century. The Granary, a beautiful convict-built stone building dating back to the early 1800s, provides AirBNB accommodation. It has had many uses over the years but more recently has been converted into lovely luxury accommodation. 1097 Cressy Road, Cressy. Private residence, no public access.
A pigeon tower, or dovecote, is located on the banks of Macquarie River on a property owned by Burlington Farming Pty Ltd near Cressy. The tower was originally part of the adjoining Panshanger Estate and was built in the 1830s under the directions of the original owner Joseph Archer (1795-1853). The building is approximately fifteen metres high and provided pigeons and chickens for the Estate. A cottage for the tower keeper originally stood nearby. Despite its intended function, the circular tower has the appearance of a fortified medieval tower featuring a crenelated parapet, blind semi-circular arched windows, and the openings for the pigeons have the external appearance of arrow slits. The attractive tower was in part made to be viewed from the Archer home, and it features in paintings by William Charles Piguenit (1836-1914). It is still intact, including brick fowl nesting boxes on the ground floor, and the timber floors and ceiling have recently been restored.
Other Historic Houses Other houses of interest in the district include 'Fairfield' (1852) on Chintah Road 9 km south east of Cressy and 'Mount Joy' (1853) a beautiful Victorian timber house off Mount Joy Road 10 km south east of Cressy; 'Darlington', outbuildings and chapel (20 km south-east, 1830); 'Connorville Gouse' outbuildings and mill (1920-22); 'Lake House' (1830-36); 'Mount Joy' (1853); 'Woodside' (1827-35)