Whitemore, Tasmania

Whitemore is a small rural community in Tasmania's Central North. Its most prominent features are its 1864 brick church, adjacent to the original church building dating from 1857 - now a community hall - and the large workshop and offices of Shaw contracting, the most significant business in the town's history. Whitemore consists of a small cluster of buildings on either side of the only road, surrounded by farming land.

By the late 20th Century the town's population was ageing, and it was described as somewhat of a retirement village. In the 2011 census the total population was 259.

Border Leicester sheep

Whitemore, along with Hagley, has historically had one of the highest concentrations of stud farms breeding pedigree livestock, in Australia. In the 1950s there were more than 100 registered studs within 5 miles (8.0 km) of the town's centre. The Poll Dorset, an important breed in prime lamb production in Australia, was first bred at a Whitemore stud.

The French family, who were Whitemore farmers, began breeding Ryeland lambs in early 21st century. The family had originally farmed this breed in the 1930s, but it had now become uncommon in Australia due to changing fashions in meat. The Heazlewood family breeds the Border Leicester, another sheep breed that is now uncommon in Australia. The family was honoured by the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania in 2013 for their involvement in the Tasmanian sheep industry over the previous one hundred years.

In 2014 a Whitemore farm attracted media attention creating the first crop maze in Tasmania. It was designed by specialist crop design company from the United Kingdom, and created to attract tourists and visitors. The maze was in the form of a stylized Tasmanian tiger, cut into a 5-hectare (12-acre) sorghum field. An open day was held on 28 February 2014 and the maze subsequently opened to the public, until the crop was harvested a few weeks later.

Brief History

Whitemore's land and surrounding rural area was first granted to Richard Dry in the 1830s then sold for farming to William Hingston in 1854. Hingston constructed a Wesleyan Chapel, near which a few later buildings were added. Over time the town has had a blacksmith, post office, library, shops and petrol station; none of these remain in the 21st Century.

From 1870 to sometime before 1978 the town had a nearby rail service but in the 21st century transport is by car or school bus. The town has a small largely Australian born, and aging, population. Whitemore has a few houses, a church that is part of the Uniting Church in Australia, the offices and workshops of Shaw Contracting, and a recreation ground and tennis courts used by the towns' tennis and cricket teams.

There are no major businesses in town so people have to travel for employment, however Launceston is not far away. The town itself is bounded on the east by the Liffey River. The town has a store, service station, post office, two halls, and a hotel. Its economy is based on mostly dairy, livestock, and poppy (Papaver somniferum) production for the Tasmanian opium poppy industry.

Whitemore is in the southern part of the former Quamby estate. The estate was granted to Richard Dry, father of Richard Dry who was later Premier of Tasmania, in 1837. The estate was in two main parts. The southern section was approximately 4,500 acres (1,800 ha), including an outlying part of 500 acres (200 ha) on which the modern town of Whitemore lies. The land in this section was recorded as first leased to William Burke in 1846. He worked a 200-acre (81 ha) lot as a tenant farmer, though it was probably leased before this, as at the time 200-acre (81 ha) was recorded in the lands returns records as cleared. This southern part of Quamby Estate covered the Whitemore Creek valley, the later town of Whitemore and Shaw's farm, amongst other later farms.

By 1851, 350 acres of the 500 acre section was cleared. By the mid 1850s the area had been settled for almost two decades and was noted as "fairly well populated". Dry sold land in the area in 1854 to William Hingston, who named a 120 acres (49 ha) section "Whitemoor farm" after a farm his family had run as tenant farmers in Cornwall. Hingston's land ownership and actions assisted the establishment of Whitemore as a central village of the surrounding farming area. Around 1857 Hingston donated the land for a Wesleyan chapel that became known as "Whitemoor chapel". Over time this name was taken by the village that grew around the church. Hingston built "Whitemoor house" in c.1860 using locally made bricks. The building was extant as of 2002.

By the time Hingston built Whitemoor House the town had a modest country store, a blacksmith's shop and the Wesleyan chapel. The town never became the population centre and Whitemoor remained a farming district with only a few buildings clustered near the church. By 1865 the town had four substantial buildings: A brick church; the original wooden church now used as a school; and two cottages. As late as 1915 there were only three occupied cottages in the town.