Ulverstone is a substantial regional centre in a centralised location between the north-west coast's two cities, Burnie and Devonport. Log spiltters worked the area in the area in the 1840s, supplying the newly founded Melbourne with the timber it required for building. As the timber in the area was cleared, attention turned to the rich volcanic soil. Farmers moved in and potatoes, beef and dairy industries were established. Ulverstone is 21 km west of Devonport, 18 km east of Penguin, 28 km east of Burnie, 117 km north west of Launceston.
Ulverstone Visitor Information Centre
13 Alexandra Road, Ulverstone
Phone (03) 6425 2839.
Open daily - 9am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day), Winter weekends 10am to 4pm
I first came to Ulverstone as a boy with my family back in 1960 when we came over from Melbourne for a week's holiday. We were based in Ldaunceston and took a number of coach tours out into the surrouning area. I don't remember much of what we saw, but one I do recall is the Ulverstone's Shrine of Remembrance that stands at the top of the main street. The monument had its beginnings in 1946 when the citizens of Ulverstone agreed to build a clock tower as a memorial to those who fell in the 1939-1945 war. The result was the iconic memorial we see today.
Completed in January 1954, it is set on a blue base, representing the sea, and on this is a map of Tasmania. The three columns rising from the map reprsent the three services - the AIF, RAAF, and RAAF. Each column represents a book and its squares of glass represent the pages where the names of the fallen are inscribed. The series of links connecting the columns represent the ties of unity between the services. At the top of the structure is a torch of remembrance, while the clocks beneath it represent time and eternity. Suspended under the block is a laurel wreath with a rising sun at its centre, looking down on the name inscribed in the columns.
Recommended: Leven River Cruise
Enjoy and relax in the natural scenic sanctuary of the Leven River on a river cruise. Cruises range from 1 hr on the Leven River Bay or 2 hrs along the tidal Leven River. Enjoy a 3 – 4 hr picnic cruise where you can relax in an amazing historic sanctuary of eucalyptus, blackwood, Antarctica dicksonia and wildlife. The bird watching cruise is very popular, as it the twilight cruise. Custom cruises of choice, can be arranged also, to suit small group bookings.
All cruises depart from public pontoon, Tasma Parade, Ulverstone. Bookings essential. Phone 0400 130 258.
Ulverstone Zigzag Gardens
One normally associates the word 'zigzag' with a railway - in Ulverstone it's the name of a delightful walkway that winds its way to a high point overlooking Ulverstone. Not only does it afford panoramic view of Ulverstone and Bass Strait, it comes with the added bonus of beautiful, award-winning gardens cut into the hillside through which the walkway zigzags. The base of the walkway starts in Maud Street, or for a less strenuous alternative, drive to the lookout via Upper Maud Street.
The area along Beach Boad around the end of Victoria Street is the centre of beachside receational activities in Ulverstone. There is the beach, of course, a great cafe for breakfast or lunch, behind which is Pedal Buggies Tasmania, where you can hire Pedal Buggies. Easy to ride, they come in single person and family varieties, with baby seats and trailers that can be added. Open weekends all year round (subject to weather), school holidays and most public holidays from 10am to 4.30pm or by appointment. Please phone to confirm availability. Phone 0437 242 535.
Next to the cafe is the Ulverstone Waterside, a 60 metre fibreglass chute ending in a warm pool. Open during the summer school holidays. Phhone (03) 6425 6252. Across the road in Fairway Park there is a skate park. On the eastern side of Victoria Street is Bicentennial Park, home to the Ulverstone Outdoor Entertainment Centre and Otto's Grotto, a picnic ground. Keep following the river and you'll end up at the Gnomon Pavillion Wharf Precinct, home to the Cradle Coast Farmers Market.
Cradle Coast Farmers Market
Anzac Park, beyond the Hobbs Parade bridge across the River Leven, has gardens bordering the river, providing picnic and barbecue areas, walking paths and children’s play areas.
Ulverstone Miniature Railway
21 Maskells Road, Ulverstone is the place to ride a miniature railway in Tasmania, with three separate track gauges and three separate track layouts. Located 2km east of Ulverstone, it operates on the first and third Sunday of the month from 10.30am to 3pm. Train Rides are $3 per person or $10 per Family. Phone (03) 6428 3569 or 0409 516 290.
Ulverstone Rodeo: Held on the last Saturday in January. Located at Batten Park, Ulverstone, this popular rodeo starts with the juniors at 4pm, followed by all the action of the main event from 7pm to 11pm. Includes professional women’s barrel race, breakaway roping, saddle and bareback bronco riding, steer wrestling and team roping. Ph. 0438 681 453
Festival In The Park: Held on the last Sunday in February, and located at Anzac Park, Ulverstone, the festival runs from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Enjoy entertainment, water activities, live bands, good food, wine, local crafts and much more.
Arts On Fire: Held on the first weekend in June at the Ulverstone Civic Centre, Patrick Street, Ulverstone, ‘Arts on Fire’ is a showcase of the wealth of artistic talent along the coast. The program is an interesting and eclectic mix of artistic activities, aiming to showcase many artistic pursuits including static displays of visual and fine arts, crafts, photography, sculpture and performing arts with a mix of media to ensure there is something for everyone, and maintaining interest throughout the day.
Bear and Miniatures Extravaganza: Held on the last weekend in July. Located at the Ulverstone Rowing Club, Kings Parade and open from 10am to 4pm. Features dolls of all shapes and sizes, toys, bears, miniatures, old lace, wooden toys, doll-houses and much more. Contact the Doll Collectors Club of Tasmania Inc. (03) 6425 2581 or (03) 6425 5050
Tastrofest - Tasmania's Astronomy Festival: Tasmania has some of the cleanest and clearest skies in the world. Spanning the 40th to the 44th parallel, Tasmania has the unique gift of being an excellent location for Aurora Australis spotting for most of the year. Those roaring 40s winds also push the clouds across pretty efficiently and can enable a great night viewing when least expecting it. Tastrofest's mission is to teach everyone, no matter what their background or level of knowledge, how to enjoy the night sky. We will gather once a year and revel in the staggering complexity of the universe and be in awe of its beauty. Held in August. Located in Schweppes Arena, Ulverstone Sports & Leisure Centre, Flora Street, Ulverstone.
Cradle Coast Rotary Art Exhibition: Held mid-November. Located in the Gawler Room of the Civic Centre, Patrick Street, Ulverstone, this week-long exhibition is open for public viewing and sales from Saturday through to Sunday, 10am to 4.30pm. Contact Stephanie Templeton 0417 507 724, or email email@example.com
Ulverstone Show: Held on the Saturday of the November long weekend at the Showground, Flora Street, Ulverstone Show features livestock judging, dog competitions, horse jumping, home industries, animal nurseries, sideshows and food stalls. Contact the Ulverstone Show Society Secretary, PO Box 17, Ulverstone, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (03) 6425 1703 or mobile 0422 945 705
Ulverstone Christmas Parade and Carols By Candlelight: Held the third Saturday in December. Located at Reibey Street, Ulverstone, the festive evening commences with a parade of Christmas floats at 4.30pm and continues with Carols by Candlelight at the Outdoor Entertainment Centre, Sound Shell, Bicentennial Park, Dial Street, Ulverstone at 7.30pm. For more information on the Christmas Parade or for Carols by Candlelight email email@example.com
Buttons Beach, Ulverstone
Buttons Beach, Ulverstone
The main ocean beach at Ulverstone, Buttons Beach is a 2.7 km long north-facing ribbon of clean sand, bordered by the 1 km long training wall of the River Leven in the west and the low rocks of The Fish Pond in the east. The Ulverstone Surf Life Saving Club is located toward the centre of the beach. The small Buttons Creek drains out across the centre of the beach.
Picnic Point and Buttons beaches are moderately safe for swimming under normal low wave conditions, apart from near the exposed and submerged rocks. During higher waves rips can also form in the low tide surf zone and around the rocks. The safest swimming is in the patrolled area in front of the surf club, otherwise at mid to high tide away from the rocks.
Picnic Point Beach, Ulverstone
Picnic Point Beach, Ulverstone
Picnic Point Beach commences immediately east of Goat Island and extends east for 1.8 km to the point. It is initially a cobble high tide beach, containing rock outcrops and intertidal rock flats. As it extends to the east the cobbles are replaced by a narrow high tide sand beach fronted by a mixture of rock flats and a 100 m wide low tide terrace. It is backed by a narrow reserve then the road, with houses increasing to the east. Waves average less than 1 m and spill across the low gradient beach and flats.
Claytons Beach, Ulverstone
Claytons Beach, Ulverstone
The steep narrow high tide beach is composed of cobbles and fronted by uniform cobble flats up to 100 metres wide. It is backed by drained grass-covered wetlands, the old railway line, with the highway 500 metres to the south and no direct public access. The Fish Pond, inside two recurved cobble spits that have converged on the point to partly enclose a shallow 100 metre wide embayment, is located to the east of Claytons Beach. A small stream drains out of the pond at its western end. No direct public access.
The River Leven rises in the Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area near Cradle Mountain, passes through Leven Canyon, and flows generally north into Bass Strait at Ulverstone. The river descends 946 metres over its 99.3-kilometre course. The first documented reference to the river was in a report of the Van Diemen's Land (VDL) Co.'s agricultural adviser, Alexander Goldie, of his whaleboat journey with surveyor Joseph Fossey to examine the coastline and its rivers from the Mersey to Cape Grim in the winter of 1826. The report states that on 30th July 1826 his party had breakfast "at a small creek to the eastward of the Leven", indicating that the river had already been named, perhaps by Goldie on the previous day. The Leven is believed to have been named after a river in Scotland which flows from Loch Lomond in the North to the River Clyde in the South. Goldie was born in Scotland and is the most likely person to have named the river.
According to pioneer settler James Fenton, in his book, Bush Life, the first splitters (tree fellers) to break the stillness of the Leven forests went there in 1848 employed by E.G. Gibbons of Launceston. Among them was a man named Hills, an oversear who was probably the first of the semipermanent residents of the Leven. The locality had been visited by Fenton and Douglas in 1844 when they saw footprints of 'bolters' (escaped convicts) in the sands at Leven Heads. The first land was purchased at Leven by Alexander Clerke of Longford in March 1852. The first settler was John Pasons followed soon after by William Smith, one of the original timber splitters; Mr Beecroft was one of the first to take up a 640 acre selection in an area then known as Badger's Plains, which is the land to the south of today's town centre.
Edward Brooke Evan Walker selected 640 acres on the west side of the Leven in 1854. Walker previously lived on a property he built called Rhodes, near Longford, served as a magistrate, and had thirteen (accountably white) children of his own. Unlike most land owners, he was a genuine settler and not an absentee landowner like most. His two sons joined him on his Leven property called Westbank a few years later. Walker was a self taught in health care and medecines and was well sought after foe his advice and doctoral services from the Mersey (Devonport) to Circular Head (Stanley) for many years under a doctor moved into the area. He was an active Anglican and JP and a general pillar of colonial Tasmanian society. Walker's named is perpetuated in the names of Walker Street in Ulverstone and Wynyard.
Boatbuilding at Ulverstone. Photo M Malone. TAHO Weekly Courier 1918
Early History of Ulverstone
By 1855, all the land on heathlands of Badger Plains to the east of the River Leven to the south of present day Ulverstone was taken up, however 552-acre reserve for what would become the town of Ulverstone had been set aside for a town. It was laid out in that year, by a surveyor from a detachment of Royal Sappers and Miners, Pte. George Melrose, sent tto carry out trigonometrical surveys at the request of Tasmania's Governor Denison. The first purchaser of a town block in the initial auction of land was Frederick Dowling whose land is now a foreshore recreational area. George MacDonald, another early purchaser, built the Leven Inn opposite the present wharf, towards the end of 1858.
Reibey Street, Ulverstone. Photo F Nicholls, TAHO Weekly Courier 1914
The name Ulverstone is first known to have been used in 1854 when Hugh Ross McKay opened the Ulverstone store. It is believed to have been named after Ulverston in England, which also sits at the estuary of a river called Leven. Ulverston in England was spelled Ulverstone until late in the 19th century. Ironically, Tasmania's River Leven is not named after the English river on which the English town of Ulverstone sits, but rather a Scottish river of the same name (see "River Leven" above).
The town was officially declared by the Governor, Sir Henry Edward Fox-Young, on 22 February 1861, when the population was just 16 persons. The town remained small for a number of years and did not grow until the surunding area's growth and development as a rich farming area demanded the establishment of a trading centre and shipping facilities. By 1877, Ulvertsone had 40 dwellings and a population of atound 200. By 1891, there were 219 dwellings and a population of 1,129.
Braddons Lookout, located on the Upper Forth Road (enter from the Bass Highway on the eastern side of the Forth River Bridge) offers excellent views over both the coast and the hinterland. It is said that on a clear day it is possible to see Cradle Mountain to the south.
Braddons Lookout was named after Sir Edward Nicholas Coventry Braddon who, after a long career in the British civil service, arrived in Tasmania in 1878, entered state parliament in 1879 and was premier from 1894-99. The lookout stands on the site of Sir Edward Braddon's home. A secondary platform with a low fence improves the view for people in wheelchairs who may be unable to see over the stone wall that surrounds the main viewing platform. Eight plaques are dedicated to prominent local businesses, such as vegetable processing company Harvest Moon, while the others explore local history and historical figures such as Braddon himself.
Goat Island, West Ulverstone
Between Penguin and Ulverstone are a group of small granite offshore islands known as The Three Sisters. Goat Island to their east is accessible at low tide -but be very careful not to get stranded. The island is a beschcombers paradise - there are jagged edges, fiery lichen, unusual seaweed, muscles, a cave and a fishing pool that's big enough to swim in. Goat Island houses a breeding colony of little penguins.
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters island group has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because, with up to 400 breeding pairs, it supports over 1 percent of the world population of black-faced cormorants. Because landings are difficult owing to the lack of beaches and safe anchoring points they are little affected by human visitation and disturbance, although Australian fur seals haul-out on the lowest of them. Pacific gulls and sooty oystercatchers breed there every year in small numbers, and Caspian terns have nested there. White-bellied sea-eagles forage around the islands.
Nakaervis Reserve runs along the shoreline opposite the Three Sisters island group. On the western side of the point there is a small beach, but to access it, one must cross the railway line. Care must be taken doing this as the line is in regular use by freight trains.
On the road to Turners Beach is the historic private residence, Gables Park. It was built around 1850 and was originally known as The Sailors Return Inn. In 1853 it was robbed by the bushrangers Dalton and Kelly (not Ned) who stole the landlord's whale boat and sailed across the Bass Strait to Victoria. They were subsequently caught, brought back to Tasmania and executed in Launceston. There are many beautiful old timber houses in the area which date from 1880-1920. Lonah, which overlooks Three Sisters Islands on the road between Ulverstone and Penguin, was built by a retired English soldier, Major-General Lodder, around 1875.
The agricultural district of Gawler is situated south of Ulverstone, its boundary being reached in afew short kilometres. The Gawler area was explored by surveyor Nathaniel Kentish in the early 1840s, who named the river after the second Governor of South Australia, Lieutenant-Colonel George Gawler. This name was later given to the whole district.
How Kenitsh came to name it after a South Australian Governor is a story in itself. Surveyor-General Robert Power, who had the responsibility to open roads to every new settlement, hired the 43 year old Nathaniel Lipscomb Kentish when arrived from South Australia in November 1841 looking for a job. Having impressive credentials endorsed by Governor Gawler of South Australia, Power appointed him to his Survey Department on the spot. Kentish had been the Surveyor of Roads and Bridges in charge of constructing part of the Great Western Road over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst in New South Wales, with nearly 1000 convicts under his supervision. He'd then moved to South Australia, but before completing his contract, he had moved on to Tasmania.
It soon became clear to Power why Gawler had sent him packing so quickly, but with such a glowing reference - the egotistical surveyor possessed a personality trait that compelled him to constantly promote himself and his own abilities while at the same time denigrating and belittling the efforts of everyone else. His ability to rub others up the wrong way, particularly his superiors, had resulting in him being dismissed time and time again from nearly all his previous employment.
Once suspects Kentish had no idea why he'd been shown the door so quickly and yet had been given such glowing credentials. Whether or not he knew, he seemed eternally grateful for the favour, reflected in the fact he named one of the first rivers he came across after his beloved former employer.
A glimpse into the early days of farming in and around the North West hinterland was presented in a series published in the North West Post in July and August 1906 and entitled "Round the Farms". These extracts not only illustrate the wealth of material to be found in the small local newspapers of the past, but shed light on the life and times of Gawler's farming pioneer families.
"The next estate [on the Lower Gawler Road] is occupied and owned by Mr B. Counsel, a son of Gawler's pioneer. In this place is centred much of the district's history. Mr L. Counsel, sen., brought his family from Piper's River, some distance out of Launceston, in 1860, and lived for a few weeks a mile or two up the old Gawler road, then removing to the present property, which was originally bought by Mr c. M'Arthur from Brown and Kennedy, in the fifties, Mr Counsel, sen., purchasing 488 acres from the first-named gentleman. The land was thickly timbered with dogwood and sassafras, and covered with dense scrub. Of roads there were none, just paling tracks, which, as a rule, only misled the wayfarers."
"Taking the year 1865 as a guide and going back to the Gawler-Ulverstone boundary, Mr W. Mason, father of the present owner, had an extensive estate. He did not reside on the property, but lived at Longford, and let the farms to tenants.The late James Elliott rented ground, where Mr Henslow now lives, in 1852, and was one of the first four Leven settlers. He planted a willow tree on the grassy flat 53 years ago, and the tree is still to be seen. This ground was owned by the late Alex Clerke."
"Going round the next bend of the [Old Gawler] road, the many homesteads owned and occupied by the M'Culloch family are to be seen, forming a community and a village almost of their own. They are the descendants of Gawlers's first pioneer, the late James M'Culloch, who brought six sons with him from Ayrshire, Scotland, and forced his way into the dense, almost impenetrable bush, buying 500 acres of land from the Government under the pre-emptive right system, and thus settling there in the year 1859." Editor's note: that system gave the first settler the first option to purchase a property they settled on and developed.
"The original 500 acres were cut up and divided among the patriach's sons, the estate stretching right from the Gawler River to Abbotsham. It consists of rich river flats and the well-known chocolate soil. Neat hawthorn hedges enclose many of the paddocks, but the former estate has been greatly added to by purchase until now it forms one of the largest and best properties on the North West Coast Mr Hugh M'Culloch's property is at the foot of the hill, joining which is the private burying ground of the clan M'Culloch."
"In the early days, the roads were so bad that they were forced to use portion of their estate for a cemetery. The land originally taken up is all occupied by the first applicants or their sons, and "Edinburgh", as the place is called is peopled exclusively by the M'Culloch's". The cemetery is at 556 Top Gawler Road, Gawler."
In 1939 the old Barrington Presbyterian church (opened in 1893) was removed to the Gawler Road cemetery where it was rededicated as the ‘McCulloch Memorial Church’. Local people, mostly members of the McCulloch family moved the church in sections and reconstructed the building on the new site. Services at the church, also known as the Gawler Road church, were regularly held serving Presbyterians of the Abbotsham and the Upper Gawler area. The church is no longer on the site.
North Motton bank and post Office, 1926
North Motton is a village and dairy farming district on the Preston Road about 10 kilometres south of Ulverstone. Land in the area was occupied by William Motton in 1854, after whom the area is named. In 1865 a handful of Primitive Methodist families settled in the North Motton district including Nathan and Sarah Brothers, John and Ann Eagle, Isaac Brett and the Revell family. North Motton was one of four locations in the greater Ulverstone region where the Primitive Methodist migrants from Scotland settled and built churches; with other churches built at Gravel Hill, Norfolk Creek and Penguin. In 1877 the church was used by the Department of Education for a day school and a Sunday school was also established around this time.
The foundation stones for the new building were laid in December 1902 and the occasion was reported by The North West Post: “Methodism and North Motton have grown up together, the pioneers of this rising and prosperous district having been active adherents of that section of the Christian Church. The rapid growth and expansion of that part of West Devon has caused the old Methodist Church to become uncomfortably small for the ordinary services, and it was decided to build a much larger one on the land adjoining, at an estimated cost of £400. The contract for the erection of the building was let some time ago to Mr Manser for £385, and the work has been pushed on as rapidly as possible”.
Nothing of the church remains apart from a wall which stood in front of the church and the cemetery which contains the headstones of many of the early members of the church. The cemetery also has a headstone in remembrance of Chrissie Venn, a 13-year-old girl whose unsolved murder in 1921 was a sensation at the time. Her ghost is claimed to haunt the area of her murder.