A prosperous fishing port and timber town located on the shores of Spring Bay, Triabunna began life as a whaling base in the 1830s. The townsite was once a garrison town for the Darlington convict settlement on nearby Maria Island. The town is today driven largely by its fishing industry (it is known for its scallops and abalone) and the huge woodchip mill at Point Home (it can be clearly seen from the ferry across to Maria Island). Triabunna is the starting point for tours and/or visits to the island and the many wilderness beauty spots on Tasmania s east coast.
Where Is it?: Triabunna is 84 km north east of Hobart, 49 km south of Swansea, 6 km north east of Orford, on the Tasman Highway.
The pleasant beaches and ease of access make the town a haven for those who enjoy watersports such as fishing, sailing, surfing, and diving. Triabunna also has facilities for tennis, cricket, golf and Australian rules football. Bushwalking in the nearby forests is also popular.
Two colonial Georgian sandstone buildings circa 1840s in Charles Steeet are the original barracks and stables for the 51st regiment stationed here to supervise the Maria Island penal settlement.
Offshore from Triabunna across Mercury Passage is Maria Island, an uninhabited, serene place where the visitor feels they have left civilization behind and stepped into another world. The main attraction is the beautiful scenery and wildlife, however the remains of the abandoned convict settlement of Darlington adds to its uniqueness and sense of isolation. A day trip is just enough time to get the feel of the place, but to explore it in detail you would need much more. Passenger ferries to Maria Island leave daily from Triabunna.
The first European to visit the area was the French explorer Nicholas Baudin who sailed into Spring Bay in La Geographe in 1802. With the establishment of a penal colony on Maria Island some of the officers decided to settle on the mainland. One of the earliest European settlers was Major Thomas Lord who was the Commandant of Darlington Penal Settlement on Maria Island from 1825-32. He called his property Okehampton and had a signal station set up so he could communicate with his officers on the island. It was around this time that whalers moved into the area and by the mid-1820s there were four whaling stations operating along the coast.
As a result of this activity farmers moved into the area and by 1860 Spring Bay had been declared a municipality. The local Council chambers were built in 1862.