A small and charming Georgian colonial village which is registered as a classified historic town. The district was first settled by Europeans in 1814 and was known as Green Ponds - a name which is still retained as the local municipality. The town is full of quaint Georgian cottages, shops and farm buildings. The Heritage Highway bypasses Kempton, however it is worth stopping by to explore.
Where is it?: Kempton is 49 km north of Hobart just off the Midland Highway.
St Mary's anglican Church
The major historic buildings in the town include the National Estate listed St Mary's Anglican Church, a sandstone Gothic Revival building with a square truncated tower which was probably designed by James Blackburn. It was completed in 1844 and is notable for its square tower, its interesting cemetery, and its position as a central feature of Kempton's townscape.
Kempton Presbyterian Church
The first Anglican church at Kempton, or Green Ponds as it was originally called, was a timber church called St Marks’. The church cemetery and the former Catholic Church garden reveal graves of convicts who were transported to New South Wales with the First Fleet in 1788. The church is complemented by an extensive site containing many old trees and an historic graveyard including a memorial to the early Clark family.
St Peter’s Catholic Church
St Peter’s Catholic Church at Kempton replaced an earlier timber church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Ann. It stood in Louisa Street, next to the Catholic Cemetery. The new brick church was designed by Alan Cameron Walker, and opened 29 September 1918. It remains a visually impressive building on Kempton’s High Street and is a reminder of the significant Catholic presence in the Southern Midlands.
Kempton Congregational Church
Kempton Congregational Church (1840) is a simple stone Georgian church which also has an interesting old cemetery. Apart from the Congregational Church, there were three other churches established in the town including the Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches. The Wesleyans owned land at Green Pond for building a chapel but this never eventuated.
The Congregational Church was built in 1840 by the Van Diemen's Land Missionary Society at a cost of £500. The ‘Green Pond’s Congregational chapel opened on Good Friday, April 17th 1840. The church was founded by Reverend Joseph Beazley, a “bush missionary” who first visited the district in about 1835 holding services in a private house before securing the use of a schoolroom. Beazley settled at Green Ponds in January 1838 and used it as a base to help establish Congregational chapels at Bagdad, Tea Tree and Richmond.
Joseph Beazley left Green Ponds for Sydney in 1847 where he worked in the Redfern Congregational pastorate before returning to England. He became the Congregational Minister at Blackheath until his death in 1899. A Sabbath school was instituted, for which additions were made to the rear of the chapel creating a school room, meeting room and vestry. In 1840, many of the 'Canadian Rebels' working at the Green Ponds Probation Station attended here and Reverend Beazley was 'much pleased with them. The church underwent extensive restoration in 1970 with significant funding provided in memory of the late Thomas Gorringe. In 1977 it became a part of the Uniting Church until its closure. It was later sold and it is now a private residence.
Wilmot Arms Inn (1844) was built by convicts and operated as a licensed inn until 1897. It is said that the proprietor suddenly got religion and stopped making alcohol and fed all his spirits to the pigs. The building later fell into disrepair but was restored in 1978. Today it is part of Tasmania's Colonial Accommodation circuit.
Another coaching inn in the area was Dysart House (now a private residence) a large two storey Georgian stone inn. It was built in 1842 by William Henry Ellis as an hotel with the outbuildings erected in 1845. It is well complemented by fine old eucalypts, something of a rarity close to a house in Tasmania. It is recognised as one of the finest old coaching inns on the old Midlands Highway.
Once co-joined homesteads erected in the 1820s, what are now the Council Chambers were later converted into Government Offices and Court House. The buildings were used as a police station until 1862. The clock tower in front of the chambers was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war.
Dysart House is now the home of the Old Kempton Distillery. The distillery offers the opportunity to sit back, relax and unwind in some of the manors charmingly restored rooms. The cellar door offers a wide variety of tastings of Old Kempton Distillery products and locally made produce. Daily tours with one of Old Kempton’s Distiller’s run at 1.30pm and can be booked through their website.
Old Kempton Distillery prides itself on using Tasmanian Barley and Tasmanian Water to make a smooth, caramel and spice Single Malt Whisky. Old Kempton Distillery also offers a training school for would be Distillers who want to join the amazing Distilleries that are opening up all over Tasmania.
Kent Cottage, now a private residence, was built in 1833 James Lumsden operated a general store in two storey Georgian building in 1860, and more recently it was a service station.
The convict built two storey Glebe House is a private residence built for Rev George Otter in 1836. The quaint old shop over the road was originally a general store built in 1934. It was formerly situated in the grounds of Gleber House but was relocated to its present position in 1990.
Tedworth Hall was originally known as `London Inn' but now referred to as Tedworth was built in 1832 by John Vincent. It was built for use as an Inn and was the second Inn built and run by Vincent, the first being the Castle Inn at Bothwell. It was operated as an Inn until it was purchased by the Bisdee family who then operated it as an agricultural enterprise. The complex is an intact collection of colonial Georgian buildings, including a Colonial Inn and farm outbuildings. Location: Tedworth Dr, Lower Spring Hill via Melton Mobray.
The Court House and associated Council Chambers, including the cottage, is typically colonial in concept, even "Tasmanian Colonial" in that it typifies the early days of local government, when the council chamber acted as magistrates court complete with attached or adjoining cell block invariably located on the coldest side of the building. The council chamber has an air of authority by virtue of the raised dias at one end and high magistrates bench which, although no longer used, will be retained for its historical interest and to maintain the aesthetic proportion of that end of the room. Externally, the buildings are constructed of local squared and coursed sandstone with uncoursed field rubble stone to two walls of the cottage.
The plan of the whole building lends itself admirably to an efficient administrative complex, with a minimum of internal structural alterations designed to facilitate circulation, reduce heat loss and to provide public space to foster community interest in the district. Location: 85 Main Street, Kempton.
The Little Quoin Rivulet Road Bridge which carries Midland Highway over Little Quoin Rivulet, about 2km north of Kempton, forms part of the original road from Hobart to Launceston. A small single span stone arch road bridge, it has a span of 1.4m and an internal clear height of 2m, with substantial stone balustrades, carrying a stone with an inscription that is difficult to read, but which is reported by Smith as carrying the date, 1840. It is believed to have been built by Captain Frederick Forth, Director-General of Roads, being one of two that Forth referred to as "two at Cross Marsh erected without any assistance than the convicts placed under my disposal."
Silhouette Trail: A cut-out stage coach at the highway exit to Kempton marks the start of the Silhouette Trail on The Heritage Highway. In the paddocks along the highway, fifteen larger than life black steel cut-outs define the Trail and reflect on the region's frontier days: stage coaches in full flight, bushrangers, sheep farmers, gold-panners, surveyors, convict road gangs, railway workers, soldiers, a hangman, emus and Tasmanian Tigers amongst them.