Bracknell is a small rural town that was established to serve the needs of the forestry industry but is now a centre for the local farming community. An unusual aspect of the town is that all the streets have been given female names, a feature which dates back to the time when the town was laid out.
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.
The township was surveyed prior to 1859, at which time an auction of town blocks was held, but only became established in the early 1870s. By 1874 there was a church, two school buildings, a hotel and several other buildings. The town's land had formerly been owned by the Church of England. All the streets in Bracknell have been given female names, a curiosity that dates from when the town was laid out. The current hotel has been in operation since 1880, originally as the Enfield Hotel. The post office opened on 1 August 1872.
St James the Apostle Anglican Church, 31 Jane Street, Bracknell
The first Methodist services in the town were held in a barn around November to December 1863. As the congregation grew a church was needed and so the foundation stone for a Primitive Methodist chapel was laid on 14 October 1864. This first church was later removed so the current building could be constructed on its site. A parsonage was added in 1902, the year of the Methodist union that formed the Methodist Church of Australasia.
The present church's foundation stone was laid 4 April 1922 and it was opened the same year at a cost of 1250 pounds. The church became part of the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977 and remains in use. The foundation stone of an Anglican church, St James, was laid December 1931 and the church consecrated April 1932. When opened the church was part of the Church of England parish of Cressy. St James' was later closed and the Diocese of Tasmania sold it in 2011.
Anglican Church of the Holy Nativity, Bishopsbourne, built 1844
Bracknell's closest neighbour is Bishopsbourne, a farming community 4km to the east. One of Tasmania’s oldest educational institutions, Christ College, was founded in the village. Only fragments of the College and its chapel remain but these are in effect the ‘foundations’ of higher education in the State.
Christ's College, Bishopsbourne, Nov.2, 1849. Lloyd, Henry Grant.
In 1845 Bishop of Tasmania, Bishop Nixon bought 1218 acres of the Vron property to establish a theological college approximating Cambridge and Oxford and a township, Christ College, in the former mansion opened in 1846. Christ College closed after 11 years due to lack of funds and students and was re-established 22 years later at the University of Tasmania where it still operates. One reason for the town's decline was the lack of reliable water alleviated by the arrival of the Longford-Cressy irrigation scheme in 1976. The name Bishopsbourne means 'Bishop's goal or destination'.
7 km west of Blacknell are the Cluan Tiers, a foothill or ridge parallel to the escarpment of the Central Plateau. The Tiers are heavily wooded with wet to dry sclerophyll forest, and some fern gullies with myrtle beech and sassafrass in the Liffey Falls area. The stand in contrast to the cultivated Westbury plain and the open talus and dolerite capping of Dry's Bluff, Projection Bluff and Quamby Bluff.
On the western side facing the Liffey Valley, is a substantial dolerite escarpment about 2km long and up to 90m high, with two of the faces that are suitable for climbing. Whiskey Jim Hill is a sandstone crag above the Liffey Valley up to 50m high and with some sections of good quality rock. It features the steepest crack climb in Tasmania, the incredible Whiskey Jim Crack which climbs a splitter crack through a 9m stepped roof on excellent rock.
The Liffey Falls (20 km west) are a series of four distinct tiered–cascade waterfalls on the Liffey River. The falls commence from the Great Western Tiers at an elevation of 514 metres (1,686 ft) above sea level and descend in the range of 120–160 metres (390–520 ft). Each of the tiered cascades is named in order from upstream to downstream; Alexandra Falls, Hopetoun Falls, The Leap or Spout Falls (also called the Albert Falls), and Victoria Falls.
The road to Liffey Falls passes through Liffey, a town situated in rainforest, on the Liffey River at the foot of the Great Western Tiers. The falls are accessed down a steep narrow road to a large, secluded picnic area with information booth, picnic shelters, gas barbecues and disabled access toilets. The 40 minute return walk through wet eucalypt forest and tall ferns has viewing points for the upper falls and cascades. A steep descent allows access to the base of the Western Tiers' most well known and majestic falls.
The area surrounding Liffey Falls was a meeting place for Tasmanian Aborigines prior to colonisation. The Liffey River was originally called Tellerpangger by the Panninher clan who occupied the area. In 1827 a significant massacre of up to sixty of the Pallittorre clan by European colonists took place in the area during the Black War.