Early European Settlement

Early European Settlement of the Tamar Valley

Launceston: History

Heritage Buildings

North East ​​​​​​​Tasmania has some of Australia's oldest and best preserved heritage places and precincts. From convict probation stations, rustic workers cottages and grand stately homes, through to industrial and archaeological sites.

Cape Bicheno to Port Sorell

The origins of the names of the coastal features of North East Tasmania.

Heritage Buildings of North East Tasmania

​​​​​​​Tasmania has some of Australia's oldest and best preserved heritage places and precincts. From convict probation stations, rustic workers cottages and grand stately homes, through to industrial and archaeological sites.

This​ legacy of previous generations and their stories are of interest and appeal to many visitors. Well-known examples include the Cataract Gorge, Port Arthur and Salamanca Place, though there are many more examples of a smaller scale. These can be privately owned and operated yet still make a big contribution.

Among early colonial buildings of national significance in Tasmania's North East are the neighbouring estates of Brickendon and Woolmers at Longford. Both estates have World Heritage listing and are among the nation’s finest examples of pioneer farming of the early 1800s. Nearby, on the South Esk River, is Clarendon, a three-storey Georgian mansion surrounded by gardens and parkland. And in the north-east are Low Head Pilot Station and Low Head Lighthouse. Designed by the colonial architect John Lee Archer and constructed in 1833, the lighthouse was Tasmania’s second and only the third built in Australia.

The heritage buildings and sites in Launceston and the North East region are too numerous to list and detail here, so we have selected a collection of properties with public access that we have visited, and found them to be of particular interest and offer a rewarding visitor experience.

Brickendon Colonial Farm Village

236 Brickendon Historic Farm, Wellington Street, Longford
One of Tasmania's World Heritage Convict Sites, Brickendon Historic Farm and Convict Village was built in 1824; the village is still owned by his descendents. The complex affords the a rare chance to see a Georgian homestead, convict-built Gothic chapel, Dutch barns, chicken house, blacksmith shop and tool shed and stay in historic farm cottages. There is also a four hectare (10 acre) historic garden for you to explore.

Part of the rickendon Farm village, Brickendon Chapel is an enchanting Victorian Picturesque Rustic Gothic building featuring steep pitched shingle roof, original stained glass windows and the mellow timbers of its huon pine pews. Built around 1856, it has a high pitched shingled gabled roof, belltower and gabled foyer. The chapel is highly decorative with many neo-gothic features including brick buttresses and decorative fascias and stained glass windows.

The Farm Village, of which the chapel is an integral part, was the hub of Brickendon, a 465 hectare grant taken up by William Archer in 1824 on land opposite his brother at Woolmers, where he developed a new and innovative farming enterprise. William developed Brickendon into a mixed farm with cropping being a major focus, using a convict workforce of up to 50 people who lived in the tiny village he created. By the 1840's Brickendon was highly regarded as one of the best farms in the colony.

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Brickendon Estate

​​​​​​​Brickendon Estate, RA 236 Wellington St, Longford (External access only)
William Archer started his estate Brickendon shortly after Thomas in 1824 when his first cottage house was built. The main homestead, the delightfully proportioned two storey Georgian style residence with a pretty portico with iron pillars was built in 1829 when he married. The iron trellis portico was designed by architect nephew Thomas Archer of Woolmers and imported from England in 1857. Around the house William Archer planted hazelnuts, quinces, chestnuts, pears and medlars. Around his 30 acre paddocks he planted English Hawthorn hedges and Brickendon still has 30 kilometres of hawthorn hedge.

The property depended heavily on assigned convicts and by 1830 around 40 convicts, including female house servants, lived on the property. Brickendon is a good example of a pioneering estate with workers cottages from the 1830s, Georgian style stables, a weatherboard grain store and Dutch barns from the 1820s, a smoke house 1831, even fancy poultry sheds from the 1830s, and a woolshed, chapel and blacksmith shop. Brickendon is a complete village. Today the property still retains the original 1,000 acre land grant but the estate is tiny compared to its heyday. Members of the Archer family (the seventh generation) still run the property which grows poppies for medicines, merino wool and vegetables.

Brickendon Garden

Brickendon Garden was established by William Archer in 1831 as a setting for an impressive Georgian residence. The approach to the homestead is through an avenue of elms and hawthorn, terminating at an elliptical shaped carriageway in front of the house. The front garden is laid out around a central sundial, with an axial view from the main entrance. Either side of the central axis are shrubberies and woodlands, noted for their array of native, and exotic broad leaf and conifer trees. At the rear of the house is a courtyard. The garden has later period overlays of planting which contribute to the variety of species. Later features include the metal gates.

Clarendon House

Clarendon House is arguably one of Australia's greatest Georgian houses still standing today. It has formal gardens and grounds, a tree lined avenue, Italianate facade, restored early colonial outbuildings and is owned by the National Trust. The wealthy grazier and merchant James Cox (son of William Cox) had the house built in 1838. An architecturally significant two storey Georgian Regency style mansion which has the only example of a giant order portico on a residence of its period in Australia.

Clarendon has a fine reconstructed garden, notable outbuildings and an important setting in the landscape. The main facade of five bays is divided by two storey pilasters terminating in an entablature. The tetra-style portico has giant order Roman Ionic columns. French windows are flanked by pilasters with cornices. There are six paned windows at the upper level. There are double doors with fanlights and sidelights at the front and rear. A brick service wing is single storey, with iron tile skillion roof. Another brick service wing has lofts.

The house is accessible by guided tour, the last tour of the day at 3:15pm allowing ample time to enjoy the property prior to the gate closure at 4pm. Twilight Tours are also available, details on the website. Location: 234 Clarendon Station Road, Nile via Evandale Ph (03) 6398 6220.

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Woolmers Estate

Prominent among the early settlers, the Archer family built a number of grand houses and estates in the area. They farmed and developed the land, and built a number of homesteads which are among the finest in northern Tasmania: Woolmers Estate, Brickendon Estate (both on the Australian National Heritage List), Panshanger, Northbury, Fairfield, Cheshunt, Woodside, Palmerston and Saundridge.

Woolmers Estate, near the village of Longford and overlooking the Macquarie River, is acknowledged as one of the most outstanding examples of 19th century rural settlements in Australia. Accurate and authentic in the minutest detail, it is not difficult to see why the estate has received a World Heritage listing. Location: Woolmers Lane, Longford.

Woolmers Estate was settled in circa 1817 by Thomas Archer the 1st. It has existed through six generations of Archers, until the death of Thomas William the 6th in 1994. The array of extant buildings on Woolmers including family houses, workers  cottages, former chapel, blacksmith s shop, stables, bakehouse, pump house, gardener's cottage etc. provides a rare insight into the social structure of a colonial pastoral estate. At an estate of this size, a virtual small village was formed where up to 100 people might be living and working at one time. The village remains intact.

In addition to the architectural the site contains a wide range of collections acquired by the Archer family over 180 years, providing a rare insight into six generations of one family. The combination of the historical collections, the buildings and the site itself represents a significant cultural resource and an important visitor attraction.

Guided tours of the homestead introduce visitors to the home's former occupants and the personal collections and furnishings they each acquired and ultimately left behind. The duration of each tour is approximately 45 minutes. Tours of the extensive grounds, outbuildings, rose garden and the walled-in gardens are self guided.

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Entally House

Entally House is a heritage listed property on the western bank of the South Esk river. It, and the buildings of Rutherglen Holiday Village, are the only part of the town on this side. Entally is set on 85 acres (34 ha) of grounds, and contains a large colonial house, stables, a chapel, other outbuildings and several hectares of vineyards. The buildings are filled with indicative furniture and art of their time, including carriages and coaches in the coach house.

Thomas Reibey had been in service with the East India Company when he met his wife Mary Haydock. He formed a trading company in Sydney and named its building "Entally House" after a suburb of Calcutta, India. Trading also brought his sons, Thomas Haydock and James, to Tasmania in the early 19th century. By 1816 James owned land near Hadspen and he purchased more in the 1820s. Thomas Haydock and Mary, his mother, purchased 2,630 acres (1,064 ha) in 1818 in the then District of Cornwall, encompassing the present day site of Entally, and Thomas Haydock built the initial house in 1819. The original building was apparently a single storey structure, its two square towers arrayed with defensive musket slots. It has been significantly extended and surrounded by outbuildings since. When Thomas Haydock Reibey died in October 1842 his son, Thomas Reibey, inherited it along with 4,000 acres (1,620 ha) of land and "The Oaks", a property at nearby Carrick that now hosts the agricultural field days known as Agfest.

Entally House

This latter Reibey was a leading figure in the Anglican Church in the area, and became later Premier of Tasmania. He built a private chapel at Entally, with wooden furnishings and an organ. He is remembered as having a great interest in horse racing and hunting; deer and horses were bred at Entally. For a while there was horse racing at Entally Park itself, and ninety horses were raced from Entally's stable. Two of these won wide acclaim: Stockwell was second in the Melbourne Cup and won the Carrick plate in 1881; Malua, stated by the Sydney Bulletin to be the "greatest horse of all time", won the Melbourne cup in 1884, though this was after his time at Entally.

Entally House's cricket oval

Cricket has been played in Hadspen, at Entally and grounds nearer the town's centre, since at least the 1860s. The cricket oval at Entally was one of the first in Australia and was hosting matches before Melbourne's foundation. During his side's 1874 tour of Australia the great English cricketer W. G. Grace played on the ground. Aside from cricket Entally's grounds were often open for picnics and grand annual events. The Hadspen Chieftains cricket club was formed in the 1987–88 season and plays as part of the Northern Tasmania Cricket Association. They won the association's A grade premiership in the 1991–92 and 1993–94 seasons, and the Charltons Cup Premiership — a combined competition with the North East Cricket Association—in the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons.

On Reibey's death in February 1912 the property passed to his Nephew—Thomas Reibey Arthur—as Reibey had no children, and by 1929 the property was no longer in family hands. In December 1948, after two years of negotiation, the land and buildings were acquired by the Scenery Preservation Board. The property was reserved as a "historic site", more for its heritage value as a colonial home than its association with Reibey. Since then the house has been restored and filled with furniture, though not to original form, but rather as a facsimile of a wealthy 19th century colonial settler's estate.

Carriage House

Management of the site moved to the National Parks and Wildlife Service at its formation in Nov 1971. The State Government now manages the property, it being maintained by volunteers. Youth Futures, an employment training organisation, was given the task of managing the now established vineyard.

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Waddamana Hydro-Electric power station

For a glimpse of more recent history, the former hydro village of Waddamana and the preserved Waddamana A Hydro-Electric power station takes visitors back to the birth of Hydro-Electric power generation in the state by Hydro Tasmania. Waddamana was the first hydro-electric power plant ever operated by the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Department (later the Hydro-Electric Commission or HEC), opened in 1916. Waddamana A Power Station now has a new life as a museum filled with original equipment and other displays, including the Control room switchboard from the Shannon Power Station. You can tour through the turbine hall, with hands-on exposure to the mighty Pelton wheel turbines that first began generating electricity over a century ago. The view looking up the penstocks – the steep pipes that transported the water downhill and into the station – is striking, and conjures images of the determined workers who built these in the early 1900s.

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