Often described by visitors as a hidden treasure, somewhere that they have stumbled across, Westbury is a pretty English-style village on the Great Western Tiers tourist Route between Devonport and Launceston. A village green, lots of tree-lined streets, old courtyards and stables, elegant old inns and a feast of charming old buildings means a visitor could easily spend a day just wandering around the streets. A classic Georgian village and classified historic town, Westbury was developed as a military garrison and the troops were barracked around what today is the Village Green, reputedly one of the few traditional village greens in Australia. Prisoners were put in stocks on the green.
In its formative years when many of the town's present historic buildings were being erected, Westbury was a predominantly Irish community comprising mainly retired settlers. The scale of the town's original survey was such that it is clear there were plans for Westbury to become a city, but the town never did grow. It is today a town where time has stood still. This quaint 19th century village offers a number of reasons to stop and explore. It has numerous museums, housing collections of agricultural machinery, antique steam engines, vintage cars, 19th century toys and historic furniture. Westbury s Village Green is said to be the only true village green in Australia. In the 1830s with soldiers stationed nearby, it was used for parades and archery competitions amongst other things. The site is now used each year for the St Patricks Day Festival which runs over 3 days in March.
Westbury lies 30 km west of Launceston on the Bass Highway, and at the 2016 census had a population of just over 2,000. It is part of, and the headquarters of, the Meander Valley Council area.
Westbury's largest employer is Tasmanian Alkaloids, a company that specialises in the processing of poppies for pharmaceutical products. Other large employers are the Meander Valley Council, Tasmanian Aquaculture and the local Primary School.
The town of Westbury uses its location, within 2 hours drive of most tourist attractions in north and north west Tasmania, and its heritage buildings and scenery to promote the concept of Westbury as a unique place for tourists to stay in Northern Tasmania.
Westbury has a range of accommodation providers from high quality bed and breakfast style, colonial inn style and country hotel style.
The St Patricks Festival is a major annual cultural activity that celebrates the historical links with Westbury and its early Irish community. The Festival celebrates via song and dance as well as a street parade and other family activities
The Big Wickets: Since 2009 Westbury has been known for the big wickets, erected in a park as a memorial to local cricketer, Jack Badcock. Tasmania's first test cricketer and the first Tasmanian to score a century in international cricket, Badcock played test cricket for Australia between 1936 and 1938. Born in Exton near Deloraine, Badcock was the second youngest player for Tasmania in first-class cricket, making his debut in 1929 - zcoring30 runs at the age of 15. Opening the batting, he top-scored in each innings for Tasmania against the MCC at Launceston in 1932 33, making 57 and 43 not out.
On the advice of Clarrie Grimmett he moved to Adelaide in June 1934, taking a job as a furniture salesman. In 1934 35, his first season for South Australia, he made 517 runs at 39.76, and in 1935 36 he made 694 at 86.75, including 325 in the last match of the season in an innings victory over Victoria. After making 872 runs at 51.29 with four centuries in 1937 38, Badcock toured England in 1938. He had considerable success in the first-class matches, scoring 1,604 runs at an average of 45.82 with four centuries and finishing as the third most successful batsman of the Australian team on the tour. However, in the four Tests he failed to reach double figures in any innings: an oddity of his Test career is that, having scored the one century in 1936 37, he was never, in 11 Test innings, out in double figures.
Donald Bradman described Badcock as "a lovable and completely unspoiled personality - a great cricketer whose failures in the Tests in England in 1938 detract somewhat from an otherwise splendid record".
Pearn's Steam World, Meander Valley Road: this museum houses a collection of over 200 major items. It would have to be the best in the Southern hemisphere, each piece having been collected since the 1950s. Its vintage tractors represent the world-class collection of Hedley Shaw who sold and serviced Ferguson tractors, and who acquired the old farm tractors each time he made a sale. There are over 100 vintage tractors in his collection, all in working order, as well as a multitude of far equipment and vintage commercial vehicles.
A short distance away, in Veterans Row in Westbury, is the Vintage Tractor Shed Museum. It is said to be arguably Australia's largest model tractor and car collection, along with around 100 vintage tractors collected by Hedley Shaw and now overseen by his son, Glenn. Viewing Saturdays: By appointment only, prebooking required. Phone 0400 575 497.
Westbury Maze, Meander Valley Road: one of Australia's longest established mazes, Westbury Maze is a traditional hedge maze. It draws upon a centuries-old tradition that still proves as popular as ever with adults and children of all ages. Three thousand neatly-clipped bushes at a height of two metres make up the maze, which has a network of pathways more than a kilometre long. Entering the maze is easy - finding the way through to the other side is more of a challenge. Described as a living sculpture, the view from the central platform will delight as it reveals the formal, perfectly manicured structure of the maze. Refreshments and light meals are available at the Tea Room.
Notable Heritage Buildings
Holy Trinity Catholic Church, cnr King Street and Meander Valley Road: This large cruciform bluestone church in the Decorated Gothic style was begun in 1869 and the building consecrated in 1874. It was designed by Henry Hunter, Tasmania's most prolific Victorian architect. The tower was added early this century. The marble high altar and reredos were designed by Alexander North. The organ was built by Melbourne organbuilder William Anderson (1832-1921) and first played in February 1881.
The commercial building at 47 William Street (cnr Lyall Street) is a single storey brick and timber Georgian building. It is a traditional corner store of that era with the corner splayed to take two by two panel doors with transom light over. Windows to original shopfront have been replaced, there is a small street verandah to shopfront. The building appears to have been erected in three stages. First - brick with twelve pane window, two and three - timber with two pane windows. A sign reading Apothecary" on the verandah indicates the shop was one a chemist.
Donovan's Store, 34 William Street: an unusual Victorian shop and residence with fine detailing including original shopfront, attached pilasters, round head windows and timber verandah. The one storey timber shop afeatures a fine shop window with original casing, street verandah to the shopfront, and a side timber verandah to the dwelling section with fine arching timber bracing. It originally had hedges on its street front.
Westbury Gingerbread B&B Cottages, 50 - 56 William Street, cnr King Street: four georgian era buildings, now used fot B&B accommodation. No. 54 is a 2 storey brick building, erected in 1834 as an inn, the second to be built in Westbury. The building, with attached one storey wings, features twelve pane windows, eight pane casement windows to wings, a central chimney and a courtyard with high wall on south side of building.
The other cottages are simple 2 bedroom weatherboard workers cottages. No. 52 (above) - Gingerbread Cottage - features a bullnose verandah and shaped hedges that have grown over and nearly covered a picket fence.
Lyall's Brewery, King Street, Westbury: a simple brick building constructed in 1864 as a brewery, by local innkeeper Robert Lyall. The building, although in a failing condition, is of considerable archaeological and historic interest. The two storey brick building features an iron gable roof, remnants of decoration to barg and a name and date plaque in facade facing street. Location:
The White House: The White House is located at the western end of Lonsdale Promenade. Perhaps the most famous of all the houses in Westbury, the White House stands on land which was granted to Thomas White on 4th November, 1841. White left the building in 1859 and over the next century it was variously a steam flour mill, a bakery, a bus depot and a bicycle hire factory. The property is almost a village in itself, consists of a number of buildings built around the central courtyard.
After extensive renovation, the White House was opened to the public in 1971. Its Cycle Display, Vintage Car Museum and wood-fired bakery was a fascinating combination of its past history with a well-preserved 19th century house. The museum has long been closed, White House Bakery - a traditional wood fired bakery - still operates. The oven is 130 years old and one of the few remaining in Tasmania. 170 King Street, Westbury. Located: 170 King Street, Westbury.
The New Rectory, 13 Lonsdale Promenade (Adelaide Street), Westbury: single storey Victorian Gothic brick house with attics built in the 1860's. It is complemented by a mature garden with perimeter hedges, and is located opposite the village green. With the adjacent St Andrew's church, it makes a fine group contributing to the townscape of Westbury. It is a single storey brick Victorian Gothic house with attics under steep gables. Decorative wooden barges to gables with finials. It features two pane windows, four panel front door with half sidelights and transom light, a concave corragated iron verandah with twin timber columns and decorative valences.
St Andrews Anglican Church, 11 Lonsdale Promenade: Directly opposite the Village Green and dominating the landscape is St Andrews Anglican church which was built between 1836 and 1890 - the foundation stone was laid in 1836, the nave was opened in 1842, the church was consecrated in 1851, the tower was added in 1859 and the chancel was completed in 1890. The church is noted for its fine carvings particularly 'The seven sisters' chancel screen. They were all completed by Mrs Ellen Nora Payne who was born and grew up in the village. Next door to the church is an attractive two storey brick house which was built in the 1840s and became the residence for Westbury Council clerks.
Former Post and Telegraph Office: a very unusual and elaborate Victorian italiante dwelling built about 1880. The richly modelled facades feature pilaster, brackets, string courses and generous round head openings. Situated opposite the village green, this building makes a major individual contribution to the townscape of Westbury. Features include paired pilasters either side of entry and single pilasters at corners, a group of three windows (round top) on west wall - squaretop with bracketed cornice on east wall and unusual pilasters. Location: 9 Lonsdale Promenade (Adelaide Street), south-east corner with Lyall Street, Westbury.
Dr. Woods Surgery, 3 Lonsdale Promenade, Westbury: This house was marked on an 1832 map as 'Surgeon'. In April 1832 The Garrison was a detachment of the 4th Foot Regiment later the Royal Lancashire Regiment, the King's Own. Westbury was also garrisoned in 1832 by the 63rd Regiment of Foot, later the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, this is the regiment in which Captain Lonsdale served, after whom this road is named.
RJ's Westbury Hotel, 107 Meander Valley Road, corner William Street, Westbury: The building is a fine example of a traditional Australian hotel with an unusual elaborate Edwardian verandah. Two storey brick hotel originally built in Georgian style but with many alterations. An elaborate full height verandah in Edwardian style, is its principal feature - and gives it a high 'curiosity' value. Verandah has double sets of Corinthian columns at ground floor with timber art-noveau balustrade and supports at first floor. Lovation: .
Fitzpatrick's Inn: Located at the southern end of town, Fitzpatricks Inn was opened in 1833 as the Commercial Hotel. It was the first hotel in Westbury. The name for the inn stems from a time when the three Fitzpatrick's sisters owned and operated the property during much of the 20th century. The three sisters each made a unique contribution to the business and it is rumoured that Myra's friendly spirit can still be felt on occasions within the premises. It remained in the family for a century and gained a reputation as a fine hotel. The building is recognised as a fine example of a Georgian Inn although it is worth noting that the classical portico at the front was added in the early 1900s. The hotel still operates, its facilities include Fitzpatrick's Bat, a restaurant and guest accommodation. 56 Meander Valley Road, Westbury, Tasmania.
Quamby's Store, North-west corner of Meander Valley Road and Emu Plains Road, Westbury: A good example of a commercial Georgian building on a corner site, with traditional splay corner resolution with entrance door. The building is basically intact and an important focal element in the Westbury townscape. The two storey brick Georgian corner building was previously a store, a hotel, and and now a residence. It features a steeply pitched slate roof, twelve pane windows, a splay corner with entrance door (not original) and blanked out window over.
It was built in 1854 by George Clancy, a free settler, and his former convict wife. It operated initially unlicensed as the Clancy Hotel. When licensed in 1861 it operated as the Greast Western Hotel until Clancy'sdeath in 1893. Pruchased by Dr Anderson in 1902, it was renamed Westella and operated as a private residence and doctors surgery until 1925. It was purchased by William Eley and traded as Quamby Store until 1930. It was purchased by George Scott and traded as Scotts Corner until 1972. It remained in the Scott family until 1981. Since then it has operated as a chocolate shop, B&B, teahouse and is currently a private residence.
The Willows: a fine Colonial house built in the 1830's for the Misses Moriarty by Capt. Moriarty, pioneer of the Latrobe Municipality and Assistant Police Magistrate at Westbury in the period 1836-9. The building is complemented by an extensive garden and contributes to the Lonsdale Promenade precinct and the general townscape of Westbury. It is a Brick and stucco single storey Georgian house with an ron hip roo, attics with dormers, two by eight pane casement windows to verandah, which has been extended to mask later additions. It retains ita original detached kitchen and fine garden. Today the residence is used for the display and sale of antiques. Location: 115 Bass Hignway, Westbury.
The site was first surveyed in 1823. The town was laid out in 1828 by the Van Diemen's Land Company. In the 1830s Westbury developed as a garrison village. A detachment of troops commanded by Lieutenant Ball were stationed in Westbury in 1832. They were barracked around a village green in the centre of the town. The village green is still in use today and is claimed by the local community to be the only traditional English style village green in Australia. Westbury Post Office opened on 21 June 1832.
From early in the 19th century the village green has been the site for the Westbury St Patrick’s Festival celebrating the town’s Celtic links. Though Westbury is often described as a very "English village", the first European settlers were predominantly Irish; ex Irish convicts, retired soldiers and free settlers, many fleeing the Great Irish Famine in the 1840s. Gaelic was the local language in Westbury for many generations and a strong Irish brogue is reputed to have lasted throughout the 19th Century.
Military pensioners were each granted a 5-acre (20,000 m2) block of land complete with a well and pear tree. By the mid-1800s Westbury had become the largest military community in Tasmania. The town had a population of some 3,000 and an extensive grid street plan was surveyed preparing Westbury to become the predominant town in the north of Tasmania and the gateway to the north-west, but Deloraine has filled that role instead. Westbury remains a small town servicing the local agriculture industry.
Westbury currently has a Primary School 'Westbury Primary School' which services the local community, students finishing primary school travel to Launceston or Deloraine to attend secondary education.
Westbury is named after Westbury, Wiltshire in England.