The Opening of the New Country – Beyond the Clyde in 1830s Van Diemen’s Land

Untouched land in Tasmania. What new settlers undoubtedly found when they first moved to their grants and purchases.
Untouched land in Tasmania. What new settlers undoubtedly found when they first moved to their grants and purchases.

The land beyond Lower Clyde in the 1820’s was an untamed but beautiful and lush wilderness, not an easy place to live but a region of great promise. However with public resources thrown into its development the 1830s saw great change.

BRIEF VIEW OF THE ROADS, BRIDGES, AND OTHER PUBLIC BUILDINGS 1831 Launceston Advertiser

… The new line of road to the Lower Clyde at the ‘Deep Gully’ is completed as to the cutting down, and will be metaled before the ensuing winter. This road is of the highest important to a great extent of fine country, and when the traveller hears that such a work was performed by a ‘chain gang’ well may he exclaim ‘out of evil comes good’. — It was a gigantic undertaking, and for so young a colony, altogether astonishing …

“BRIEF VIEW OF THE ROADS, BRIDGES, AND OTHER PUBLIC BUILDINGS.” Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 – 1846) 17 Jan 1831: 24. Web. 28 Jun 2015 nla.gov.au/nla.news-article84775556.

Civilisation was beginning to come to this region.

THE GAZETTE April 1831

WHEREAS, by the Act or Ordinance, instituted ” An Act to regulate the impounding of Animals for trespass, and for other  purposes relating thereto,” .. it shall be lawful for the Lieutenant Governor to erect and establish public pounds for the impounding of animals therein for trespass .. the persons respectively hereinafter mentioned .. are hereby appointed keepers of such pounds .. 

The River Ouse: Police District. Bothwell, Thomas Triffitt.

“Classified Advertising.” The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839) 30 Apr 1831: 2. Web. 28 Jun 2015 nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4203820

Thomas Triffitt must be the best known Poundkeeper in Tasmania.  I have no idea why, but anyone who researches him learns this fact first.  The man was very diligent.

Old house near Melton Mowbray.
Old house near Melton Mowbray, Tasmania, Australia

Local produce in 1832

We have been favoured with the sight of a pair of mittens, spun and knit by Mrs. M’Kenzie, of the Lower Clyde, from the fur of the Opossum- In texture and appearance they very much resemble the best sort of Angola mittens, but to us they appeared of superior quality.

“HOBART TOWN EXTRACTS.” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842) 3 Nov 1832: 3. Web. 28 Jun 2015 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2209260.

All eyes were on the Hamilton region in the 1830s as an investment and place of settlement. After the success of Richmond, Oatlands and New Norfolk, not to mention Launceston and Longford in the north of the state, a settler might do very well if he bought early and established crops and houses before the prospective rush.

Here’s the map, just to get it all clear.  The River Clyde, the River Ouse, the River Dee and the River Nive are almost parallel in Region 12. Expansion was heading west. By 1830 settlement was all near the Clyde. Into 1835 the River Ouse was the target.  By the end of this decade the River Dee became the new frontier and newly-surveyed land was about to become available towards the River Nive.

Bothwell District Tas Dept of Education Atlas c1910
Bothwell District Tas Dept of Education Atlas c1910

The letter below explains a matter under discussion at the time very nicely.  There was talk of making Hamilton the new capital due to its central position.  As this writer says, roads could be made from Hamilton going north to Circular Head (Stanley), south to Macquarie Harbour, west to Port Sorell and east to Hobart. This would make the town a centre for trade and egress.  It was a very nice idea, but in the end the need for a seaport won out.

The other sentiment expressed in the letter is also worthy of note – while we create the new trade capital, we can keep those disreputable convicts usefully employed and out of sight and mind.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR. 1834 (Edited to remove repetitions and double/triple/quadruple negatives)

The probability exists, that at no distant day some new and considerable portion of this territory may be thrown open to fresh settlers, and I will suppose this new country beyond the river Dee to be the portion selected for the purpose. 

 .. what course of measures would best advance the true interests of the colony on such an occasion, it may be asked? Can anyone doubt that a considerable increase in the quantity of our staple export -wool – would add to the stability of this colony?

Can anyone doubt that fixing a hardy, laborious, honest race of mountaineer yeomanry and peasantry, in the heart of the island would have these effects ? Can any one doubt that a communication open from the Dee to Circular Head, from the Dee to Macquarie Harbour, from the Dee to the coast westward of Port Sorell, would have these blessed effects?

Lastly, can any one doubt that the worst or,worst but one class of offenders transported here would be more advantageously placed than by being apart from the more settled districts, and employed at the same time in opening out the beginnings of those effects? ..

“SITUATIONS FOR UNEMPLOYED MECHANICS.” The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839) 28 Mar 1834: 4. Web. 28 Jun 2015 //nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4185890.

Southern Tasmania
Southern Tasmania

The colony’s administration was certainly in favour of further settlement. Van Diemen’s Land was beginning to show signs of civilisation and even comfortable living. It also contained a whole lot of troubled and unsocialised convicts who had no good reason to trust authority or to behave themselves.  As more and more of those convicts were freed and failed to become the exemplary servants that England had hoped they would be, other options were considered. Basically, push the recalcitrant freed convicts to the country and bring in more civilised and respectable people.

Respectable people like to live somewhere respectable.  Hobart had to be made respectable in order to encourage them out.  A difference of opinion between moneyed residents and the administration was making itself known.

In the meantime, life near Ouse went on as usual:

Cow
Cow, although not actually at Ouse. 

1836George lves, Darby Burns and John Gain stood charged with feloniously receiving three cows, the property of Richard Chilton, of the High Plains” .. and just about every resident of the area was called in to the trial. Cattle theft was far more serious than manslaughter or concealing the birth of a child.

1836 The beautiful splendid Entire Horse ‘Black Rover’, was got by Atlas, out of one of the best draught Mares in Van Diemen’s Land .. Persons desirous of obtaining his services will please to send their Mares to the Green hills, where there are good paddocks of great extent .. 

1837 We are informed that Captain Langdon, of the Lower Clyde, has let his Estates for £1,300 per annum. ‘ .. A very decent sum and one guaranteed to stimulate interest in the area.

1838 We learn from private sources, that the late wet and stormy weather has been productive of some heavy floods in the interior. In the district of New Norfolk, and the country beyond, the flood is stated to have been higher than ever before remembered; and the rivers Ouse, Styx, Derwent, Plenty, and Jones’s River, have been swelled to a most unusual extent.  All the punts have been carried away,and.bridges, haystacks, fences, and considerable quantities of timber floated down. The bridge over the Plenty has been swept away, and the water rose twelve feet above the bridge over the Ouse.

Mt Wellington from near Brighton
Mt Wellington from near Brighton

Finally the land was surveyed, sectioned and identified.  This included the land around River Dee. The colony administration were very well practiced at land distribution by now.  They moved quickly.

COMMISSIONERS’ OFFICE, Autumn 1838

Notice is hereby given, that the following claims for Grants, will be ready for examination by the Commissioners appointed for that purpose, upon, or immediately after the 4th October next, on or before which day any caveat or counter claim must be entered  …   Mr Jamieson was the only recipient near Ouse

SALE OF CROWN LANDS By His Excellency, Sir JOHN FRANKLIN  1839

A PROCLAMATION.  

WHEREAS certain regulations were published in the Hobart Town Gazette, bearing date the 16th day of February,1832, relative to the sale of Crown Lands: And whereas the necessary arrangements therein referred to have been completed, and plans of the parishes hereunder mentioned are now ready for inspection at the Office of the Surveyor General. I do therefore .. notify and proclaim, that the several lots of landhereinafter described will, after the expiration of three calendar months, become disposable.

County of Cumberland, Christian Marshes, River Shannon, lot 461, 640 acres.- This lot comprises one mile frontage on the River Shannon ; price 5s. per acre.

River Dee, lot 482, 610 acres.- price 5s. per acre.

County of Lincoln, River Nive, lot 385, 936 acres-bounded on the west by a north line of 80 chains commencing at the north west angle of the reservation forthe Township of Marlborough

County of Lincoln, River Nive, Lot 386, 640 acres-bounded on the east by the west boundary of lot 385 ..

“SALE OF CROWN LANDS.” The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette (Tas. : 1839 – 1840) 22 Nov 1839: 1 Supplement: Supplement to the Hobart Town Courier.Web. 28 Jun 2015 nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8748010.

This is just a sample of the offerings. Lots of land from the River Dee to the River Nive, a matter of great interest to those at the current edge of the ‘new country’.

The neighbourhood was expected to change.

Ancestor home outside  the rural township National Park Tasmania
An ancestor’s home not far from Hamilton showing the conditions in which these pioneers lived and travelled without roads. 
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