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NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF THE CENTRAL PLATEAU
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n St Patricks Plains probably in 1820 and stationed a. shepherd there with a flock and some cattle during the. sumner months, Sorell himself now paid a visit to the Clyde and. berond and was delighted with the soil he found but for. hi11self selected Norton Manderville 11 in the Hamilton district. At the Shannon the notorious Michael Howe met his end. For three years he had terrorized the settlers having first. j oLned Peter Geary s gang They held up the town of New. Norfolk and then set out to destroy the farm of the. magistrate A W Humphrey against whom Howe had a grudge. During a fight with the police m1itehead one of the gang. was killed and Howe cut off his head so that a reward. could not be collected Because of the doings Colonel. Davy the Govenor declared martial law and two of the gang. were lynched m1en Colonel Sorell became Govenor in 1817. s the gang was still harrying the lower midlands substantial. rewards were offered for their capture One of the gang. Watts and an accomplice Drewe secured Howe but the. latter managed to break free stabbed one and battered the. other Yet the end was near for three others enticed. Howe into a hut and though he broke away at last clubbed. him to death, The earliest settlers on the Shannon were Sarah Smith. who had a grant at Tea Tree Myles Patterson and his wife. Katherine who built Hunterston and Dr James Ross LL D. who took up The Hermitage Dr Ross was born at Aberdeen. in 1788 and arrived in Tasmania on the Regalia at the close. of 1822 He had been superintendent of a sugar plantation. at Granada in the West Indies but returned to England where. he opened a school first at Sevenoaks in Kent and later at. Sunbury in Middlesex Good reports of Van Diemen s Land. and the demands of a growing family brought the decision to. migrate He described his four roomed cottage as a, romantic residence as indeed it is though affected by the. ravages of time The old two storeyed house higher up the. bank was erected by Walter Synnot and is wonderfully well. preserved On either side of the square dining room are. built in cedar bookcases and cupboards which still look very. inviting after so many years Under the house is a large. cellar as cold as a refrigerator In his almanack of. 1836 Dr Ross gives an engaging account of his trek up. country to take up his land in 1822 His trials and. tribulations as a settler gain our sympathy for his first. splendid crop of wheat was lost in a few minutes when it. was invaded by six hundred wild cattle belonging to Edward. Lord which swept down over his new fences early one morning. It tad been hard enough keeping the kangaroo at bay while. the crop was small Another day a stock keeper staggered. in lith spears trailing from his body The man had a. raging fever for days but survived Although on good terms. with the natives himself Ross was in constant fear of. their fires wiping out his farm Another severe loss was. the escape of two working bullocks which in spite of. diligent search were never found However prospects. gradually improved on his farm as flocks and herds yielded. good profits Dr Ross was however a literary man and. having obtained a position as Editor of the Hobart Town. Courier he sold The Hermitage to Walter Synnot before. Jorgenson the Dane was despatched by Edward Curr of. the V D L Co to try and find a track from the Shannon. overland to Circular Head in 1826 He claimed to have. come in sight of St Valentine s Peak but it is doubtful. if he reached much further than Lake Echo which received. its name from a curious echo made by a gun shot at a spot. at the northern end of the lake The following year. Wedge penetrated some of the difficult country along the. upper Derwent without reaching Lake St Clair which was. reached three years later by Sharland another surveyor. At the Steppes which he named from a little place, near Glasgow once lived James Wilson who having immigrated. to New Zealand was offered in 1864 the position of Super. intendent of Police at South Longford which included most. of the highland area He found a small cabin awaiting him. and a staff of one a mounted trooper His duties were to. keep order in this far flung outpost of the Queen s domin. ions to distribute mail to the few scattered inhabitants. to collect rates for the road trust and the board of works. and to act as bailiff if these same rates were not paid. He extended the buildings and eventually married and had. two daughters Loving the place they carried on the Post. Office after their father s death until quite recently. One of them was a gifted artist The log cabin and cottage. hewn from the surrounding forest are still there The. huge stone fireplace and baking oven are sights now seldom. seen and the very furniture was hand made on the site. Another isolated farm near the Shannon is the rustic. Wyarrigee a word compounded of the names of the sons of. In 1831 G A Robinson the Conciliator of the aborigines. was searching the Central Highlands for signs of the natives. some of whom belonging to the Great Lake Tribe he found. had been present at the murder of Capt Thomas at Port Sorell. Robinson camped at the site of the future dam at Miena where. he saw large numbers of swan a number of light coloured. kangaroo and signs of platypus He was fascinated as were. many others with th melliferous cider tree but it appears. that the holes made to drain off the sweet fluid often. allowed the tree to bleed to death Robinson was not a. little astonished to find that on the maps of the time. the Great Lake was shown twelve miles too far to the west. During this journey the party visited the huts of Mrs Burn. and Mr Roadknight occupied by their stockmen, Aboriginal names such as Breona a fish Miena lagoon.
like Liawenee fresh cold water Monpeelyata Chief of. the Big River tribe Poatina a cave Tarraleah brush. kangaroo Waddamana cascades of water have been applied. by the Hydro Electric Commission and others to areas of the. Plateau developed by man, Development from the North. At the same time as settlers were taking up land on the. Shannon others were moving up the Lake River In 1820. grazing licences were held by Col Geils James Brumby and. James Hartle whose stockmen depastured flocks among the. foothills of the Western Tiers A hut and a stockyard. would be erected where each night the man and his sheep. would take refuge lambs needed protection from devil. tiger and wild cat Lack of fences required sheep to be. yarded at night and stockmen were fearful of attacks by. natives Cattle belonging to Edward Lord and William Field. wandered at will to be mustered once a year when marketable. stock were selected for sale and all calves branded often. irrespective of ownership, Some of the early settlers who obtained location orders. for land along the Lake River a year or two later soon. became discouraged by the odds against them William. Urquhart gave up because of attacks by natives Thomas. Abraham could not cope with tigers devils and native dogs. and Christopher McRae was mysteriously murdered However. Joseph Archer bought Burlingtonn and Woodside from James. Brumby and his brother William acquired Palmerston from. Thomas Palmer and was granted Saundridge where a chapel. was built as at Brickendon But they did not live on. these properties themselves employing stock keepers until. they were able to hand over control to members of their. families Abraham Walker who lived at Ilome Vale near. Longford was granted Creekton Other absentee owners. of land in the Poatina area were Henry Clayton of Wickford 11. Longford William Saltmarsh of Longford William Field of. Launceston Thomas Walker and Alex Clerke both of Longford. Thomas Curling did live on his grant Rockthorpe which. he called Guilton but according to Wedge was not very good. at farming William Young built his house Pisa of, compressed earth and later sold it to the Gatenbys Thomas. Cookson Simpson of 11 Newham Parkll was a man of substance and. preferred to live in Launceston leaving his overseer. Robert Thirkell to run his farm Eventually Thirkell acquired. this property as well as Leverington and Darlington The. first surveys in the area were done by Thomas Scott in 1821. He and G W Evans were severely criticised by Govenor Arthur. because they measured more land for some of the settlers than. they were entitled to, In 1825 surveyor Wedge was sent up the Lake River on. Laycock s track to search for suitable pasture land He. had several prisoners assigned to him and a bullock dray to. carry their gear They found the going very tough as they. climbed the tier the pole of the cart being broken as. they struggled among the rocks They finally reached Wood s. Lake and saw some of Capt Wood s cattle grazing on Regent s. Plains Joseph Johnson of Kempton also had stock in the area. The weather was very wet so Wedge always had his tent pitched. One wonders how the men fared perhaps they just crawled under. a tarpaulin The dray got bogged and one of the poor bullocks. had such sore feet that at last the party went on without the. cart twenty miles to the west across the Little Pine River and. on to the vicinity of the land of a hundred lakes now part. of the Cradle Mountain Reserve One evening on his return. to camp he found it in the possession of Matthew Brady and. his gang His men had been bound all day awaiting his. return The bushrangers took possession of a telescope. all fire arms and anununi tion besides a good portion of. the party s provisions Brady s Lookout commemorates the. event Wedge spent most of the next few months in pursuit. of the outlaws who in revenge later wrecked his tent at Elphin. near Launceston, James G Parker was also favoured by a visit from.
Matthew Brady who likewise numbered Chris Gatenby of. Ricton among his victims A son of J G Parker once lived. at Hanleth but it was sold to the Thirkells Tallantyre. was a grant to Thomas Fletcher chief constable of the. district who had a family of boys all landowners, Rockthorpe was sold by T O Curling and now belongs to. MI R E Lawrence, Robert Lawrence in 1832 took over the management of. Formosa from his father W E Lawrence and the following. year made a journey into the mountains exploring and. gathering specimens for Hooker at Kew in London They also. saw Johnson s cattle and killed one for rations as they. were very short His father had built a slab house at. Formosa in 1824 but soon afterwards Brady who had a. grudge against him set fire to house and stacks Robert. who married a niece of surveyor Wedge lost her in, childbirth He was so bereft and melancholy that he. himself soon died and the 11 000 acre property fell to. his younger brother William Billop 11 was later separated. from the original holding, Connerville was granted to Roderick O Connor as a. reward for services rendered to Government as Director of. Public Works and land commissioner His son Arthur a. noted horseman lived there and married a daughter of J G. Parker of Park Nook an adjoining estate He was aged 75. in 1885 but having no family left the property to his. nephew Connerville was quite a village with a flour. mill 1 smithy and various other trade buildings some 88 men. all told worked there and a store supplied all their needs. The present house was built in 1923 by Roy O Connor and was. visited by the present Queen, Attacks from the South west and South.
Another development gave exploration a fresh impetus. in 1828 The savage discipline and bleak climate of Macquarie. Harbour induced the prisoners there to make desperate attempts. to escape Brady and his friends had successfully stolen. a vessel and landed in the Derwent but many others essayed. to travel overland and suffered fearful privations The. story of Alexander Pearce Gabbat is too well known to. repeat here One of the few to reach th8 settled districts. successfully was James Goodwin who as an expert bushman. was to be of great assistance to later expeditions With. his companion he had penetrated to the Western Mountains. and crossed turbulent streams roaring through deep rocky. gorges subsisting on grass roots and mushrooms They. passed the peak of Teneriffe now Wyld s Craig and reached. the Ouse River giving themselves up to the authorities. Goodwin s written account was of great interest to Frankland. the Surveyor General engaged in filling up all the empty. spaces in his new map of Tasmania So during 1828 he and. Scott made a visit to the upper Derwent but snow and rain. prevented them from following in Goodwin s steps In 1829. 31 exploration centred on the Huon area but in February. 1832 Surveyor Sharland commenced an inspection of the country. beyond the Ouse it had been visited by others but none had. been aware of its possibilities Sharland discovered the. Nive the Nivelle and Lake St Clair The country round. larlborough now Bronte was spoken of as the new country. and was the last stretch of open range to be made available. for grazing From the lake he continued westwards over. vlt Arrowsmith traversed the Franklin River and climbed. Frenchman s Cap although the highest point eluded him. His report aroused a good deal of interest among land. hungry settlers so Frankland despatched John Darke to. NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF THE CENTRAL PLATEAU by G H Stancombe Glendessary Western Junction EXPLORATION AND PASTORAL The First Overland Journey 141 The first approach to this region was made by Lieut Laycock in 1807 when with several men he ascended the Lake

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