Kingborough Council - Early Settlement - Tasmania

Early Settlement

THE KINGBOROUGH MUNICIPALITY

Records show that French navigators were the first Europeans to explore the area of Kingston and its Municipality. In 1792 a French expedition, under Rear Admiral Bruny D'Entrecasteaux, entered the waters of the River Derwent.

It was not until 1808 that the first white settlers arrived in the district at what is now known as Brown's River. The aboriginals had given the river the lyrical name of "Promenalinah". Before European settlement, this tannin-coloured river provided shellfish and crayfish for the 300 natives who camped nearby, hunting wallaby and kangaroo in the dense scrub.

However, a visit by the botanist Mr Robert Brown in 1804, soon after the founding of Hobart, saw his name given to the river, by which designation the township area was known for many years. Robert Brown, a Scotsman, was a surgeon come botanist who came to Australia to collect and catalogue Australia's flora and travelled with Matthew Flinders on board the Investigator for three and a half years, collecting some 3,600 plant specimens.

In 1808 Norfolk Islanders Thomas and Anne Lucas received a grant of 530 acres at Brown's River. The Lucas family set about building a crude timber dwelling and with the help of their four sons cleared four acres and sowed wheat and barley. Thomas Lucas died in 1816 and his four sons, Thomas, Richard, John and Nathaniel, all became substantial landholders in the district and were prominent citizens.
Nathaniel Lucas built an impressive Georgian house, known as the "Red House" which still stands and is used today by the Kingston Golf Club as their clubrooms. The original township of Kingston grew up on John Lucas' estate.

By the 1830's the district was still sparsely populated - and barely civilised. There was no church, no school, no post office - in fact, no regular communication with Hobart Town.

The district began to progress in the 1840's with the arrival of the Russells. They became the district's first postmasters - receiving mail at irregular intervals from Hobart Town by steamer. They also brought education to the district with the first school.
It was not until the opening of the road to Hobart Town, known as Proctor's Road, in 1835, that great impetus was given to the area. In 1830 a Mr Proctor who owned a farm at Brown's River decided to construct a road between Hobart Town and his property at Brown's River. It took Proctor five long years to complete it. Ironically, soon after Proctor's Road was finished the Government, having refused to provide any financial assistance to Mr Proctor, declared the road a public thoroughfare.

Governor Denison proclaimed the district a township on January 27th, 1851. The name Kingston was advocated by the then Police Magistrate, Mr Lucas.
Although his exact reason for deciding on the name of Kingston is unknown, there are many theories. His parents, Thomas and Anne Lucas, the district's first settlers, lived at Norfolk Island before coming to Van Diemen's Land and the capital of Norfolk Island was Kingston. Another possible reason is that Thomas was born in Surrey, England in a village close to New Kingston.
Finally some people suggest it was named after King, who was the Governor of Norfolk Island, when the Lucas family lived there.
Whatever the reason, the district became known as Kingston and over the years the old name of Brown's River was gradually dropped.

Of course, the municipality had a number of thriving townships outside Kingston. Snug had settlers as early as l822 and Woodbridge, once known as Peppermint Bay, was settled by Mr. E. Miles in l847. Taroona, one of the first settled districts in the area, is noted for its historic landmarks, such as the Shot Tower, established as a flourishing industry in l870.

The district has one special claim to fame - it was the birthplace of the now famous Keen's Curry.
In about 1877 Joseph Keen, the local baker, was working in a tiny room at the rear of his bakehouse experimenting with curries and sauces. Using coriander and various herbs grown at nearby Tinderbox, he created the distinctive flavour of Keens' curry.
By 1890 the population of Kingston was 249. In this year George Lucas built the Australasian Hotel which was to become a local landmark in the years to come at Kingston Beach.

Kingston developed into a holiday village, a weekend and summer holiday retreat. A number of the early holiday dwellings still exist at Kingston Beach and in the older part of Blackmans Bay.
The surrounding rural area concentrated on timber felling, fishing, fruit production and dairying.
The small rivers and streams flowing eastward from the Wellington Ranges, Snug Tiers and Woodbridge Hills provided small pockets of fertile alluvial soils and at the mouths of these streams were reasonable anchorages for small boats.

The settlements at the mouths of these locations - Kingston, Margate, Snug, Kettering and Woodbridge, took advantage of their location. Small fishing fleets operated out of the settlements exploiting the D'Entrecasteaux Channel fishing grounds and small local timber mills were established to make use of the available timber resources.

With the clearing of land for timber production, agriculture became established on the lower and flatter land around each of the settlements. Early crops were orchard and stone fruits and berry fruits, and pasture for dairy and meat production.

Small coastal freight ships plied between the Channel ports and Hobart, supplying the main market for products from this area.
Between 1900 and 1947, the population grew slowly, reflecting the slowly expanding agricultural base. The end of the Second World War brought in major changes. There was a rapid increase in agricultural activity with soldier settlers returning from the war and taking up land under government sponsored activities. This resulted in a rapid expansion of the apple industry on small farms.

During the 1960's further significant land use changes occurred. The first of these was the gradual decline and then the rapid collapse of the apple industry. This was caused largely by the collapse of the export fruit market.
The 1967 bushfires virtually ended large-scale fruit production in the Municipality and many orchards were not re-established after the devastation of that event.

In 1969 the Southern Outlet road was completed from Hobart to Kingston. This road had the effect of bringing Kingston and Blackmans Bay within easy commuting range of Hobart. Kingborough began to experience rapid urban growth.

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