The Beaumaris Zoo (also known as Hobart Zoo) was an old-fashioned Zoological Gardens located on the Queens Domain in Hobart. The Zoo site is very close to the site of the Tasmanian Governor's House, and the Botanical Gardens. Although its location is now primarily the site of a Hobart City Council depot, some remnants, and archaeological remains of the original Zoo can still be seen. The Zoo was set in the surrounds of sweeping gardens, and had commanding views across the River Derwent.
The Hobart Zoo is most famous for being the location where footage of the last known living Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine, was taken in 1936. It died in captivity in Hobart Zoo on 7 September 1936. The zoo was originally called Beaumaris Zoo, and was opened in 1895 at the private residence (named "Beaumaris") of Hobart socialite Mary Grant Roberts. Mrs. Roberts owned and operated the zoo from 1895 until her death in 1921.This zoo, which included a breeding program for Tasmanian Devils, rehabilitated the image of native animals and attracted scientific interest in them. After Mrs Robert's death, the family offered the Beaumaris zoological collection to the Hobart City Council, which accepted the offer in January 1922 on condition that the Tasmanian State Government gave a subsidy towards the zoo. A subsidy of £250 per annum was approved on 10 February 1922, by the Tasmanian State Government and appropriated for the new zoo.
In March 1922 the Hobart City Council advertised for a curator to take care of the Beaumaris zoological collection that was still housed on the Roberts property. Arthur Reid was appointed as curator of the future municipal zoological gardens not yet constructed at the time. Arthur Reid had been born in Scotland, had emigrated to Tasmania at aged 21 years, and had been an avid naturalist since boyhood. On 30 May 1922, Reid left for an 18 day tour of various Australian Zoos, including Taronga Park Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and a zoo in Ballarat.
Reid was tasked to inspect the various enclosure designs, zoological collections, and gain experience in the management methods of these facilities. On his return, he was to advise the Reserves Committee of his findings. Reid also intended to arrange the exchange of birds and animals with these zoos. Tenders had been put out during May for the construction of the new boundary fence that was to surround the chosen site for the new zoological gardens. Once returned, Reid was also tasked with the supervision of overseeing the transfer of the Roberts collection over to the new site, once the enclosures were completed. The original Roberts collection had suffered losses during the time period between Mrs Roberts death and the acquiring of the collection by the Hobart City Council.
The Tasmanian Devils that had been at the forefront of the Beaumaris collection were no longer present. Only one Thylacine was noted, which had been in ill health but recovering due to Reid's care. A new pair of Tasmanian Devils had been promised to replace those that had died. 48 animals were noted as being in the collection on 19 April 1922, with further additions bringing the total to 54 animals.100 birds were also present in the collection. During late August a large Wedgetail Eagle, caught in a rabbit trap, was captured in Pyengana, Tasmania, by a representative of the Nestle Milk Company. The bird of prey was then sent by to Hobart for addition to the zoo, where it was cared for by Curator Reid. In September, a pair of Tasmanian Devils were gifted to the future zoo, as well as black possums, and grey possums by members of the public.
By early October, the boundary fence around the zoo site had been completed, workmen were putting finishing touches to the large pond which would house the collection of water birds, and the animal enclosures, aviaries and runs were nearing completion. Some construction was delayed due to a hold up in the supply of wire netting from Sydney. A pair of African Lions were donated by the Taronga Park Zoo.
During mid October the sole remaining Thylacine from the Roberts collection died of pneumonia. Its remains were sent away to be preserved for future display. With its loss, the Hobart City Council sent an appeal to the public for another live specimen to be obtained for the zoo. Through the month of November, progress on the construction of the zoo was nearing completion. The site was now fully enclosed by the new boundary fence, aviaries and enclosures were almost finished. Accommodation was being made ready for a long list of animals and birds, including deer, emu, ostrich, and peafowl.
A terraced enclosure for the African Lions had been started with cuts made into the sandstone of the hill. The design plan was to have the enclosure viewable, from both above and below, with a moat at the front, and concrete walls on the sides, some 40 feet wide with a den area attached.
A large figure of eight pond was now a feature of the site, 300 feet in circumference for the aquatic birds, an arched bridge for the pond was also in the planning stages. Trees, shrubs and flower beds were being planted around the site. By the end of January 1923 the new zoo was ready to be opened. The animals were transferred from the old Beaumaris property at Battery Point, to the new zoological facility by the Hobart City Council at the rehabilitated quarry site at the Queens Domain, on 1 February 1923. An aged kangaroo, however, died shortly after arriving at the Queens Domain site. The African Lions, due from Taronga Park Zoo, had not yet arrived in time for the impending official opening on 2 February.
The official opening ceremony took place on the Friday afternoon of 2 February 1923. Ida Roberts, the daughter of Mary Grant Roberts, who had donated the original Beaumaris zoological collection to the Hobart City Council, was present at the opening of the new Beaumaris Zoological Gardens. The zoo contained at the time of opening 100 animals and 220 birds.
On the day of the opening, the two Tasmanian Devils gifted to the zoo, escaped from their enclosure, and were later found hiding under a culvert. Despite efforts to recapture the escapees the marsupials eluded zoo staff. The animals were recaptured on 17 February after Curator Reid built a box trap baited with lambs heart, and left it near the culvert where the pair had been hiding. The gate that currently secures the site was installed on 9 September 2000 (World Threatened Species Day). It was designed to communicate the history of the site to the passing public, and secure the site, and won an award in 2001 for landscape design from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.
The Zoo was closed in 1937 due to severe financial problems. The site was acquired by the Royal Australian Navy and converted into a fuel storage depot for the nearby HMAS Huon shore base. The Navy used the site from 1943 until 1991 when it reverted to the Hobart City Council and was used as a storage depot.
There is very little left to see of the original zoo. Only the remains of a couple of enclosures are still standing along with the concrete pond area. You can see partial stone walls that were once part of some exhibits. The area feels and is very small compared to current day modern zoos but it is well worth a quick visit.
Click on the following link to view footage of the Tasmanian Tiger
The Cathedral’s origins can be traced back to 1822 when the first permanent Tasmanian priest Fr Philip Conolly constructed a temporary wooden chapel near the present Cathedral site. It took three attempts before the first section of the Cathedral was finally built between 1860 and 1866. A donation of £10,000 from philanthropist Roderick O’Connor finally secured the project. Structural problems caused by faulty building resulted in the Cathedral being largely dismantled and re-constructed to a modified design between 1876 and 1881. The East window, containing the Hardman stained glass window was recovered from the original Cathedral and reinstalled. The first stained glass window installed in the Cathedral, the Hardman window is a memorial to Bishop Wilson and his Vicar General, William Hall. These pioneers, in spite of their hard work, did not live to see the completed Cathedral.
St Mary’s Cathedral has many unique and well loved features. The baptismal font is of international significance. Studies have revealed that it is likely a font from the Norman period (1066-1200) which was brought by Bishop Willson to Hobart and stored until its installation in the Cathedral in the 1890s. Its cylindrical form and elaborate arches and detail are unique. The age and history of this font makes it one of the most important fonts in Australia. Research into its origins is continuing. The exquisite Hardman Studio window, newly restored, floods the building with its beauty and light, One of the most important nineteenth century windows in Australia it was designed by the leading English stained glass maker of the period, John Hardman and Co, Birmingham. The window is a memorial to Robert William Wilson (1794–1866), the first Bishop of Hobart Town, and his Vicar-General, William Hall (1807–66).
It is in the style of a fourteenth century Gothic window; the five lancets depict pivotal scenes from the Gospel and the tracery at the top of the window details heavenly images. A clear glass protector has been installed on the outside of the window to protect it from wind load, water damage, hailstones, and accidental breakage. In more recent times three stained glass windows by Sydney stained glass artist Stephen Moor have been installed: The Rose window in the West end of the Cathedral (1981), and in the transepts the memorial to Archbishop Guilford Young, the Pentecost Window (1989), and the Heroic and Saintly Women (1995). The dazzling colours of these windows dance across the walls and add beauty to the Cathedral.
The magnificent Cathedral pipe organ is a central feature of the Cathedral. Built in 1893 by leading organ builder George Fincham, it was installed in the organ gallery on completion of the Cathedral’s west end. Its attractive case and decorations provide a feast for the eyes while its glorious sounds are the mainstay of liturgical celebrations. Cathedral organ concerts featuring visiting and local musicians also greatly contribute to the cultural life of Hobart.
The surviving remains of the original high altar can be seen in the elaborate top of the tabernacle at the rear of the chancel. The original altar was carved by Byron Malloy and installed at the re-opening of the Cathedral in 1881.
St Mary’s Cathedral was the vision of the first Bishop of Hobart Town, Robert William Willson. Bishop Willson chose the design and spent years raising the funds. He was particularly inspired by his friend Augustus Welby Pugin, designer of the entire interiors of the British Houses of Parliament and father of the modern English Gothic Revival movement.
Opened in 1866, St Mary’s Cathedral is located in Harrington Street, Hobart, between Patrick and Brisbane Streets. Designed by William Wardell, one of Australia’s greatest nineteenth-century architects, it was completed except for its steeple between 1876 and 1898 to a modified design by Henry Hunter.
Henry Hunter, Tasmania’s best known and most prolific architect, designed a great many landmarks across the State. His buildings included over forty Catholic, Anglican and other churches, from Devonport to Southport and Swansea to Waratah, Hobart Town Hall, the Tasmanian Museum, many schools, convents and commercial buildings, and a large number of houses. St Mary’s Cathedral has served the Tasmanian community for 140 years, touching the lives of thousands.
The nobility of the architecture and the quality of the fabric is a testament to the aspirations and generosity of generations of Tasmanian Catholics and other kind benefactors. The imposing pillars and stonework, exquisite stained glass and the magnificent pipe organ are works of leading artisans from Australia and overseas.
This outstanding Gothic building is undergoing significant restoration so that it may continue to play a central role in the Catholic Church of Tasmania and serve the city of Hobart and the people of Tasmania.
Built as a two-storey brick warehouse in 1810, the Commissariat Store was constructed to house the infant colony's valuable foodstuffs and supplies, replacing a smaller, temporary store on Hunter Island.
The building's location close to the waterfront provided easy access, and it played a vital role in the colony's early economy as the focal point for receiving and distributing goods - including both imported goods and those produced in Hobart and the southern districts.
Contracts with the Commissariat were very important to many landowners, providing a guaranteed means of disposing of surplus produce such as game meat, and enabling the colony's first fortunes to be made. The Commissariat also gathered statistical information about the population and, prior to the development of private charitable institutions, assisted the poor.
In 1811, under the direction of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, surveyor James Meehan (1774-1826) made a formal town plan to regularize the settlement of Hobart. The Commissariat Store was used to define the alignment of Macquarie Street, which served as the baseline for street planning in Hobart.
By the 1820s additional government storage facilities were required. The Bond Store, probably designed by colonial architect David Lambe (1803-43), was built parallel to the Commissariat Store and faced directly onto the cove to facilitate the transfer of goods.
Construction of the four-level brick building commenced in 1824. The three levels above the current basement were used for storing dry goods (mainly grain). The lower level, used by Customs for bonded goods such as tobacco and spirits, was not open from the waterfront side, and was accessed either internally or from doors on the eastern side of the building.
In 1826 the eastern end of the complex was enclosed by a brick-and-stone wall connecting the Bond and Commissariat stores. The wall had a large, centrally-positioned arched entrance with smaller doors to either side guarded by a sentry. The entrance was crowned with an impressive triangular pediment and became known as the Water Gate - because, in 1826, it looked towards the Hobart Rivulet inlet and the causeway to Hunter Island. In 1831 the pediment was removed following concern that it was unstable and, in 1870, the original entrance was replaced with the current one.
To the left of the Water Gate was the entrance to two vaulted storerooms that had been excavated into the escarpment within the courtyard in the 1820s. The vaults were used by Customs for bonded goods until the early 1840s, and the entrances were later bricked up. These vaults were uncovered during archaeological excavations in the courtyard in 2008.
In 1869 - on the eve of the British Government withdrawing the Imperial troops from the colony - the Commissariat vacated the stores. The complex was transferred to the colonial government and used for customs purposes. Construction of the two-storey brick Queen's Warehouse commenced in the same year, providing an additional bonded store between the two older buildings.
With Federation in 1901, the complex became the property of the new Commonwealth Government, and for much of the twentieth century the Commissariat Store was used as offices.
Unlike the Commissariat Store, the Bond Store has remained largely unaltered since it was completed in 1826, and is an important example of early colonial warehouse design. A water-powered hydraulic lift servicing the courtyard doors was added in about 1900.
In 1902 the new Customs House was built around the waterfront facade of the Bond Store to screen the 'old' Georgian building from the cove.
The Tasmanian Government acquired the complex of buildings in 1977. The Commissariat Store is now officially listed as Hobart’s oldest building and both the Commissariat Store and the Bond Store form a part of the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery complex.
In 1826 the Land Commissioners highlighted the difficulties most travellers experienced in crossing the Derwent, with the main route to Launceston following the river to Roseneath where James Austin conveyed them by punt across the river to Herdsman's Cove. The Land Commission recommended the construction of a new crossing, offering a safe and speedy transit over the Derwent. Their preferred location was at the Black Snake (now Granton) where "an excellent quarry and the advantage of a sand bank extending half a mile in length to the Channel, which is here only three hundred and fifty yards across" were highlighted.
In response to the decision to construct a causeway across the River Derwent the Bridgewater Convict Station was established in 1828 on Ebenezer Geiss' grant at Black Snake. The station was west of the quarry on the southern side of the Causeway. Wooden barracks were constructed to accommodate the convict labour force (chain gang).
Work on the Causeway began in 1830 and a year later GTW Boyes visited the site and left an evocative if horrifying account of the cramped and draughty conditions. The convict cells at this time were about seven feet in length by 2ft 6inch in height. Extra buildings were apparently added after this. In 1834 ever concerned with the moral and religious sensibilities of their charges a chapel was erected at the station. There were 152 convicts there in 1832 and a maximum of 280 during the construction period, most in chains.
The quarry located opposite the Causeway provided the 1.80 million tons of crushed mudstone which was extracted by the convicts and wheeled to the end of the Causeway. Considerable problems were encountered establishing a firm base to the construction works because of the river silt and the clay base. The work was referred to as the "Bridgewater folly", where men tried for years to fill up a soft mud hole. The convict labour was supervised by John Lee Archer. The quarry face is a highly visible result of convict efforts to extract fill and stone to be used in the formation of the Causeway. The quarry site is significant as the sources of material for the Causeway, a major public works project which used convict chain gang labour, and was a major element in the transport link between Launceston and Hobart.
The quarry face is evocative of a past era of convict chain gang activity. It is symbolic of the pivotal role played by convict labour in the early development of Van Diemen's Land, dramatically illustrating the labour intensive nature and scale of work undertaken at the Causeway and is rare as part of a large scale public works project undertaken by convict labour forces during the period of transportation.
The site of the former Bridgewater Convict Station 1828-1849, is important as the location of the largest convict chain gang on the Main Road between Hobart and Launceston. This importance is enhanced by the scale of the works undertaken (principally the Causeway) and their importance in the development of the colony. The Causeway became the focus for colonial discontent with Governor Arthur from wealthy land owners who were concerned about the waste of public money. They believed that the convicts would have been more usefully assigned to work on their properties, instead of the Causeway, and would have preferred the funds spent on roads nearer their properties.
Convicts assigned to the causeway were men who had re-offended whilst serving their sentences. They were there for a definite time varying from one to twelve months, and on the expiration of their sentences they were either returned to their masters or transferred to Public Works for less painful employment. With only short intervals of refreshment and repose, they quarried stone, broke it, shaped it as required and wheeled it to the Causeway to form a foundation or to erect piers upon foundations already formed. A flogging triangle was in the courtyard. At one time four convicts attempted to escape from this station by jumping into the Derwent to swim to the other side. One of the convicts was hit by gunfire, and the other three were recaptured. The construction of the Causeway was a major public works project, being an attempt to solve the problem of crossing the River Derwent and more specifically the commitment of Governor Arthur to a major road between Hobart and Launceston. At the time of completion in 1836, and for some time afterward, the Bridgewater Causeway was regarded as the largest convict built civil engineering project yet undertaken in Australia. Neither the massive retaining wall in Victoria Pass in the western descent from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales or the road works of the Great North Road where it rises from the north bank of the Hawkesbury River are comparable in scale.
Even after the completion of the Causeway there was a substantial station with 17 military posted there in 1838. The station operated as a probation station from 1841(representing later development in the use of convict labour for public works), and from 1845 as a road station for parties repairing the Main Road. By 1847 the station was very rundown. LaTrobe visited the area and described its poor condition with some buildings being almost in ruins. At this stage there was one superintendent, two overseers and one storekeeper along with 66 convicts.
The station was decommissioned between 1847 and 1849. In 1847 the convicts were reputedly removed to Jericho in the Midlands. The station was still reported as open in 1849, possibly supplying some labour for the construction of a rolling bridge across the Derwent channel although by 1850 the station was no longer recorded as open. An 1886 plan shows that the site consisted largely of "traces of buildings".
The Commandant's Cottage and Stone End are significant elements remaining from the former Convict Station and the role it played in the construction of the Causeway. The Commandant's Cottage is believed to have been the main Officer's Quarters. It stands on a rise overlooking the Derwent River near the Causeway. The Commandant's Cottage is reputed to be the oldest building in the area, built in 1830 to house the officer or officers, in charge of the construction of the Causeway. The stonework on the house is of high quality, with each stone chosen with extreme care for artistic and color effect.
The Commandant's Cottage is important as one of the earliest buildings constructed in the Granton area. The Commandant's Cottage is a two storey Georgian building. It is of a near symmetrical layout. The windows are 12 pane sliding sash double hung windows and there are three dormer windows on the front elevation. It has a hipped corrugated iron roof. The top floor was added in 1974. The cottage was restored a number of years ago and is now a private residence.
Stone End is believed to be a late convict station structure reputedly the Chapel and hospital. Stone End is a single storey building of stone construction which has been altered over the years and is also privately owned.
The stone Watch House is situated directly opposite the highway/Causeway junction at Granton on the southern side of the River Derwent. It is reported to have been erected in 1838. It was there by 1847 when it is marked on an undated plan of the crossing made before the rolling bridge was constructed. It was constructed to house the soldiers who supervised the building of the Causeway. Plans to extend the watch house were completed in 1851 providing a Watch House Keeper's Quarters and Women's Lockup. When extended it included a male and female lock-up, watch house keeper's quarters, two exercise yards and a constable's office. The convicts were housed in a stockade at the rear.
It is believed that it may in fact have formed part of the earlier convict station complex and, on completion of the Causeway, assumed a watch house function. Its location illustrates the importance of the junction at Granton. The Watch House demonstrates the importance of having lock-up facilities in a district with a large convict population, and is significant as an early police building. The Watch House is a rare surviving example of a mid -19th century Watch House from colonial Tasmania.
The convict station site, the quarry and the Causeway are all parts of a historical process that resulted in the crossing of the River Derwent and the site has been assessed as having high archaeological potential to yield information on the layout and workings of a convict road station and chain gang providing insights into Governor Arthur's convict system.
Only two structures, "Stone End" and the "Commandants Cottage" from the convict road station appear to have survived to the present day. A small stone wall may also be a remnant of the period, it is reported that it was part of the cell block.
The quarry face is clearly visible for approximately 300 m in the Granton Reserve.
Text & Information sourced from Australian Heritage Database
A huge thank you to Netta & Mark Datlen, owners of the “Commandants Cottage” who graciously allowed me to take the photographs of their home.