About Us

It was Sunday the 27th of February 2000 when a gathering of historically minded people met at York Town on the West Tamar. The mission, was an excursion of the area that was once the site of the first settlement in the north of the state.

Shortly after that first meeting the decision was made to form a society and make York Town it’s project for the 2004 bicentenary events, which included preparing the site, signage, an information area and walking tracks these were just some of the projects we planned in an attempt to commemorate York Town's past history.

John Dent (Surveyor) with Helen Phillips (a very untrained Trades Assistant) set out to re-survey York Town and on the 25th April 200 Paterson's Botanical Garden was located. By the 16th May 2000 a new survey of the York Town site was completed. John had prepared a map showing the location of 30 original settlement sites.

We had started the clean up of York Town with working bees at least once a month, the dreaded gorse was our main problem in some places between 1500 and 2000 centimeters high.

46 members of the Burnie Historical Society visited the York Town site on the 15th October 2000 from whom we received a donation of $150.00 and a letter of thanks.

In January 2001 an information box containing information about the site and a visitor's book was erected by the West Tamar Historical Society near the monument, the first comment and signature was recorded on the 16th January 2001.

During March 2001 Mrs. Anne Wylie donated a block of land to our society with the blessing of her family and it was her wish that it always remain in public ownership. This block was the site of assistant Surgeon Smith's cottage. Sadly Mrs. Wylie passed away some time later but she will always be remembered for her generous gift.

On the 22nd of April 2001 we had a second site visit, this time by the George Town and District Historical Society.

By June 2001 we had become an incorporated society with a mission to collect, collate, preserve and promote all aspects of West Tamar history. We visited many historic sites in the Beaconsfield area and had the privilege of showing more interested groups over York Town.

The West Tamar Council had previously given a donation of $500.00 and under our recommendation purchased, for preservation, a four-acre block of land, which was the administrative site of the original settlement.

On the 19th June 2001 the first edition of The Historian was written. The West Tamar Council have kindly printed all editions and for that we thank them. It's reader numbers have continued to grow and has encouraged a growth in society membership.

It was in 1988 that the decision was made to produce a book recording the history of York Town and it's surrounding areas. A meeting of about 20 was held at Holiday Lodge. It was at this meeting that the York Town and Beyond History Book Fund began. Funds were raised through donations, stalls and raffles with some of the prizes being Isabel McCafferty's paintings. Later the "Ladies Leisure Group" who met at Holiday Lodge monthly raised funds from the sale of items on their "history book" trade table, which they set up second monthly. The money was invested with the view that some day the book would be printed.

With the successful publication of The Historian a decision was made to donate their investment, being the grand sum of just over $3,000.00, to the West Tamar Historical Society. Thus ensuring that through The Historian an outlet for the collection of history stories accumulated by the York Town and Beyond Group would finally be published. This was a wonderful 2001 Christmas present for our society.

This was followed by a donation of $200.00 from the West Tamar Art Society and a grant of $300.00 from the Tamar Valley Weed Strategy Group. Working bees continued clearing gorse and weeds from four areas, a total of four hectares, with planting and preservation of native species.

To lighten the work load we were very lucky to have the assistance of two Green Reserve volunteers organized by the Conservation Volunteers and also by arrangement with the Corrective Services Department, Work Order teams of four people with an accompanying supervisor. The West Tamar Council provided an on-site tool trailer and a toilet for use while the groups were working on site.

A gravel-walking track was made using gravel gifted by Boral Ltd linking the monument with the council owned block and fencing was erected around the council land.

The decision was made to erect two temporary descriptive signs as locals noted that the many visitors to the site had no accessible information about York Town. In August 2002 two steel cut outs of 1804 soldiers painted by society member Jeanette Grant were also erected on the site.

    1. to show visitors the soldiers uniform of the day
    2. to have something on site for the visiting children to remember and discuss.

Continued surveys were conducted as new relics were found and of course research of the site and its people was ongoing.

2002 saw us with a successful grant of $91,150.00 from the Tasmanian Community Fund; part of this money was to be used for a Management Plan. It was intended that after detailed consultation with all stakeholders including council it would set out professional guidelines for the future of the historic site.

First considerations would be signage, walking tracks, car park and toilet. On going maintenance of the site continued with the help of the council slasher and periodic cut and pasting and spraying of re-growth gorse.

By February 2003 we had a flagpole, which was to be erected within feet of the original flagpole's position. It was provided by Mr. Ray Jones and transported to the site by Mitchell Ranson, who also donated the lanyard and fittings.

On 19/08/03 the decision was made to purchase another block of land at York Town containing archaeological remains from the first settlement. The West Tamar Council agreed to assist the purchase with a third of the cost and they would retain ownership.

A new store shed was constructed and the unsightly old one pulled down.

Native plants totaling 500 were planted around the site.

We also sponsored a successful submission to the Tasmanian Community Fund prepared by Dr Jan Critchett for the rehabilitation of the cemetery and head stones at the Supply River Church Cemetery.

This year, 2004, research into York Town's history continued with the list of people arriving on the Buffalo in 1805 being found in the Public Records Office in London.

An honors project by Sarah Hayes of the La Trobe University commenced early in the year. Sarah's project was to study and compare historic sites around Australia. This University is looking at the possibility of providing a Ph project on York Town in the future and the University of New South Wales has also expressed an interest in a Ph project on York Town.

We are very pleased to have formed good relationships with both the George Town and District and the Launceston Historical Societies with one of the outcomes being the Way Back When series published each Saturday in The Examiner and eleven months later it is still going strong.

Vice President Richard Hooper, Mr John Brown and Mark Tipper have been working for several months on a model village of York Town. This has been built from information deciphered by John Dent from the original survey notes written by Surveyor Charles Grimes at Port Dalrymple in 1807.

Working bees have kept us busy planting trees, removing gorse, weeds etc and fencing.

Our landscaping committee has done an excellent job in recording the great diversity of flora and fauna found in the York Town vicinity.

Prue Wright and Margaret James also supervised a new Green Reserve team until May 2004 when, for reasons beyond our control the Green Reserve team and our society members were asked by the West Tamar Council to cease any further work on any council controlled land. "However" preparations for the bicentennial event were still going ahead so we directed our efforts towards the event.

We were very pleased to host another successful application by Dr Jan Critchett this time to the Tasmanian Bicentenary Grant Fund, which would allow her to continue her restoration work at the Supply River Cemetery.

John Dent has also conducted many site tours of York Town some being the Royal Society in September 2003, the Oral History Society, the Launceston Historical Society and the Whitemore Historical Group in March 2004, an attendance on that occasion of 75 people.

Over the last four years he has also given talks on York Town to many organisations including the Launceston Historical Society Symposium, the regional conference of the Institution of Surveyors, two Probus Clubs, The Royal Society, Tasmanian Family History Society, the School for Seniors and the Tasmanian Historical Research Association.