During the 1880s, the first settlers began following the hilltops that separate the Dasher & Forth Rivers up through the Promised Land into the Parish of Staverton. Many of these new settlers were sons of old Kentish pioneers, now looking to find farms for themselves. These families included Jubbs, Murfets, Wilsons from the Sheffield area; Braids, Days, Duffs, Lampreys, Mays, Morses, Richards from West Kentish; Wyllies and Woottons from Nook; and the Weeks from Sunnyside. The further inland they pushed, the higher the altitude: Railton 66m, Sheffield 280m, West Kentish 328m, Roland 393m, Tasmazia 475m, and top end of Staverton 575m. Compare this with Mt Claude 1034m, Mt Van Dyke 1084m, and Mt Roland 1234m. The distance from the township of Roland to Cethana is 8 miles (13kms), so let’s travel through the rest of Promised Land, then to the end of the Staverton Road and discover its early history.
Roland Township to Top Staverton
The first property the Staverton road passes across originally belonged to John & Louise (Carey) Lamprey of West Kentish. They purchased 197 acres but sold it in 1901 and left the district. Later, on the western side of this property, Harry & Flora (Wootton) Weeks (8chn) had a farm, & Kentish councillor John & Hilda Stewart had a carrier business. On the eastern side, for the last 20 years, Russell Bramich has operated Roland Meats, a fully equipped abattoir, licensed to kill farm animals and specified wildlife.
Adjoining Lamprey on the southside, John & Honor May (10 chn) took up 138 acres in 1891 to build their Wattle Grove home, halfway up what became known as May’s Hill. Their property became famous for its extensive orchard of Kentish sour cherries. After the parents died and unmarried son Hubert May and nephew Tom Barker also passed on, this classic pioneer homestead with its dirt floor, now a derelict building, became the most photographed historical homestead in Kentish. Sadly, it was destroyed by fire on 11 March 2008.
Smiths Road (west-side): Brothers Adye and Albert Smith lived up this road, both with families of 8 children. Adye became a world champion axeman and a policeman, before returning to farming and marrying Leila Davies, daughter of Dan Davies, in June 1907. Adye Smith became a Kentish councillor for 40 years (1924 -1964), warden for 2 years, a Justice of the Peace (JP), and member of parliament 1944-1946. Around the turn of the century, Dan & Mary (Wootton) Wyllie (8 chn) came from Nook to live just south of Smiths road. They were a very musical family and formed a local choir. They helped build the Roland Gospel Hall. In Jan 1921 Dan & Mary Wyllie, with some children, moved to Lorinna, and their Staverton home was shared by two sons and their families. The children of one family walked to the Staverton School while the children of the other family walked to the Roland School. These properties are now covered by plantation timber.
Mays Road (east-side): The first settler up this bush track was wealthy English businessman Andrew Ballantyne, who, reading an advertisement inviting new settlers to Tasmania, set his heart on farming on this Antipodean island. He wrote ahead to the Tasmanian Immigration Dept which selected for him 120 acres in The Promised Land. Andrew (47) purchased this in Oct 1883, then chartered a ship to bring his wife Ellen (42) with four girls (18, 16, 10, 6) and 3 boys (14, 7, 4) to Launceston, arriving in early 1884. They made their way, in carts, to Staverton, being amongst the very first settlers there. How this Ballantyne family survived those first winter months of 1884 in the bush, almost 2 km along Mays road, would be fascinating to know! What we do know is that after just a few months, Andrew gave up any idea of farming and moved his family back to the tiny township of Sheffield, where in October 1884 he purchased its only general store. In 1906 Ballantyne’s property up Mays Rd was sold to William H Overton of Duck Marsh. (Dr) Wm Overton had operated his Herbal Medicine Co at Duck Marsh for several years, but when this ended, he moved with wife Grace (Dick) Overton and (7 chn) to Staverton. Further along Mays Rd, George & Eva (Cocker) Day settled on his 320 acres after their marriage in June 1892. Sadly, 6 years later Eva died, leaving George with 3 young children. When the Lorinna district opened up at the turn of the century, George and his children moved back there where he became an active farmer, prospector, and miner.
Tasmazia & Crackpot Village. The three oldest sons of Richard Murfet, pioneer settler along Railton Rd, Sheffield, bought properties south of Mays road. Ernest and Fred Murfet didn’t stay long. In 1974 Brian Inder purchased a small section of Fred Murfet’s original farm block to lay out mazes and plant out lavender bushes. Gradually Inder developed his iconic tourist attraction Tasmazia & Crackpot Village, rated one of the top ten family attractions in the world. Brian & Laura Inder lived across the road from Tasmazia at 500 Staverton Rd. Robert Braid had bought this property in 1902, where he built a homestead called Day Dawn for his new bride Sarah Day, sister of George Day. Their five children included Harry Braid MHA (1972-1990), father of Sue Napier (MHA first woman leader of the Liberal Party); and George Braid who ran the Roland shop for many years.
Weeks Flats & Lake Barrington Rowing Course. Edward Weeks came from Sunnyside to purchase 400 acres of fine river flats, probably upon the advice of his father Henry Weeks, the well-known prospector who had scoured the length of the Forth valley searching for gold. Edward & Mary (Hubbard) Weeks (10 chn) lived in the house on the southern corner of Staverton Rd & Lake Barrington Rd. When Edward died in 1932, Weeks flats was left to son Lionel Weeks, who, after being injured twice in WWI, was granted a soldier’s settlement farm at Morey’s Rd, Barrington. In the 1960s the Hydro Commission acquired Weeks Flats for £2,500 to form a new lake. In Feb 1984, Ian Braid MHA opened the 2000m Lake Barrington International Rowing Course for the running of the King Cup. In Oct 1990 the World Rowing Championships attracted rowers from over 40 countries and some 45,000 spectators. Great grandson Philip Weeks still owns 20 acres of Edward’s original property.
The only Murfet brother to stay in Staverton, Clarence & Margaret (Bannon) Murfet, purchased the 196-acre property at 575 Staverton Road. They raised 5 children, only one of which married; the remainder continued to live there without ever connecting the electricity. In 1975 this property was bought by Alan Sainsbury, award-winning stain-glass craftsman, who, until recently, ran the The Granary rural accommodation retreat there for families.
From Calstock, Deloraine, Thomas & Martha (Jordan) Jubb (6 chn) became pioneering settlers on the western side of Staverton Rd, directly opposite Bullocks Rd. In 1908 he was elected to the first Kentish Council. After Thomas died, his son James & Elsie (Byard) Jubb (9 chn) took over the farm. Again, everything here is covered by massive forest plantations.
Jim & Miriam Davies owned land on both sides of the Staverton road. Jim spent almost 20 years as a Kentish Councillor.
Bullocks Rd (east-side): Named after John & Emily Bullock who settled at the end of the road. In 1908 they moved back to Lorinna where they raised 4 children. After John died in 1928 aged 49, oldest son Cyril & wife Amy Bullock occupied their Staverton farm. Directly south of Bullocks road, Staverton Road ran through the middle of Donald & Alice (Jubb) McNab’s property. They settled here after their marriage in 1890 and raised 10 chn. They were still living there for their golden wedding anniversary in 1940.
Post Office 1898: First opened on 25 Oct 1898 by Dan & Emily (Hammant) Davies (8 chn) who had settled in Staverton in 1895. Dan did the mail runs while Emily operated the Post Office for the next 35 years. After a telephone exchange was added on 21 Dec 1916, Emily Davies was held in high esteem for her dedication to others in times of sickness. Plantation forests now cover the site of the old PO as well. Dan sold part of his land for the local school and gave another block for building the Baptist Church.
School 1900 (728 Staverton Rd): In 1900 Henry J Bonney of Claude Rd erected a 30-pupil school and teachers’ residence for £325. An assortment of English trees was planted around the school in 1903/04. When Lesley Dodge became head teacher in July 1908, the Light Horse encouraged him to form the Staverton Mounted Cadets for 14-19-year-old youths. It was a first for Tasmania, other attempts having failed in Hobart, Launceston, and Ulverstone. Staverton School closed in 1939 and in Aug 1951 the building was transferred to Kentish Council. They had Jock McCoy & sons alter it in 1952 to become a public hall. Later it was sold as a private house.
Baptist Church 1911 (727 Staverton Rd): Built by Archie McNab for £25, this church opened 5 Feb 1911. First SS superintendent was Ted Marks, who was reported missing in WW1. Last was Aubrey Hall. The church closed in 1973. It became the media centre for the World Rowing Championship in 1990 before being sold to Murray ‘Digger’ Steers, who created a two-storey rustic dwelling with upper dorm windows. Interestingly, the boundary between the Parish of Kentisbury & Parish of Staverton cross the Staverton Road at this point.
South of the School and Baptist church, Staverton Rd continued through 198 acres originally owned by John & Hannah Cox (5chn). John became a champion axeman, and a crack rifle shot within the Kentish Light Horse Brigade. With Harry Day, Cox leased 2000 acres back at Lake Ayr, 32 miles south of Lorinna, as a summer cattle run. John Cox became a JP, Kentish Councillor (1910-28), & Warden (1920). Later, his son Les Cox and grandson Carl Cox had a school bus run and a trucking business. West of John’s land, his brother Arthur & Louise Cox (12chn) had two properties. When the Staverton Cricket Club formed about 1900, Arthur gave them a flat paddock to make a pitch. In 1907 his sons playing with matches burnt down the barn and stable with all his equipment. Five years later, while playing with an axe, one of them cut off several fingers from his brother’s hand. Later, Arthur Cox owned the first motor car in Staverton.
Next property south was where David and Emily (Dyer) Duff (8chn) settled just after 1890. Apart from farming, David Duff carted ore from the Round Hill mines to Railton, returning with large quantities of gelignite which he stored on his farm. When bush fires threatened, Emily would place her small children down their well. David was a Lieutenant in Kentish Light Horse Brigade and in charge of a select team of twelve from Sheffield who won the Regimental Cup for the best team in the State. In Aug 1910 David Duff sold out to Thomas Hall, who, four years later when the Railway line opened, moved to Roland. Nearby, Thomas & Edith (Hall) Wootton raised 12 children in their five-room cottage Wattle Park. One son, Reg, became a Baptist minister. Thomas’ English parents immigrated from Natal, South Africa in 1871.
Lonah Rd (east-side): In the late 1890s, retired sea captain Jens Anthon of Devonport purchased two 100-acre blocks between Lonah Rd and Richards Farm Rd, next to his brother-in-law George Morris. Jens was one of three master-mariner brothers who came from Denmark to spend their lives sailing across the Bass Strait and around the Australian coastline. He once survived being shipwrecked. On 7 Dec 1876 Jens (39) married Jane Morris (29), daughter of Wm Morris, at her West Kentish home. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, but 3 years later Jane died of lung disease. After Jens died in 1917, daughter Elizabeth Anthon retained these blocks for another 20 years.
Richards Farm Rd (east-side): Named after Joseph & Emma (Morse) Richards who, following 9 years in NZ, returned to Staverton and built their home Glenegh at the end of this road. After Emma died, aged 35 (4 chn), Joseph married Ada Brown (also 4 chn). Joseph eventually retired to Quoiba and left several properties to his sons. Kentish pioneer John Duff originally purchased 209 acres there for a cattle run.
Wootton Rd (west-side) was where Thomas Wootton & his oldest son Algernon bought several properties. The Staverton Road ran through the middle of Algernon & Joy (Weeks) Wootton’s Hillcrest property, where they raised their three daughters. In 1918, retired Sergt-Major James & Charlotte Foley (7 chn) settled on 221 acres he called The Highlands, at the top end of Staverton. Their son Oss Foley pioneered local endurance horse riding, while grandson Dennis Foley developed Highland Horse Trails, attracting many international tourists. Other early settlers here were John Blake and Dan Davis.
Days Rd (off Cethana Rd): Henry Day with sons Chas and Leslie brought property here in the 1890s mainly as a resting place for cattle returning from the high country. Today the vast Staverton district is probably half the size it was when it was first cleared over 100 years ago. Now huge pine plantations on both sides of the Staverton Road completely cover many old properties, where once pioneering families were forced to eke out their humble existence.