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«FLINDERS UNIVERSITY MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGY MONOGRAPHS SERIES Number 7 Convict Probation and the Evolution of Jetties in Tasmania Rick Bullers FLINDERS ...»

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Point (AOT CSO 22/59/909, 1842). As an interim measure, another shaft began operation from April/May 1843 while a new main shaft was being constructed (Evans, 2000: 21). Dawson’s new main shaft became operational in 1845 and was supported by a complex incorporating a blacksmith shop, a workshop and a large engine complex with a boiler and using the steam engine from the 1841 shaft (PWS, 1997: 8). The boiler still exists and is located at the shaft.

Inclined tramways to the new jetty serviced both the 1841 and 1845 shaft complexes.

In 1845 production had reached 50 tonnes per day. However, by 1847, production had reverted to half this amount, and eventually by 1848, the mines were leased to private concerns. By 1877, an estimated 60,000 tonnes of coal had been extracted from the site (PWS, 1997: 8). Officially mining ceased in that year with the death of the last lessee James Hurst. However, there is anecdotal evidence that some mining was still occurring in 1889, and at least one of the jetties was still operational at that time (Evans, 2000: 29).

Maritime Infrastructure The maritime infrastructure at the Coal Mines consisted chiefly of jetties used to service the vessels that were the station’s main form of transport and communication. A total of five jetties were constructed during the mine’s operational period.

The initial jetty consisted of a substantial wharf built opposite the 1833 adit entrance, with a trestle pier extending 360ft (110m) into the bay (AOT CSO 5/72/1584, 1837). This jetty appears to have been constructed in 1836 to a similar design as the jetty built at Eaglehawk Neck (Nicholson, 1985: 58). Coal was stockpiled on the wharf, and then transported via a tramway to vessels at the end of the jetty. However, the near-shore waters of the bay are shallow and the jetty was not very long, and by 1837 it was already shown to be inadequate for servicing large vessels.

To remedy this, a new pile jetty was constructed from the point south of the wharf, and, because this jetty was much longer and reached deeper water, was able to accommodate vessels of more than 300 tons burthen (AOT NS 279/1/1, 1837). An 1837 plan of the Coal Mines (Figure 5) shows the new jetty and gives its dimensions as 920ft (280.4m) long by 11ft wide. These dimensions are confirmed in the personal journal of Lady Jane Franklin who visited the site in March 1837. She refers to a railroad being cut to another jetty ‘not quite finished of timber projecting 306yds 2ft (280.4m), 10ft 6in wide … Piles at end are 33ft deep or high, 45ft wide is [the] quay at [the] end’ (AOT NS 279/1/1, 1837).

Figure 5. A plan of the Coal Mines c.

1837. The original wharf and jetty (Jetty 1) is to the left, and the new much longer jetty (Jetty 2) is to the right. (AOT CSO 5/72/1584, Mining Establishment at Coal Point, 1837, p.85.)


In 1838, following damage caused by the Swan River Packet, an additional trestle was added to the jetty taking it beyond the ballast dumping area (Brand, 1987: 26). The additions must have added a further 48.8m to the length of the jetty, because Thomas Lempriere reported the dimensions of the jetty in 1838 as 360yds (329.2m) long, and “10ft wide until near the end where it expands to 52ft”(Lempriere, 1839: 79). The quay at the end of the jetty seems to have been lengthened a further 7ft. There are also some interesting construction details (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Construction detail of the new 1837 jetty (Jetty 2) showing the interesting shoreward-leaning batter to the piles.

(AOT CSO 5/72/1584, Mining establishment at Coal Point, 1837, p.85) Coal was transported to vessels at the end of the jetty via a double tramway – one for outgoing loaded carts, the other for returning empty carts. The tramways built for Jetties 1 and 2 had rails (plateways) made of timber rather than the later iron rails used elsewhere (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Timber tram rails used for carting coal to Jetties 1 and 2 (AOT CSO 5/103/2329, Sections of railroad proposed to be constructed at Coal Point, 12 Jan 1838, p.


3. COAL MINES STATION 17 A third, smaller jetty was constructed during the period 1838-1842 just north of the first jetty, but its main function is unknown. The plan of the probation station, c.1842, (Figure 8) shows a short jetty extending into the bay, with connecting roads to various administrative buildings. Given that the waters are shallow, the jetty may have been used to unload station stores using lighters from vessels moored offshore.

Figure 8. A plan of the Coal Mines showing the original wharf and jetty (Jetty 1) and the small jetty to its north (Jetty 3).

(AOT ML31, Probation Station Coal Point, Tasman’s Peninsula, c.1842, p.85) When the 1841 shaft was sunk to the north of the original workings and jetties, a fourth jetty was constructed at Plunket Point directly east and downhill of the new shaft. The new structure, known as the Plunkett Point Coal Jetty (Jetty 4) (Figure 9 and 10) serviced both the 1841 and 1845 shaft complexes via two inclined tramways. This was a system that incorporated gravityassisted coal carts connected by an endless cable – the full carts, descending under gravity, pulled the empty carts back up the hill (Evans, 2000: 63).

The fifth and final jetty was built at the site of the Commissariat Store between jetties 3 and 4.

The exact date of the jetty’s construction is not recorded, but it is likely to have been around the time the Commissariat Store was built in 1843 (Evans, 2000: 22).

An undated sketch by Conrad Martens (Figure 11) shows the view of the settlement from Jetty 2, with Jetties 1 and 4 in the distance. Another sketch by Martens drawn from the Plunkett Point Jetty shows the nearby Commissariat Store jetty, and Jetties 1 and 2 in the distance (Figure 12).


Figure 9. A sketch of the Coal Mines by Bishop Nixon c.1846, showing Plunkett Point Coal Jetty (Jetty 4) and the Commissariat Store and jetty (Jetty5) (AOT, Bishop Nixon, c.1846)

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Figure 11. Coal Mines Station from Jetty 2.

(NLA R4964/1-2, Conrad Martens, The Coal Mines, Tasman’s Peninsula, n.d.) Figure 12. Coal Mines Station from Jetty 4 (Plunkett Point).

(NLA R4964/1-2, Conrad Martens, The Coal Mines, Tasman’s Peninsula, n.d.) In May 1847, Captain Hadden reported the Plunkett Point coal jetty to be in a very insecure state, and recommended “a small addition to the side of the coal jetty at a lower level and sweeping around to the Commissariat Store for use by steamers” (AOT Misc 62/17, 1847). This recommendation provided the dual purpose of strengthening the jetty, as well as providing for the unloading of Commissariat stores. New piles were ordered for this work (to be cut at Cascades Probation Station), but it is not known if the work was completed (Evans, 2000: 62).

Whether or not that work was completed, it is apparent that in 1858 the jetty was again in disrepair. The new lessee James Hurst, and a party of friends, visited the site and a description

appeared in the Hobart Mercury:

To the longest of these [jetties] the Monarch moored herself…we proceeded along this very difficult path, threading our way as well as we could, amongst tramways, coal carriages and broken and seedy looking timbers until we were safely landed on the side of the hill. (Hobart Mercury, 1858) Hurst’s lease stipulated that he must construct or reconstruct a new jetty, and this appears to have occurred (Brand, n.d.: 86). However, the Plunkett Point jetty finally succumbed in 1867 when


Hurst reported on 23 August that it had been washed away in a storm. At the time of its collapse, 32 wagons of coal had been standing on it and 18 of these were completely lost (Brand, n.d.: 86).

It appears that the Commissariat Store jetty then became the main coal-loading facility. A plan of the coal mines in 1875 shows that the bottom-ends of the inclined tramways were re-routed from the old Plunkett Point jetty to the Store jetty (Figure 13). Hurst proposed to extend the Commissariat Store jetty by 30m because it was dangerous for vessels to come alongside, and at certain times could not be used at all (Brand, n.d.: 86).

It is not known when the first three jetties collapsed or were dismantled, but the 1875 plan only shows the Commissariat Store jetty remaining (Figure 13). This jetty was still standing in the 1890s (Figure 14) but was not evident by 1913 (Figure 15).

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Figure 14. Commissariat Store and jetty, c.

1890s (AOT 30/4575) Figure 15. Commissariat Store without jetty, c.

1913 (AOT 30/3413) Impression Bay Station Establishment The Impression Bay Station was located in what is now known as the community of Premaydena, 7km east of Saltwater River and 5km west of Cascades (Koonya).

Established in late-1841, Impression Bay was the second labour station instituted on the Tasman Peninsula under the probation system (Jackman, 2004: 18). Its main reason for establishment was to help accommodate the transfer of 600 convicts from Norfolk Island (AOT CSO 22/8/290, 1841a). As the station was set up for only 300 men, the idea was to relocate 300 men from the Flinders Bay Station on the Forestier Peninsula to Impression Bay, and accommodate 300 men from Norfolk Island in their place (AOT CSO 22/8/290, 1841b: 183).

The primary role of the station was for agriculture (AOT CSO 22/8/290, 1841b: 183). In 1842, the station was described as being “more advanced and fuller-manned [100 in the gang] station” (than Cascades). By 1846, there were a total of 445 prisoners at Impression Bay, the majority of whom were under probation. However, 100 of the prisoners were invalids. The station had been reclassified as an invalid depot, and had received inmates relocated from the Wedge Bay Station, which had been closed in 1845 (Brand, 1990: 192). Impression Bay had a brief resurgence as a probation station in 1847 when it was again used to accommodate English convicts from Norfolk Island (AOT GO 46/1, 1848: 181-183). However by mid-1848, it again reverted to being an invalid depot, and patients from the principal government asylum at New Norfolk were sent there (Jackman, 2004: 19). When the Coal Mines Station was transferred to private operations in 1848, Impression Bay became the second largest government settlement on the Peninsula after Port Arthur (Lord, n.d.: 29).

In 1852 the Executive Council proclaimed Impression Bay, along with Cascades and Saltwater River stations, as “Houses of correction for the reception and punishment of transported and other male and female convicts” (Lord, n.d.: 23). After probation ended in 1853 Impression Bay continued to operate as an invalid depot (Nicholls, 1973, cited in Lord, n.d.: 23). In 1857, Impression Bay closed as an invalid depot and the remaining 238 invalids and 74 lunatics were removed to Port Arthur (AOT GO 46/3, 1857).

Although, the hospital was dismantled, the other buildings were still capable of housing 600

men, and in November of that year, the station briefly became a quarantine station (Lord, n.d.:

4. IMPRESSION BAY STATION 23 29). For several months it housed immigrants in quarantine from typhus-ridden ship Persian (AOT CSD 1/162/4327, 1857).

In the 1860s-70s, Impression Bay reopened as an agricultural outstation of Port Arthur (Jackman, 2004: 19).

Operations At Impression Bay convicts were employed clearing land for growing wheat and vegetables, and had a total of 8 acres under wheat by 1845 (Lord, n.d.: 2; AOT GO 33/52, 1845: 297). The total area under cultivation in 1845 was 21 acres 0 roods 20 perches, and produce for that year included wheat, barley, carrots, turnips, cabbage, onions and leeks (AOT GO 33/52, 1845: 295).

However, the soils were not very satisfactory for agriculture, so some supplementary timber milling and manufacturing were carried out (Jackman, 2004: 18). A considerable number of convict mechanics were employed to produce furniture, nails, casks, barrows, messing and barrack utensils, etc for the Convict Department (AOT GO 33/52, 1845: 297). However, this task was transferred to Cascades in 1846, after Impression Bay’s conversion to an Invalid Depot (AOT CO 280/199, 1846: 280-281). Large quantities of sawn timber were supplied to the Coal Mines for use as crossbars and uprights for supporting the roofs of the adit passages (AOT CO 280/549, 1846: 512). The timber for the Coal Mines was delivered daily by a launch operated by convict boatmen and a paid coxswain. Interestingly, the coxswain is not listed in the station’s personnel in 1845 (AOT GO 33/52, 1845: 244).

The old steamer Derwent regularly called in to the jetty. It was customary for the officials’ wives to dress in their best and walk the mile to the jetty to show themselves and hear the news from Hobart (Lord, n.d.: 26).

Maritime Infrastructure There were a total of five jetties built at Impression Bay, four by the government and one privately (Guiler, 1998: 168-170). It should be noted however that two of the government jetties were rebuilds of previous ones, giving three actual sites.

The first jetty at Impression Bay was completed in 1842, soon after the station’s establishment, when convicts built a long jetty on trestles laid on log sills (Jackman, 2004: 18). The structure was completed quickly, taking little more than three months to complete (Burn, 1842a, cited in Lord, n.d.: 14).

In 1851, a tramway was constructed to transport produce around the headland at the east side of the bay to the jetty (AOT CO 280/281-2706, 1851: 26; Jackman, 2004: 18). It crossed the corner of the tidal flats of the bay in front of the station, then followed the line of the present cemetery road out onto Premaydena Point where it connected with the jetty (Lord, n.d.: 2). The tramway was supported by a trestle bridge across the tidal flat on 18in diameter logs, each 13ft long and placed at 6ft 6in centres. Sixty-seven foundation logs still remained in 1992. (See Lord, p.5 for section drawing (impression) of trestle bridge). There is evidence of square pegs driven into 2in diameter round holes (Lord, n.d.:5, 8-9).

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