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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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A second jetty was constructed at Premaydena Point, probably during the late 1850s or 1860s; it was said to be “repairable” in 1873 (Guiler, 1998: 169). This was during the period when the station was operating as an agricultural outstation of Port Arthur. Produce passing through this terminus included wheat and timber exports, as well as incoming general goods and lime. The length of this jetty is confusing. In 1884 it was extended 82ft to a total length of 102ft 6in, which

24 CONVICT PROBATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF JETTIES IN TASMANIA

implies that initially this jetty was very short – approximately 20ft 6in. (Guiler, 1998: 169).

Given that the bay is very shallow, this does not seem at all practicable and would mean that only very shallow-draft vessels would have been capable of coming alongside. Guiler (1998:169) states that the jetty was still standing in 1890, but had a 50ft gap in the neck. Also, the approach and some piles were still extant in 1995. However this does not fit with the archive records, and is more likely to be a jetty at another location.

In 1882 Parliament allocated £1100 to build a third jetty at Impression Bay, as well as other jetties at Cascades and Port Arthur (AOT, 1882a:74). In July 1883 PWD Inspector Robinson examined a number of sites for locating the new jetty but concluded that the old site was still the best due to ease of construction and access (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1883a). However, in November 1883, the Minister of Lands and Works wrote to the local storekeeper, Ben Jones, saying that the “New Site” (Premaydena) has been chosen (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1883b). There seems to have been some local infighting, as well as political indecision, regarding the site for the new jetty. Petitions were sent backwards and forwards to the Minister, from one group of residents wanting the new jetty to be erected at the existing (old) jetty site, and another group who supported the proposed new site. In early 1884, tenders were called and received for construction of the new jetty. However, in February, a decision was delayed until the matter of siting was again looked at (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1884a).

During March more petitions arrived with the Minister in favour of the new site, citing several reasons why the old site was inadequate (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1884b). Reasons given were over exposure to prevailing winds, greater quantities of produce had already been exported from the new site, the old site would favour only a minority of shippers, and several landowners had purchased properties with the expectation that any new works would be done at the new site.

Another account states that the residents are said to have opposed the extension at the time because it was dangerous, citing the wreck of the barge Northern Star, which went onto the beach in January 1884 (Guiler, 1998: 169). However, there is no record of such a wreck occurring (Broxham & Nash, 1998).

The Minister and the PWD were aware that the minority group, centred on Ben Jones, had a vested interest in keeping the old site. Jones’ store was placed to catch trade from there. In addition, there was suggestion that signatures on Jones’ petitions were falsely obtained (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1884c). The Inspector had, by this time, changed his recommendation to the new site.

A contract to build the new jetty was let to William Oates in September 1884 for the sum of £205.0.0, with work to be completed by 12 October. It seems that the jetty was completed on time because Oates complained in December, that the work had been finished for some time but he had not been paid (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1884d). However, in 1885 a further £100 (to be shared with Cascades Jetty) was voted in Parliament for completion of the Impression Bay jetty (AOT, 1885b: 139). Oates was also contracted to build the approaches in 1886 for a cost of £97.10.0 (Hobart Gazette, 7 July 1886, cited in Guiler, 1998: 169). As for the site eventually chosen, it seems the Department again back-flipped and chose the old site. The tender specification for Oates’ contract state that “The jetty [is] to be constructed at [the] end of [the] old jetty, and level with [the] top end of [the] old wall…” (AOT PWD 18/42/362, 1884e).

By at least 1889, the jetty was known to be inadequate for the needs of the locals, being too narrow (approx 8ft) to pass beside the carts. Funds had been voted in Parliament for the necessary works for widening and extending the existing structure. However, by early 1890, delays in performing the works prompted petitions to be sent in the Minister of Lands and Works to hurry the process (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, 1890a). The delays had been caused largely by the lacklustre response, from the operators of trading vessels, to the PWD, about their opinions

4. IMPRESSION BAY STATION 25 regarding lengthening and which was the best side of the jetty to widen (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, 1890b). However, works associated with constructing the approaches to the jetty also contributed to the delays. In January 1890, John Price of Wedge Bay was contracted to develop the approaches, subject to work being completed by 15 April 1890 for the sum of £121.10.0 (AOT PWD 18/1/1642, 1890).

In September 1890, William G. Ward was contracted to widen and complete the jetty for the tendered cost of £274.8.8 (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, 1890c). However, it appears that the extension work became virtually a complete rebuild, a supposition that seems to be confirmed by the plans issued with the tender specifications (Figure 16). The specifications state that “The jetty shall consist of an abutment at shore end, piles and superstructure with spans as shown on drawings. It shall have a length of 147ft exclusive of head and a width of 15½ft.” (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, 1890d). Thus, for all intents and purposes, this became the fourth jetty built at the site. The work was well underway in November and was probably completed in December 1890 (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, 1890e). In 1891, a jetty shed was requested, but it is not known if one was actually built (Guiler, 1998: 169). Each pier consisted of five piles (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1917c). The abutment consisted of log wings and forcings (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1924a).





Figure 16. Construction detail of the new extensions in 1890.

Note the pointed head rather than the T-head used elsewhere. (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, Additions – Jetty Premaydena Impression Bay, 1890) Funds of £150 were voted in Parliament in 1897 for further extensions, but since the money was to be shared with both Port Arthur and Saltwater River, they cannot have been extensive (Guiler, 1998: 169). A total of £60.18.8 was spent on repairs in 1907.

In early 1917, complaints were made to the PWD that the jetties at Cascades, Impression Bay and Saltwater River were in a dangerous condition and liable to collapse (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1917a). In September, authority was given to expend £376.0.0 to repair the Impression Bay Jetty

26 CONVICT PROBATION AND THE EVOLUTION OF JETTIES IN TASMANIA

(AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1917d). There is some confusion as to the extent of the repairs undertaken;

one source says that the jetty was completely rebuilt (Guiler, 1998: 170). Whether repaired or rebuilt, the jetty at this time was 170ft long, 15ft wide with piers of 5 piles and a pointed head (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1917b; 1943). As always, produce was carted to the jetty head via a tramway, whose trucks could carry 120 cases of apples or 45 bags of potatoes (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1920).

The jetty was again extended in 1922 and £310 was made available for the work (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1922). However this extension, and nearly all subsequent extensions, did not add to the length of the jetty. Rather, most alterations were made to the length and width of the jetty head.

The 1922 extension increased the size of the head by squaring-off the face and widening it to 32ft and this width was extended 60ft down the length of the jetty (Figure 17).

–  –  –

The following year, the Council Warden wrote to the Minister complaining about the state of the shoreward end of the jetty, and that residents wanted to build a shelter shed but were waiting for the extensions that had been promised for some time (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1923). In addition, the log wings and forcings of the abutment were starting to wash out (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1924a).

Consequently, the PWD authorised the expenditure of £123, and later another £60, in extending the shore end of the jetty 44ft, bringing the jetty’s total length to 209ft (see Figure 18) (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1924b).

By 1931, the fruit industry was expanding and the local orchardists were finding the jetty too small. They also wanted a shed built to protect the cases of fruit that were being stacked on the jetty in the open when the packing sheds were too full. The PWD authorised expenditure of £194.7.6 on widening the head of the jetty by 18ft bringing its total width to 50ft (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1931). In October 1932, a tender for £119 was accepted from A. E. Roberts to erect a 30ft by 26ft shed at the jetty (AOT, 1932: 2467). The shed was paid for jointly by the Tasman Council and the PWD. However, still the locals weren’t satisfied. There wasn’t enough room around the shed and only two carts could be unloaded at a time, leaving a backlog waiting at the shore end (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1935a). In 1935, a small extension was added to the head to allow more room in front of the shed, at a cost of about £41 (AOT PWD 1/1/163, 1935b).

Over the next 15 years the jetty received a substantial amount of repair work. A total of £2005 was spent to keep the jetty functional. In 1950, a Doctor D.B. Houston requested permission to erect davits on the jetty to sling an 11½ft boat. His request was granted on the proviso that the davits were erected on the eastern side of the neck of the jetty, about 30ft shorewards from where the head began to splay (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1950). In September 1955, the M.V. Naracoopa, which was a regular Norfolk Bay trading vessel, was unloading lime and one of the lorries carting the lime went through the decking (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1955a). After thorough inspection, it was estimated that repairs would cost about £1,200 (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1955b).

Matters were made much worse only a short time later when, just before Christmas 1955, lime stored in the shed ready for Naracoopa was too much for the rotten timbers and that portion of the jetty collapsed (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1956a). The estimated cost to repair now rose to £2,200, but as an immediate matter, £120 was authorised to salvage the shed (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1956b).

For some time there had been moves to encourage the Naracoopa to use Nubeena instead of Impression Bay, but the vessel master resisted this saying that there was not enough water at Nubeena at certain low tides. However, the PWD took further soundings at Nubeena and were satisfied that there was enough water. In addition the future of the lime industry at Maria Island looked uncertain, and consequently the PWD refused to spend such a large amount on repairs (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1956c). Repairs to the damaged section of the jetty had still not been effected the following year when a local scallop fisherman requested permission to erect a small 12ft by 10ft shed on the head for splitting scallops (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1957a). This request was approved on the condition the shed was removed at the close of that year’s scallop season (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1957).

By 1959, the jetty was becoming derelict and regular shipping services had now ceased to use it, having transferred to Nubeena. A pile in the neck had collapsed and the jetty was deemed unsafe even for foot traffic. Accordingly, the Transport Commission gave its blessing to closing the jetty permanently (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1959). However, the jetty was not demolished until 1970 when C.C. Bailey and Sons were contracted for $950.00 (AOT AD 266/1/950, 1970).

Saltwater River Station Establishment Following the introduction of the probation system in Van Diemen’s Land, Salt Water Creek (later Saltwater River) was the first labour station instituted on the Tasman Peninsula (AOT GO 46/1, 1848: 180). It was established to grow wheat to be ground at the proposed Port Arthur flour mill. Port Arthur’s commandant, Charles O’Hara Booth, had previously recommended the site to Governor Franklin as a potential station site (Brand, 1998: 57-58). It was selected to take advantage of rich basaltic soils extending from the coast inland for 2.5km (Jackman, 2004: 18).

Progress on the station was rapid. Only 10 months after the station was settled, there were roads, piers, land cleared and more than 50 acres “…luxuriantly cropped with cabbages, potatoes, turnips, etc.” (Burn, 1842, cited in Brand, 1998: 64).

In January 1842 there were described as being about 400 convicts and 14 soldiers of the 96th Regiment. However, the statistical returns for 1842-43 show that there were only 346 men at

Saltwater River (Brand, 1998: 73). By 1847 there were 499 prisoners at the station (Brand, 1990:

179).

The first buildings at the station were bark and slab huts, although by early 1842, there were “extensive penitentiaries” (Burn, 1842a, cited in Brand, 1998: 64). The buildings were sited at the base of a rocky headland overlooking the bay but even by 1848, the accommodation buildings were still described as of a temporary nature, with no separate “apartments” (AOT GO 46/1, 1848; Jackman, 2004: 18). Dormitories were opened up and provided with bed-places divided by battens. By 1847, it was recognised that extensive upgrading was required. Plans were drawn up but little was implemented. However, the first bark and slab huts had at least been replaced by brick buildings (Brand, 1990: 176). It was just as well, because the station, along with Cascades and Impression Bay, was required to help accommodate 100 of the 600 convicts from Norfolk Island (AOT CSO 22/8/290, 1841a).

In 1852 Saltwater River, Cascades and Impression Bay convict stations were proclaimed by Executive Council as “Houses of correction for the reception and punishment of transported and other male and female convicts” (Hobart Town Gazette, 3 August 1852).

Saltwater River station was closed during the early 1850s after the scrapping of the probation system and the cessation of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. In 1860 the land was being

5. SALTWATER RIVER STATION 29

leased to a Mr Evenden who kept cattle there, as well as doing some cropping (Brand, 1998:



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