1922 - Circular Head Peninsular - Some Early History

The following article is from the Advocate 13 Dec 1922.

Circular Head Peninsular.

The history of the Circular Head peninsula, containing some 5500 acres, as far as the white race is concerned, had its beginning in the year 1820. In the Stanley cemetery there is an epitaph to one of the V.D.L. Co.'s servants, who, was drowned in the year 1827 - a few years after settlement was made. The whole of the peninsula was then owned by the Van Diemen's Land Company. Under the V.D.L. Co.'s charter the company was empowered to employ a certain number of assigned servants, and it was some of these that were landed from the company's vessels on to the rocky coast in those early days. Mr. H. G. Spicer settled on the peninsula in August, 1867, and even then there were no macadamised roads, or streets, existent except for a piece to "Highfield," the present residence of Mr. H. F. Ford, which was formed by assigned labor. By immigrating settlers, farm laborers and the servants referred to the company did Tasmania, a service. Many of them were well-to-do, and of high repute, and it is noteworthy that some of their descendants - worthy men - are still living in the district, and hold valuable areas of land. Herds of prime cattle besides were imported by the company, and the standard of breeding stock exhibited at the agricultural, and pastoral shows for many years, and the high quality of the stock the company still holds indicate the benefit that the State derived, and is deriving, from the importations.

Mr. Curr, who took up his residence at "Highfield," was the company's first manager. He was succeeded by Mr. Jas. Gibson, who later returned to England. The administration of affairs was then vested in a Launceston firm until 1868, when Mr. J. W. Norton-Smith arrived and took charge. He resided at Stanley, and exercised control of the company's extensive holdings at Woolnorth, Circular Head, and Emu Bay, and subsequently moved his headquarters to Burnie. Mr. A. K. McGaw (the present manager), who some time afterwards superseded Mr. Smith, also has his residence at Burnie. Most of the original 20,000 acre Circular Head block is now in the hands of private settlers, many of them descendants of the former tenants. The company still retains Woolnorth, the Western Plains, and a few blocks at Forest. They sold "The Nut" about seven years ago to an English gentleman, who leased it to Mr. W. S. H. Smith, of Stanley, for grazing purposes. The surface soil of this unique land formation has never been utilised to any extent for any other purpose than that of grazing. It was originally, densely covered with trees and honeysuckle. The timber was gradually cleared off and used for domestic purposes.

To students of geology "The Nut" is of intense interest. The late Mr. W. H. Twelvetrees, examined its composition, and in his report on it shortly afterwards stated that it contained seven distinct classes of basalt. Its formation is extremely unique. In the early days the V.D.L. Co. claimed low water mark as their boundary, but as the result of a Supreme Court case this was overruled. A considerable amount of damage was caused the coastline of the peninsula at one time by shifting sands, but the progross of this was eventually arrested by the plantation on the foreshore of marram, spent and other grasses.

The peninsula was greatly improved by its original owners the V.D.L. Co. and placed under grass. It is now one large grazing area, divided up into farms, of which the following are the holders: - Messrs. Henry Anthony, B. F. Smith, E. J. Anthony, E. J. Button, Johns and House, H. F. Ford, V. Medwin, A. C. Smith, J.Burke, A. W. Wells, J. S. Trethewie, Wm. Tatlow, and the V.D.L. Co., who possess the Western Plains. The high quality of the soil, especially that on the Green Hills, is too well known to require comment here. Its carrying capacity for stock is unsurpassable, and the dairy returns are proof of the producing properties in the fodder. Besides private dairies and a large milk walk, there is a cheese factory and a butter factory, both receiving good support. The cheese establishment, which Mr. F. J. Gourley manages for Messrs. Robertson and Gardiner (Melbourne), is turning out approximately 1 ton cheese per day, and exporting an average of 3½ to 4 tons weekly. Eleven dairy herd keepers on the Green Hills are the sole suppliers. In the vicinity of 1100 gallons of milk is received daily, and it is all produced within a radius of 1½ miles of the factory. It is one of the largest and most up-to-date cheese factories in the State, and the cheese it manufactures has a reputation for its superiority. It is said to be equal to any Victorian product. During October the company paid 1/6 per lb. for butter fat.

The butter factory, which is located in a stone building near the wharf, is owned by the Emu Bay Butter Factory Co., and managed by Mr. R. Mollison. It. receives patronage from centres as far away as Marrawah, Montagu, and Rocky Cape. The output is now approximately 5 tons per week. The factory has made appreciable headway lately. Last year a refrigerator and an extra pasteuriser were installed, and this year another churn was put in.1