Sorell was so named after Lieutenant Governor Sorell, during whose regime the official foundation of the township took place in 1821. Previous to that time the district was known as
Pittwater. It is recorded that Lieut.-Governor Sorell had designs on making Sorell the capital of Tasmania, and took a great interest in his namesake. George Thomas Lloyd, who arrived at Hobart Town in 1820, and subsequently settled at Sorell, thus wrote in his interesting "Thirty-three Years in Tasmania and Victoria," published in London in 1862:—

"The beautiful lake of Pittwater is an estuary of the sea, varying in width from one mile to a mile and a half, by about 18 miles in length. It is almost in direct communication with the great Southern Ocean, from which it is divided only by a narrow point of sea sand, known as Seven-Mile Beach, whereon rolls a grand and never-resting surf, whose briny thunder is reverberated through the surrounding hills and dales for many miles. This lake loses much of its charming aspect at low water, when it presents a narrow and winding channel, bounded by miles of mud and sandy flats continuously from the Heads (or entrance) to the mouth of the Coal River, where it terminates. Thence small craft of from 40 to 50 tons can ascend that river three miles during flood-tide, reaching the prettily-situated town of Richmond.

The lake, therefore, is only navigable by vessels not exceeding 60 tons, except immediately at the entrance known as the Lower Ferry, where there is a depth of 18 to 20 feet. Its waters teem with oysters, cockles, mussels, and other edible fish. As a proof of the extraordinary abundance of shell-fish, I frequently received a commission from my kind, thrifty aunt to obtain a supply of fine oysters for pickling, and well remember the pride I experienced at having collected upwards of 800 in two hours from a bay bordering on my uncle's farm.

I commenced life as a schoolboy farmer and grazier, on the margin of this beautiful lake, in the fine English-looking district of Sorell, which, from its prolific returns to the agriculturist, was termed the granary of Tasmania. There my worthy uncle doffed his epaulettes and converted his honoured sword into a ploughshare. With the spirit of a lion he grappled with the giant gum trees which obstructed his regenerating plough, and viewed with unfeigned delight his own first field of waving golden corn. But, alas! the bright future which he had so vividly traced out for himself received a sad check at the termination of the first year. His comfortable farmhouse was destroyed by fire . . . Frogmore Castle.

Nothing daunted, however, he speedily erected a humble thatched cottage on a new site, chosen for its cheerful and commanding view of the Lake Pittwater, which numbered amongst its other charms a surface thickly studded with an endless variety of ducks, geese, pelicans, and graceful jet-black swans. The beauty of our new residence inspired my patron with renewed vigour. Ere one month had elapsed the foundation-stone of Frogmore Castle in the Antipodes was laid with the accustomed honours, and the high-sounding name of Frogmore assumed for his fine estate of 1,300 acres.

The police force appointed for the protection of the extensive district of Sorell and the lower settlement of Pittwater, comprising a widespread population of about 800 souls, was one magistrate, Mr. James Gordon, a chief constable, Mr. Laing, and three constables."

Lloyd's uncle was Lieutenant Charles Jeffreys, R.N. Frogmore Castle is still in existence, though over 100 years old, and is now the residence of Mr. Victor S. Darling, a son of the Hon. J. Darling, M.L.C. In recent years the name of Frogmore has been changed to Penna, which now embraces a considerable area west of Sorell, including Brinktop. In 1829, according to Dr. James Ross, the late Lieut. Jeffreys's farm belonged to Dr. Garrett. (To be continued.) 1

Dr James Ross, in his "Hobart Town Almanack" of 1830, writes:—

"At two miles beyond the bridge over the Orielton Rivulet the traveller enters the town of Sorell, the principal town of the district called Pittwater. There are already
several streets laid out, and numerous houses built. The public buildings are a handsome church, situated in a square in the centre of the town, built by Mr Addison, a parsonage house, a good gaol and schoolhouse; there are also two inns in the town.

The country round is beautiful, the land being very fertile, and divided into numerous small farms. Small vessels come up within half a mile of the town, to the farm of Mrs Wade. Leaving the town, and proceeding to the Lower Settlement of Pittwater, at the distance of one mile, the road crosses a stream, called the Iron Creek. The country on both sides is highly cultivated. Here are the farms of Mr Cruttenden, on the right, and among many others, on the left, may be mentioned those of Captain Glover, J.P., and Mr Birchall, and, still higher up the stream, those of Mr Gatehouse and Messrs Counsel and Walker, adjoining which is the flour mill of Mr Downward."

From Walch's "Tasmanian Guide Book" of 1871 we read:—

"The Sorell Causeway, the construction of which was first contemplated by Governor Sir W. T. Denison, with the view of securing direct communication between Hobart and the agricultural district of Sorell and the Coast, is, under the existing contract, to be completed in 1872. The Causeway crosses the arm of the sea known as Pittwater, from the Bluff Ferry to the Sorell shore, and the works are now being carried out by the contractors through the Lands and Works Department. There has been expended under different contracts the sum of £11,000, and the tender of Messrs Oldham and Helmer for completing the approaches, the Causeway, and bridging, from the Bluff to Medway Point, a distance of nearly 2,000 yards, and from Medway Point to Halstead Point, on the Sorell shore, a distance of about 1,600 yards, is £13,528."

Besides the municipal and police offices there are a public hall and library, State-school (instituted in 1821), two hotels (Gordon Highlander and Pembroke), St. George's Church of England, and Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Churches. An Agricultural Bureau office has recently been established at the corner of Gordon and Pembroke Streets. In addition, there are the Sorell Cottage and East Coast hospitals, in charge of Nurses Lindley and Swan respectively, Messrs C. P. Hill's and John Belbin's motor garages, and the general stores of Misses F. Bidgood and Mrs E. Braithwaite, and Messrs V. J. Braithwaite, A. Grierson, A. Hunt, and W. Peacock. Messrs A. Parker, O. F. Peacock, and P. J. Walsh are the local blacksmith, baker, and boot repairer respectively, and Mr E. G. Grant is the local butcher. Miss V. Green is the official in charge of the Post and Telegraph Office. Dr David Hamilton is the resident medical practitioner, and Dr W. G. C. Clark, of Richmond, visits the district regularly. Another well known establishment in the township is Mrs J. F. Dore's private boarding-house.
Trooper W. J. Grace is in charge of the police station, and Messrs A. H. Reardon, J. F. Dore, and T. S. Hean are Warden, inspector, and council clerk of the Sorell municipality, in the order named.

Sorell has the distinction of possessing an excellent racecourse, on which meetings are occasionally held, and a public recreation ground, where cricket and football votaries hold sway. The local rifle club has recently been resuscitated, owing to Colonel Blacklow's ardent support and influence. A good tennis court has lately been laid down, and exceptional interest is being manifested in the game. Many kinds of sport are obtainable in the neighbourhood, the fishing especially being good. Mr L. R. Dodge, the local school teacher, evinces great interest in the encouragement of healthy recreation and sports for the young folk. 2

Since 1914 the township of Sorell has been provided with good water from its own reservoir at Cherry Tree Opening (now Pawleena), about five miles distant. Local residents are now able to grow good fruits and vegetables in abundance, some of the gardens presenting a highly creditable appearance. From "Engineering News" of October 12, 1916, we gather the following interesting information regarding the scheme, which cost over £5,000:—

"A concrete arch dam, designed by the writer (Mr. W. Nimmo, Engineer-in-Chief, Department of Public Works, Hobart, August 21 1916), and built under his general
supervision, was recently constructed in Sorell Creek, Tasmania (not the Sorell Creek near New Norfolk) Australia. The dam has a crest length of 155 feet, and an upstream radius of 110 feet. The thickness is two feet at the top and six feet at a depth of 30 feet, and the stress on the concrete is 15 tons per square foot. The height from crest to bedrock is 50 feet; the lower 20 feet, however, is very short, and is practically a cut-off wall carried through a dike of decayed rock. A raised crest in the centre, limits the passage of floods to a length of 50 feet at either end of the dam. The capacity of the reservoir is only 66 acre-feet, and the dam was just completed, and the concrete still green, when heavy rains fell. The reservoir was filled in three hours, and a depth of 2½ feet of water flowed over the by-washes for two days without injury to the structure. During the next three months several floods passed over the dam. The design stress of 15 tons per square foot is conservative, but was adopted, as neither foreman nor men with previous experience of this class of work were obtainable."

The principal commodities of the district are grain and other agricultural produce, which are raised in large quantities. Wheat and oats are the chief cereals grown, and the production of hay claims considerable attention. Fortnightly sales are held by Messrs. A. G. Webster and Sons Ltd. and Roberts and Co., and are well maintained by good yardings of fat and store stock, supplemented by general produce. Some of the finest estates in Tasmania for grain growing dairying, and wool growing are located in the Sorell district—Noble
Farm, Cornhill, Belle Vue, Belmont, Horsecroft, Rosendale, Flimby Park, Penna, Bay View, Thornhill, Western Hill, Burnside, Summer Hill, Frogmore, Brinktop, Sunnyside, Orielton, Kidbrook etc.

Among those long associated with the history and progress of Sorell may be mentioned the names of Marshall, Henwood, Cracknell, Featherstone, Read, Allanby, Birchall, Phillips, Grant, Bellette, Duncombe, Reardon, Bilton, Hunt, Hill, Davis, Gatehouse, Quinn, Peacock, Iles, Parker, Denholm, Newitt, Morey, Paice, Cooper, McRae, Roe, Braithwaite, Bidgood, Lindley, Green, Taylor, Hean, Crocker, Gill, Walker, Wells, Wood, Dunbabin, Pullen, Harrod, Fenner, Turvey, Zelley, etc.

From Mount Elizabeth, close to the road leading to Forcett, and little more than a mile from Sorell township, an extensive and very beautiful panoramic view may be obtained, combining a lovely foreground of hill and valley, land, and water, with the distant heights of Bruny and Betsy Islands, Mount Rumney, and the Huon, the open ocean, and the grand outline of Mount Wellington. Delightful views may also be had from the Glebe Hill, and Mr. George Paice's farm, Cherry Tree Opening. Another great attraction is the Seven-mile
Beach. All these view points are easy of access, and well repay the tourist for a visit. 3

  • 1. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 19 September 1928: p 10
  • 2. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 21 September 1928: p 4
  • 3. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 8 October 1928: p 2