Wattle Hill

From Dr. James Ross's "Hobart Town Almanack" of 1830:—

"Leaving the town (Sorell), and proceeding to the Lower Settlement of Pittwater, at the distance of one mile, the road crosses a stream called the Ironstone 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."

The Mr. Walker above referred to, whose Christian name was John, was an English settler from the Cape of Good Hope, who settled in what is now known as the Wattle Hill district, then called Ironstone Rivulet. He married a daughter of Samuel Wiggins of H.M. Regiment, then stationed at Hobart Town. She was born on June 7, 1805, on the site where St. David's Cathedral now stands, and was buried in the family vault in St. George's Churchyard, Sorell. A son of that union was the late Mr. Thomas Walker, father of the late Mr. John Walker, who was born at Wattle Hill on March 17, 1859, and whose deeply-lamented death occurred recently at Sorell. The family name is still worthily represented in the district
in the person of Mr. Cyril H. Walker, a son of the last-named gentleman. The Walker family home was remarkable for its fine gardens.

In Middleton and Maning's "Tasmanian Directory and Gazeteer" of 1887 we note the following names of residents then living in the Wattle Hill district:— George Butling, John and David Cracknell, W. F. C. Crowder, Edward Donovan, Jonas Gatehouse, B. Gatehouse, Wm. W. Henwood, James and Amos Hayton, David Hildyard, George Hunt, Alexander Hean, James Marshall, Ephraim Newitt, John Walker, Thomas and William Wiggins. Of these the names of Gatehouse, Hayton, Hean, Newitt, Walker, and Wiggins are still familiar in the district.

As disclosed by old records in the Education Department, an application from Dr. Blyth, then Warden of Sorell, was received on September 9, 1865, for assistance towards the establishment of a school at Ironstone Rivulet, afterwards called Wattle Hill, the great number of wattles growing there suggesting the name. Evidently the request was not favourably considered, for in October of the following year Dr. Blyth informed the department that he had £100 in hand, and urged that some action be taken in the immediate erection of a school. Messrs. Bartholomew Reardon, Ephraim Newitt, Edward Green, Jonas Gatehouse, James Hayton, and others subscribed towards the fund, and on November 14, 1867, a cheque was forwarded by the residents through Mr. R. Crocker for the above amount. On September 9, 1868, the tender from a Mr. Wiggins to erect the building for £360 was accepted, the site being on land donated by the late Mr. John Walker, about four miles fiom Sorell, on the Sorell-Nugent road. The school is still in good condition, being a substantial edifice of brick.

On June 1, 1869, the Wattle Hill State School was opened, with Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Edgar in charge. In 1875 they were succeeded by Mr. J. J. Low and Miss Low, and in 1877 Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Hayes took up the duties of the school. Senator J. B. Hayes, Messrs. W. A. T. (Aubrey) and H. E. Hayes, and Mrs. Ernest A. Eddington are four of their family. In 1880 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Burton were appointed as teachers there, followed by Mr. D. A. Cole in 1883, Mrs. McCabe in 1887, Miss Walker in 1889, Miss Blackett in 1891, Mr. R. Judd in 1894, Mr. W. H. Wheeler in 1896, and Mr. H. W. Wells in 1897. Miss F. M. White is the present teacher. 1

In my first article on Wattle Hill I referred to the original John Walker, who settled there in the early days, and married a daughter of Samuel Wiggins, of H.M. Regiment, then stationed at Hobart Town. She was born on June 7, 1805, on the site where St. David's Cathedral now stands, and was buried in the family vault in St. George's Church-yard, Sorell. Since writing that article I came across the following paragraph, which appeared in "The Tasmanian Mail" of November 17, 1910:—

"The remains of Miss M. A. Walker, third and only surviving daughter of the late Mr. John Walker, sen., of Wattle Hill, Sorell, were interred in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery
yesterday morning. The funeral was a very representative one, the chief mourners being the nephews of the deceased, Messrs. James and L. A. Lee, of Hobart, Mr. John Walker, of Nugent, Sorell, and Mr. J. Walker Lee, of Ballarat, Victoria. Miss Walker's mother is credited with being the first white woman born in Tasmania, she having been born on the site of the old St. David's Cathedral. The family, which consisted of five sons and five daughters, were all natives of the Sorell district, and well known throughout Tasmania. With the death of Miss Walker the whole family are now gone. Miss Walker was a great favourite, and had many friends.",

Some of the finest farms in the Sorell municipality are located in the Wattle Hill district, notably Nonsuch, Mayfield, Delmore, Glen Rae, Highlands, Clifton, Harefield, Springmount, The Pines, Ellen Bank, Woodbrook, Stoneleigh, High Frith, Shrub End, and Clovernook. Dairying, grain-growing, and root-cropping are extensively carried on on the rich volcanic soils of the district, and wool growing receives attention on the higher bush lands in the direction of Nugent and Forcett. Depasturing of stock on the large areas under cultivation and grass is a profitable venture, by reason of the productivity of the soils. The rearing of pigs is another branch of husbandry that proves very remunerative. Therefore, the district
contributes a fair quota of the fat stock marketed at the usual fortnightly Sorell sales, only about five miles distant. Wattle Hill is nicely situated, being intersected by the Sorell-Nugent Main Road.

Among those controlling the farming interests in this fine agricultural and pastoral district may be mentioned Messrs. Batchelor, H. J. Bayles, E. L. Kingston, D. A. and C. T. Hean, D. B.
Gatehouse, Wm. Hodgson, W. A. Newitt, A. A. and M. L. Wagner, J. D., O. N., and C. T. Hayton, C. C. Madson, W. H. and C. J. White, Jas. Quarrell, W. J. Jones, A. W. Wiggins (fruitgrowing), Thos. Wiggins, and C. H. Walker. Besides the State School there is a good public hall. Mrs. M. Weeding has charge of the post and telephone office, and keeps a small store. The mail service is a tri-weekly one (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), connecting with Sorell, and run in conjunction with Nugent. 2

  • 1. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 3 September 1929: p 3
  • 2. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 11 September 1929: p 5