You’ve probably seen this monument alongside the Lyell Highway hundreds if not thousands of times but do you know what it’s all about? Those who have stopped to read the plaque know that it commemorates the start of work to build Tasmania’s first arterial road – connecting Hobart and New Norfolk.
This important and enduring development in the early history of New Norfolk had its start 200 years ago.
Hobart Town Gazette, May 30, 1818
“On Wednesday last Mr Dennis M’Carty commenced the undertaking, under an agreement with Government, of opening a Road from Hobart Town (by New-town and Austin’s Farm) to New Norfolk,” reported the Hobart Town Gazette in its issue of May 30, 1818.
“As this road embraces the communication with the populous village of New-town, and forms the first 15 miles (to the ferry) part of the principle road to Port Dalrymple, it cannot fail to be of benefit and advantage to the Settlement.”
McCarty was one of the first European settlers at New Norfolk in 1807-08 and in April 1808 he was made a constable for the district while still serving time as a convict. He built the first house in New Norfolk and operated a boat between the two sides of the river, roughly in the area of Ferry St.
McCarty received his pardon in 1810 and was soon producing wheat and potatoes for Hobart and Sydney. In 1811 Governor Lachlan Macquarie was a guest in his house. By 1814 he had been convicted of smuggling and was in Sydney awaiting sentence when his home at New Norfolk was raided by bushrangers and property worth nearly 550 Pounds (more than $80,000 today) was stolen.
Credit: Thanks to Damian Bester for permission to re-use his article and images that originally appeared on New Norfolk News (www.newsnn.net).