Triabunna Bimble

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Fri 15 Jan 2016 23:57
Triabunna Bimble
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Mabel settled, we went for a bimble. Out of the gate to our left, across the road to the ferry dock, on the opposite side of the estuary is a marina.
We stood and watched as a local fishing boat wiggled his way out through the markers. We could see an island to his right so off we went.
The fisherman is now just to the left of this picture. The tide is out, an information board along the road caught our eye.
Dead Island. The reason for using Dead Island, Spring Bay, as a burial site is not known. Access is only at very low tide, so coffins would have to be carried by boat. The headstones on Dead Island are dated from 1846 to 1860, unfortunately, some are undecipherable. The three earliest headstones are those connected with the 11th Regiment of Foot Soldiers, stationed at Spring Bay.
John Turner died 7th of April 1847 Soldier aged 36 – Died of inflammation of the brain.
James Hogan died 28th February 1848 Soldier aged 31 – Died of pneumonia.
Daniel Hunter died May 1846 aged 7 years and 6 months – Died from an illness lasting 2 years.
John Childs died 13th March 1847 aged 16 weeks – Died from jaundice [possibly a soldier’s son].
James Davis died 8th September 1855. Shoemaker aged 42 years. hanged himself during a period of insanity. ‘Boast no of tomorrow   For ye know not what tomorrow may bring’ is the inscription on his headstone.
Thomas Martin died 19th May 1851 Licensed publican. The headstone also commemorated his wife: Caroline Martin died 2 July 1857 – Died while crossing the Prosser River.
William Morgan Underwood died 25th June 1851 aged 58 years.
The inscription on the headstone of Mary Meddows is ‘Forget Me Not’. Died 15th June 1863 aged 44 years. Died of apoplexy [brain haemorrhage] from excessive drinking.
Peter Haley died 29th March 1860 aged 37 years. Labourer – Died of palsy. Also his son
James Haley died 15th February 1856 aged 7 months – Died of jaundice.
‘Remember me as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so will you be
Remember death and eternity’
From here we could see it was really, really low tide and we could make out a way in a zig-zag fashion to get to the island. Problem was the stones were just a bit too much for my faithful flip flops to handle [these trusty steeds that took me to the top of the active volcano, Mount Yasur and so many other heavy terrains] plus in between the stones was oozy mud and we didn’t know when the tide was due in, how fast it would happen and we didn’t fancy getting over there stuck without a phone, water etc. etc..........
Oooo how maddening. We could make out some of the headstones in the grass.
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Disappointed, we continued with our bimble knowing if we turned right and right again we would be on our road. On the second right we saw a little house with a plaque. The Magistrates Cottage.
Wiki says:- Triabunna is the second largest township on the east coast of Tasmania, (after St Helens, population 2049, 2006 Census) the civic and municipal heart of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and is 84 kilometres to the north-east of the state capital Hobart. It is a coastal town on the Tasman Highway, and is sheltered within Spring Bay at the mouth of MacCleans Creek and Vickerys Rivulet. The nearest township is Orford, 6 kilometres to the south on the far side of the bay. At the 2006 census, Triabunna had a population of 796.

"Triabunna" is an Aboriginal Tasmanian word for the endemic Tasmanian native-hen. The town was founded in 1830 as a station of the 63rd regiment, and later the 51st regiment also called Triabunna home for a time.

Triabunna is a scenic township surrounded by beaches, hills and beautiful tracts of eucalyptus forest. The area contains many historic buildings from Tasmania's colonial period. Triabunna also commands excellent views of Maria Island, which can be reached by a short ferry ride from the town. Our reason for being here.

The weather on the east coast of Tasmania is particularly mild, and warm sunny summers are a feature of life in Triabunna, which makes it a good holiday or retirement destination. The pleasant beaches and ease of access make the town a haven for those who enjoy watersports such as fishing, sailing, surfing, and diving. Triabunna also has excellent facilities for tennis, cricket, golf and Australian rules football. Bushwalking in the nearby forests is also popular.



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At the end of the road we were at the Christmas Shop. Front view and along the left side of the building. Currently for sale.





Mrs. Brodribb on the verandah. Not much has changed over the years.....we could picture Santa hanging in front of the first window.


The information board read: This colonial building. Vicary originally owned this large house and a shop next door, which stocked groceries, jumpers and trousers as well as boots and shoes. Jack Brodribb bought the business and added ready made dresses to the stock, the first shop in Tasmania to do so.

When owned by Mr. Luttrell, a barn at the rear was used to stable the horses from the coaches stopping over at Triabunna House. Mr. Luttrell also dealt in possum skins, these being stored in the stable. After selling their wares to Mr. Luttrell many of the young lads in the town would then ‘repossess’ the skins and try and sell them back to him! “By faith I think I’ve seen these skins before” Mr. Luttrell would exclaim sending the lads racing from the premises.

Clements also owned the building and included a bakehouse at the rear.

In 1947, the Swan family moved here from Wielangta, Rheban with their sixteen children and stayed until 1980.





Behind us is the Triabunna Take-Away, the sign reads: The Best Little Take-Away in Tassie, we think so. Although it’s along the road from us, this is the take-away that owns the land we parked Mabel on, us and a dozen like us. Time to go back to the information board outside the Christmas Shop.





One of the outstanding characters in Triabunna was Ron Castle. He built the original shop opposite in 1924, and opened Monday to Saturday between 7:30am and 11pm.

Before regulations were changed, the front door was closed on Sundays, but by entering through the back door the same service was available. Everything was stocked on shelves made from the wooden boxes kerosene tins were packed in. There was no packaged goods then – sugar, flour, biscuits, pollards, bran, wheat, nails, – everything had to be weighed as required. Cottons, laces, needles, buttons, boot laces etc. always seemed tangled. But time seemed plentiful! Tea chests contained skeins of wool and slippers. These were tipped on the counter......’if you want – you sort’.

The business was not noted for speed of service, but customers came because they were always sure the item they wanted would be available.

All the ceilings were lined with hooks from which hung numerous goods including boots, Wellington boots, shoes, kettles, billy cans, buckets, pots & pans, asbestos stove mats, mops, shovels etc. 

Blowflies were always a problem and children woild always sweep them from the windows and use them for fishing bait.

Ron was never a great window dresser, he displayed oranges in chamber pots.......







The Barracks 1843. The 51st Regiment, whose duties were on Maria Island, was stationed at Spring Bay in 1843. [Maria Island was a penal settlement between 1825-1832 and 1842-1850]. The Government relied on private enterprise to house 80 men and officers. This proved a boon to Triabunna as cottages were built for families, stables for horses, barracks for the men and inns were opened for their thirst!

The stone barracks were built on land previously owned by John Ibbotson, a publican in 1843. In 1844 the site also contained three wooden buildings, one an inn, which had various names including the Freemason’s Arms, but most popularly known as the Retreat Inn. It was then owned by George Rudd.

After the departure from Spring Bay of the military in 1850, the stone barracks were used to stable the coach horses.

After numerous licensees, Alex Thompson bought the Retreat Inn in 1902 but later allowed the license to lapse after he bought the Pembroke Hotel now the Spring Bay Hotel which was next door.

Mrs. Reardon was the Post Mistress at the Retreat Inn between 1911 and 1926.

Bob Barry also opened a bakery. He installed a larger oven in one of the stone stables behind. This oven could accommodate 100 double loaves each weighing 4lbs. The bread was leavened with Mr.Barry’s own yeast. The bread was popular, and fishermen would call in especially to buy it. On the death of his father in 1940, Keir Barry, who intended entering the navy,ran the business until 1955.

The Retreat Inn was demolished in the 1960’s and the stone barracks were purchased in 1969 with the intention of restoration. Ideas of a restaurant and museum did not come to fruition because of restoration expenses.



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Triabunna House then and today.


Triabunna House was built as an inn for Thomas Martin, a publican, to provide accommodation for the military from Maria Island. It was repossessed by the mortgagor, George Rudd, in 1846. George Rudd was elected first Warden of Spring Bay in 1860.

Triabunna House was a public house and a shop until 1859 and was finally sold to Robert Robinson as part of George Rudd’s bankrupt estate for two hundred and seventy five pounds. Although it was a large house the timber extensions were built in the late 1880’s. It is thought that Robert Robinson built the buttressed front windows and door to advertise the stone from the Okehampton quarry.

The wooden additions were used for the electric telegraph and the Post Office and Annie Robinson and her daughter Clara were Postmistresses until 1911. The shop specialised in clothing, dress materials and haberdashery. Annie Robinson was a dear old lady who always wore a cap. She wrote to her son Fred, saying “It is well I can earn my own living and don’t want pensions!”.

The excellence of the Robinson’s and then the Thompson Family Boarding House was known throughout Tasmania. From 1906 it provided accommodation and meals for visitors and passengers on the horse and motor coaches and a new dining room was added in 1925. A meal cost two and six with a choice of 2 soups, 2 entrees, 2 meats with vegetables and a choice of sweets with tea and coffee......and usually second helpings. All the food was locally produced, for they had their own cows, poultry and vegetable garden. Apples and pears came from the Rostrevor Orchard a mile away, which for many years was one of the largest orchards in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Thompson family managed the Boarding House until it closed when the bigger dining room opened at the Spring Bay Hotel.





Triabunna House with Spring Bay Hotel to the left, the barracks would have been between the two.





The Spring Bay Hotel was built by John Felmingham and was originally known as the Pembroke Hotel. John applied to the Spring Bay Council to make the bricks, but it was later stated that the bricks for the hotel actually came from Maria Island. Some time before 1909 the verandah was added and the navigation light which was suspended beside it was the responsibility of the licensee. The hotel was enlarged in the 1930’s.





The Spring Bay Hotel today. We went for supper on our second night here, after our day trip to Maria Island. Bear had a delicious, tender lamb shank and I had a really good chicken schnitzel.



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We popped into the supermarket opposite the Christmas Shop before we headed home to Mabel. This well stocked shop had a surprise on the discount shelf – Dairy Milk with Vegemite, had to try this. Bear stayed well out of tasting reach but I braced myself. I expected it to be a little beefy, perhaps a little salty but nothing. After the initial bite and ooze feeling, the centre was like thick dark caramel bordering on treacle. I managed two squares and that was sufficient. Perhaps two a day until it’s finished......not to be repeated methinks. We bought a small pot of Bailey’s ice cream to try, now that was in a class of it’s own, same story though, wouldn’t want much of it.





Back to base, Bear leading the way. The butcher to his left and Mabel three down on the right. Parking too near the back of the butchers is accompanied by the air con unit “throwing itself into life at far too regular intervals” Patrick a native of Belfast warned us. He spends seven months a year between here and the mainland and the rest back at home. 





We get back to the car park slash campsite to this view. What a picture, four men looking at an engine, feet in positions to aid greater concentration...... We joined in and expected something to happen, nothing did and I have a date with success on the backgammon field. Huh.

                     A QUAINT COUNTRY TOWN