The Landing at Port Dalrymple 1804


Chainsaw Sculpture

Yesterday we had a family outing to George Town, about 40 minutes drive from Launceston where I live. We were showing my wife’s grandmother around. Near the river where we parked the car was a chainsaw sculpture by artist Eddie Freeman depicting whales, penguins and men puling a telegraph cable. Not far was a stone monument celebrating the landing of Colonel William Paterson of the New South Wales Corps in November 1804.

Paterson Monument

Paterson Monument

He had come down from Sydney with a boatload of settlers and convicts. His mission was to claim northern Van Deimen’s Land for Britain and establish a colony. At the time this area was known as Port Dalrymple. It was interesting for me standing there at the monument, looking out over the river (now called the Tamar), wondering how the view might have been different to Colonel Paterson. It is wonderings like this that drive my writer’s imagination crazy. I can’t help but be fascinated.

Earlier, in January 1804, The Lady Nelson had sailed further up river to where Launceston now sits at the meeting of the North Esk and South Esk rivers. On seeing this site, William Collins had the following to say:

“On my return I examined the Arm taking a S.W. direction upon opening the entrance I observed a large fall of water over Rocks, near a quarter of a mile up a straight Gully, between perpendicular Rocks, about one hundred and fifty feet high; the beauty of the scene is probably not surpass’d in the World; this great waterfall or Cataract is most likely one of the greatest sources of this beautiful River, every part of which abounds with Swans, Ducks, and other kinds of Wild-fowl.”

“On the whole, I think the River Dalrymple possesses a number of local advantages requisite for a Settlement and merits some attention.”

The area Collins was describing is of course the Cataract Gorge, one of Launceston’s most popular spots. I try to put myself in the shoes of these pioneers, walking these familiar shores when they were new and unknown. There is certainly a romantic quality about discovering new places. It’s not so different from the feelings evoked when thinking about exploring strange new worlds out there in the galaxy. I guess that’s why the same people often write both science fiction and historical fiction. They’re both about exotic worlds distant from the one we currently live in. What I’d give to travel back to the 1800s and stand side by side with these people. Of course in order to achieve this, I’ll either need a Delorean or a TARDIS.

Source Used:

Bethell, Llewlyn Slingsby. The Story of Part Dalrymple. Life and Work in Northern Tasmania. Blubber Head Press. Hobart. 1980.


About Adam David Collings

Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction who works as a software engineer during the day. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam is currently working on a science fiction novel.
This entry was posted in Australia, History, Tasmania and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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