Risdon Cove

Bridgewater, located 19 km from the Hobart CBD, and is part of the northern suburbs area of Greater Hobart. Bridgewater is situated on the eastern shore of the Derwent River. Bridgewater is one of the first suburbs encountered by visitors traveling from the state's north via the Midland Highway and the Brighton Bypass. Bridgewater once had a railway the train station, which was used by commuters for travel into the city. Bridgewater saw the development of mass-public housing in the 1970s.

The Bridgewater Bridge and Causeway spans the Derwent River between Bridgewater and Granton to the north of Hobart. It consists of a vertical lift bridge and a specially-built causeway connecting the bridge to the east bank of the river. It accommodates a two-lane highway, a single track railway and, on the bridge section, a footpath. As the bridge is the major connector of the Midland Highway on the eastern shore and the Brooker Highway on the western, the lifting of the bridge can cause considerable traffic delays, depending on the time of day and season.

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Risdon Cove, 1803

The European settlement of Tasmania had a false start, and it happened at Risdon Cove in 1803 on the eastern bank of the River Derwent. Lieutenant John Bowen was sent to establish a settlement in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) with 48 free settlers. The Lady Nelson anchored at Risdon in September 1803; it was followed five days later by the whaler Albion with Lt. Bowen on board. In 1804 Lieutenant Colonel David Collins arrived in the Derwent from Port Phillip with instructions to take charge of the colony.

Within a few days he rejected Risdon Cove as a suitable settlement site and moved his party across the river to Sullivan's Cove. The military and convicts disembarked near Hunter Island on the 20 21 February 1804 and thus beginning what is now Hobart. The Risdon colony struggled on for some months with Collins and Bowen in disagreement as to who was in charge and which was the official colony. Eventually Risdon Cove was abandoned. A cairn marks the spot where settlement took place.

On a private voyage of exploration between 1792 and 1794, Captain John Hayes spent several weeks in Southern Tasmania, during which time he named Risdon Cove, Mount Direction and the River Derwent after the river which flows through his birthplace of Cumberland, England. Risdon, Risdon Vale and Risdon Cove were named after Captain William Bellamy Risdon, who spent time in the Dutch East Indies, embarking on many adventures. In 1794 Risdon took command of the British ship, The Duke of Clarence. Holland the British were at war soon afterwards and Risdon captured a Dutch cruiser, taking her as a prize to Calcutta, arriving September 2nd, 1798. In December, taking the command of the Anna, he returned to England.

Risdon Cove Massacre

Risdon Cove was the site of the slaying of a number of Moomairremener Aboriginal people by white settlers in May 1804. The number killed varies from three to up to sixty, depending on which report of the incident one reads. It may well have been an incident in which neither party could be easily blamed. The Aborigines were on a kangaroo hunt and may have been incensed to see some of their game expropriated by these strange new white people. Offical records state that the colonists mistook the natives' purposes and believed they were under attack.

Pioneer priest Rev Knopwood recorded the affair in his diary with information obtained from Dr Mountgarrett and this record tells a different story to Lieutenant William Moore's account. In his report on the incident, Lt. Moore claimed that 'from the numbers of them and the spears etc. with which they were armed, that their design was to attack us . . . and that they had wounded one of the settlers, Burke, and was going to burn his house down and ill-treat his wife.' Moore claimed that only three had been shot but Dr Mountgarrett's account, which seems to point to an official cover-up, records the death toll as being somewhere between thirty and sixty.

Lt. Moore, who was in charge of the military at the colony, would later be referred to by Lieutenant Bowen as 'a mutinous rascal'. Bowen had been away exploring at the time of the massacre and had left Lt. Moore in charge. Bowen eventually sent Lt. Moore to Sydney under arrest, but Governor King dismissed the charge and Moore returned to the colony. At the time, King had major concerns over Bowen's 'private affairs' - meaning his relationship with one Martha Hayes - which may explain by King believed Moore's account over Bowen's.

The massacre was a significant event, being one of the earliest and most contentious clashes between the old and the new people in Tasmania. There were to be many more clashes, until the last of the original inhabitants were moved first to Flinders island in 1833, and then finally to Oyster Bay in 1847.

In 1992 the ancestors of the once prolific Tasmanian Aboriginal community met at Risdon Cove, and determined to win back their land. In 1995, they were successful and Risdon Cove was granted to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Land Council. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre now administers it. The site today includes a visitors centre, picnic area and walking tracks.

Restdown Homestead

Though David Collins abandoned the Risdon Cove settlement, Martha Hayes took up land on the western side of the River Derwent. She was to marry Andrew Whitehead in 1811 and had her third daughter by him. In 1812, their neighbour Major Andrew Geils erected a brick dwelling, which he called Restdown. Geils left our shores and became an absentee landlord and in 1820 Alfred Thrupp and his wife, Sarah were living there. Then in 1825 William Lyttleton was placed in charge of Restdown and in July 1829 it was sold to Thomas Gregson. He added on to Restdown and died there in 1874. The homestead still stands on a hill above Risdon Cove and can be reached by a walking track from the cove.

Risdon Brook Reservoir

Risdon Brook Reservoir provides drinking water for Southern Tasmania. Accessed from Grasstree Hill Road, a short distance from the roundabout on the East Derwent Hwy at Risdon, areas around the reservoir have been landscaped, with toilets and picnic facilities provided. There are views to Mount Wellington and Mount Direction from the eastern side of the reservoir and bush views around the whole reservoir perimeter.

Around the lake is a 4 km track which is an easy walk for the whole family (around 90 minutes). Cycling is allowed. Follow the vehicle-width track all the way around the reservoir in either direction. The track is mostly flat but undulates around the eastern bay and at the approach to the northern end of the reservoir.

Bowen Bridge

Bowen Bridge is a four Lane road bridge crossing the Derwent River. The Bridge lies on the river approximately half way between the Tasman Bridge and the Bridgewater Bridge. The Bridge links the East Derwent Highway with the Brooker Highway (as Goodwood Road) at Glenorchy some 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Hobart. It was opened in 1984.

The Bowen Bridge was built with Federal funds following the collapse of the Tasman Bridge in 1975. It was built with the intention of assisting the commuters of Hobart, should something happen to the Tasman Bridge. Unfortunately when put to the test, the city experiences numerous traffic problems, the main reason to this being that the road infrastructure between the bridges on the eastern shore of the river are unable to handle those volumes of traffic.
Total length: 976 metres
Width: 22.4 metres
Longest span: 109 metres
Clearance below: 15.2 metres

Cleburne Homestead

Built in the 1820s, Cleburne may be the earliest authentic Heritage accommodation in the Derwent Valley, and, indeed, in Tasmania. Cleburne was known for some years as the Mount Direction Homestead, and is listed as Classified on the National Trust Register. The buildings cluster round a courtyard and are approached up a drive bordered by she-oaks and Stricta pine. Mt. Direction homestead evolved during the 1830s and 1840s from the standard Georgian four squares with attics above, gun barrel hall down the middle floor plan, to receive the polite distinction of a ball room, with separate entry from the rear courtyard. Cleburne is just a few hundred metres from where a small British party under the command of 23 year old Lieutenant John Bowen of the Royal Navy landed in early September 1803 to found a British colony in Van Diemen's Land. Location: 1036 East Derwent Highway, Risdon Cove

Martha Hayes

Martha Hayes' property at Rison Cove

Martha Hayes (1786-1871), who came to Australia in 1803 as the daughter of a female convict, was one of the original white settlers at Risdon Cove. She stayed there when the colony officially moved to Sullivans Cove, would later buy land there, and become Risdon Cove's first white settler. Her life is closely interwoven with many colourful characters who lived in Hobart during the first few decades. She was to outlive all the men who played an integral part in her life.

Little is known of Martha's life before her arrival at Risdon Cove as a strikingly beautiful 14 year old. Her mother, Mary, had been found guilty of receiving stolen goods and sentenced to 14 years transportation. Martha accompanied her mother on the voyage. It is probable that Martha met the 22-year old Lt John Bowen aboard the convict carrier H.M.S. Glatton on the journey to New South Wales and struck up a very friendly relationship with him. After their arrival in Sydney, Mary was assigned as a servant to a settler. Martha, of course, was free and could consort with others much more easily than her mother, and ended up going to live with Bowen. She formed a liaison with him and had two daughters by him.

When Bowen sailed to establish the settlement at Risdon Cove, Martha accompanied him, first living in a tent, then a wooden hut. Bowen began building a new house some half-a-mile up the valley in a commanding position overlooking their old hut and the Parade Ground. The foundation ruins can be found today, now located on private land. Martha gave birth to John's daughter Henrietta in March 1804. With Gov. King supporting David Collins as the colony's commander, Bowen saw no future for himself in Hobart while Collins was in charge, and left the colony for good in August 1804, leaving behind Martha and their daughter Henrietta. Bowen arranged for Martha to be declared a settler, thus allowing her to receive a grant of land and government rations.

In February 1811, eager to be reunited with Martha and his daughter (it is not known whether he ever knew he had a second daughter, or that Martha was about to marry someone else), Bowen wrote to Robert Peel, under-secretary of state for the colonies, suggesting that he should succeed Collins as lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land. He explained that he had a deep interest in and connection to the colony, having had involvement in its establishment. His request was denied, the reason given was that a naval officer was not permitted command troops. In March 1812 he again sought the lieutenant-governorship if it became vacant, but received no reply. He died after a long and painful illness at Ilfracombe in North Devon, England, on 20 October 1827.

Meanwhile, 18-year old Martha had been left in the company of her mother and step-father, who had moved from Sydney to Hobart, under the watchful eye of Rev. Knopwood. A second daughter, Martha Charlotte, was born on 3rd April 1805 after her father had left. Bowen's two daughters never met Bowen, however they both took great pride in their descent from him. Sadly, Henrietta died in June 1823, unmarried, at the age of 19. Martha Charlotte married surgeon, Dr Robert Garrett in 1823.

Martha soon received the attention of her neighbour, Andrew Whitehead, and they married in 1811, Martha using the surname Hayes. Whitehead, a former convict who had come out with David Collins when 18 years old. Andrew and Martha enjoyed a social life and their home became a central point of the small New Town community. Governor Lachlan Macquarie from NSW visited their farm and stated of Whitehead that he was 'a respectable farmer'. It is believed that the first racetrack in Tasmania was established at their farm in 1813. In that year they received more land at New Town when Whitehead was appointed to take charge of the government farm at Cornelian Bay.

As Knopwood became older, Martha took great pride in looking after his welfare. There was obviously a close connection between them. In January 1836 after Whitehead s death four years earlier, she married again, this time to Bernard Williamson, a Police Clerk at Brighton, who was just twenty years of age (she was 50). Even so, she outlived him when he died in early 1871. Martha briefly lived at her son-in-law s property, Lea Farm, at Browns River. On May 15th 1871, at the age of 85, she too died and is believed to be buried at St David s Park, Hobart, though there is no marked grave.

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How to get there:
Risdon Cove is 10 km east of Hobart. How to get there: cross the Tasman Bridge, drive north along East Derwent Highway, then left into Saundersons Rd.