Taroona is a major residential suburb approximately 15 minutes drive from the centre of Hobart, Tasmania on the scenic route between Hobart and Kingston. Although on the edges of the City of Hobart, Taroona is actually part of the municipality of Kingborough.
Taroona is an Aboriginal word meaning sea-shell, specifically that of a 'Chiton'. The traditional owners of the lands now known as Taroona were the Aboriginal people of the Derwent estuary known as the Mouheneener people. Relatively little is known about the indigenous people's use of these lands, although some shell middens are said to have been found along the shorelines.
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The Alexandra Battery is a colonial era fort built on the banks of the Derwent Estuary at Geography Bay near Sandy Bay. The presence of the Russian warships in the Derwent River, and the condemning of the Battery Point batteries in 1878 had expedited the development of the Alexandra and Kangaroo Batteries, which were built on opposite sides of the estuary. Construction began on the new fortifications in 1880, and at the same time, a new permanent field artillery unit, the Southern Tasmanian Volunteer Artillery equipped with two breech-loading 12 pound howitzers and two 32 pounder guns on field carriages, was raised.
Following the dismantling of the Battery Point batteries, much of the stonework was relocated to the site of the Alexandra Battery. The site of the Alexandra Battery is now a public park with commanding views of the river, and much of the original construction is still accessible.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Department of Defence acquired land at Piersons Point and South Arm on the opposite bank of the Derwent Estuary. Fort Direction was built on Piersons Point; its guns, though no longer used, are still in place. The only enemy action to ever affect Hobart happened on 1 August 1942, when a submarine-launched Japanese spy plane flew from the submarine s mooring in Great Oyster Bay south along the east coast of Tasmania, before flying northward along the Derwent River surveying Hobart and then returning to its mother submarine.
Shot towers were used in the 18th and 19th centuries in the manufacture of lead shot for weapons. In a shot tower, lead is heated until molten, then dropped through a copper sieve high up in the tower. Tasmania s only shot tower is at Taroona, south of Hobart. It was Australia s first shot tower, used to make shot for muskets. Built by Joseph Moir in 1870, it would remain Tasmania s tallest structure for over 100 years, until superseded by the 61 m ABC tower in Hobart.
One of three surviving in Australia today (the most well known is in the heart of the Melbourne CBD), the tower is a remarkable tapered structure 48 metres tall and features an internal spiral staircase of pit-sawn timber and an external gallery at its top which was probably used to store firewood for the upper cauldron. The gallery is now a viewing platform. I won t tell you how many steps there are to the top, as those who make the trek and get the count right are given a certificate to say they climbed it. Entry fees apply.
Just before reaching Taroona is the Truganini Reserve, named after the woman cited (with some contention) as the last surviving "full-blooded" Tasmanian aboriginal. A steep track leads from the reserve through forest up the side of Mount Nelson to the semaphore station at the summit that offers superb views over the Derwent River. It is a long and steady climb through relatively dry open bushland, well documented in the Hobart City Council's Bicentennial Park pamphlet. The track is well graded and maintained, and we caught a terrific view back towards Mt Wellington which had a good covering of snow. The return walk takes around an hour and a half.
The Alum Cliffs walkway also offers some eminently photographic views. At the end of the walkway is the Blackmans Bay blowhole. The scenic delights of the area can be enjoyed from the walkway, or on the coastal drive through Blackmans Bay, Tinderbox and Howden or the views of Droughty Point, Bruny Island and D Entrecasteaux Channel from Piersons Point. The route followed by today s Alum Cliff Track has long been a coastal path used by local people. The Alum Cliffs walking track commences on the top of the bluffs above the southern end of Hinsby Beach and runs along the top of the 50-100 m high Alum Cliffs for 2 km to Tyndall Beach. Approached from Kingston, Alum Cliffs Track begins at the northern end of Kingston Beach. There are multiple entrances along the route at Tyndall Rd, Harpers Rd, Taronga Rd. Metro bus stop is 100m south of the intersection of Taronga Rd and Channel Highway. Track notes >>
You can access Taroona s popular foreshore track from many streets which run down to the Derwent River. The track takes you on a gentle stroll around the coastline, along Hinsby and Taroona beaches, and amongst remnant coastal bushland. Blue gums, black gums, sheoaks and blackwoods form the canopy, with an understorey of hopbush, banksias, coast wattle, salt bush and grasses. Enjoy the views south to the Alum Cliffs and the Shot Tower, and over the Derwent River to Opossum Bay and South Arm.
Between Grange Beach and Flinders Esplanade North, there is a delightful, short track along the cliff top, behind Utiekah Drive. The walk is on a Public Reserve and has magnificent views of the river and down to the mouth of the Derwent. The track links to other sections of the foreshore walks in Taroona, enabling residents and others to enjoy our marvellous water views. Track notes >>
Taroona Beach is located 1 km to the south on the southern side of rocky Crayfish Point, site of both marine and wildlife research centres and a sewage treatment plant. The 500 m long beach faces southeast down the Derwent estuary. It is backed by the tree-dotted Taroona Park, then playing fields with a boat ramp at the northern end of the beach. A cluster of rocks separates it from Hinsby Beach. This beach is backed by houses in the north and steep tree-covered bluffs to the south, with public access in the centre at the end of Jenkins and Hinsby streets. The Alum Cliffs walking track commences on the top of the bluffs above the southern end of the beach and runs along the top of the 50-100 m high Alum Cliffs for 2 km to Tyndall Beach.
The first European settlement at Taroona took place in the early 19th century, when land was granted to settlers who had relocated from Norfolk Island. For the remainder of that century, the area was largely used for farming, and was sparsely populated. In the first half of the 20th century, more large and elegant residences were built, as well as beach shacks and cottages which were used for seaside holidays by the residents of Hobart.
On the foreshore above Taroona Beach there is the grave of a young sailor, Joseph Batchelor, who died on the Sailing Ship Venus in the Derwent Estuary in 1810, and was buried ashore on 28 January 1810. It is reputed to be the oldest European grave in Tasmania, and it is a declared Historical site.
After World War II, significant subdivision of Taroona was undertaken, and the suburb's population rapidly expanded. Having been developed mainly in the "era of the automobile", Taroona was from the beginning a commuter suburb, and it has a notable absence of commercial or retail premises, many of the early retail enterprises having lost the battle with larger supermarkets elsewhere.
Taroona was the childhood home of Tasmanian-born Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, who attended the river-side Taroona High School before completing her high schooling at Mount Nelson's Hobart College and embarking on her tertiary degree at the University of Tasmania.
Lead vocalist of The Seekers, Judith Durham (born Judith Mavis Cock, 3 July 1943) lived in Taroona as a young girl, and attended the Fahan School in Sandy Bay before moving to Melbourne in 1956. She joined The Seekers in 1963.
David Bartlett, former Tasmanian premier (2008), was also raised in Taroona. Gwen Harwood, poet and librettist, lived in Taroona with her family for a number of years in the nineteen fifties.