Captivated by Ross

One of Tasmania’s finest heritage villages

On previous visits to Ross I had never had more than a pie from the renowned bakery and lunch by the picturesque old sandstone bridge. Little did I know the town had so much more to offer. When we could find no other accommodation for the Christmas break we settled for a colonial cottage in Church Street Ross. The cottage walls were over two feet (600 mm) thick; it was well furnished and had an enormous four poster bed. The brochure advised that it was built in 1830s. While Sian took a rest I explored the deserted streets on Christmas day, with my Ross walk guide brochure I became aware of the other stone buildings in Ross and some colourful history.

When Governor Lachlan Macquarie with his wife and entourage forded a river in the central plains of Van Diemen’s Land in 1811 he took the initiative and named the River after himself. Although the Government Surveyor Charles Grimes had mapped the route between Hobart and Dalrymple (Launceston) a few years earlier. It must have been quite a spectacle when the Governor, Lady Macquarie with servants and military escort made the journey.

The island colony had two separate administrative centres. Hobart had been established by Lt-Colonel David Collins in 1804, while Lt-Colonel William Paterson also proclaimed the land in the King’s name at Port Dalrymple (near Launceston) in 1804. Neither man acknowledged the authority of the other, Collins was a navy man appointed from London while Paterson was army and appointed from Sydney. After the route connecting the two centres had been surveyed a tacit agreement was reached. The Hobart administration would have control below the 42nd meridian of latitude and Launceston the country above it, a point just north of the present township of Ross. The arrangement lasted until 1812 when Governor Macquarie made Hobart the administrative capital of the Island, although rivalry between the two centres continued well into the twentieth century.

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