A Magnificent Place

 

Cambria on Tasmania’s east coast has long been recognised for its homestead, its gardens and the surrounding natural beauty. In 1884, travelling journalist Theophilus Jones called it "a magnificent place, having every advantage under the sun".

Originally entered in the Tasmanian Heritage Register in 2001, Cambria's entry has been revised to better describe the history and significance of the place.

Cambria was the home, pastoral estate and business headquarters of early Van Diemen’s Land immigrants George and Mary Meredith. It was the grandest east coast estate of the nineteenth century.

Built in the years 1832-1836, the house was prominently sited with a view of the adjacent river, sea and mountains.. From the main house, Meredith could view his paddocks and extensive gardens, his boats moored in the Meredith River and the outline of Freycinet where he had established a whaling station. The revised Heritage Register entry ensures that this visual relationship between the main house and those areas associated with the Meredith family endeavours can be appropriately managed into the future.

In the mid-1800s the estate reached from the seashore up into the hills, and included Kearneys Bogs, on the divide between Swansea and Campbell Town. Two generations of the Meredith family owned Cambria into the early part of the twentieth century. By that time the property was significantly reduced in scale, but the home and its gardens have remained substantially intact in the modern era.

The place demonstrates aspects of early pastoralism and agriculture in colonial Van Diemen’s Land, including the granting of savannah woodlands developed through years of Aboriginal burning to settlers. These settlers were to become the bastions of the convict assignment system, using free convict labour to establish Tasmania’s early economies of wool-growing, whaling and sealing in the first half of the nineteenth century.

 Oyster Bay pine uprights in a barn

Cambria is an intact early Colonial-era farming complex commanding a cultural landscape shaped by Aboriginal burning practices and maintained by European agricultural and pastoral practices that includes the regular burning of pastures. The Cambria barn features a rare example of the use of Oyster Bay pine for uprights, and the property retains a fine, largely intact and well-documented Gardenesque-style garden containing discrete elements such as the nut walk, pinetum, shrubbery and curved entry drive.  This was the garden immortalised by George Meredith’s daughter-in-law Louisa Anne Meredith in My home in Tasmania (1852).

 The nut walk

The Meredith family is also of great significance to Tasmania. George Meredith’s standing as wealthy grazier, whaler, sealer, boat builder, newspaper proprietor and political reformer led to 1830s newspaper proprietor Andrew Bent naming Meredith ‘the King of Great Swan Point’. The property also has a special association with politician and conservationist Charles Meredith, and with writer, artist and conservationist Louisa Anne Meredith. The property has long been noted for its aesthetic qualities, being described and sketched at length in the 1850s, since which time it has featured in several books about Tasmania’s heritage and gardens.

  Tasmanian Heritage Register Entry - Cambria   (2Mb)

For more information on the public process consultation for this entry, click here.

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