A combined barn
and stables ruin are a picturesque element and landmark on the Midland Highway.
The ruin and other remaining features across the property tell the story of the
evolution of one of Tasmania’s important early colonial agricultural estates -
was established during the 1820s when large land grants were used to encourage
pastoral activities in the fledgling colony. The size of the grant was
proportionate to the capital brought to the colony by the settler. The grants
remained free until 1831, and during this time pastoral estates covering
thousands of acres were established over the most valuable grassland plains of
the midlands, central highlands and south east.
grant of 300 acres is the origin of Rockwood. Early records show several
changes in ownership, with the property passing to Robert Harrison in 1841. Rockwood
is most associated with Robert’s son, Thomas John Harrison. Census records of
the day show that Thomas John was residing in a timber house on the property.
Another 18 people resided on the property – eight free settlers and the
remainder assigned convicts.
development of Tasmania’s pastoral industry was greatly aided by access to
assigned convicts who provided low cost labour. With this assistance, Rockwood
continued to develop. By the 1860s a large stone house had been constructed on
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office: PH30-1-402
and photograph from the 1860s show the two-storey stone building was three bays
wide with a return verandah on the ground floor. An extensive collection of outbuildings
can also be seen in these images, including the combined barn and stable to the
east of the stone building. This was a substantial building. The ruins
themselves measure approximately 25 metres long and 10 metres wide.
Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office:
Whishaw Collection, Tasmanian Archives: NS165/1/2
success was not to last. Thomas John Harrison defaulted on the mortgage and
Rockwood was put on the market in 1892. The Mercury notice of the sale lists
the property as being 1900 acres laid out in pasture, cultivation and orchards.
Buildings included the ‘large stone dwelling house’, dairy store, stone
dwelling, gardener’s cottage, slaughter house, stables and shearing shed.
once again entered into a period of frequent changes in ownership. The last
reference to the stone house in the Mercury dates to 1894. By the time
Rockwood is for sale again in 1920, the sale notice references only ‘two
cottages and usual outbuildings’.
significance of Rockwood extends beyond the barn and stables ruin. The original
entrance to Rockwood was through a bridge over Pass Creek. The bridge abutments
and road embankment across Pass Creek which provided access to the entrance of
Rockwood still remain, and a group of poplar species, elms and an oak that marked the
entrance are still visible on the northern side of the Midland Highway.
also a large number of archaeological features across the property.
Collectively, these features have the potential to provide information on
aspects of Tasmania rural culture including class differences, economic fluctuations
and Tasmania’s changing rural landscape, practices and technologies.
To read the full Tasmanian Heritage Register entry, click here. If you would like to provide comment on the provisional registration of this entry, details are available here.