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1821 : The Great Western Road



1821 : The Great Western Road

Population 1821

Flinders Harbour 4,221

Flinders Landing 2,612

Sealers Cove 963

Hillsborough 646

March 1819 : The Thames

In March 1819, a ferry (The Thames) running passengers and goods from Sealers Cove to Flinders Landing left in the morning in sunny and warm weather on its twice weekly run between the settlements. Unbeknown to all on board The Thames, a storm approaching from the West would make this one ferry trip no one would ever forget. About half way between Sealers Cove and Flinders Landing (near a large island), the wind picked up and storm clouds gathered. Unable to make it back to Sealers Cove and not being close enough to Flinders Landing to reach a safe harbour, The Thames attempted to seek refuge in a large bay on the other side of the island. A series of huge swells battered The Thames, forcing it to run aground on the mainland but in rough seas. As many of the passengers were unable to swim, 26 people lost their lives that day in the frantic attempt to disembark. Most of the goods onboard were wrecked or swept out to sea. Of the 11 survivors, 3 followed the coast into Flinders Landing and alerted the townsfolk to the unfolding tragedy. Altough a search party set out on foot immediately, there was little that could be done to salvage the wreckage. The remaining 8 survivors who had huddled on the beach were taken back to Flinders Landing to recouperate. The tragedy that was The Thames reinforced to both settlements that there was an urgent need to build a road connection so they would no longer be at the mercy of the seas.

The Thames as it ran aground in the surf.


The Great Western Road circa 1821

By the time of the Thames tragedy, the beginnings of a road between Sealers Cove and Flinders Landing was already underway. The influx of new settlers and their unmet demand to open up pastures for crop and livestock saw an expansion of the settlements along the coast. As land near the settlements was filling up with farms and housing, the push inland to seek unclaimed land intensified.

After the shipwreck, a renewed effort (beginning at Georgewater) saw the road extended approximately half way towards Sealers Cove to the West. Similarly, the road begun to extend from Sealers Cove, heading North East of the settlement. Approximately half way between the settlements, a new township (Hillsborough) was founded and land along the road towards Georgewater was quickly settled.

The Great Western Road circa 1821


Sealers Cove

By 1821, the settlement of Sealers Cove had a population of nearly 1,000 people. The original settlement, based mainly on the trade of seal products, grew rapidly and small farms sprang up along the Great Western Road which was being extended towards Hillsborough and Flinders Landing. A small settlement at Haberfield grew up to service the surrounding farms. At the start of 1819, a ferry terminal was constructed to improve the cartage of passengers and goods between Sealers Cove and Flinders Landing. Sealers Cove circa 1821

Sealers Cove circa 1821


The new settlement of Hillsborough

In 1820, the construction of the Great Western Road saw the establishment of a new settlement approximately half way between Sealers Cove and Flinders Landing. The influx of settlers to Flinders Harbour and the fertile soil saw Hillsborough rapidly develop as a major new town in the district. Unlike the other settlements of Flinders Harbour, Hillsborough was developed on a formal axis with plenty of land set aside to accommodate future civic building requirements.

Hillsborough Settlement


An improved docks area for Flinders Landing

Although the wharf in Flinders Landing had been coping adequately with the growth of the town, the need for a place for ferries to dock and an urgent need for space for cottage industries to process the raw materials and farm produce meant that the docks would require siginifcant expansion to cope with future demand. The fishing industry had also expanded and required its own landing.

in 1819, the townsfolk organised a working group to construct a greatly expanded wharf which would allow for the expansion of industry and commerce well into the future while providing a place for the townsfolk to rest and relax in their free time. Several commerical buildings were also constructed close to the wharf to take advantage of the passing trade.

Dock facilities at Flinders Landing circa 1821


A new settlement at Pyrmont

As the land and settlements closer to Flinders Landing began to fill up, the need for agricultural land saw the development of a new settlement at Pyrmont (to the east of Grenville Town). A road was extended along the steeply sloping coastline towards a spit of land near the entrance to the grenville River. Being closer to the coast, Pyrmont would also serve as a vantage point to spot ships coming into Flinders Landing.

Pyrmont settlement 1821


Growth of Flinders Landing

As the population of Flinders Landing rapidly expanded (the population tripled between 1818 and 1821), the need to house the new arrivals saw the expansion of existing settlements. Grenville Town, Georgewater and Flinders Landing all expanded in size but the most pronounced change was in Flinders Landing. A number of farms near the town centre were replaced with housing while open land near the water was cleared for the construction of small cottage industries to service Flinders Harbour and other colonies in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land.

Map of Flinders Landing showing new housing and industry


Map of Flinders Landing District circa 1821


Message from the Motherland : April 1821

In April 1821, A fleet of ships from England sailed their way up the Grenville River and docked in Flinders Landing. This unexpected visit and the request delivered to the local administrators, which was the cause of many an argument between townsfolk for years to come, would have a profound effect on the development of Flinders Harbour.

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Ack! I got all the way to the end reading "Finders Harbour" instead of Flinders Harbour. Anyways, those are really good pictures. You have done a great job of making simple "settlement" type pictures look interesting and not cheesy, and the history lesson is nice. Now, it's no "The Hills," but hey, what is, am I right? 5/5, at any rate!

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