A Timeline of Launceston

1798 – Matthew Flinders and George Bass sheltered from bad weather at Port Dalrymple and spent sixteen days exploring the river as far as Freshwater Point. The river was called Ponrabbel by the indigenous people.

1802 – A French expedition led by Baudin was commissioned by Napoleon to undertake scientific research in the South Seas. One group led by Faure explored the entrance to Port Dalrymple.

1804 – An expedition to settle the area was formed in NSW under Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson. He arrived on the Buffalo on 4 November and set up a camp at Outer Cove, later named George Town. The site was not considered suitable for a permanent settlement with limited water, sterile soil and poor quality native grass.  Most of the soldiers and convicts moved across the river to Western Arm to establish a new settlement called York Town.

1805 – 4 March, York Town became the headquarters of the Port Dalrymple settlement. On 19 March the Sydney arrived with 612 Bengal cows, ten calves and 34 ewes. By December only 246 cattle had survived, so Paterson moved the remaining cattle to the banks of the North Esk River. Sheds for the cattle and an eight by ten foot hut were built at the ‘Plains’.

1806 – The farming settlement near the Cataract was called Patersonia by Governor King and Richings Park by Paterson. In June the Venus arrived in Port Dalrymple from Sydney with much needed supplies, but the convict pilot, first mate and guard sailed the ship away to Chile. On 26 August Paterson left for Sydney on the Sophia. Captain Kemp was left in charge.

1807 – Paterson returned in March. The new settlement was being referred to as Launceston, the birthplace of Governor King in Cornwall, England.

1811 – Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered a new town be built at Outer Cover to be called George Town, for purposes of taking over command of the northern settlement of Van Diemen’s Land.

1812 – Governance of the Island is moved to Government House in Hobart.

1815 – Work began on George Town.

1819 – The seat of Government for Northern Tasmania was moved to George Town.

1820 – Visit by John Thomas Bigge to conduct an enquiry into colonial administration.

1821 – Second tour by Governor Macquarie.

1824 – The northern headquarters was moved back to Launceston after commissioner Bigge conclusively recommended Launceston. The Cornwall Hotel, now Batman Fawkner Hotel is built in Launceston.

1825 – Governor Macquarie returned to England.

1829 – On February 9th, the first issue of the Launceston Advertiser went on sale. The proprietor was John Pascoe Fawkner.

1838 – Franklin House is built by convicts for Britton Jones, an ex-convict brewer, at Franklin Village.

1840 – Thousands of enterprising people begin migrating to the mainland, and the new colony of New Zealand, seeking work. Tasmania enters a depression due to economic issues and manpower shortages that continues for 40 years.

1842 – St John’s Square Chapel is built, (now known as Milton Hall). The Launceston Examiner is founded by James Aikenhead. The Examiner is Australia’s third oldest surviving newspaper. The Launceston Mechanics’ Institute is founded.

1847 – Dr William Russ Pugh performs the first operation with anaesthetic in Australia at Launceston’s St John’s Hospital, now Morton House, Charles Street.

1850 – The Anti-Transportation League was established to end the transportation of convicts to Tasmania.

1851 – First intercolonial cricket match is hosted in Launceston. (Van Diemen’s Land v Port Phillip)

1864 – The Council commissions the design and construction of a Town Hall. The South Esk Bridge, now called Kings Bridge was opened.

1867 – Launceston Town Hall is first occupied.

1904 – The second span of the South Esk Bridge is opened, and the name is changed to Kings Bridge.

1911 – A suburban tramway opens in Launceston, remaining in operation until 1952.

1913 – Trams begin running to Trevallyn, sharing Kings Bridge with cars.

1929 – Launceston is flooded, the worst floods in Tasmania’s history.

Article written by Phil & Matt Stephens of Stephens Creative