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Our History


The area surrounding Pipe Clay Lagoon formed part of the Moomairemener aboriginal homeland which encompassed the eastern shore of the Derwent River from South Arm in the south to the Jordan River in the north and to Pittwater and Coal River to the east.

It is believed this group was a part of the larger Oyster Bay clan that inhabited the western side of the Derwent River. 

Reference to the Cremorne area was made very early in the European settlement of Tasmania when the ‘Ocean' and ‘Lady Nelson' left Port Phillip Bay to sail to Van Dieman's Land to join Lt. John Bowen's settlement at Risdon Cove.

On the morning of 11th February 1804 as the ‘Ocean' tacked into Storm Bay a severe gale blew up, blowing straight down the river, it prohibited passage that way.  Instead, Captain John Mertho took shelter in Frederick Henry Bay, anchoring off Pipe Clay Head.  Lt. Gov. Collins was anxious to contact the settlers at Risdon, so barely an hour after dropping anchor, a six man expedition led by Lt. Edward Lord of the Royal Marines set out on foot for Risdon Cove to report Collin's arrival.

The group with the aid of Mathew Flinders' map of the Derwent as a guide, set off to cover the fourteen odd miles, crossing the narrow neck of land near Lauderdale and following the coast along the northern edge of Ralph's Bay. After finding it difficult and using all their stores of food and fresh water they were relieved to see a boat on the river.  It carried Lt. Moore who, hearing them fire a gun sailed to the shore and brought them safely to Risdon Cove.

Back on the ‘Ocean' some set the net to fish, others tried hook and line from the deck.  A few flathead were landed and many others lost, due to "the place being full of sharks".  Captain Mertho, Surgeon Mathew Bowden, William Collins, and the Rev. Robert Knopwood, who was later to be the first Chaplain of Van Dieman's Land, spent the day ashore.

They explored the salt-water Pipe Clay Lagoon and the freshwater lagoon nearby.  Here and at the back of Mount Augusta were found a great quantity of birdlife and in the lagoon, oysters were collected.

Over the next two days the wind stayed contrary, with strong squally winds and heavy rain. The officers and officials kept themselves amused with further excursions ashore.  More oysters were collected and devoured, and a party of seventeen natives was sighted.  By early Wednesday morning, with ‘light and variable airs inclinable to calm' the Ocean at last weighed anchor and made sail for Risdon Cove where they arrived on 15th February, 1804.


First European settlers

Land was first granted to Sgt. James McCauley and his wife Maria. He was a non-commissioned officer who arrived with Lt Col. Collins in 1804.  The first reference to him in regard to his land at Clarence Plains was the 1819 muster where it was noted that he had:- 400 acres - 46 acres in wheat, 1 acre in barley, 2 acres in beans and 4 acres in potatoes, 100 bushels of grain in hand, and 347 acres in pasture.

Sheep were his main stock, of which he had 356 plus 28 cattle. He and his wife were on Government stores, as were his 3 servants.

During this time he was also a Constable in the district.

The survey map of the District of York1844 shows a large section had been granted to Elias Grimsey including most of Calvert's Hill to where it joined to the property of Elizabeth Mack.  Elizabeth was the adopted daughter of Rev. Robert. Knopwood who had helped secure a land grant for her in the area.  Elizabeth and her husband Henry, established a farm called Woodland Green but in 1830, Elizabeth died in childbirth with her second child at the age of only 22 years. Eight months later Henry married her friend Christiana Smith - they had a large family and prospered at Woodland Green.  Today many descendants of Elizabeth, Henry and Christiana Morrisby still live in the area.


Waterloo Farm

One of the first homesteads to be built in the area was owned by ex-army Captain Busby who married and moved to the district on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and consequently named his farm ‘Waterloo'.

John Robert Morrisby purchased ‘Waterloo' from widow Mary Busby in 1898 and worked the 50 acres beside Pipe Clay Lagoon in orchards.  This was reported as "where once it was a wilderness of fern and scrub now produced apples, pears, apricots, cherries and in between the trees, rows of peas and root crops.  The soil was enriched by seaweed and by alluvial deposits carried down from volcanic hills nearby".  John Morrisby built a large apple shed near the lagoon and transported the fruit cases by tractor to a jetty and then onto a trolley to the ship's sides for delivery to the Hobart markets.  At the peak of the districts rural development 4 jetties existed in the lagoon.


The Subdivision of Cremorne

After the First World War the property ‘Waterloo' was divided between two Morrisby sons, Alfred and Allan, and the half nearest the beach was called Cremorne after Alfred  wife's former home in Sydney.  The homestead, ‘Cremorne House' was built about 1909 and still stands on a knoll overlooking the village.

One of the rarest of all eucalypts, ‘Eucalyptus Morrisbyi' is endemic to the Cremorne area and has been named in recognition of this family's long association with the district.

Alfred Morrisby sold the estate of Cremorne in 1943, and it was subsequently subdivided and put on the market in stages from 1946 by Hobart real estate agents, Shaw and Tregear.  There were 201 blocks along the waterfront, along the lagoon and some inland and by 1949, 121 had been sold and 48 dwellings built,virtually all weekenders.  There was also a reserve, giving public access to the beach.  The new township was naturally called Cremorne.

As a postal destination, the village was known for some time as ‘Pipe Clay' and the Sandford area was known as ‘Muddy Plains' or ‘Clarence Plains'

William White, a zinc worker, was one of the first to buy and purchased a block in May 1946 to build a house as a weekender.  In 1947, William brought three other blocks using one block to build Cremorne's first shop, White's Cash Store, where he sold basic stores at holiday times.



Cremorne in 1956.


Cremorne developed and was officially proclaimed a town on 12th October, 1959 - published in the Tasmanian Government Gazette 21st October, 1959.


Cremorne from the air looking North in 1959.


The Cremorne Progress Association was founded in 1948 and was formed with the idea of fighting for amenities in the area and a better access road and initially worked out of a small wooden building situated in the park on Cremorne Avenue.  The road into Cremorne was at first a dirt track with holes which sank deep into the sand and it was the Progress Association which, on many occasions brought gravel to fill the hole, with the local residents carrying out the work themselves.

In 1962, land in Wisteria Avenue was offered for sale for the building of an outdoor bowling green and after a group of interested residents in Cremorne formed a committee, the property was purchased.  In 1972 extensions to the club house and greens of the Cremorne Bowls Club were under-taken and in 1993 the greens were changed from natural grass to a new synthetic green.

By 1968 the Progress Association had achieved a sealed road into Cremorne, street lights, rubbish tins and development of the Beach Reserve, again often through working bees with the residents. Early in 1970 the Clarence Council built a sealed road along part of the back beach along Pipeclay Lagoon, which many did not approve of and to this day the road has not progressed any further.

The 1960s saw many regattas in Cremorne on Pipe Clay Lagoon beach with children's activities on the sand and yacht races in the bay.

At this time Cremorne was a popular destination for a day trip to the beach for many families.

Cremorne suffered in the 1967 ‘Black Tuesday' bushfires and the destruction would have been far worse but for the efforts of volunteers and prisoners from Risdon Prison.  The bushfire raged down the peninsular towards Cremorne, burning the old homestead of ‘Woodlands' and very selectively destroyed thirteen houses.

The school bus driver came to stand by at Sandford school in case they had to evacuate but they kept the children there and no one was hurt.  The rector at St Martin's Church, Sandford went to Cremorne to help, but could only get about half way in. "There wasn't much we could do, but some people and I helped by putting out fires on the HEC [electricity supplier] poles with buckets of water, and that was about all we could.  The fire was so fierce, we just saved a few poles and that was about it."

Some of the local families - mothers and their children took to the beaches for safety. The police blocked access into Cremorne from the turn off at South Arm Highway but residents ignored the blocked road in a desperate bid to save their homes and took to the lagoon beach to drive into the township.


July 25th, 1986 the residents of Cremorne awoke to a rare sight!


Snow in Cremorne!


Snow at Cremorne in 1985. 


Boat Stranding at Cremorne

In the late 1800s steam ships were used as the main means of conveying freight and passengers between Hobart and the surrounding southern and Southeastern rural communities. The S.S. Nubeena was typical of the river steamers of her day.

She was a wooden hulled vessel of 93/138 tons built in 1890 by W. Bayes at Battery Point, for W.J. and G. Whitehouse and W. Pitfield of Hobart who traded as Whitehouse Brothers.

On Friday 7 October 1910, she berthed at Koonya on the Tasman Peninsula.  During the day about 40 head of cattle were loaded for transport to Brown's River (Kingston).  She left Koonya at 6.00pm with the cattle and 18 passengers aboard.  On the trip she had to again call at Dunalley where the voyage was delayed when she had to stop and retrieve one of the cattle that had jumped overboard, leaving Dunalley late at around 8.10pm bound for Hobart. 


This was the start of the S.S. Nubeena's' last voyage - she never made it to Hobart.

In the vicinity of Slopen Island, in Frederick Henry Bay, captain John Franklin, having clerical work to attend to handed over to the mate, Gordon Vickary and left the bridge.  The night was dark with a westerly wind blowing and in order to avoid a beam sea, Vickary was told to keep the vessel "up to windward".  The order, it appears was obeyed too literally, with the result that by the time she had crossed Frederick Henry Bay the steamer was a few miles off course. At 10.40pm she came ashore in a heavy swell, on the beach at Pipe Clay Lagoon, now known as Cremorne.  The news of the accident reached Hobart about 1am on Saturday morning.  Arrangements were made for another steamer S.S. Breone to proceed to Pipe Clay Lagoon to collect the stranded passengers but by the time she arrived the majority had either walked or been transported by horse-drawn vehicles to Bellerive where they had caught the early morning ferry to Hobart. It was also reported that hospitality was provided by local residents and that no one was injured except for one passenger, a man, who had slipped on the deck and hurt his wrist.

The S.S. Nubeena appeared to have been badly damaged and the next morning was found to be firmly embedded in the sand and was given up as a total wreck.

A further report appeared in The Mercury newspaper on 11 October which said that the ‘S.S. Nubeena' was in a fairly upright position but was buried in the sand to a depth of 6 feet.  At low tide it was possible to walk around the vessel.  Expert opinion was that the ship's back was broken.

The details surrounding the wreck and how it came to be so far off course were brought out at a Marine Board inquiry held on October 24th, 1910.

The board found Captain Franklin was at fault.  When leaving the bridge he should have been more careful in giving directions on the course to be steered and made sure that the mate clearly understood the position of the steamer. The Board decided to be very lenient and ordered Captain Franklin's certificate to be "suspended for 3 months from the date of the stranding." 


Nubeena aground, Cremorne Beach. 1910.


The wreck on Cremorne Beach of the S.S. Nubeena and the inquiry happened over 100 years ago. Many a tide has ebbed and flowed over the remains of the wreck.  Now all that stands as a memorial to her is the rusty old boiler partially sunk in the sand.

In 2010 a group of Cremorne resident's formed a committee to organize an event to acknowledge the stranding of the S.S. Nubeena, which occurred  100 years ago.  The event ‘Wrecked in Cremorne' was held on Saturday 9th October and was a great success with many Cremorne families enjoying the activities and re-enactment of the S.S.  Nubeena's coming ashore on the beach.  A history exhibition was also held in conjunction with the event and the information above is a shortened excerpt of some of the history we have collected.

This is, though, an on-going project, so please get in touch with us on the web-site ‘contact us' function to add any history or interesting stories you may like to share.