Contact: Suzanne Smythe 0409 259 118 suzannesmythe@y7mail.com

Variety Bay Project

The Variety Bay Historic Site consists of a complex of three separate but linked areas located on the "Murrayfield" private property on North Bruny Island. (Google Map)The sites and access have been surveyed, and a leasehold title has been granted to the Bruny Island Community Association Inc. The Bruny Island Historical Society is affiliated with the Association, and manages these sites on their behalf. Documentation has been approved and registered by the Recorder of Titles.

Access by the public to the site must be supervised as it is surrounded by a working farm and to satisfy the stipulations of the lease agreement. Visitors interested in touring the site should contact Suzanne Smythe on 0409 259 118. Cost is a donation to the Historical Society.

Lot 1 contains the remains of a pilot station built by William Lawrence in 1831. There are remnants of an 11 roomed house, a tower, concrete water tank, stables and several outbuildings. The foundations of the house and the tower are constructed of stone, indicating they were among the first to be constructed. Later additions such as the stables, kitchen and baker’s oven made use of the Lot 2 Brick Kiln bricks.

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Lawrence lived here and worked as a pilot for the next 25 years. He was granted a large number of assigned convicts and used these to establish a brick works.(Site Plan Lot 2) Three kiln foundations and a clay pit remain in the gully near the creek. Over 60,000 bricks remained when the property was vacated and many of these were used to construct the Bligh Museum in Adventure Bay in the 1850s.

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Lawrence was a keen supporter of organised religion and became a friend of Archbishop Nixon. Lawrence provided the land, workforce and furnishing for St. Peters, the first Anglican church to be built south of Hobart. Nixon was supposed to have designed the church in the Colonial Bond design.

The church served the whole Channel community and was serviced by itinerant ministers. The Births, Marriages and Death records from it are to be found in the History Room. It fell into disuse in the 1890s, largely due to its isolated position and was also ravaged by bushfires around that time. Bricks for the building were manufactured on site and clay pits and a water hole are still evident near the church.

There is an accompanying cemetery with five known graves. The identity of the occupants is unknown. They may have been assigned convicts. The graves appear to be brick lined.

 
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