With feet wet from long dewy grasses in the trek around Mary Ann Bay, I slopped along ready for new natural wonders. The track changed from dirt to dry sand and the large paw prints of a wandering dog were freshly impressed. Soon after, it seemed the track had not been driven on for a long while and quickly it reduced to a single file. Around 10.40 am, I had already walked up a hill, and had passed a mesh fence with the beach below to my left where I could see a small sandy bay complete with unconcerned Pied Oyster Catcher birds foraging.
From research and from information shared by a friend, I knew the original white settler, William Gellibrand, was buried somewhere along this part of coastal Derwent River. I wondered if I would be able to find the spot and whether the site would be marked.
A local group http://friendsofthearm.wordpress.com have been particularly instrumental in researching the history of the first white settlers (remember this South Arm peninsula was part of the country of the Moomairremener indigenous people). In addition, the South Arm Landcare Group has been doing its best to preserve the environmental landscape. Currently the latter group are ensuring the land around William Gellibrand’s burial site is protected.
William Gellibrand accompanied his son Joseph Tice Gellibrand (who had been appointed Attorney General for the colony) from England to Van Diemen’s Land in 1824. William was granted approximately 2000 acres of land at South Arm and assigned ten convicts. This was later increased to 3000 acres by a grant from his son. As other settlers arrived Gellibrand leased land to them and later they were able to purchase their lot. By 1885, many had purchased land on the peninsula: some names are Alomes, Calvert, and Potters and people with these family names are still in the district today.
I am sorry not to have found a photo of William Gellibrand for insertion here.Below is a photograph of George and Agnes Alomes courtesy of the site at http://www. southcom. com. au/~pottermj/pagef. htm
William Gellibrand’s claims to fame in Hobart Town include his appearance in the registrar of Magistrates Hobart Town from 1826 until 1827 and he is also remembered for setting up banking in Hobart. In addition, William was a merchant and exporter and served as a Justice of Peace.