Tag Archives: Mary Ann Bay

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 Onwards to Gellibrand Point Email 10 of 14

My journey continued up a hill where I recognised two track options; one inside a fence line, and another outside the fence at the top of the cliffs on the side of the Derwent River. I took the track outside the fence (I watched the following children and they were evenly divided between the inner and outer tracks- obviously their teachers thought the outer track to be safe), and at the top of the hill there was an opening to step through the fence and return to a 4 wheel drive track.


The air was clear. The day was warming up. The views in every direction were sensational. One of those experiences that makes me so happy to be alive.


The photo above looks across part of the northern end of that part of the Mary Ann Bay, and via the Derwent River, looks towards Hobart city suburbs and Mount Wellington.

Not far away I walked past a pile of broken old convict bricks.


Gellibrand Point at the northern most point of the South Arm peninsula was the destination for Stage 2 of the walk.

I found the shape of this headland was blunt and rectangular so that there was no hint of a ‘point’. So it was a little difficult to say I had reached the exact spot representing the end of the second stage of my walk along the Derwent River edge. Across the watery opening into the large Ralph’s Bay I could see the goal for Stage 3 of the walk: Trywork Point. This headland is situated south of the suburb of Tranmere, and north of the South Arm peninsula.


In the photo above, you are looking at Trywork Point across the water.

The photo below was taken from my lunchtime vantage point looking across Ralph’s Bay towards the mound in the distance over the water on the left hand side; this is Trywork Point.


The Tasman Bridge, which provides the main city crossing between the eastern and western shores of Hobart, shimmered in the distance. Mt Wellington with spots in crevices of hard white ice left over from two or three weeks ago of heavy snow, was majestic.

I wandered along the headland until, between the track and a smattering of Casuarina trees near the water line, I spotted some sandstone boulders that looked perfect as resting spots; the first I had seen. By 11.15 I had rested, eaten a snack for morning tea, and set off again up to and onto the track that extends back to Opossum Bay via the eastern side of the peninsula.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 William Gellibrand’s burial Vault Email 9 of 14

Shortly after his arrival, in the 1820s William Gellibrand built a home using cedar with sandstone brick foundations, on Arm End. Marshall and Townsend claim the house was built in two parts consisting of nine rooms with stables located in the trees nearby (it is worth noting that the clearing of the land in this northern end of the peninsula was so thorough and complete that the numbers of trees could probably now be counted on two hands. Currently, the rolling hills are expanses of a variety of clumpy weeds. Open. Exposed. Desolate. The photo of weeds below was taken closer to the Communications tower however it is not atypical of other parts of this peninsula. Adding to the sense of barrenness is the frequent evidence of bandicoots digging across this large reserve. It is worth noting that a regeneration program is underway and so I would expect that the landscape will change its character in the coming years.)


A visitor to William Gellibrand’s house, Miss Jane Mortimer recalled that every morning after breakfast, William went to dig his own burial vault located just below the house at the top of the dunes beneath She Oaks overlooking Mary Ann Bay. Apparently, he liked to spend sunny afternoons sitting on it and reading.

The land at Arm End remained in the Gellibrand family with the lease controlled by George Henry Blake Gellibrand who lived at ‘Terra Linna’. Young Christopher Calvert leased the land and lived in the house until he retired. There was an auction in 1914 of goods and chattels including animals. The homestead quickly fell into disrepair, was vandalised and eventually burnt down.

 I almost missed seeing the vault as I strolled along the track. The saviour was an information sign installed above the bank at the northern end of Mary Ann Bay beach. The sign informed me that not only was William buried in the vault, but also interred were two of his grandsons who had been members of the Parliament – Thomas and Walter Gellibrand. William Gellibrand died ‘after an illness of acute pain and suffering which he bore with Christian submission and resignation’ on 27 September 1840 (almost exactly 174 years ago) aged 75.

The sign refers to comments by a Mrs Ruby who ‘described the vault as having three shelves of stone more likely collected from the shoreline of Ralph’s Bay’.

The vault is located close by and downhill from the sign. Visitors are urged not to walk down and further degrade the collapsing dune. Thanks to the local land care group, it was very easy to see the vault from near the sign at the top because the surrounding vegetation had been cleared over the edge.


I left this remarkable site at 10.50 am as I could hear the school children coming along the track for their own experience.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 William Gellibrand Email 7 of 14

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.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 Mary Ann Bay Email 6 of 14

From the communications Tower, I followed the reasonably flat four-wheel drive track north eastwards by the edge of the river and ten minutes later I was able to look down from a high cliff towards Mary Ann Bay.


For a short while a solitary man stepped briskly along its short length. Despite the children stopping and starting as they took in the sights along the way, the group caught up with me as I looked down at the beach end of the very long and faceted Mary Ann Bay. These were relaxed country kids who said their ‘hellos’.  I had forgotten such differences exist between the city and country. Their openness reminded me of my experience on a Marquesas Island last year, when having talked to a primary school class one day, and then travelling to a remote part of the island the following day, a young girl came up to me in the car where I was sitting, simply to say hello. With each of our halting use of the French language (the Marquesan’s speak a Marquesan language as their first language and only French, the national language, occasionally) we were able to work out why she was greeting me. She had remembered me from the class room, and the country thing to do was always to acknowledge people you know, however slightly. But I have gone off at a tangent … back to the walk and to Mary Ann Bay.

After glorying in the views of the undulations of this part of the South Arm peninsula, the expanses of the Derwent River and the sparkles of the western shore, I had the choice to continue on the four-wheel drive track up and over a hill or follow a single track through tall wet grass that skirted the cliff edge. No contest. I avoid hills when I can.  Of course I had no idea where this track would go or whether I would need to retrace my steps. But all was well, and the track gave great views before curving around downhill from the main track. Quite quickly I found myself back joining the main track after it had dropped down from the hill. It was only 10.25 am and I had been walking for an hour and a quarter.

I continued for a few minutes along the main track until I reached a very steep hill for a 4 wheel drive to descend. Having owned a 4 wheel drive and enjoyed off road adventures in the Northern Territory, I know that if I had come across such a serious drop I would have been taking lots of very deep breaths and may have even prayed in what would be a swift if not hair-raising sliding descent.  On my walk down the hill, I avoided the slippery earth and enjoyed a safe descent courtesy of clumps of grass. Soon after this, I continued on and passed the sandy track that could have taken me onto the beach end of Mary Ann Bay.