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Colebrook, TAS

Tasmanian farming town once a convict probation station.

It seems as though every town, large and small, between Hobart and Launceston is a wonderland of Georgian and historically interesting buildings. Colebrook is not as large as Richmond, Oatlands, Ross or Campbell Town probably because it started life as a convict probation station and slowly evolved into a centre for the surrounding farming community. Today it has a few significant National Estate buildings and is well worth exploring.

Location

Colebrook is located 53 km north of Hobart on the B31 between Richmond and Oatlands.

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Origin of Name

There are two explanations for the naming of Colebrook. It was originally named Jerusalem because on an expedition into the area in 1806 a certain Private Hugh Germain started giving places exotic names. It is claimed that Germain travelled through the area with a copy of The Bible and the Arabian Nights - thus Jerusalem is near Jericho and Bagdad. An alternative version claims Colebrook was named Jerusalem sometime before 1824 by Jorgen Jorgenson, a district constable, who claimed that the seven hills in the district reminded him of Jerusalem. During the administration of Van Diemen's Land by Governor John Frankin (1837-1843) the town's name was changed to Colebrook Dale which was officially reduced to Colebrook in 1894.

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Things to See and Do

The Chimneys
The Chimneys, a National Trust listed building, started life as the home of the district constable in 1854. It became a convent and remained so until 1967 when it closed. After the bushfires of 1967 it became a Bed and Breakfast destination and today it is a private home. It is not open for inspection but from the outside it is easy to admire its original charm.

Colebrook Court House
The old Colebrook Court House in the town's main street is a handsome sandstone structure which was built by convicts. It is now a private residence and is not open for inspection. The convicts built a gaol adjacent to the Court House at the same time as they were building the Court House.

National Estate Buildings
The town has a number of National Estate buildings including the former Police Station in Richmond Street which is now a private residence. It is not open for inspection although it still contains two cells.

St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church
Located in Arthur Street St Patrick's is an interesting Gothic Revival church which was consecrated in January, 1857. There is a very detailed account of the origins of the church and its construction at http://www.puginfoundation.org/assets/Colebrook_Essay.pdf. The following quote highlights the uniqueness of the church. "St Patrick’s, Colebrook, was ... a scholarly and completely convincing, yet totally original, evocation of a small English medieval village church. The vocabulary of its elements establishes that it accurately reflected construction that would have originally been in vogue around the year 1320. In its plan form, composition and furnishings it conformed with Pugin’s exposition of what constituted ‘a complete Catholic parish church for the due celebration of the divine office and administration of the sacraments, both as regards architectural arrangement and furniture’. It comprised an aisled three-bay nave with antipodean north porch, a relatively deep separately expressed chancel, with a rood screen across the chancel arch, and a sacristy in the angle between the south aisle east wall and the chancel south wall."

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Colebrook was inhabited by the members of the Paredarerme Aboriginal language group

* The district where Colebrook now stands was first explored by Europeans in early 1804. By 1806 soldiers were being sent to the district to kill kangaroos and emus because of a serious food shortage in Hobart Town.

* It is claimed that the infamous Tasmanian bushranger, Martin Cash, was incarcerated in the Colebrook Gaol but managed to escape and hide in a pear tree near the police station. It is probably untrue but is part of local folklore.

* In 1854 ‘The Chimneys’, one of the most important residence in town, became the residence of the district constable.

* In 1857 St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was consecrated.

* By 1871 Hardwick Mill was grinding wheat but thirty years later it had been converted into a private home.

* in 1882 work started on St. James Anglican Church.

* Bushfires almost completely destroyed the town on 7 February, 1967 with the state school, post office, the Railway Hotel, the two shops and many homes being burnt to the ground.

* Craigbourne Dam was officially opened on 17 November, 1986. In the process Colebrook Park, a two-story Georgian sandstone house built in 1822, which would have been located under the rising waters was removed from its original site.

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Visitor Information

Colebrook does not have its own Visitor Information Centre. The two closest visitor centres are the Heritage Highway Visitor Information Centre, Mill Lane, Oatlands, tel: (03) 6254 1212 and The Richmond Gaol, 37 Bathurst Street, Richmond, tel: (03) 6260 2127.

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Useful Websites

There are no dedicated websites for Colebrook.

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Got something to add?

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14 suggestions
  • Request for Help to try to find my mother. She was born at Colebrook, Tasmania Australia. Her name was Edith Annie Burns. Her father was Albert Richard (Jasper) Burns and her mother was Elsie Rose Oxley.
    Edith Burns married my father Howard Samuel Trowbridge Waugh on the 20th October 1934. I was born on the 25th September 1935. I was hoping someone out there could *Help Me*. I need to have her Death Certificate and to Visit her “Grave”. She had ten brothers and sisters. You can contact me at bettyk2429@gmail.com.

    Elsie Kennett
  • My mother’s mother, Julia Cohen, was born at Colebrook. My father’s sister Grace Eaton also taught school there. I have fond memories of Nan and her home at 50 Faraday St in West Hobart. Grace taught primary school to my Dad (Ross Eaton) and actually outlived him. Any contact to me by mobile 0400242077

    len eaton
  • 1. Are the Colebrook History Rooms able to be open for visitors, perhaps travelling in a group of up to fifty persons?
    2. Are there public conveniences in Colebrook or in a nearby location for tourists travelling as a bus-load?

    Tony
  • I’m looking for information about Nurse Bevan of “Passchendaele” Ryndaston Road, Colebrook. I’m led to believe she was a midwife who delivered babies at her home in 1930’s. Can anyone help, please?

    Sandra Lynch
  • Hi! My great-great grandfather spent time in Jerusalem – 4 months in 1850. On his convict work history it states that it is Jerusalem and not Colebrooke Dale as stated above. You state that the name was changed in 1834 but in 1850 it was still called Jerusalem. I have all his convict records – his trial, transportation and convict work history – so maybe the name was changed after 1850. I don’t think they would still write Jerusalem 16 yrs after a name change. I may be wrong of course. I am only going of my convict report. It is the official form from Port Arthur. Great reading.

    This is quite complex, Steve. The general consensus is that the name was changed from Jerusalem to Colebrook during the time of Governor John Franklin. Franklin was Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1837-1843. Why the official convict report still kept using Jerusalem is a mystery to me. You can check my excellent source by going to http://digital.statelibrary.tas.gov.au:1801/webclient/StreamGate?folder_id=0&dvs=1472615544851~382&usePid1=true&usePid2=true and working your way down to Colebrook. This source is remarkable and it has so much detail.
    Thanks so much for that, Bruce Elder

    steve hanlon
  • The homestead of Colebrook Park was not inundated by waters of Craigbourne Dam. It was dismantled and removed.

    rod smith
  • The date of the change of name could be determined by dating the first census which my great grandfather was included in. It was still called Jerusalem then. I guess it was about 1860. He died in 1949 aged 99.

    rod smith
    • My Grandfather was born in Jerusalem in 1875 and I have a book which was awarded to him for reading while he was at school which clearly states Jerusalem.

      Carol Laurence (Volkmer)
  • I’m looking for information about my great grandfathers family, my great grandfathers name is Mancel John Cooper apparently Colebrook is his birthplace, he shifted to New Zealand and died in World War 1. He was born in 1891 in Colebrook.

    Shannan cooper
  • I am searching my father’s family history. He was born in Colebrook. Full name Roy Marshal Thomas Turner. His father was Thomas Turner. His mother remarried after his fathers death. She married a farmer surname Campbell.

    Diane Lyons
  • My grandfather and great grandfather were Blacksmiths at Campania providing services to many residents and property owners throughout the Campania / Colebrook district. I recall many rabbiting trips, as a child, with my father to properties owned by many who remembered my grandfather. The old family house still stands in Campania and remains occupied. I would appreciate any information that anyone may have on the early Blacksmiths: Frederick James Bowden (26/4/1855 -7/8/1929) married Louisa Shelverton and Frederick Thomas Bowden ( 30/6/1888 – 28/7/1952) married Emma Jones.

    Garry Bowden
  • Does anyone know where I may obtain a copy of the book ‘From Jerusalem to Colbrook’ by Helen J. Osbourne?

    Garry Bowden
  • I live at Colebrook. My family bought the house 🏡 when I was about 4 yrs old. The family name was Denny. And Colebrook will always be home. A beautiful country too x

    Sandra stokes