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Deloraine, TAS

Historic Tasmanian town on the Meander River.

Deloraine has been classified as a National Trust town of historic significance. Located on the banks of the Meander River it is often promoted as an ideal location to use as a base while exploring Cradle Mountain, the attractions at Mole Creek, the north-west coast and nearby Tamar Valley. This is not entirely fair as the town has many interesting historic buildings and it is definitely worth spending time exploring the rich street sculpture and the sculptures that are scattered around the area as well as the town's unusual remnants of its nineteenth century prosperity: the oldest continuously used racecourse, a Baptist Tabernacle built with money raised from the sale of a prize ram and a mill designed by Tasmania's first native born architect.


Deloraine is located on the banks of the Meander River 231 km north of Hobart ivia the Midland and Bass Highways, 51 km west of Launceston and 253 m above sea level.


Origin of Name

The town was named by the surveyor, Thomas Scott, after Sir William Deloraine, a character in Sir Walter Scott's poem "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" (1805). Sir Walter Scott was a relative of Thomas Scott.


Things to See and Do

The Statue of Malua
Before you start exploring Deloraine you should visit the Visitor Information Centre, pick up a copy of Sculptures of the Great Western Tiers and admire the statue of Malua which stands out the front. Apart from being a local horse (he was bred at Calstock stud in 1879 by John Field) he really was a remarkable animal which should be as famous as Phar Lap or Black Caviar. Try this for a record: "In 1884 Malua won the nation's top races from 1100m up to 3200m, including the Newmarket Handicap 1200m, the Oakleigh Handicap 1000m, Adelaide Cup 2600m, and the 1884 Melbourne Cup 3200m. He interrupted a successful stud career in 1886 to win the Australian Cup, then as a 9 year old to win the Australian Grand National Hurdle of over 4800m and finally the Geelong Gold Cup as a 10 year old. No other horse has ever looked like coming near his record."

Sculptures of the Great Western Tiers
There is an excellent, illustrated brochure titled Sculptures of the Great Western Tiers which provides three useful maps - the main street of Deloraine, the general area of the town and the larger area of the Great Western Tiers - and lists, complete with photographs, of 32 sculptures ranging from the small, vernacular images in the main street through to major works of sculpture spread around the district.

(1) Deloraine Streetscape Sculptures
This project saw small sculptures created by local artists and carved from polystyrene and then sand-cast in aluminium displayed at the 2002 Craft Fair. Since then they have been displayed on plinths up and down Mary Street. "The sculptures represent the richness of culture, creativity and industry in Deloraine - featuring musicians, youth, churchgoers, crafts people, greens, farmers, hippies, Aborigines, axemen, as well as health and well being and service groups." Get the brochure and simply walk up and down the street.

(2) Great Western Tiers Sculpture Trail
These works from 15 different artists are located beside the river in Deloraine (7 works of art) and in the surrounding countryside. Most are located on the road from Deloraine through Mole Creek and on to Mayberry and Lake Mackenzie. The brochure provides detailed information about the artists and descriptions of what they were trying to express with the sculptures.

Exploring the Town
There is an excellent brochure Guide to Historical Deloraine which lists a total of 39 buildings and places of interest in Deloraine. It is available from the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre. The most sensible approach is to start walking. Most of the impressive buildings and sites spread for no more than two or three blocks on either side of the Meander River and the brochure advises that the walk is only about 45 minutes. Of particular interest are:

(A) The Weir and the Power Station
The 45 minute walk starts beside the Meander River downstream from the bridge where the weir was built to hold back the water which, in turn, drove the wheel inside the Electric Power Station which was built in 1907. Beside the river park is the E Class No. 2 locomotive which commemorates the opening of the Launceston to Deloraine railway on 10 February, 1871. It was the first railway in Tasmania - if you don't count the human driven tramway at Port Arthur.

(C) The Town Bridge
The first bridge across the river was built by convicts in 1831. It was destroyed by a flood in 1844 but quickly replaced by another bridge built by convicts. The second bridge was replaced in 1877 and part of that bridge - the stone piers which can be seen from the parks on either side - still stands today.

(E) Alveston's Historic Buildings
Cross over the bridge and to the south of the river is the original village of Alveston which was in existence before the larger settlement of Deloraine began to develop on the northern bank of the river. Nearly all of the buildings in Alveston are of some which has a number of buildings of considerable historic interest. There is the old Bush Inn which dates to 1848 and on the other side of the road (F) there's a group of brick and timber Georgian shops and cottages built in the 1840s. They lie between 10-24 Bass Highway. Further along is Alveston's first hotel, the Plough Inn, which was built in 1841 and opened as an inn in 1845.

(H) St Mark's Church of England
St Mark's Church of England overlooks the Meander River. It was the first Anglican church in the town was a wooden building completed in 1847. The present building was designed by Henry Clayton, the foundation stone was laid in 1856 and the church was completed in 1859. It was originally no more than a small chancel, the impressive tower, the nave and spire. In 1860 an organ, which is still in use, was imported from London; in 1878 the chancel and transept were consecrated; and in 1909, to celebrate the church's Golden Jubilee, a stained glass window was added. In front of St Mark's is a huge Californian redwood. After this the walk suggests you recross the bridge where you will notice, directly in front of you, the Deloraine Hotel.

(J) Bonney's Inn
Beside the Deloraine Hotel at 19 West Parade is Bonney's Inn, which was established in 1831 and is the town's oldest building. It is one of Tasmania's most famous early wayside inns and was built as a coaching inn by John Bonney, the son of a convict. The bricks, but not the actual building, were constructed by convicts. Bonney designed the building along the lines of the coaching inns in England. It has walls which are nearly 50 cm thick, cedar mantelpieces and panelled walls. It has changed hands a number of times being, at various points in its history, a Temperance Hotel, a coffee palace, flats, and historic accommodation. It currently offers upmarket bed and breakfast accommodation.

(I) Deloraine Hotel
In 1848, as a result of the success of Bonney's Inn, John Bonney built the Deloraine Hotel. Around that time he moved the name - it became known as Bonney's Inn - but Bonney lost interest, went farming, and leased the hotel to a man named Nathaniel Poole. Today it is a dominating landmark with superb, elaborate lace ironwork on both verandas.

(K) Baptist Tabernacle
A little way further down West Parade is the Baptist Tabernacle, a single storey Victorian chapel built in 1880 with money raised after William Gibson, a grazier from Perth in Tasmania, who gave the local congregation a prize ram which they sold for 1000 guineas. It was opened on 26 December 1880.

(L) Harvey's Mill
One block further along West Parade is the two storey Harvey's Mill which was built in the 1850s by Samuel Shorey. It was built of bluestone and brick with walls that were two feet thick (61 cm). The wood supports were pit sawn and one foot (30 cm) square. The mill once produced flour, oatmeal and rolled oats. It is now a private dwelling.

(N) Bowerbank Mill
Bowerbank Mill, 2 km east of Deloraine on Meander Valley Road, was designed in 1853 by William Archer, Van Diemen's Land's first native-born architect. It was originally powered by a water wheel but in 1870 it was converted to steam when a boiler room and chimney stack were added. Today it is an art gallery which offers accommodation. Check out http://www.bowerbankmill.com.au for more details.

Historic Deloraine
Rather than describe all the other, lesser historic building the Guide to HIstorical Deloraine lists 25 places around town and suggests a leisurely drive starting at Westbury Place and taking in the town's Scenic Viewpoint. Of particular interest are the former Oddfellows Hall (16) and a two-storey Georgian brick house(24) which was the birthplace of Admiral Sir John Collins who became famous during his captaincy of the HMAS Sydney when he achieved a tactical victory over the Italian warship Bartolomeo Colleoni in 1941. The town has the oldest continuously used racecourse in Australia which dates from 1853.

Tasmania Pottery
The Tasmania Pottery, or what is left of it, is located 4 km out of Deloraine on the road to Chudleigh. Somehow most 'big things' manage to survive but the Big Coffee Pot is no longer operating as a tourist attraction. It is still possible to view it from the road. It is the largest coffee pot in Australia and would be enriched by a good paint job.


Other Attractions in the Area

Liffey Falls
Located 30 km on the A5 south of Deloraine the Falls can be viewed from a 45 minute return walk. They feature myrtle beech forest, wild foxgloves in spring and early summer, tree and ground ferns beside a well-formed path. The falls themselves tumble over stepped benches of sandstone.

Great Western Tiers Sculpture Trail
These works from 15 different artists are located beside the river in Deloraine (7 works of art) and in the surrounding countryside. Most are located on the road from Deloraine through Mole Creek and on to Mayberry and Lake Mackenzie. The brochure provides detailed information about the artists and descriptions of what they were trying to express with the sculptures.



* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by members of the Tommeginne Aboriginal language group.

* The area was first explored by Europeans in 1823 when Captain Rolland and his party travelled through the area searching for new agricultural lands.

* The district was surveyed by Thomas Scott in 1824.

* In 1825 the country around Deloraine became some of the first land in Van Diemen's Land where leases could be purchased but few took up the opportunity.

* The first bridge across the Meander River was built in 1828 by convicts.

* The first house in the district was built in 1831.

* The town's first post office opened in 1836.

* By 1845 the "township did not contain more than twenty humble tenements".

* By the 1850s the settlement of the district was so slow that the government started selling land for £1 an acre. This resulted in a rapid increase in the local population.

* Deloraine became a municipality in 1863.

* In 1872 the railway line between Deloraine and Launceston was completed.


Visitor Information

Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre, 98-100 Emu Bay Road, Deloraine, tel: (03) 6362 5280.


Useful Websites

There is a local website with good information about accommodation and eating in the area. Check out http://www.greatwesterntiers.net.au for more information.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

15 suggestions
  • A statue of. Vice Admiral Sir John Augustus Collins would make deloraine more interesting to tourists.. And a plaque on his home .

    Lesley Newman
  • Hi, I am trying to trace the Railway Hotel in Deloraine. Does it still exist? I believe an ancestor of mine, David Harris, was once an owner in the 1860’s or 1870’s. Are you able to help?

    Lyndon Cawood
    • We’ll have to wait for some local to provide advice, Lyndon. However I can say there is no Railway Hotel in the town at the moment. I just don’t know if one of the other hotels has changed its name. Cross your fingers we get a local with local knowledge.

      Bruce Elder
    • In reply to Lyndon Cawood, re David Harris of the Railway Hotel, Deloraine. There are several articles in TROVE on David Harris and the Hotel, and his unfortunate demise there. Also a relative of mine I think.

      Jen Rayner
  • My great-grandfather John Fitzgibbon worked on the railway line until he became ill. He died in 1913. Any pictures would be great. I am planning to visit in July. My grandfather was in the Mt Lyell mine. His name was Leslie Lennell.

    andrena fridd
  • Hello. Great Site. Just a note, the deloraine.org website has changed its focus and no longer shows accomm etc in Deloraine. Could I suggest changing the link to http://www.greatwesterntiers.net.au which is a good site for all the towns in the region.
    Perhaps you could consider adding Yarns Artwork in Silk and the Deloraine Folk Museum, which are great visitor attractions in Deloraine. Unique. Also I note in your comments that there is interest in genealogy, our Museum can help with all questions. Thanks.
    Vicki. Manager. Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre.

    Vicki pryer
  • The town of Deloraine lies the same distance south of the equator as does Coos Bay, Oregon, USA which is why it seemed so familiar when I was able to visit there in 1976 when my ship the USS Enterprise visited Hobart. Two of us from the ship were invited to spend a week end at the home of Owen and Sandra Adkins. Many years have passed and I am attempting to locate the Adkins family. They had two sons and we were able to take them aboard the ship for a visit and to produce a photo album of their visit. Is there anyone in that location that may be able to assist me? Thank you. RLB USN (ret)

    Richard L Baker
  • I have reason to believe that my great-grandmother Sarah Clark or Clarke was born in the area known as the Black Forest, about a 1 mile (2.4 kms?) from Delorain in the 1880’s. She is believed to Aboriginal and there is a reference to a ‘primitive Methodist ceremony’.
    Is or was there an area known or locally known as the Black Forest. A sale notice from around the same time says that The Black Forest was 640 acres and fronted the road between Deloraine and the Mersey (River / Creek?).

    Coln Beaton
    • Hi
      I am curious to see there is no reference to interactions with the Tommeginne people who originally occupied the area? I am trying to find out about the acquisition of Pleasant Vale ( by the Woodberrys?) And what happened to the local people when the settlers arrived in the 20’s? Any suggestions for how I could find out?

  • The information on Tasmanian Pottery is not completely correct. This building has an older history. It was the Butter Factory.

  • The power station you mention (known now as the power house) is now privately owned. A new turbine has since been installed, so it is again a hydro power station.
    Also part of Alveston are the original council chambers – now the police station, and adjacent is the original town hall, now the Little Theatre, both built around 1870. The Little Theatre is incorporated now into an extension added in the 1970’s (? -may need to fact check that) so hidden from the street. The building is called the Meander Valley Performing Arts Centre, and houses a thriving community hub that supports the local Big Band, the Deloraine Dramatic Society, the Western Tiers Film Society, Studio Be (sound and film studios) and is host to long running (65 years and counting!) theatre arts festivals and touring performances still. We believe it is also one of the oldest operating theatres in Australia.

    Rebecca Rowe
  • Does th information centre have a large water powered wind chime in Deloraine

  • First time in Tassie. We decided to stay one night in Deloraine before jumping back into the Boat to Melbourne mostly because of its proximity to Davenport. I’m a Mexican migrant living in Australia for 6 years now, and I have to say that I was surprised by the old but yet impressive architecture of Deloraine. Stepped by the settlers restaurant and started to learn about Deloraine’s history with this article which I loved!.Just wanted to share my comment about how unexpected my experience in this historical and beautiful town was. Is a must visit every time I travel back to Tassie. A gem hidden in history.