Tuesday 20 September 2016
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Supply River Historic Site

[11.15 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (RosevearsMr President, you know that there are many benefits from owning a dog, not the least of which is exercise.  They need exercise and so do we - some more than others.  I have had dogs for decades and probably covered thousands of kilometres walking and exercising them.  Having moved to the edge of the Tamar at Deviot last year, I have been exploring various routes for my daily walks with my dog, Jack.  The Supply River area, about five minutes away, has turned out to be one of my favourite routes and it is also historically a very interesting area.  The area was important to the pannarlapannaa people who for thousands of years came to the Supply River for their drinking water and to collect shellfish and swan eggs.

Ms Rattray - That is why it was called Supply River.

Mr FINCH - And that is why that part of the Tamar Estuary is called Swan Point and Swan Bay.  Today's Aboriginal community continues to maintain very strong links to the area, representing land management and heritage.  They had a name for the whole Tamar Estuary, kanamaluka.  As you may realise, we have dual naming now in Tasmania with five locations and one of them is the Tamar Estuary and that is kanamaluka.  I believe we are going to hear, like my Twitter and Facebook friends, quite a bit more of that name.

As far as Europeans are concerned, George Bass and Matthew Flinders visited in 1798 while exploring Bass Strait; and Freycinet, the French explorer, also dropped by in 1802.  But the Supply River was really put on the European map when William Collins sailed up the Tamar in the Lady Nelson.  He noted the river as a very good and convenient place for watering ships.  All this information and much more is on some well-done interpretation boards which Jack and I walk past almost daily when I am at home.

The purchase of the site for a community reserve was an initiative of local residents supported by the West Tamar Council and Parks and Wildlife Service.

The main historical relic is the remains of the flour mill built, quite unbelievably, in 1825.  It is interesting because the quoining for the mill was done at Brickmakers Beach at Deviot where I live, which is just down the bottom of my garden.  You can still see the quoining in the bricks there.  A weir was built across the Supply River to divert water along a 200 metre headrace that went down to run the mill and you walk past now what remains of the headrace works, after bushfires, machinery gone and metal taken for the First World War.  In 1825 ships could pull up at the wharf below to unload wheat and then to load the flour which was then shipped to Sydney to supply the then burgeoning city of Sydney.

There was also a blacksmith's shop and a piggery with 200 pigs but then, as was the way in those days, by 1872 the water-driven mill could no longer compete with steam mills and it was closed.  The interpretation board 'I mentioned give a clear picture of how the mill operated. 

A small point of interest I might mention is that they believe Australia's oldest piece of graffiti by Europeans is at Supply River.  A chap by the name of Adolarius Huxley was on that trip in 1804 and he sent convicts up the river to get water.  While he was waiting, being a bit bored, he chiselled into the dolerite at the waterfall there, 'AH 1804'.  That little bit of graffiti is still there, 212 years later.  It is touches like that, that bring the Supply River area to light for visitors.

Ms Rattray - Is there 'KF of 2016' there yet?

Mr FINCH - A good idea, there might be.  I will have a look next time I go up there with my chisel. 

It is like many historic sites in Tasmania.  They help to attract our visitors to the state.  It also attracts our West Tamar residents, who I see quite a lot of.  It attracts a couple of wonderful sea eagles that live up the Supply River and also platypuses.  The Supply River is quite an exotic area in my electorate of Rosevears.