Take a step back in time and visit the Highfield Historic Site in the northwest of Tasmania, near Stanley. Remarkably intact, the house is a gentleman’s home and farm from the 1830’s. With gorgeous views of Stanley and the popular tourist attraction ‘The Nut’, combined with the lavish gardens, the site is a pleasant visit that will fascinate history buffs and give an interesting account of an important period of Tasmania’s history.
Highfield Historic Site offers a historically accurate vision from the 1830s. It sits on a hillside overlooking the lands the manager would have once controlled, with impressive views across to Stanley, The Nut and the Bass Strait beyond. The house has been restored over time by the Tasmanian Government and its elegant Regency design, convict barracks, barns, stables, and a chapel are surrounded by a large ornamental garden. By visiting you are helping to raise the funds to continue the restoration and preservation work.
Part of the History
The Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) came to the region in 1826 and essentially formed the cornerstone for European settlement in northwest Tasmania. The company was granted royal permission to select unexplored territory in Tasmania’s west and Circular Head was chosen as the ideal spot given its harbour and plentiful supply of fresh water. This company was intended to rival the West Indies Company to supply much needed supplies to the mother country. Their aim was to grow Merino sheep and export the wool.
The first settlers were no strangers to hardships and challenges presented by the harsh environment and rugged terrain. The company also became known for its brutal treatment of the local Aboriginal inhabitants. Nonetheless, the land was eventually cleared using convict labour and infrastructure began to take shape.
In 1831, Edward Curr, the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, planned for a larger homestead for his family, adjoining the weatherboard cottage that had until that time served as Curr’s home. Construction started in 1832, it was completed in 1835 and later additions were made by John Lee Archer.
The Company’s grand plans largely foundered as the land proved not suitable for merino sheep with most of the 5,000 imported animals dying in the cold winters. Due to the company’s underwhelming performance, Curr was dismissed in 1842. By the late 1840s, the company decided to sell or lease most of its holdings. In the ensuing years, the homestead was leased out and the company’s headquarters moved to Burnie. It was then sold to various owners until it was acquired in 1982 by the State Government and is now administered as an Historic Site and been extensively restored. Today, the original land holding has reduced to around five acres.
Other rooms, buildings, and landmarks as part of the homestead included the chapel and school house (later used as a storehouse), barns (later converted to a large shearing shed), horse stables, pig sties and boiling house (later made into a slaughterhouse), cart shed, cottages, and funerary monument (for Curr’s 3 year old daughter who died tragically on property).
Apart from the historic value showcasing the amazing skilled labour of the convicts who built the homestead and adjoining outbuildings. The real intrigue is in the people who lived at the site.
We had planned a quick visit to walk through another beautifully built and restored colonial home. However the visit extended to a couple of hours as we spent time reading of the trials and tribulations of the occupants throughout the years. The homestead is really bought to life with the detailed history that is on display. Letters, journal entries and private diary writings that give you the true picture of the comings and going’s on not only in the company, but also into the private lives.
It is fascinating to read a woman’s account of her time, in what must of seems outrageously harsh and outright freighting times for someone who had come from a civilised lifestyle in England. Simply to have your children sent back to England to be educated, some from as young as three, must of been heart wrenching. But there are many more fascinating stories to uncover when you visit this remarkable site.
Highfield Historic Site is just 3km down the road from picturesque Stanley and located at 143 Greenhills Road. On the way to the historic site make sure you stop at the lookout and climb the stairs for a spectacular view of “The Nut” and Stanley in the foreground. There is no public transport to the site, but plenty of free parking with room for caravans, RV’s and our Frog Box.
Visitors are welcome daily from September through May. In June to August the site is closed on weekends. Entrance fees apply. Groups are welcome and the site is also available for events such as weddings.
Please find following a number of photos we took the day we visited this incredible historic site.
We hope you enjoyed our latest blog. Join us next time when we continue to explore the North West Coast of Tasmania.
If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them.
Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.
We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.
If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍