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Sheffield accommodation,Cradle Mountain,SteamFest,Sheffield Murals

Kentish History


Nathaniel Lipscombe Kentish was appointed government surveyor in Van Diemans Land in 1841. In 1842, Kentish and a gang of approximately 20 parole men, were instructed to survey a road from Deloraine westward to the North West Coast through lands used by the VDL (Van Diemans Land Company).

On 1st August 1842, after looking for their strayed milking cow, one of the workmen reported finding her grazing on a beautiful plain, surrounded by bountiful forest. Barrington was settled for 9 years before continued tree felling revealed Mt. Roland - previously unknown to the pioneers.

From the 1880s onwards, mining was undertaken in the district. Mining was particularly successful in the Wilmot area where gold and silver-lead were discovered. Early prospectors using trails already established by aboriginal use, helped open up the hinterland. This was not only true for Kentish but all across the north west of Tasmania.

Gustav Weindorfer was the first European to see and understand the uniqueness of Cradle Mountain. Gustav lobbied successive governments to have the area preserved. Cradle Mountain was finally declared a National Park in 1982 and has since been declared a World Heritage Area.


Surveyor Kentish first named August Plains to commemorate the time they were discovered. The name was later changed to Kentish Plains after the surveyor himself. Later Kentish Plains was changed to Kentishbury and then shortened to Kentish.

Scottish pioneer settlers gave us our unusual place names as they opened up the land. Since many of them had been forced off their lands by English Lords or religious persecution, it is no wonder that they viewed this place as a gift of providence. Their descendants still live in the area today.

Paradise was named by a land-prospecting farmer who came through dense undergrowth cover, emerging to find a magnificent view of Mt. Roland. Sitting down at the base of a large gum tree, he was said to exclaim "This is truly paradise". However, so dense was the undergrowth that the area was not able to be opened up until after two bushfires.      

Gentle Annie is said to be named by bullockies who used the term for very long drawn out hills that meant an exhausting haul for their teams.

The Nook was so named because of its geographical shape. It is tucked in beside the Badgers Range on the east and shielded from the westerly weather on the west, like a cosy nook.

The Garden of Eden was named after Paradise was discovered.

Promised Land was yet another example of how our early settlers viewed our area.

No Where Else came into being because the original road from Barrington ended in a farmers back yard. So, there was literally no where else to go!

Moina is an aboriginal word which means Water Rat.

Ta Neem Er Ra is the aboriginal word for Mt. Roland and translates to open grassy plain. Probably so-called because the top of the mountain is a plateau which would have been fire-farmed by our original population.


The Kentish Municipality lies to the south of the coastal plains occupied by Devonport and Latrobe. It is bound to the east by the Mersey river and to the west by the Wilmot River and covers the area from South Spreyton to Cradle Mountain. The three main towns are Sheffield, Railton and Wilmot. Cradle Valley is also a Kentish population centre, exclusively servicing the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Cradle Mountain World Heritage Area. 

The Kentish Plains were first used only as grazing lands for landowners to the east and north of the area. The first building was not erected until 1858.  From earliest days, prospectors opened up the hinterland and many minerals were discovered including gold.  These deposits were not substantial and so mines were often worked for a short time only.  Workers in the tin, tungsten, bismuth and silver-lead mines helped open up the high country.

Bushmen quickly followed to harvest the wealth of timber the higher country afforded. Sawmills were established everywhere to service this industry.  Gradually, grazing lands were taken up and used for farming.  From early settlement mixed farming has been the mainstay for the decentralised rural population, at self-sufficiency level only for many people. Dairying, potatoes, pigs and sheep sustained our pioneers with snaring for furs heavily supplementing these industries.  Both native species and rabbit furs found their way onto world markets from all parts of the municipality. During the 1960s, many smaller holdings were amalgamated and vegetable crops began to replace many dairy herds. Beef and sheep numbers grew and by the 1980s, more farming specialisation occurred.

1963 saw the Mersey-Forth Hydro Development begin in the Kentish hinterland.  This project was by far the biggest and most complex undertaken by the Hydro Electric Company of Tasmania.  It comprises seven large dams with power stations, as well as three major tunnels.  Four rivers, the Fisher, Mersey, Wilmot and Forth, were harnessed in this development which was completed in 1973 at a cost of $104,000,000. A village built at Gowrie for the workers (named Gowrie Park) was home for over 2000 people.  It boasted a school, post office, bank, supermarket and medical centre.  After completion of the project the town almost disappeared but several houses were bought and kept for private use. In the original town area there is now a restaurant, murals, cabin, backpacker accommodation and powered camping sites. The work site is still the maintenance depot for Hydro Tasmania.