John Terry.

There is a tendency to assume that all who came to Tasmania in the early days were unwilling participants – convicts, their ‘keepers’ and the black sheep of the English gentry who, because of some indiscretion, were sent as far away as possible to avoid further embarrassment to their families. But, like all forays into ‘new worlds’, Tasmanian also had its fair share of brave, optimistic and adventurous souls who sought the potential endless opportunities.


One such was John Terry, and his letter home to his cousin in Yorkshire dated April 10 1822 tells it all.

John Terry

Dear Cousin, I received your kind and welcome letter in June, 1821, which was a great treat. I received two grants of land, one of which is 100 acres at this place, on which I have built a capital spin-geared mill. As yet, I have only one pair of French stones, and neither bolting mill nor machine. It now earns at the rate of £600 a year, or thereabouts.


The mill stands close by the river (21 miles from Hobart Town, the capital), where great quantities of shipping come close to a navigable river, three miles above the mill. We have cut a basin, that boats come in, within 20 yards of the mill, and the great road is adjoining this farm. About 10 miles up the country I have got a grant of 1,400 acres, 700 of which is quite clear farming, and the other 700 has no more wood upon it than is necessary for building, fencing, etc. It has about l½ miles frontage of the River Derwent…


In the Spring I intend building a granary adjoining the mill. This will be necessary for toll alone, but by a little business in this, I think, will double the advantage. The mill is 19ft. high at the casings. It is a very powerful mill. We have water in the very driest season, that we can grind seven bushels an hour when business pushes. We have a peck for every two bushels, or one-eight part, which is now equal to 2/6. We have some days taken 10 bushels mulcture without candle light…


We first built a dwelling-house, out of which I can see boats pass and re-pass up and down the river, and into the mill basin, and see the bullocks, with carts, on the road behind the mill, and see the front door of the mill and water-wheel.We afterwards built a large fowl-house, stockyard, and places for breeding and feeding pigs. We have great plenty, of apples, peaches, and other English fruit. Apples hang upon the trees like onion ropes.


I have never known wheat unsound…Here is no starvation, no moors or hills, except the great mountains, where we can see snow eight months in the year.


P.S.-Wild ducks in great numbers as many as 200 or 300 rise at once. Black swans and land quails, wild pigeons, coloured like a peacock, and fish in great plenty.


The black native will not come within 30 or 40 miles, if they can avoid it, except a few that are civilised, that come into the town. Hunt the kangaroo. (sic)

P.S. Trees here cast a shell of bark, not leaves. Wood, when cut green, sinks in the water like stone. Your shortest day is our longest, so your Summer when our Winter. The cuckoo cries in the night and mostly in our Winter, the man in the moon is with his legs upwards.

– J.T.

Words by Laurelle Grimley, of Woodbridge on The Derwent and Truffle Lodge

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