The first inhabitants of the area of Launceston were largely nomadic Tasmanian Aborigines believed to have been part of the North Midlands Tribe. Walter George Arthur who petitioned Queen Victoria in 1847 while interned with other Tasmanian Aborigines on Flinders Island lived for several years around Launceston, Tasmania as one of numerous homeless children, before being taken into custody by George Augustus Robinson who sent him to the Boy's Orphan School in Hobart in 1832.
The first white visitors did not arrive until 1798, when George Bass and Matthew Flinders were sent to explore the possibility that there was a strait between Australia and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). They originally landed in Port Dalrymple (the mouth of the Tamar River), 40 kilometres to the north-west of Launceston. The first significant colonial settlement in the region dates from 1804, when the commandant of the British garrison Lt. Col. William Paterson, and his men set up a camp where George Town now stands. A few weeks later, the settlement was moved across the river to York Town, and a year later they eventually settled in Launceston.
By 1827, Launceston's population had climbed to 2,000 and the town had become an export centre, mainly for the colony's northern pastoral industry. Tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff in 1871 in north-western Tasmania, starting a minerals boom. Gold mining commenced approximately 50 kilometres away in Beaconsfield in 1877. During the following two decades Launceston grew from a small town into an urban centre. In 1889, Launceston was the second town in Tasmania to be declared a city, after state capital Hobart.
Small hotels and breweries began to emerge in the 1820s, before larger, more "substantial" hotels were built in the 1830s. Sporting groups, political groups, churches and schools were often established in these hotels; however, they also hosted plays, musical soirées and readings, until theatres were built. The Esk River and the Tamar River provide numerous opportunities for transport, industry and leisure in the city. Here the South Esk River and its historic Kings Bridge.
Completed in 1864 this beautiful wrought iron arch bridge with a span of 60 metres was designed by Engineer William Thomas Doyne. It was fabricated in Manchester, England, and transported to Launceston, assembled on a pontoon, floated into position then lowered on to its abutments on the receding tide. The bridge provided a vital link with the West Tamar Region.
This post is part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also the Sunday Bridges meme,
and also the Scenic Sunday meme.