Taroona is a major residential suburb approximately 15 minutes drive
from the centre of Hobart, Tasmania on the scenic route between Hobart
and Kingston. Although on the edges of the City of Hobart, Taroona is
actually part of the municipality of Kingborough.
Taroona is an Aboriginal word meaning sea-shell, specifically that of a 'Chiton'.
The traditional owners of the lands now known as Taroona were the
Aboriginal people of the Derwent estuary known as the Mouheneener
people. Relatively little is known about the indigenous people's use of
these lands, although some shell middens are said to have been found
along the shorelines.
Where is it?
15 km south of Hobart. Travel south from Hobart along Sandy Bay Rd.
The shot tower is one the left on the outskirts of Taroona just before
a sharp bend.
The first European settlement at Taroona took place in the early
19th century, when land was granted to settlers who had relocated from
Norfolk Island. For the remainder of that century, the area was largely
used for farming, and was sparsely populated. In the first half of the
20th century, more large and elegant residences were built, as well as
beach shacks and cottages which were used for seaside holidays by the
residents of Hobart.
On the foreshore above Taroona Beach there is the grave of a young
sailor, Joseph Batchelor, who died on the Sailing Ship Venus in the
Derwent Estuary in 1810, and was buried ashore on 28 January 1810. It
is reputed to be the oldest European grave in Tasmania, and it is a
declared Historical site.
After World War II, significant subdivision of Taroona was undertaken,
and the suburb's population rapidly expanded. Having been developed
mainly in the "era of the automobile", Taroona was from the beginning a
commuter suburb, and it has a notable absence of commercial or retail
premises, many of the early retail enterprises having lost the battle
with larger supermarkets elsewhere.
Taroona was the childhood home of Tasmanian-born Mary, Crown
Princess of Denmark, who attended the river-side Taroona High School
before completing her high schooling at Mount Nelson's Hobart College
and embarking on her tertiary degree at the University of Tasmania.
Lead vocalist of The Seekers, Judith Durham (born Judith Mavis Cock,
3 July 1943) lived in Taroona as a young girl, and attended the Fahan
School in Sandy Bay before moving to Melbourne in 1956. She joined The
Seekers in 1963.
David Bartlett, former Tasmanian premier (2008), was also raised in
Taroona. Gwen Harwood, poet and librettist, lived in Taroona with her
family for a number of years in the nineteen fifties.
View Larger Map
Taroona Shot Tower
Shot towers were used in the 18th and 19th centuries in the
manufacture of lead shot for weapons. In a shot tower, lead is heated
until molten, then dropped through a copper sieve high up in the tower.
Tasmania’s only shot tower is at Taroona, south of Hobart.
Australia’s first shot tower and hot for muskets, Taroona Shot
Tower was built in 1870. Built by Joseph Moir in 1870, it would remain
Tasmania’s tallest structure for over 100 years, until superseded
by the 61 m ABC tower in Hobart.
One of three surviving in Australia today (the most well known is in
the heart of the Melbourne CBD), it is a remarkable tapered structure
48 metres tall and features an internal spiral staircase of pit-sawn
timber and an external gallery at its top which was probably used to
store firewood for the upper cauldron. The gallery is now a viewing
platform. I won’t tell you how many steps there are to the top,
as those who make the trek and get the count right are given a
certificate to say they climbed it. Entry fees apply.
Just before reaching Taroona is the Truganini Reserve, named after
the woman cited (with some contention) as the last surviving
"full-blooded" Tasmanian aboriginal. A steep track leads from the
reserve through forest up the side of Mount Nelson to the semaphore
station at the summit that offers superb views over the Derwent River.
The return walk takes around an hour and a half.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Department of Defence
acquired land at Piersons Point and South Arm on the opposite bank of
the Derwent Estuary. Fort Direction was built on Piersons Point; its
guns, though no longer used, are still in place. The only enemy action
to ever affect Hobart happened on 1 August 1942, when a
submarine-launched Japanese spy plane flew from the submarine’s
mooring in Great Oyster Bay south along the east coast of Tasmania,
before flying northward along the Derwent River surveying Hobart and
then returning to its mother submarine.