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Convict Heritage Site - Kings Meadow


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 22 November 2018

Tags: Heritage

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HERITAGE, Mr HODGMAN

An extraordinarily rich convict site has been uncovered at the site of a subdivision development at Kings Meadows in Launceston. A one-week investigation by Southern Archaeology confirmed a convict heritage site, described as highly significant. It is an historic convict road station from the 1830s and 1840s and the significance of this site is so great, it could be considered of World Heritage value.

Your agency, Heritage Tasmania, is aware of the discovery and its significance but has taken no action to date. Can you confirm that development works are continuing on the site and that you have done nothing so far to stop it and protect our heritage? Will you order a stop- work to at least allow further investigation before allowing the bulldozers in to flatten an important part of Tasmania's convict story?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question.

I am advised of a new subdivision in Launceston south of Connector Park. It has drawn attention to the existence of the remains of the Kings Meadows Road Station. It is an interesting discovery as its existence was not recognised or well known until 2016. I am advised that it was discovered in part as a result of the property owner's plans to subdivide and develop this parcel of semi-rural land. We can be grateful for the involvement of the Launceston City Council in this matter. The council sponsored archaeological investigations that have helped to reveal the remains and more about the nature of this early site.

I understand that the road station was used to base convicts who helped to develop the early road network south of Launceston and may have also been involved in developing the large but unsuccessful Evandale to Launceston water scheme. The archaeological investigations concluded that there was limited remnant fabric remaining from the convict era. They indicated that it was constructed as a temporary timber structure and limited fabric remains. Much of it was bulldozed many years ago and the land has been ploughed and used for primary production. These actions have destroyed and removed all the original structures over time. This site is not on the local Historic Heritage Code or entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register as its exact location was not recognised until recently.

Now these investigations have been concluded, those involved have been able to confirm there is limited evidence of the station that remains at the site. However, I am aware a nomination has been received by the Heritage Council and is currently under consideration. I am grateful for the support of the property owner, the Launceston City Council and the team that undertook these investigations and helped to capture some of the history of this site and further our appreciation of the convict story. I acknowledge the efforts of John Dent and Darren Watton in that regard.