Saturday, 23 February 2008

McDermott's Farm - Pipeline Track

Mt Wellington from near the site of McDermott's FarmFrom the sign at the site of McDermott's Farm on the Pipeline Track.

For all its continuing natural appeal, Mount Wellington has many reminders of the impact of settlement. Around this point is much evidence of such impacts, including land clearing, building construction, the effects of fire and the channelling of water for human need. Studies point to significant use of the Mountain foothills by Palawa, Mouheneenner and other peoples of pre-European times. The Palawas helped to create the open grasslands of the Chimney-Pot Hill area through regular burning of forests to assist them in hunting game. There is evidence of seasonal occupation: rock shelters in sandstone outcrops and pieces of flaked stone on the banks of Sandy Bay Rivulet north of here.

This open area, occupied by the McDermott family from the late 1880s, was one of many private holdings in the Mount Wellington foothills at that time. Behind you on the opposite hillside is Turnip Fields, a subdivision of another of the early private mountain landholdings. Under the track about 50 metres below here you can see a stone culvert made in the early 1860s for the original water supply line. There are several more of these between here and Halls Saddle.

Bill McDermott ran a farm on this property for many decades. A unmarried recluse, his only companion a dog called Brandy Shamrock McShane. Bill left his property once a week to buy groceries in town. Bill allowed his cattle to graze on the adjacent Ridgeway Reserve, leading to a long-running dispute with the Hobart City Council. On 7th February 1967 the Black Tuesday bushfires destroyed most of the farm, but 80-year-old Bill managed to save his home and his six cattle. He planned to rebuild, but only 10 days after the fire he was gored to death by one of his fire-traumatised bulls. The location of his homw, demolished by the Council, is marked each spring by blooming daffodils.

From Hobart City Council sign: The Pipeline Interpretation Project. An initiative of the Fern Tree Community Association, supported by the Hobart City Council. Original research by Lindy Scripps.

1 comment:

David Clark said...

Nice write-up, Mark, you might like the song I've written about the farm, just you tube search David (Chloe) Clark and look for "McDermott's Farm.

I've also written one called "Brandy Shamrock McShane but haven't put it on you tube yet.

David (Chloe) Clark