A chron­i­cle of Cole­brook

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - FROM JERUSALEM TO COLE­BROOK By Helen J. Os­bourne WAR­REN BREWER

CAST aside pre­con­cep­tions of lit­er­ary style, so­phis­ti­ca­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tion and pub­lish­ing fi­nesse.

This is raw, au­then­tic, in­ti­mate and un­adorned ma­te­rial. It is a work of his­tor­i­cal gold.

It’s a fa­mil­iar story about a vi­brant coun­try com­mu­nity in the first half of last cen­tury that be­comes over­whelmed by hard­ship and moder­nity. Sadly, many of their sto­ries have not been told. Herein is the value of this work. Cole­brook was orig­i­nally named Jerusalem by Jor­gen Jor­gen­son be­cause the val­ley with seven sur­round­ing hills re­minded him of the bib­li­cal city.

The name, how­ever, lan­guished and its of­fi­cial name was gazetted as Cole­brook Dale in 1834 and even­tu­ally be­came just Cole­brook.

It is lo­cated in the up­per catch­ment of the Cole River basin and was pop­u­lated by pre­dom­i­nantly Catholic farm­ers in the 1830s.

A few of their descen­dants still re­side in the dis­trict.

The names Dug­gan, Beven, Zan­tuck, Housego and Clarke are still in ev­i­dence among res­i­dents.

Pro­files of th­ese and other prom­i­nent fam­ily his­to­ries are pro­vided here in ex­tra­or­di­nary de­tail.

The fledg­ling farm­ing set­tle­ment thrived on the rich black earths and ex­tended into ad­join­ing val­leys.

Cole­brook was buoyed by the es­tab­lish­ment of a mil­i­tary and con­vict road- gang sta­tion in 1840.

Quite sub­stan­tial stone churches and a clutch of small one- or- two- teacher schools at Cole­brook, El­don, Yar­ling­ton and Spring Hill, as well as a Cole­brook Con­vent, school emerged to­wards the end of the 18th cen­tury. Th­ese and their stu­dents are de­scribed in great de­tail. The schools co­a­lesced the com­mu­nity.

The ma­jor im­pact of the link­ing main north- south rail­way in 1876 en­er­gised the town and can not be over­stated.

Cole­brook rail­way sta­tion was a stag­ing and main­te­nance cen­tre and was a hive of ac­tiv­ity.

The Rail­way ho­tel and the Cole­brook me­mo­rial hall were pop­u­lar places for gath­er­ing af­ter football, cricket, shoot­ing and chop­ping events.

Sale days brought the whole com­mu­nity to­gether. Ro­bust weekly dances were great suc­cesses.

All this came to a dra­matic end with the dis­as­trous bush­fires of Fe­bru­ary 7, 1967.

That ter­ri­ble con­fla­gra­tion dev­as­tated the town­ship to the ex­tent that it has never re­cov­ered. It re­mains a shadow of its past.

How­ever, the jour­ney is not over. Tas­ma­nian author Helen J. Os­bourne has pro­vided an in­valu­able wealth of in­for­ma­tion here.

It will pro­vide a source of pride and recog­ni­tion to pi­o­neer­ing res­i­dents of the Cole­brook dis­trict.

As well, it pro­vides in- depth re­search that will be of in­ter­est to the broader fra­ter­nity of Tas­ma­nian his­to­ri­ans.

From Jerusalem to Cole­brook is avail­able from Just Tassie Books, The Ho­bart Book­shop Sala­manca and Fullers Book­shop Ho­bart.

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