Andrew & Louisa arrived in Adelaide, South Australia in 1839 as a newly married couple from their ancestral town of Horsley, Gloucestershire in England. The first of their 5 children were born in Adelaide. Soon after the birth of their 2nd child they moved to Tasmania. In 1841 they arrived at the Forth River where a young 19 year-old James Fenton had pioneered just prior to their arrival. After clearing land and subsistence farming for a few years, they were evicted from their "patch" after a land dispute with a wealthy speculator and moved westward. The district was, at that time, known as 'the Leven' and recognised as a good source of quality timber. When their 5th child, Andrew Risby jnr. was just 2 years old the Risby family moved and settled on a patch of land known as The Rises, at the south-eastern perimeter of the present day Ulverstone town boundary where they farmed for many years. Descendants of this pioneering family still reside in the district.
During the 1850s, the district received a few new settlers but was also frequented by transient timber getters. The timber found ready markets in Melbourne, which desperately required good quality split timber during the Victorian gold rush. Up until June 1854, land releases in the district were often purchased under 'pre-emptive rights legislation' by distant purchasers whose intention was to keep the land for later sale at an increased price. With the repeal of that legislation, the conditions for settlers to take up residence improved.
Reliable rainfall and generally good quality soils favoured the development of agricultural pursuits. The early pioneers of the district struggled against great odds to secure their sustenance and ultimately develop an income from sale of their produce.
Ulverstone grew quite quickly during the 1890s.
The name Ulverstone is first known to have been used in 1854 when Hugh Ross McKay opened the Ulverstone store.
The town has become a centralised location between the northwest coast's two cities, Burnie and Devonport. It is named after Ulverston in England. n.b. Ulverston, U.K. was spelled Ulverstone until late in the 19th Century
From 1915 until 1955, a branch railway ran from Ulverstone to Nietta, mostly carrying timber for the Burnie Pulp Mill.