Ulverstone, Tasmania

Ulverstone, Tasmania

Ulverstone is a town on the northwest coast of Tasmania, Australia. It lies at the mouth of the Leven River, on Bass Strait. It is on the Bass Highway, west of Devonport and east of Penguin.

At the 2006 census, Ulverstone had a population of 9,760. making it the state's second-largest town behind Kingston, and is part of the Central Coast Council.


The present-day town area was first settled by Europeans in 1848, when Andrew Risby, his wife Louisa and their five young children arrived to settle and develop farmland from, essentially, a thickly forested wilderness.

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.

Ulverstone was declared a town on 22 February 1861 by Governor H.E. Fox-Young.

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.

Famous inhabitants

  • Joseph Lyons, Prime Minister of Australia from 1932 to 1939, spent some of his early years living in Ulverstone - he arrived with his family from Stanley at age 5 and attended school, but his family relocated back to Stanley when Joseph was 12.
  • Clifford Plumpton, $500,000 winner on the Australian edition of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?", grew up in Ulverstone and attended the local high school.
  • Richard Fromberg, tennis player
  • Ben Hilfenhaus, Australian national and state cricketer
  • David Neitz, Australian rules footballer
  • James A. Harrison. R.N., President of I.F.P.N. - The International Federation of Perioperative Nurses. The first Australian to hold this position. Although born in Melbourne, James spent most of his formative years living with his parents on the outskirts of the town and was a student of the Ulverstone High School. Former President of the Australian College of Operating Room Nurses (A.C.O.R.N.)


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