Posted On 11 March 2013
Yesterday we went to Dunalley, the small town that was devastated by a huge bushfire in January.
|The road to Dunalley|
I’ve tried several times to write about the trip, but what can you say when faced with such huge devastation? It was heartbreaking to see the effects of the fire, but inspiring to see things like the new school that was up and running for the start of the school year, about a month after the fire.
We had lunch at the Dunalley Hotel. I have a vague connection to this pub, as my Great Great Great Grandfather built it.
The original hotel was built in 1866 and burnt down in 1891. My Great Great Great Grandfather, Alfred Dorman, was the builder of the new hotel.
My mother, the family historian, did some digging into the story of Alfred, and found that he arrived in Tasmania in 1883 under a program intended to increase the supply of skilled labour in the state. He lived in Hobart and worked as a builder on projects including a number of hotels and Marine Board buildings.
The plans for the new Dunalley Hotel were drawn up by Robert Huckson, the architect whom Alfred had worked with on some of the Marine Board projects. Alfred was engaged to construct the new hotel. It would seem that once the building had been completed, the insurance money paid to the previous owner of the hotel was nowhere to be found and so the building was auctioned. It was purchased by a Queensland investor, who installed Alfred as licensee.
This appeared to have been a wise move for Alfred, as he was able to build a large accommodation block adjoining the pub to house people involved in the construction of the nearby Dension Canal, who presumably would also have regularly patronised the pub. Such was Alfred’s investment in the area (he also successfully tendered for some of the work associated with the canal project), that one of the locals named the canal ‘Dorman’s Ditch’, a name that stuck for quite some time.
Alfred did so well out of the hotel and the other projects that he was able to buy it in 1912, but sold it two years later. After taking a world tour with his wife and three of his children, he returned to the area and purchased a property at Eaglehawk Neck, where he first started apple farming, then turned to vegetable farming and timber milling. He remained there until he died in 1933.
|View from the pub looking to the Dunalley Fish Market|
We had a great lunch at the pub (which has been refurbished and added to considerably since 1891) and then went for a drive (in the wrong direction, well done navigator). We didn’t have a lot of time today as we left fairly late in the morning due to other commitments, so we didn’t have the chance to look around as much as I’d have liked to.
We did, however, stop in at the Copping Museum on the way home, where local wine tastings were available. We picked up a couple of bottles, a Pinot Gris from Yaxley Estate, which lost most of its vines in the fires and is hoping to rebuild to begin producing wine for 2015, and a Cabernet Merlot from Bream Creek Vineyard. The last Bream Creek Merlot we had was one we’d bought on our trip to Dunalley for our wedding anniversary in 2005 and cellared in our extensive wine cellar* to be opened on a future anniversary.
So it was a short half day trip to what is a beautiful part of the state. Next time we go I want to spend more time in the area and have a really good look around and find some of the places mentioned in my mother’s research. Maybe even camp for a couple of days. I’ve heard there’s a great campground in the Tasman National Park.
*Not extensive and not a cellar. There is wine though.
Hi sleepy, came across your old post while doing some research, we are heading down this way next month and thought we may look up a bit of family history, Alfred Dorman was my great grandfather, his youngest daughter Annie my grandmother. We must be related.