George Hobler arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1826 with his wife and two children.
Granted land in the Western Districts, he soon sold it and settled in the north purchasing a property named Killafaddy. He built a home of four rooms made from mud and stones, with walls 18 inches thick. However, this did not deter the bushranger Bevan and his accomplice in April, 1829.
An old almond tree once stood where the cottage was. Situated on the North Esk river a few miles from the town of Launceston he worked this property of 243 hectares into a profitable acquisition through his energy and good management.
Hobler had brought with him from England a Devon cow to provide milk on the long journey out. From this cow, “Fair Maid”, many herds of Devon cows were established across the colonies. He also brought with him some sheep, but only two survived the journey.
Many readers would have crossed Hobler’s Bridge many times, probably without giving a thought to why it is so called. George Hobler’s farm was on one side of the North Esk River while the town of Launceston was a few miles north-west on the other side. To get to town, Hobler needed to cross the river. The solution was to build a bridge.
Not only did it allow Hobler to access the town, and of course markets, but it opened up the way to Patterson’s Plains, now St Leonards, and the road to Scottsdale. It also became a popular area for picnic parties from town, and on a more sombre note many drownings occurred through swimming tragedies and floods.
Hobler built the bridge at his own expense and design, which lasted for many years before it became too narrow for the increasing traffic. As at other entrances to the city there was a toll gate on the bridge.
Over the years since the original bridge was built in 1830 there have been several bridges erected, at slightly different angles, to accommodate increasing traffic demands and to stand the wear and tear of numerous floods.
Because of an enterprising George Hobler we have a legacy still accessible and well used nearly 200 years on.
As we cross the bridge it is well to remember that the name Hobler is pronounced with the stress on the O as in Hobart. We are reminded of this in a letter to the Weekly Courier (August 19, 1909) from his grandson.
The Launceston Historical Society brings together people with an interest in history. The society hosts monthly talks and the annual John West Memorial Lecture. To connect visit www.launcestonhistory.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org