Our world changed when gold was found at Ballarat in 1851, the economic and population boom in Victoria creating an insatiable demand for our produce and timber.
There was huge excitement in Launceston, and the fabulous price of building materials motivated timber men to force their way into almost-impenetrable bush to find the best logs.
They discovered good agricultural land as they carted logs and sawn timber out.
One man determined not to miss out on the bonanza was Launceston solicitor William Grubb.
He didn't know anything about timber, but when approached by builder William Tyson, he seized the opportunity.
In 1853 they formed a partnership to erect a big sawmill on Piper's River at Underwood, and brought millers from Yorkshire to build and run it.
To get their timber products out of this isolated, rugged and wet area they decided to build a long tramway to Mowbray.
It was less expensive than a road and easier to maintain.
They engaged an ex-convict contractor named John Gibbons, and the line was finished in early 1856, with a terminus and shed next to the Mowbray Hotel.
It was about 15 kilometres long.
A fascinating aspect of the tramway was its unusual wheel system.
Instead of flanged wheels, they used a flat wheel on the rail, holding the trucks in place by using small, grooved wheels angled onto the edge of the rail, two at the front and two at the back of each truck.
This was a patented system invented in England in 1844.
The Piper's River tramway was the only successful commercial use of this system ever, anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, by the time this unique tramway was completed, timber prices had already fallen by nearly 50 per cent.
Grubb and Tyson would never recover their investment, though they could supply timber at a small profit to their new timber yard at 75-83 Brisbane Street, opposite Mr Tyson's joinery works.
In 1865 the mill manager William Crabtree built a home at the top of the hill, above the mill, and called it Hollybank.
Although unsuccessful financially, the mill had a significant net benefit to the colony, their tramway giving access to the Upper Piper district and beyond.
Settlers began to arrive from 1859 and create farms nearby on the flatter and more fertile land that became Lilydale.
They used the tramway during the 1850s and '60s to get goods in and out and were still using it as a path long after the mill closed in 1870.