Devonport’s History

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The city of Devonport began as two settlements on opposite banks of the Mersey River. Formby on the west bank and Torquay on the east drew settlers in the 1850s with the discovery of coal in the area. Timber soon became the dominant industry, and Torquay built a wharf to handle lumber shipment in 1859.

In the mid-1880s the Mersey River sandbar was finally dredged to support the growing shipping industry. The two settlements became a stop for steamers to Melbourne and the railway from Deloraine. The area became an important crossroads, and in 1890 citizens of both colonies voted to incorporate as the town of Devonport.

The Mersey Bluff Lighthouse was constructed in 1889, and in 1890 the first Victoria Bridge united the east and west banks. Railways expanded to support the transport of limestone, and the town continued to grow and prosper. In the late 50’s it was the fastest growing urban area in Australia. In 1981 Prince Charles of Wales declared Devonport a city.

Devonport is home to Tasmanian sports hero and World Champion Wood Chopper David Foster, but her most famous family is the Lyons. Joseph Lyons was the only Australian Prime Minister from Tasmania, and his wife Dame Enid Lyons was the first woman ever elected to the Australian parliament. The Lyons house, Home Hill, built in 1916, is open to the public.


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