The main street of Campbell Town in the 1920s (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)
Campbell Town was named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1821 after his wife's family.1 There was already some European settlement in the area. Native grasslands, the legacy of Aboriginal management of the land by fire, had attracted settlers seeking grazing for stock. Conflict between Aboriginal people and settlers ensued.2
Additional impetus for growth came from the town's situation on the main route between Hobart and Launceston.3 The labour of convict road gangs stationed in the area is now most evident in the Red Bridge (1836–38). The town prospered as a coaching stop, but decline followed from 1876, when a railway linked north and south.4 Recently, the town has benefited from being one of the few not bypassed by the highway.
Land grants in the area were generally large, favouring affluent free settlers. A consciousness of social division still persists among many in the community.5 Farming proved successful and the area has long been prominent in the wool industry. The fortunes of the district have largely been tied to those of the rural sector. Sawmilling is no longer the thriving part of the local economy it once was.6
Sport has always figured prominently in local social life. The town also once boasted, for example, a band, lodges and regular dances.7 The annual agricultural show has been held since 1839. Local initiative has played an important role in the town's development. Lake Leake, the town's water supply (1884), and the Campbell Town District Hospital are two notable examples. (See also 'Sheep farmers'.)
Further reading: G Duncombe, A history of Campbell Town, Launceston, ; National Trust of Australi (Tasmania), Campbell Town, Tasmania, Campbell Town, ; J Richards (ed) , Living on the land, Campbell Town, 2002.
1. National Trust, p 6.
2. H. Reynolds, Fate of a Free People, Ringwood, 1995, p 59.
3. National Trust, p 86.
4. National Trust, p 76.
5. G. Duncombe, A History of Campbell Town, Launceston, 1996, p 2.
6. National Trust, passim, and p 77.
7. National Trust, pp 231-235.
8. National Trust, pp 194-208.
9. National Trust, pp 168-178.