Port Sorell

Louisa Anne Meredith, 'Badger Head, and the Sister Islands, from Poyston, Port Sorell', 1852 (ALMFA, SLT)

Port Sorell was the home of the Punnilerpanner band of Tasmanians, with midden sites up to 4000 years old. The Rubicon river mouth offered a safe anchorage, and Port Sorell was the first town settled on the north-west coast. Europeans arrived from the 1830s, first collecting wattle bark, then farming, mainly growing potatoes. In 1835 Port Sorell was home to 385 people, but many small farmers failed when potato prices dropped dramatically in the 1840s, and in 1881 the population numbered only 75. Port Sorell remained dormant while Devonport grew.

From the 1920s the town grew as a holiday centre, with fishing, and its noted Easter Monday Sports and Regatta. It was popular with Launcestonians, especially for its nearby attractions of Bakers Beach and the 4281-hectare Narawntapu (formerly Asbestos Range) National Park.

Further reading: Port Sorell Sesquicentenary Committee, A history of Port Sorell, Latrobe, 1994.

Alison Alexander