IN THE BEGINNING some members of the Tommeginer aborigine tribe were living on the Fossil Bluff coastline until early 1841. These people did not move far inland as the area was heavily timbered so they relied mainly on seafood.
It was not until 1798 when George Bass and Matthew Flinders sailed in their sloop 'Norfolk" through Bass Strait, that it was discovered that Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania) was not connected to New Holland (later Australia).
They named the large promontory (170 metres) Table Cape, which has now become the local landmark. The area had trees up to 12 metres in diameter at the base and the area has now been stripped of these huge stringybark eucalyptus gum trees. The beautiful red loam uncovered has been most suitable for the growing of potatoes, peas, onions and corn and the raising of sheep and cattle and more recently has changed to the cultivation of poppies, pyrethrum and tulips.
In 1853 the first of several timbermills were constructed and trade was buoyant with Victorian ports during their gold rush, providing much needed timber and produce which was exported from a wharf in the river.
Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) the founder of the universal Alexander Technique was born at Table Cape and attended school there before gaining employment at Waratah.
The Table Cape Butter and Bacon Factory was formed in 1892 and has continually produced export butter, and later cheese, under the Table Cape brand.
The Municipality comprises 192,000 acres and was originally named the Table Cape Municipality. The town Wynyard, proclaimed 22 February 1861, was named after General Edward Buckley Wynyard, who arrived in Sydney as Commanding Officer of the British troops and had visited Van Diemen's Land in 1850 when the surveyor Peter Lette surveyed the town reserve.
Henry Hellyer surveyed the area in 1827 and the Inglis River was named after a Van Diemen's Land Company Director, John Inglis. The V.D.L. Company was a large landholder in the north west corner of Tasmania.
Our lighthouse, high on Table Cape, was constructed in 1888 and converted to automatic acetylene in 1920. The last lighthouse keeper was withdrawn in 1923 and the cottages were demolished in 1926. Finally, in 1979 the beacon was converted to electricity.
Compilation and Research by C. Walker
Picture: Fay Hulme