Further Afield: Westbury Silhouette Trail

A walk around the Westbury Tasmania Silhouette Trail

Westbury has always been one of my favourite small towns in Tasmania. Beautiful old historic buildings and with a Village Green of a green rarely seen in Tasmania. I’m not sure how I came across information about the Westbury Silhouette Trail, but I decided to visit.

The silhouettes are of well known (or in a couple of cases, infamous) characters from Westbury’s history. As would be expected, most of the silhouettes (five of the eight) are situated within the historic village, within or close to, the Village Green.

Westbury Silhouette Trail Full brochure available at http://www.greatwesterntiers.net.au

A copy of the brochure outlining the trail can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/3FIWuCM .

John Peyton Jones – Westbury Historical Society

The first stop is the Westbury Historical Society Building in Lyall Street. The silhouette is to the right of the building.

John Peyton Jones 1809-91
Born County Sligo, Ireland

Captain John Peyton Jones arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in 1829 with the 63rd Regiment.

When stationed with the military guard at Eaglehawk Neck in 1830-32, he devised the scheme of placing a chain line of savage dogs across the neck of the narrow isthmus to prevent prisoners escaping from Port Arthur to the noth. This action secured him legendary status within the convict era.

Governor Franklin appointed Jones as Police Magistrate at Westbury in 1841 and he went on to play an important part in the township’s early history.

He was prominent in local organisations such as the Working Men’s Club, Public Library, Show Society and St Andrew’s Church and was elected the first warden of the Westbury Municipal Council in 1863.

John Peyton Jones is buried in the Westbury Anglican Cemetery.

– Information from John Peyton Jones Silhouette Information Board

Ellen Nora Payne – Anglican Church

Walking down Lyall Street towards the Village Green, the Anglican Church is on the right corner. The Church grounds need to be entered through turnstiles to view the silhouette.

Ellen Nora Payne
Born, Westbury, Tasmania

Nellie Payne was widely loved for her warmth and bright intelligence. Born at ‘Westfield’, the twelfth of fourteen children of Elizabeth and Thomas Field, Nellie enjoyed a happy childhood and excelled in creative arts.

A trip to England in 1899 with her husband Dr Charles Alexander Payne led Nellie to study woodcarving and design at the University of London.

Returning to Tasmania in 1906, she won outstanding prizes at the first all-Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work in 1907.

From then on, Nellie’s artistic output became prodigious, ranking her amongst Australia’s most remarkable women. Her carvings can be found across Australia and Britain in royal palaces, houses of parliament, churches, town halls, schools and universities.

Throughout the 97 years of her life, Nellie held a strong attachment to St Andrew’s Church, Westbury, which now contains some of her finest work.

Information from Ellen Nora Payne Silhouette Information Board

Irish Exiles – Village Green

A short walk through the Village Green from St Andrew’s brings us to a silhouette for Irish exiles Thomas Meagher and John Mitchel (Mitchel is also briefly mentioned in the silhouette for Father James Hogan).

Irish Exiles Silhouette – Westbury Silhouette Trail

Irish Exiles
Thomas Francis Meagher 1823-1867      John Mitchel 1815-1875
Born Waterford, Ireland                            Born Camnish, Ireland

Meagher and Mitchel were daring intellectuals who helped form the Young Ireland independence movement of the 1840s.

After an abortive rebellion in 1848, they were transported with five others to Van Diemens Land. The seven ‘Young Irelanders’ were restricted to separate police districts, but this was overcome when Meagher built a cottage at Lake Sorell near to where several of the districts met. There they gathered secretly to discuss their dreams for Ireland, their failed revolution and uncertain futures.

In 1852 Meagher renounced his parole and escaped through chilling winder conditions over the central plateau to Westbury. Mitchel followed a year later. Both were sheltered by sympathetic Westbury folk and aided on their way to America where they became legendary figures of Irish history.

– Information from Irish Exiles Silhouette Information Board

Frank Mehegan – Village Green

Light was not on my side when it came to the silhouette of Frank Mehegan (and we will completely blame that rather than inadequate photography skills). This silhouette was at the opposite end of the Village Green to that of Irish Exiles Meagher and Mitchel.

Francis Mehegan Silhouette – Westbury Silhouette Trail

Francis Henry Mehegan 1885-1967
Born Westbury, Tasmania
known all his life as ‘Frank’

Frank’s grandfather, Edward, established Mehegan’s Store in Westbury in 1848. It went on to serve its community for almost 150 years.

Frank fought in the Western Front in World War 1 receiving the Military Medal for bravery under fire. His brother Tom was killed in action in 1917.

Frank married his soulmate Evelyn Lynch. Together they ran Mehegan’s Store for 46 years from 1919 offering everything from ‘paint to a pound of sugar’ – at one time employing eleven staff.

Frank and Evelyn were committed to the Catholic Church in Westbury. A window is dedicated to the family. They practiced their religion daily, most notably during the Depression years giving generously to the needy – shelter, food, clothing and work.

Frank was known for his sense of humour and quiet wisdom. He played his beloved violin all his life, often entertaining customers on a Friday night in the Store.

He was a true gentleman of Westbury – ‘the poor man’s friend’.

– Information from Frank Mehegan Silhouette Information Board

Father James Hogan – Catholic Church

Leaving the Village Green and walking out to the main road, we come to the Westbury Catholic Church.

Father James Hogan 1825-1899
Born Co. Kilkenny, Ireland

Westbury’s first resident priest who served this community for 50 years.

Handsome, charming and energetic, he wont the hearts of every family.

A mighty horseman who rarely bothered with roads when visiting his scattered flock. He and his white horse, Mars, would be seen from miles away, jumping fences as they came.

Instrumental in the building of the Holy Trinity Church (1874), aiding the escape of Irish rebel John Mitchel (1853), and establishing Tasmania’s first Convent of the Sisters of St Joseph at Westbury (1887).

Father Hogan is buried beside the altar inside his own church.

The church clock tower was erected in 1901 in his honour by a grateful community of all denominations.

Revered forever.

– Information from Father James Hogan Silhouette Information Board

‘Jack’ Badcock – Westbury Recreation Ground

Continuing along the main road, we get to the silhouette of Jack Badcock. This was probably by favourite – aesthetically – of all. The bold outline and the positioning made it somewhat easier to see than the others, and was complemented by the giant cricket stumps to the right of the silhouette.

‘Jack’ Badcock 1914-1982
Born Exton, Tasmania

Clayvel Lindsay Badcock was a child prodigy who debuted for Tasmania when only 15 years old.

A stocky, right-handed batsman with enormously powerful forearms, he possessed a crashing hook stroke and a thirst for runs.

‘Jack’ played nineteen matches for Tasmania before transferring to South Australia for whom he played until his early retirement in 1941. His highest score in forst class cricket was 325 against Victoria in 1936.

A superstar of the Sheffield Shield competition, ‘Jack’ was also the first Tasmanian to reach a test century with 118 against England at the MCG in 1937.

Modest and immensely popular, ‘Jack’ toured England with Donald Bradman in the 1938 Ashes Series and enjoyed considerable success.

‘Jack’ scored 7,571 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 51.54 and hit 26 centuries. An enviable record of a sparkling, sporting life.

– Information from Jack Badcock Silhouette Information Board

The Fitzpatrick Sisters – Fitzpatrick’s Inn

The silhouette for The Fitzpatrick Sisters is reached by continuing to walk along the main road.

The Fitzpatrick Sisters
Cora                    1891-1968
Genevieve         1896-1994
Myra                   1898-1981

When Francis Fitzpatrick and his wife Emma acquired the licence for the town’s Commercial Hotel in 1903, it began a family association that endured for almost a century. Their daughters Cora, ‘Gene’ and Myra were renowned for their lavish hospitality and fashionable parties in the heyday of the gracious Georgian building they renamed Fitzpatrick’s Inn.

Conviviality was always the order of the day. Locals enjoyed a beer in the quaint English bar under Myra’s watchful eye and famous artists and writers were inspired by its old world charm and lively conversations. Tasmania’s social elite dined at a magnificent cedar table, laid with exquisite china, crystal and sterling silver.

The Inn was famous – and occasionally infamous – for its originality and style; an expression of the three Fitzpatrick sisters’ independent spirits.

Information from The Fitzpatrick Sisters Silhouette Information Board

Walter Lee – Uniting Church

The final stop is for Sir Walter Lee, three time Premier of Tasmania, outside the Uniting Church. The walk here from Fitzpatrick’s Inn perhaps lacks some of the charm of earlier sections as it travels through newer parts of Westbury rather than the historic village.

Sir Walter Lee KCMG 1874-1963
born Longford, Tasmania

Walter was educated at Longford State School to primary level and then went into his father’s business as a wheelwright.

After 1900. He and his brother James ran the firm of Lee Bros which was well known in Northern Tasmania for its wagons and farm implements.

Walter sat in the House of Assembly for Wilmot from 1909-1946 as a Liberal and later as a Nationalist. He held many parliamentary positions and was three times Premier : 1916-1922, 1923-1925 and 1934. He was knighted in 1920.

Sir Walter was a short, dapper man with astute and forthright views. A master of parliamentary tactics, he excelled in debate, particularly in his ability to ridicule opponents. He was also a devout Methodist and lay preacher in the Westbury area.

Around 1923, Sir Walter took up land at Quamby Bend, 1 km north of Westbury, where he and his two sons established a dairy farm, Barunah. He lived there until his death in 1963.

Summing Up

I enjoyed the walk, though perhaps enjoyed the stops within and close to the Village Green the most. The Green remains surrounded by historic homes and buildings and this, combined with the peaceful setting with mature trees, helps transport to a different time.

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