The town was originally named Jerusalem. The area around Colebrook was first explored by Europeans in early 1804 and by 1806, with serious food shortages in Hobart Town, expeditions of soldiers were being sent into this area to kill kangaroos and emus. It is claimed that during one of these expeditions Private Hugh Germain, a well educated member of the Royal Marines, started giving various local sites exotic names.
Thus to the west of 'Jerusalem' (Colebrook) lies the incongruously named village of Bagdad and north of the town, past Lake Tiberius, is the village of Jericho. It is said that Germain travelled through the area with a copy of The Bible and the Arabian Nights and delighted in giving places religious and Middle Eastern names.
There is a story (more a legend that a hard fact) that the famous Tasmanian bushranger, Martin Cash, hid in a pear tree near the local police station after he had managed to escape from the village lockup.
Colebrook has many historic buildings, including St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, which overlooks the town and was built in 1856. The contract was signed for the erection of St. James Anglican Church on October 2, 1882. Hardwick Mill was working in 1871, but by the turn of the century had converted to a private residence and still is today.
The police building is also a private residence today and still contains two cells. Nichols Store, Pineholme and the former hospital have also survived up to now, proving Colebrook is rich in historical content.
‘The Chimneys’, now a private home, was the residence of the district constable in March 1854. In July 1854, it became a convent until it closed shortly before the 1967 bush fires.The town was almost completely destroyed by the fires on February 7, 1967, but has since been rebuilt. Many buildings were lost. One side of the street was virtually wiped out with only one building here and there taken on the opposite side. Sadly, one life was lost, along with the state school, post office, the Railway Hotel, the two shops and many homes. The loss of stock was horrific.
The convent was reopened until a new state school was built. That school closed in August 1986, and was relocated at Dodges Ferry. Craigbourne Dam was officially opened on November 17, 1986. This brought about the loss of Colebrook Park, a two-story Georgian sandstone house built in 1822. Two private homes were removed before the area was flooded. One remained a private home; the other became a golf club house. The dam has brought irrigation to many farmers and excellent fishing for many anglers.
Colebrook has lost a few facilities over the years. The postal service has become an agency open for two hours each week day, the school children travel to Campania for their education and the police station is at Richmond. [Campania is the next town 10 miles south; Richmond is 5 miles south of Campania.]
The sports available in Colebrook are football, cricket, tennis, badminton, eight ball and darts.
A quiet walk down to Wallaby Rivulet or up to the waterhole filled from an underground spring rewards the patient observer with a glimpse of a platypus. Lots of birds live happily among the cattle, sheep, rabbits, wallabies and possums.
In 2010, the Tasmanian Heritage Council revised the heritage listing of the Jerusalem Probation Station at Colebrook to reflect the site’s significant heritage values and archaeological potential.
In Tasmania there were actually 75 probation stations but little evidence of most of them remains, yet at this site the former courthouse, former Assistant Superintendent’s quarters, chapel and convict quarters are still visible The Jerusalem Probation Station site demonstrates several important aspects of convict administration in Van Diemen’s Land between 1834 and 1849 which was an important phase in the history of convict transportation and the use of convict labour. It’s probably little known that the former Jerusalem Probation Station is unusual because so much of the original probation station still exists. Well worth taking the time to check it out.