Wednesday, 3 April 2013

51st Regiment Barracks, Triabunna

Maria Island was a penal settlement between 1825 – 1832 and 1842 – 1850. The 51st regiment, whose duties were on Maria Island, was stationed at Spring Bay (Triabunna) in 1843. The government relied on private enterprise to house 80 men & officers. This proved a boon to Spring Bay as cottages were built for families, stables for horses, barracks for the men and Inns were opened for quenching their thirst.

The stone barracks were built on land previously owned by John Ibbotson, a publican, in 1843. By 1844 the site also included 3 wooden buildings, one an Inn which had various names, including the Freemason’s Arms, but most popularly known as the Retreat Inn. It was then owned by George Rudd.
After the departure from Spring Bay of the military in 1850, the stone barracks were used to stable the coach horses. After numerous licensees, Alex Thompson bought the Retreat Inn in 1902 but later allowed the lease to lapse after he bought the Pembroke Hotel, now the Spring Bay Hotel which was next door.

Mrs Reardon was the Postmistress at the Retreat Inn between 1911 and 1926. Bob Barry also opened a bakery. He installed a larger oven in one of the stone stables behind the inn. This oven could accommodate 100 double loaves each weighing 4lbs. The bread was especially popular and the fishermen would often call in to purchase loaves. On the death of his father in 1940, Keir Barry ran the business until 1955.
The Retreat Inn was demolished in 1960 and the stone barracks were purchased with the intention of restoration. Ideas of a restaurant and museum did not come to fruition because of restoration costs. The buildings currently stand idle and are up for sale.

Text & Information from information signs located outside the building and site in Triabunna


  1. The Barracks were sold in 2014 to Mr & Mrs John Samin, who intend restoring the buildings and opening a business there.

    1. Thanks for the info. That's awesome!!!

    2. Im sorry but that information is wrong, Mr and Mrs Salon didnt buy the barracks...

    3. Mr and Mrs John Samin certainly did by the barracks... I don't know where you've got information to the contrary but I know the Samins and I know that they own the land.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this information. I am currently doing research on my GGG Grandfather who was in the 51st Regiment, stationed in Tasmania from 1843-1844. I really appreciate all your information and photos.

    1. My 4 g grandfather was in the 51st regiment that came out in 1840 on the mandarin. I'm having so much trouble finding anything. Where have you found your info ?

  3. Sorry but it was the 11th Regiment who served at the barracks in Triabunna, between 1847 and 1850, when the penal station was closed on Maria Island, and their presence was no longer required there. The 11th Reg. arrived in VDL in 1845, and departed circa 1856. From the following newspaper articles, it also appears that the barracks were leased rather than built by the regiment.

    Hobart Town, 15th January, 1844.
    Notice.-Tenders will be received at this office until 12 o'clock on Wednesday, the 7th day of February next, for the construction of a Soldiers' Barrack at Spring Bay, according to a plan and specification which may be seen at the Royal Engineer Office.
    Payment to be made in Treasury Bills, at par, on the production of the Ordnance Officer's draft on the Military Chest.
    Deputy Commissary-General. - Courier (Hobart, Tas.) 19 January 1844. - Launceston Examiner (Tas.) 2 August 1845.

    Hobart Town, July 23, 1845.
    Tenders in duplicate, addressed to the respective Officers of the Ordnance, until the 12th proximo, from parties having premises to let at Spring Bay or in its vicinity, fit for the occupation of Troops.
    The tenders to specify the situation of the buildings, with the number and dimensions of the rooms they may contain; the rent per annum, to commence from the date of occupation, for such a period as they may be required, and subject to three months’ notice on the part of the Ordnance when given up.
    By order of the respective Officers of the Ordnance.
    JAS. DUFF MACKAY, Barrack-Master. - Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas.) 1 August 1845, page 4

    Before Joseph Hone, Esq., Chairman; Henry Hopkins, and William Robertson, Esqrs., Justices.
    Jurors: — Messrs. R. Curtis (foreman), W. Graham, R. Cleburne, J. Paisley, J. Webb, H. S. Hurst, W. Roberts, F. Saville, J. Peck, J. W. Danby, J. Greig.
    Phillip Saunders (a private of the 11th regiment) was arraigned for stealing a shirt value 4s., and a tablecloth value 1 5s., the property of Alfred Glover, licensed victualler, residing at Triabunna, Spring Bay, in the district of Great Swanport, on Saturday the 6th May.
    Mr. Glover being sworn, stated the property on that dale was taken from a wash-tub, on his premises. Witness identified the articles produced. Prisoner belonged to the military detachment at Spring Bay. Saw prisoner in and out of his house several times during the day.
    Examined by the Chairman. There are twenty houses at Triabunna, and two public houses. The detachment of the 11th regiment has been there twelve months. George Leather, corporal, 11th regiment, saw prisoner on the 6th May bring the articles produced into the barrack-room…. - Britannia and Trades' Advocate (Hobart Town, Tas.) 1 June 1848.

    Best wishes, Carol Brill.

    1. Terrific. Thanks for all the awesome info Carol. All adds to the clarity of the story. Cheers :)