Lieutenant John Bowen sent out several exploration parties from the settlement at Risdon, one of which journeyed across the hills to discover a rich valley of coal and the river which was subsequently named the Coal River. Early in 1805 a large expanse of water (Pittwater) was located and here they envisaged a fine harbor and a city on its banks. However, it was found that the water was too shallow for the passage of boats.
In 1823 the population of Sorell numbered, 133, of whom 96 were convicts and their families. Descendents of many of these families still live in the district. From the first settlement of the area in 1815 until the 1860s Sorell was known as the most important grain centre in Van Diemen's Land. It was so productive that some years, grain was actually shipped out to New South Wales.
The causeway was reconstructed in recent years and little of the original work is still in evidence.
Sorell is now considered a commuter town as it is only an easy 20 min drive to Hobart and is only 10 mins from the Hobart airport. Although the town has grown over time, the historical areas of Sorell have been well preserved and blended into the new buildings & landscape.