Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Paterson's 1804 Landing Site, George Town

November 4th 1804, Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson, and a fleet of ships HMS Buffalo, HMS Lady Nelson, the Francis & the Integrity, entered the mouth of the Tamar on the north coast of Van Diemen’s Land, with a party of 181 including troops, 74 convicts and one free settler. On navigating the Tamar River, Paterson’s ship, the HMS Buffalo, was blown ashore in a gale at Low Head, onto Lagoon Beach.

An outer cove on the eastern side of the Tamar, the site of today’s George Town and originally named ‘Outer Cove’, was chosen temporarily and the settlers made camp there. Paterson even had erected a prefabricated house he had brought with him from Sydney. The house was located at the southern end of what is now Sorell Street. It was still there when Governor Macquarie arrived in December 1811.

Paterson continued to explore the Tamar for a better area, on finding two good streams of fresh water he named the area York Town and would transfer all the settlers here before Christmas although Outer Cove was still used to graze cattle at least until 1806. On November 12th 1804, a large group of Aboriginals approached Paterson's camp, appearing to be quite friendly. They attacked a Marine guard and were fired on with muskets by the Marines. One native was killed and another was wounded.

Despite the hostility of the natives, Paterson continued to explore the area without further incident. Good pasture land and thick forests were found at the head of the Tamar (Launceston). Paterson also discovered and named the North Esk and the South Esk Rivers he was most impressed with the Cataract he discovered in a gorge of the South Esk River. Choosing to stay at the York Town settlement, Lieutenant Paterson moved the small settlement to a more fertile area he named Patersonia, (Launceston) in March 1806.

William Paterson became Lieutenant Governor of Northern Van Diemens Land and later was also Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales giving him authority over David Collins in the south. Van Diemen's Land was combined under one government in 1812 and was governed from Hobart.

Lieutenant Colonel William Paterson, left Port Dalrymple on January 1st 1809. Paterson was in ill heath and was returning to Sydney Town to take over command of the colony from Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Foveaux. Paterson was in control of the colony until Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived in January 1810.
William Paterson then began his return journey to England aboard the "Dromedary" but he died at sea on June 21st 1810, aged 54.

In 1935, a monument commemorating Paterson and the first settlement was erected at Windmill Point near the spot where Paterson originally came ashore and commenced the English settlement of Northern Van Diemen’s Land.

Main Text & Information Source –

Historic Photos – 
Painting of Paterson’s Landing – Print source at George Town Watch House