On a hill overlooking the town of Stanley sits the historic homestead “Highfield”. The house was built by the Van Diemen’s Land Company to house its managers. The company was established in London in 1824 by a group of influential merchants, businessmen and politicians who hoped to “make a fortune” from fine merino wool as many other landowners in other parts of Tasmania were doing at the time.
The land granted to the company was not what the company had hoped for and was considered “less than perfect” by the company’s chief agent Edward Curr. However the land proved to be very suitable for agriculture once it had been cleared of the dense timber growing on the site.
Even though the company initially failed in its original form it was later “re-invented” as a land sales company and exists to the current day. The company is credited with opening up much of North West Tasmania.
Highfield was acquired by the Tasmanian Government and has undergone a lengthy period of partial restoration and preservation of this unique estate. A website – http://www.historic-highfield.com.au provides much more detail.
Margaret and I were fascinated by Highfield during a couple of hours when we visited recently. There has been a huge amount of work put into preserving the property and opening the site to the public. You can wander the grounds and buildings and soak up the atmosphere of the historic past. The grounds, as they are located high above Stanley; also provide great views over the surrounding area.