12th February 1842

A proposal was made to construct a new probation station at “Newman’s Bottom” as it was abundant in water, trees and included 2000 acres of alluvial soil. On 16th April it was selected as the site, which would be named “Cascades” because of the waterfall present up stream.
By the end of September, 205 convicts were busy building barracks from wood and bark and clearing land. Approval to construct the Superintendents Quarters was granted before Christmas the same year
Two years later in December 1844, military barracks for one officer and 75 men was proposed and soon completed. By the middle of 1845, the half yearly reports show land had been cleared for agricultural practices, prisoner’s barracks were underway and timber was being sawn. Soon after it was necessary to have a Foreman of Works and Stores, so quarters were soon built for him also. The search for useful minerals commenced in April 1846 when a trial copper ore shaft was sunk at Cascades.

29th August 1846

Cascades had accommodation for 400 convicts. Following this, building projects to improve and expand the station was initiated. Flooring for the dormitories, a muster yard, a mess hall, chapel, hospital, school, solitary cells, workshops and a sawmill driven by a water wheel were suggested. The sawmill however was deferred.

6th May 1847

Convicts from Cascades were removed and replaced by English convicts from Norfolk Island. Their main occupation was with “procuring timber for general purposes”. At this time there were 144 separate apartments and the buildings were from brick and stone. It was proposed that the boys from Point Puer move there and the boy’s station be closed. However by the end of 1848 numbers at Cascades started to decline and more inmates from Norfolk Island were moved to the Peninsula when the island’s station was broken up. This meant some alterations to the buildings at Cascades to accommodate them adequately.

25th June 1853

Due to the cessation of transportation from England the number of convicts continued to dwindle from this point on, however it remained as a station for another 2 years, providing timber for Port Arthur. It was suggested when Cascades was vacated to be converted into an Army rifle range however there is no evidence to support this.

1860

Only one building was occupied by some constables, the rest were starting to decay. At this point it was recommended that the land be cleared of undergrowth and used to graze cattle and sheep. Within a few years there were nine convicts farming at Cascades.

The first private owner of Cascades was Henry Chesterman who received a Crown Purchase Grant in 1882. It was managed by Moses John Clark. A number of owners succeeded this until 1915 when Moses’ son Belmont Moses Clark, great grandfather of the current owner, bought Cascades.

During the time since the penal system ended, Cascades has been used for apple and pear orchards, at its peak harvesting about 22,000 bushels of fruit from 45 acres of orchard along with animal farming. It has been passed down through subsequent generations and in 1982 after extensive restoration

Cascades was opened up for colonial accommodation by Donald and Sue Clark. Following the family tradition, welcoming you now is his son Marcus Clark and Maria Stupka


Single Officer’s Quarters

Restoration of the Officer’s Quarters followed. It had been used as a shearing shed, many internal walls were missing and the exterior wall was collapsing.
An Australian Heritage award was received for the work carried out on this building in 1986


Workshop window replacement

In the 1987 the Overseer’s Quarters and Workshop Complex was restored and now houses the private museum as well as an accommodation unit. The northern end of the workshop complex (the luxury cottage) was restored in 2002 with the help of a grant and now stands as an example of original convict building while retaining an ambience of the days when it was used as a cool store for apples.

The final project started in 2005 was the Married Officer’s Quarters, also known as “Rotten Row”. Here the rustic exterior remains, while the interior has been painstakingly reinforced and rebuilt, in some places brick by brick.
Each building took about 12 months to restore and has been carried out by the owner, his son and their neighbour, a real labour of love.

The restoration has been extensive and began in 1981 with the prison hospital,
(now a private residence). Listed with the National Trust and part of the National
Estate it was with extreme care and authenticity the work was carried out.
Within a year the building was open for use as tourist accommodation.

      Restoration Presentations

Workshop facade rebuilt

At the same time as restoring the buildings, the Clark family also created a private museum to display artifacts from both the convict and post-convict eras of Cascades. This museum is open only for guests.

The basic income for the Clark family since its ownership of Cascades in 1915, has been from fruit (mainly apples and pears), the farm having supported four families full time, living in cottages on the place, with up to 20 people working during harvest and packing (Feb-May). At its peak during the 1950’s and 1960’s up to 22,000 bushels of fruit was picked from about 45 acres. With the decline of export markets during the 1970’s most of the orchard was bulldozed and another 200 acres of adjoining land was bought to supplement the meagre income from fruit by raising fat cattle and lamb for the local market.

For the Clarks, the opportunity to diversify beyond traditional farming brought with it a challenge requiring long term vision. The convict heritage, so much a part of the property, would not be denied and the commitment was made to restore as much of the settlement as possible and transform it into a totally integrated accommodation experience.

An interesting note of the post convict era is contained in an article about Koonya that appeared in the Hobart Mercury in the 1930’s. “… the brick walled enclosure which formed part of the model prison, is now owned by Mr E Brown, and used as a cow yard…..the old rectory, officer’s quarters are not useless, being occupied as dwellings…”

Much of the land during this century was used for orchards and dairying. Indeed about 1930 one of the first cool stores in Tasmania was built in an old convict building that once had been a cheese factory when James Lacey ran the property.

As a final touch even the cascade – the waterfall – has its share of historical significance, for Belmont Clark built his own hydro-electric system there to provide electric light for the residents of Koonya. When it came time for lights out, he simply leaned out the window of his bedroom and pulled a rope that switched off the power to everyone at the same time.



National Trust and National Estate Circa 1841
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