Approximately 70 million years ago, this area of the world was actively volcanic. Tasmania had recently separated from Gondwana land and was taking the shape it now bears.

About 12,000 years ago the sea level rose and Tasmania was separated from the Australian mainland. Now isolated on the island, Tasmanian Aborigines lived in harmony in tribes in various locations.
In 1798, Matthew Flinders and George Bass circumnavigated Tasmania, having suspected that the land mass was an island. On this journey they sited a cliffy, round lump, in form much resembling a Christmas cake.

They called it ‘Circular Head’. This name has since been used to describe the whole area. The cliffy, round lump is now known as ‘The Nut’.

For the next 30 years, Circular Head was the territory of sealers. Many of these were run-away convicts living on the islands of Bass Strait. They had a reputation for being rough and lawless and many stole local aboriginal women to be used as slaves and wives.

Having heard of the agricultural successes this newly discovered part of the world was providing, a group of London based merchants, businessmen and politicians established the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co.) in 1824. They hoped to make a fortune from fine merino wool on a large scale.
The company was originally promised a single holding of highly favourable land. Instead, in 1826 they were granted a huge tract of unsettled land in the mainly forested remote north-west.

In 1827 a sheltered port was opened below The Nut to facilitate the landing of stud livestock, implements, craftsmen, labourers and assigned convicts. Soon afterwards Edward Curr, chief agent of the VDL Co. had the area explored, surveyed and developed. Company employed surveyors deemed the area to be ideal for raising merino sheep. This wasn’t exactly true. The VDL Co. was a failure as a major wool supplier. Other ventures such as breeding of stud horses, cattle grazing, and a deer park did little to alleviate the financial problems experienced by the company.

In the 1840’s assigned convicts were withdrawn from service. The company turned it’s attention to the sale and lease of it’s holdings. They contracted John Lee Archer to design a town in 1842. It was named Stanley after Lord Stanley, British Secretary of State for the Colonies in the 1840s. The first sale of blocks in the town occurred in the late 1840’s.

In 1880 the first coach service between Stanley and Burnie opened up. The trip took 6-7 hours to complete. Around this time, timber, fishing, dairy and agriculture industries were all booming. 1906 saw the establishment of the ‘Circular Head Chronical’ in Stanley.

In 1911 the first railway link was completed between Stanley and Trowutta.

History of Touchwood

Built around 1840, Touchwood Cottage is the oldest private house in Stanley. Originally a four roomed cottage constructed in Georgian style, the building and the surrounding ten acres formed one of the early private farms in the area.

The bluestone building material was shipped from England as ballast and was used in many buildings in and around Stanley. The shape of the original cottage can be seen from the southern side. The stone wall on the northern side originally linked the cottage to separate farm outbuildings, which included a kitchen and dairy.

The verandah and gable were added about 1900 and at this time the outbuildings were incorporated into the house, the kitchen being moved to its present location. The cottage called The Studio was the original farm dairy.

Previous owners of Touchwood include Henry Emmett being Secretary to the Governor & Secretary to the Van Diemens Land Company from 1854.

Touchwood Craft Gallery and The Pines were built by Mark Leech and Ben Dixon in 1984. The Pines was originally used as a workshop, where they made craft items to sell in the Gallery. The Pines Cottage is now used as cottage accommodation.

Reception Hours

8.30 am – 4.30 pm
Open most Public Holidays



31 Church St
Stanley Tasmania, 7331

Phone: 03 6458 1348

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