Kelly’s initial 100-acre grant does not include a portion of land on the western headland, this being reserved for eventual fortification. The land is never fortified, but prior to 1852, perhaps as early as the mid-1840s, it becomes the site of a Marine Police station, one of a network set up by Governor Franklin to prevent smuggling and convict escapes from the colony.

In 1852 an ex-Convict Department constable, Francis Harris, is appointed ‘Coxswain and District Constable’. Under his charge are at least six convicts to crew two double-ended, 32-foot, six-oared boats (along with a steer-oarsman) built of Huon pine. The boats are housed in a large shed with a sail loft, here at the northern end of Jetty Beach, though one of them is moored outside, for Anthony Denne has received permission to use the shed for his vessel.

Harris and his convict crew perform admirably. In September 1852 they capture six Port Arthur escapees attempting to sneak past and into the open sea. And at least six vessels are saved from storm destruction. Describing one of these incidents in February 1854, the Hobart Guardian praises ‘the indefatigable district constable of Kelly’s Point’ and his heroic crew. When the increase in shipping brings on a pilotage crisis crew members fill the breach, though this is controversial and of dubious legality.

It comes as a shock when the station is summarily disbanded in August 1854. There is outrage in the press. ‘We are of the opinion’, complains the Mercury, ‘that the breaking up of the Kelly’s Point station will be productive of serious public injury, smuggling and other offences’, and it laments the ‘act of deliberate injustice’ whereby Coxswain Harris ‘is now without a moment’s warning cast upon the world’.

As well as the boathouse, now taken over by Denne, there seem to have been three (possibly four) wooden buildings in the complex, as well as a flagstaff near the northern shoreline, and possibly a forge. Still prominent today is the rose-entangled stone mound running north/south across the promontory, and though its purpose is not entirely clear, this may have been a boundary wall to separate the Marine Police precinct from the farm.


Further reading and image sources

Smythe, S. (2015), Guardians of the Port: Hobart’s Colonial Pilots, Forty South Publishing. Hobart.

The image thought to be of Bleach is from the National Library (Trove: http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/205682923).

The pilot boat image is from the Tasmanian Archives, ref. TAHO MMT-P_GSL454.

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