A small and charming Georgian colonial village which is registered as a classified historic town. The district was first settled by Europeans in 1814 and was known as Green Ponds a name which is still retained as the local municipality. The town is full of quaint Georgian cottages, shops and farm buildings. The Heritage Highway bypasses Kempton, however it is worth stopping by to explore.
The major historic buildings in the town include the National Estate listed St Mary s Anglican Church, a sandstone Gothic Revival building which was probably designed by James Blackburn. It was completed in 1844 and is notable for its square tower, its interesting cemetery, and its position as a central feature of Kempton s townscape.
Where is it?: Kempton is 49 km north of Hobart just off the Midland Highway.
Around TownThe church cemetery and the former Catholic Church garden reveal graves of convicts who were transported to New South Wales with the First Fleet in 1788.
Kempton Congregational Church (1840) is a simple stone Georgian church which also has an interesting old cemetery.
Wilmot Arms Inn (1844) was built by convicts and operated as a licensed inn until 1897. It is said that the proprietor suddenly got religion and stopped making alcohol and fed all his spirits to the pigs. The building later fell into disrepair but was restored in 1978. Today it is part of Tasmania s Colonial Accommodation circuit.
Another coaching inn in the area was Dysart House (now a private residence) a large two storey Georgian stone inn which was built in 1842. It is recognised as one of the finest coaching inns on the old Midlands Highway.
Once co-joined homesteads erected in the 1820s, what are now the Council Chambers were later converted into Government Offices and Court House. The buildings were used as a police station until 1862. The clock tower in front of the chambers was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war.
Kent Cottage, now a private residence, was built in 1833 James Lumsden operated a general store in two storey Georgian building in 1860, and more recently it was a service station.
The convict built two storey Glebe House is a private residence built for Rev George Otter in 1836. The quaint old shop over the road was originally a general store built in 1934. It was formerly situated in the grounds of Gleber House but was relocated to its present position in 1990.
A cut-out stage coach at the highway exit to Kempton marks the start of the Silhouette Trail on The Heritage Highway. In the paddocks along the highway, fifteen larger than life black steel cut-outs define the Trail and reflect on the region s frontier days: stage coaches in full flight, bushrangers, sheep farmers, gold-panners, surveyors, convict road gangs, railway workers, soldiers, a hangman, emus and Tasmanian Tigers amongst them.
Founded in 1816, the tiny historical village of Jericho is one of the oldest townships in Australia. Like its better known neighbour, Oatlands, the main road of Jericho contains some fine examples of early colonial sandstone architecture, and constructions including examples of convict cut culverts, bridges and walls, many of which date from the 1830s. A mud wall, a relic from the convict probation station, is appropriately known as the Wall of Jericho.
Kempton was originally known as 'Green Ponds' or 'Green Water Holes' from the pools of water left by the course of the Green Ponds Rivulet during summer months. At the base of Constitution Hill, it was a natural stopping place on the early track between Hobart Town and Launceston.
The first known land grant in the area was to Anthony Fenn Kemp, a former military officer. By all accounts a highly tempestuous character, Kemp had been deeply involved with the Rum Rebellion of 1808 in Sydney, but escaped prosecution. Arriving in Van Diemen s Land in 1816, Kemp was granted 700 acres at Green Ponds, which he named Mount Vernon after George Washington's homestead in America. Kemp had republican leanings, supporting the independence of Van Diemen s Land from New South Wales, freedom of the press, and trial by jury. On his Mount Vernon estate, Kemp bred first class sheep and helped pioneer the Tasmanian wool industry. In the late 1840s, the township of Green Ponds began to be referred to as Kempton (or 'Kemp Town'), and one of Kemp s eleven children, George Anthony Kemp, became the first Warden of the Green Ponds municipality in 1861.
Within a few years of Kemp's original 1816 grant, a number of free settlers took up land at Green Ponds. By 1823, a number of settlers such as Thomas Gorringe, John and Charles Franks, George Ashton and Joseph Johnson were farming at Green Ponds. The development of the township soon followed, with the establishment of inns such as the 'Royal Oak' and 'Three Jolly Farmers'. By 1829 Green Ponds had three inns and a simple log chapel; 1834 saw the establishment of a convict road station on the Green Ponds glebe. The station closed in 1841, but the Superintendent's Cottage (1837) survives as part of the Southern Midlands Council Kempton offices.
Following closure of the convict station, much of the former glebe was sold into private ownership, with many new houses being built in the 1840s. By the time Green Ponds became a municipality in its own right (1862) Kempton boasted a number of coaching inns and shops. At Ellis' or Lumsden's stores almost everything was available, from farm equipment and ironmongery through to ladies' fashions and wallpaper. For the thirsty traveller, hostelries such as the Good Woman, Exchange, Wilmot Arms or the Turf Hotel offered rest and refreshment. Kempton is also home to perhaps the grandest coaching inn on the old highway, William Henry Ellis' Commercial Hotel, now known as Dysart House. The enterprising Ellis, an emancipated embezzler, added a 20-stall stable to his grand hotel, allowing him to open up a Hobart to Green Ponds coaching service. With such reliance on horse drawn transport, Kempton was also home to a number of tradesmen such as wheelwrights, ostlers, blacksmiths, and even a watchmaker.
Today Kempton is bypassed by the new Midlands Highway, but the township still retains its village atmosphere. In the 1890s Kempton was known for its annual agricultural show, which today takes the form of the Kempton Festival. With the changing times, prizes are no longer awarded for the best chook or pumpkin, but new innovations such as the very popular sheep racing event at the 2014 Kempton Festival are continuing a venerable tradition.
Text: Southern Midlands Council