A Short History of Peppermint Bay and the Peppermint Bay Hotel Tasmania
The first Hotel at Peppermint Bay was called the Sawyers' Arms: licensed in 1853 the building was built in 1852 in exactly the same location as the present day Peppermint Bay Hotel
In 1857 English and Grove sold the Sawyers’ Arms to Mr George Flukes who appears to have decided to move the pub ‘up market’ and call it the Royal Hotel. Flukes saw the potential in the beautiful environment of Peppermint Bay and splendid views to be had from the hotel’s veranda.
So the Royal Hotel at Peppermint Bay became a popular day trip destination for tourists from around Tasmania and the mainland with a regular cruise leaving the docks at Hobart for passengers to disembark at Peppermint Bay’s jetty.
George Flukes owned and operated the Royal for 20 years. He planted an orchard in the area of the paddock and sheds behind the present hotel and built a separate residence there as well. The two pear trees growing there today are remnants of Flukes’ orchard.
Flukes ran the Royal Hotel until his death in 1878.
George Flukes’ death coincided with a down turn in the economy of Woodbridge, the timber getting was done and the mills were closing. Woodbridge began to depopulate.
The Royal Hotel extended the orginal Sawyer's Arms to better exploit the view over Peppermint Bay
With the closing of the mills the population of Woodbridge and Peppermint Bay began to drift away. There was still work for millers and timber getters further down the Channel at Gordon and up the Huon River. As the timber workers left the Peppermint Bay economy, and business at the Royal, declined. After George Flukes’ death the Royal kept trading under a manager but, even a number of attempts, it could not be sold as a going business and was eventually purchased by the retiring Hobart school master Rev. R. D. Poulette-Harris to be his private residence.
The Royal Hotel continued trading as Woodbridge's pub until May 1885 when Rev. Poulette-Harris and his family moved in to his new home overlooking Peppermint Bay. In September 1885 the Rev. Poulette-Harris re-named the hotel “The Cliffs”. It would remain their home for more than 20 years and for many years later residents of Woodbridge would continue to call the Hotel "The Cliffs".
Truganini and Peppermint Bay
The lands around Peppermint Bay were the traditional lands of the Nuenonne Aboriginal people. Peppermint Bay was formed during sea level rises 8,000 years ago, which flooded the lands between Bruny Island and PeppermintBay. After the rising waters cut Bruny Island off from the mainland the Nuenonne people made Bruny Island their permanent home. However they regularly travelled to Peppermint Bay in their bark canoes when the changing seasons provided local foods, like oysters, crayfish and abalone. Truganini, whose father was a chief of the Nuenonne people, was a regular visitor to the area around Peppermint Bay.
The Sawyer's Arms
The first European activity in Peppermint Bay was timber-getting using convict labour. Timber-getting began in the 1820’s with a camp set up beside one of the small creeks that flows into Peppermint Bay. The timber of two types of trees was in high demand in Hobart, the peppermint gum and the stringy bark gum; both grew also prolificly along the shores of Peppermint Bay and on the surrounding hillsides. Peppermint Bay was named after the peppermint gums.
The huge trees were felled by hand and then dragged to saw pits (shown here) where they were sawn into planks, which were stacked on the beach to be loaded onto barges and taken to Hobart.
It is difficult to imagine how hard the work of a sawyer was in those days, sawing huge logs six days of every week. It is not difficult to imagine how strong the sawyer's arms became after a few years of such work.
By 1850 the convict labour had given way to independant, ex-convicts who moved around the shores of the Channel to make a small living out of timber getting and sawing. There was not much to do in those days except work and drink.
So it is no surprise that the first hotel built at Peppermint Bay was called the Sawyers' Arms. Built on the present site of the Peppermint Bay Hotel it was built in 1852 and granted a liquor licence in early 1853. The Sawyers' Arms was built and owned by two men named James English and Lionel Groves.
Once English and Groves had been granted their license they ran the advertisement below in the Hobart newspapers every week for several months
These very stable and essentially unsinkable canoes were used by the Bruny Island Aboriginal people to cross between Bruny Island and Peppermint Bay
Rev. Richard Deodatus Poulett Harris (1817-1899).
R.D. Poulett-Harris lived at The Cliffs from 1885 until his death in 1899.
Poulett-Harris was an Anglican minister who played an important role in the advancement of public education in Tasmania. He was for many years the rector and principle of Hobart High and was instrumental in the foundation of the University of Tasmania.
He was also the Grand Master of Hobart’s Freemason Lodge.
Prone to melancholia he had an unfortunate relationship with fire. One of his sons died from burns. In November 1885 at The Cliffs his wife’s dress caught fire as she was burning off long grass around the shore line to scare away snakes as her daughter swam in the water nearby. Her daughters rushed from the water and put out the fire but she was badly burned. Late one night in October 1896 the extensive library of The Cliffs caught fire and Poulett-Harris lost his vast collection of books and memorabilia.
Partial insurance allowed Poulett-Harris to rebuild his home and he lived there until his death in 1899. His family continued to live at Peppermint Bay until the death of his wife in 1907.
This image from the 1880's shows the extensions made by George Flukes to the original Sawyers' Arms. The wing on your left survived the 1896 fire and was incorporated into the reconstructed Cliffs. The orchard is also visible on the left horizon.
In February 1942 fire once again destroyed the Peppermint Bay Hotel.
The fire broke out in the Peppermint Bay Hotel managers office in the heat of a February afternoon. Dry weather and lack of a high pressure water supply saw the fire spread rapidly through the wooden building. Local legend has it that when Woodbridge residents rallied to save the hotel and saw that the fire could not be extinguished they turned their attention to saving the hotels booze, at which task they achieved surprising success. Rescued bottles of booze were then hidden in the hedges, under rocks and in quickly dug holes.
The hotel was rebuilt in the years of World War 2 when building supplies and labour were both in short supply. to avoid another fire disaster it was decided to built the hotel out of red brick on the site of the two previous hotels, facing out over Peppermint Bay allowing diners and drinkers to take in the increbible views over the Decastreaux Channel.
In 1913, after the death of of Mrs Poulett-Harris The Cliffs was purchased by Hobart barrister Robert Topham who lived there until he sold to retired policeman Robert Hynds, who had been the publican of the Franklin Hotel and had sold that hotel for a considerable profit.
Seeing the tourism potential of the Hotel overlooking Peppermint Bay and knowing there were no other pubs past Kettering Hynds applied for a license for the premises, which was granted in 1913. He renamed the hotel The Oriental Hotel and Hynds spent a large amount of money expanding the building and adding a new, state of the art, kitchen and dining room as well as addition bedrooms and other features. The hotel at Peppermint Bay was once again open for business and it soon became a favourite destination for boaties and those owners of that new invention the MOTOR CAR.
Only a 30 minute drive from Hobart along the historic Channel Highway, the Peppermint Bay Hotel is one of Tasmania's premier tourist destinations and a fabulous half day excursion from Hobart. Serving coffee, teas and fine food made from local produce, accompanied by local wines and beers, and overlooking the beautiful Peppermint Bay and Bruny Island, this must be one of the most beautiful places in Tasmania to enjoy a meal. After your meal, or cup of coffee, you can enjoy a pleasant walk along the shores of Peppermint Bay or through the historic village of Woodbridge.
The beauty of Peppermint Bay was recognised by the first Europeans to visit the area and Woodbridge's first hotel was built in 1853 on the site of the present present Peppermint Bay Hotel. Read on to learn the pub's history.
If you are moving to Peppermint Bay or a new resident in the Woodbridge or South Channel area you might like to consider joining the Woodbridge Community Association.
This association is active in promoting the interests of residents of the greater Woodbridge area. Click the link below to visit their website for contact and other details.