The Shot Tower at Taroona - an old historic sandstone building.
The Shot Tower, Taroona. (photograph: Joe Shemesh)

The Shot Tower

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About

​The Shot Tower is one of Tasmania’s most distinctive heritage landmarks and has presided over the waterside suburb of Taroona since the late 1800s. A testament to Joseph Moir’s ingenuity, the circular sandstone tower stands 58 metres high and is still one of the tallest buildings in Tasmania. Today, the enormity of Moir’s ambitious project is not lost; the Shot Tower, built with the purpose of producing lead shot, is the only remaining circular structure of its kind in the world.

Visitors can climb the 259 steps of the circular staircase to the very top of this iconic industrial tower and be rewarded with scenic views over the River Derwent, Hobart and beyond. You may even find the trek to the top easier than imagined, as the wooden steps were designed to be gentle for the workers carrying heavy sacks of lead in days gone by.

Learn more about the fascinating process of lead shot making in the museum at the base of the tower.

​Who was Joseph Moir?

At just twenty years old, Scotsman Joseph Moir arrived in Hobart in 1829, one of thousands of hopeful free immigrants who sailed to Van Diemen’s Land in the 1820s. By 1840 he had acquired several properties, government employment and a reputation as a builder of notable colonial buildings such as St Mark’s Anglican Church, Pontville. He returned briefly to Scotland in 1844 to marry Elizabeth Paxton with whom he had at least five children.

​A prominent businessman, Moir was active in Hobart’s civic affairs between 1846 and 1873, a year before his death. He built the shot tower and its associated buildings and poured his first shot in 1870.​

​When he died after a long illness in 1874, Moir left his major business concerns to his sons, James and Joseph. Together with Elizabeth (who only survived him by 15 months) and a daughter, Mary (who died in 1853 at the age of seven) Moir was encrypted in the family mausoleum on the cliffs below the shot tower. Their remains were later re-interred in unmarked graves at Queenborough ​Cemetery after Joseph relinquished the property in 1901. This cemetery’s graves were removed by Hobart Council in 1963 and Moir’s final resting place remains unknown.​