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Highfield Historic Site

Visitor's Guide

ImageMap of Highfield
view of The Nut view of Convict Barracks Funerary Monument Cottages Cart Shed Pig sties and boiling house Stables Barns Chapel Highfield House

1. Highfield House

Highfield homestead was built from 1832-35 as the residence of the Company's chief agent, Edward Curr. A weatherboard cottage erected in 1827 had served as Curr's home prior to this, and the new residence was built adjoining it. Curr claimed in July 1832:

The wooden house I live in will not stand 15 years; the stone one which I am building will stand a century.

Edward Curr

(Richard Eastwood)

In October 1838 the roof space of Highfield was converted into attic sleeping rooms for Curr's daughters. Further repairs were undertaken by James Gibson in 1844 following flooding in the cellar and attic rooms. New servants' rooms and a kitchen were also constructed at this time. The original weatherboard dwelling was demolished to make way for the alterations.

After the Van Diemen's Land Company period of occupancy, only minor alterations were made to Highfield, which remains remarkably intact.

2. Chapel

Religious services were at first held in a section of the 1827 Highfield cottage. They were conducted by Thomas Swayne (wool sorter and book-keeper) until he left in 1841. Six convicts formed the church choir.

Late in 1838 the building of a stone chapel was commenced, although never completed. Reverend Grigg was appointed chaplain. Services were conducted in the chapel building from the beginning of 1842 until a church and parsonage were erected in the new company township of Stanley. The chapel was later used as a storehouse.

Highfield Barn (Michelle Dupont)


3. Barns

The southernmost section of this barn complex was built c. 1828 and is one of the earliest buildings on the property. A stone section of the barn housed a horse driven threshing machine and chaff house.

A new stone barn forming the western wing was completed in February 1836. Both barns were linked with a timber structure and used as a store complex by 1907. The building was later converted into a large shearing shed by the Ford family.

4. Stables

The company's horses had a good reputation in the colony, both on the track and in the fields. These substantial stables erected in 1836-37 are testament to their importance on the property. The Ford family continued the tradition of bloodstock breeding at Highfield.

5. Pig sties and boiling house

Pigs were kept on the property after 1830 to supply the company and other markets with ham, bacon and pork. The pig sties and stone boiling houses were completed in March 1832 and by 1836 housed over 90 beasts. The building is thought to have been converted from the wing of a former cart shed. Later, it was enlarged and made into a slaughterhouse.

6. Cart shed

Convict barracks

Convict barracks, late nineteenth century.

This stone cart shed was erected in 1841 and included a loft for storing tools and provisions. It replaced an earlier wooden structure.

7. Cottages

The conjoined cottages to the left and two storey cottage on the right were erected c. 1840-41 to house workers at the property.

8. Funerary monument

The part of the garden was described in 1838 as providing a 'winding, bowery walk' to a tomb surrounded by honeysuckle and sweet briar in an alcove. It was erected by Curr as a monument to his two year old daughter Juliana who died tragically whilst playing in a cart harnessed to a dog. The dog suddenly rushed to fight with other dogs outside the yard, causing the girl to hit her head on the fencing.


Circular Head from Highfield

'Circular Head from the Park of the
Commissioner of the VDL Co. ,'
by W. P. Kay c. 1840 (Allport Library
and Museum of Fine Arts)

9. View of convict barracks

From this point can be seen the ruins of the old convict barracks built from 1834 and occupied from 1836. In July 1832 there were 41 convicts assigned to the Circular Head establishment, a number which rose to 73 in 1833.

10. View of 'The Nut'

Picturesque views of 'The Nut' and Stanley can be taken in from this point.