Westbury Tasmania

A brief history

The town came into existence in the early 1820s. It was surveyed in 1823 and by 1828 Governor George Arthur ordered that the townsite be laid out with a view to Westbury becoming a major stopover point on the route from Hobart to the northwest coast which, at the time, was being opened up by the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The scale of the survey was such that it is clear there were plans for Westbury to become a city.

From early in the 19th century the village green has been the site for the Westbury St Patrick’s Festival celebrating the town’s Celtic links. Though Westbury is often described as a very “English village”, the first European settlers were predominantly Irish; ex Irish convicts, retired soldiers and free settlers, many fleeing the Great Irish Famine in the 1840s. Gaelic was the local language in Westbury for many generations and a strong Irish brogue is reputed to have lasted throughout the 19th Century.

Military pensioners were each granted a 5-acre (20,000 m2) block of land complete with a well and pear tree. By the mid-1800s Westbury had become the largest military community in Tasmania. The town had a population of some 3,000 and an extensive grid street plan was surveyed preparing Westbury to become the predominant town in the north of Tasmania and the gateway to the north-west, but Deloraine has filled that role instead. Westbury remains a small town servicing the local agriculture industry.

Westbury is named after Westbury, Wiltshire in England.