The charming holiday town of Bridport is the perfect destination if you’re looking for coastal fun, long walks, or a round of golf. Only about an hour from Launceston, it even makes for a nice day trip.
Before European settlement, the Bridport area was home to the Trawlwoolway and the Pyemmairrenerpairrener, who were bands of the North East tribe. The surveyor Thomas Lewis travelled through the area in 1830 and was the first European to visit. Three years later, the first land grant here was given to Andrew and Janet Anderson, whose name is immortalised in Anderson Bay and who had their farm at Barnbougle. In 1835, Peter Brewer received a land grant too and by 1838 he had built Bowood. This farmhouse still stands some 6 km from town and is the oldest building in Tasmania’s northeast.
In those early years the area was used mainly for sheep pastures. The township itself developed during the 1860s and boomed during the next two decades after the discovery of gold and tin. Bridport became a bustling port where miners arrived and ore went out from the mines and then down to Launceston. One of the people who seized the opportunities this presented was Captain William Henry Jones, who operated a ship transporting cargo and sometimes passengers. By 1874 he had built a house as well as a store and two years later he built the Forrester Inn.
When the railway line between Launceston and Scottsdale was opened in 1889, it brought with it the economic collapse of Bridport. Even though many inhabitants moved away, the little town became a seaside playground for people from the Scottsdale area.
In 1911 things picked up again when the Forester Timber Mill was opened, leading to the construction of a railway line and two jetties from which the timber could be shipped to Melbourne. The mill operated until 1930.
As cars became more readily available, Bridport also became more popular with holidaymakers. At one time it was even known as the Riviera of the North Coast.
The Bridport of today offers a variety of activities, from fishing and boating to walking. Two of the most popular walks are the Bridport Circuit Walking Track for nature lovers and the Bridport History Walk for those with an interest in the past. For the latter, you can pick up a brochure at the Pavilion Information Centre.
Probably Bridport’s most famous attraction is the Barnbougle Links golf course, which opened in 2004 at the site of that first farm where the Andersons lived. The golf course is widely regarded as the best public golf course in the Southern Hemisphere and golfers even fly in by helicopter from Launceston to tee off here.
Bridport has several accommodation options and there is also a ferry service that links the town to Flinders Island.