Located about 7 km to the north of the Hobart CBD along the Brooker Highway, Glenorchy is a shopping mecca for Hobart residents who live in the northern suburbs. It’s a large residential and business area a little to the north of Moonah.
Glenorchy means ‘glen of tumbling waters’ and it’s believed that Governor Lachlan Macquarie named the area after his wife’s Scottish birthplace. The first land grants here were given in 1804 and soon a settlement was formed at O’Brien’s Bridge, which lies in the area around today’s Main Road. Sometime during the 1830s, Glenorchy got its first school on the site where today you’ll find Glenorchy Primary School.
In these early days, the area was mainly farmland and orchards and Glenorchy provided a rural retreat for the people of Hobart. However, small industries such as a jam factory, a candle and soap factory, meat-packing works and tanneries soon followed. Glenorchy grew slowly at first, especially since the Victorian gold rush drew many people away from the area in search of their fortunes.
In 1864, Glenorchy officially became a municipality. The first council meeting was held at the Coach and Horses Inn, where the Club Hotel now stands.
Back in the day, produce from the area was transported to the markets by road or along the Derwent River. In the 1870s, however, the railway came to Glenorchy. Today the Tasmanian Transport Museum provides a fascinating and fun history of the impact that more efficient modes of transport had, not only on the suburb but on Tasmania as a state.
Intergral to the rural lifestyle are horses and in 1875, the Tasmanian Racing Club founded the Elwick Racecourse. In 1904 the Royal Hobart Showground followed.
After World War I, the Electrolytic Zinc Company opened a plant at Lutana while Cadbury’s opened their chocolate factory in Claremont. This brought many new residents to Glenorchy, among them a diverse array of immigrant families. Small shopping centres sprung up, but when the Brooker Highway arrived in 1952, it brought traffic congestion. This led to the construction of better parking areas, wider streets and, in time, three large indoor shopping malls. Today only Hobart proper has a larger shopping district in Tasmania’s south.
Glenorchy received City status in 1964, a hundred years and a few months after it was declared a municipality.