Kingston is a thriving community located 12 km to the south of the Hobart CBD, along the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
The river here with its tannin-coloured waters was originally an important food source for the Aboriginal people who lived in the area. Their name for the river was Promenalinah. However, in 1804 the doctor and botanist Robert Brown visited the area and the river became known as Brown’s River.
The first settlers came in 1808. They were the Lucas family, who had lived on Norfolk Island but, like their fellow Norfolk Islanders, were forced to move to the Hobart area by the government. They received a land grant of 530 acres and began to farm. When patriarch Thomas Lucas died in 1815, his four sons each got a part of the property. Nathaniel Lucas built himself a Georgian Mansion which was called the Red House and today houses the clubrooms for the Kingston Golf Club.
It was from John Lucas’ estate though that the town of Kingston developed. There were a few other settlers in the area by now and it was one of them, a Mr Proctor, who began in 1835 to build Proctor’s Road to connect his farm to Hobart. It took him five years without any government assistance but once the road was complete, the government declared it a public road.
Easier access to and from Hobart brought with it some development to the settlement, which was still known as Brown’s River. In the 1840s the first school was built and by 1851, the district officially became a township. It was renamed Kingston at the suggestion of one of the Lucas sons, possibly in homage to Norfolk Island’s capital of Kingston.
By 1890, 249 people lived in Kingston. This was the year in which George Lucas built the Australasian Hotel at the magnificent Kingston Beach and soon the town was a popular destination for Hobartians looking for a seaside getaway. Some of their early holiday homes still stand near Kingston Beach.
The surrounding area became known for its timber industry, fruit and dairy farming and the fishing boats operating in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. After World War II, returning soldiers got small farms here with a little bit of government help. They not only expanded the apple industry but also added significantly to Kingston’s population. Many Dutch immigrants moved in during the 1950s too, adding some extra character.
Most of the orchards were destroyed during the bushfires that devastated the Hobart area in 1967 but when the Southern Outlet was completed two years later, Kingston developed rapidly. Today many Kingston residents commute to Hobart but choose to live in this more tranquil setting.
While Kingston itself isn’t a major food-producing town anymore, it still has an important place on the foodie map since it’s the gateway to the D’Entrecasteaux and Huon regions. It’s also home to the Australian Antarctic Division’s headquarters and there’s no denying that Kingston Beach is one of the finest in Greater Hobart.