History

Sorell is one of Tasmania’s oldest towns and today it is popular for its history, beautiful Southern Beaches and growing suburbs.

When the Abel Tasman expedition sighted the West Coast of Tasmania on 24 November 1642, Tasmanian Aboriginals had occupied the land for many thousands of years.

The islands Tasman arrived at were home to several distinctly different Aboriginal groups, each with a separate language. Each Tasmanian Aboriginal group developed a rich cultural life that required the people to live sustainably within their environment and with each other. Evidence of the people’s lifestyle can be found around the coastline in the form of middens or stone artefacts.

The Mumirimina People of the Oyster Bay Tribe traditionally lived in this area, occupying both the coastal and inland areas.

While the Tasmanian Aboriginal people have survived the European invasion of their lands, much of their unique language and culture was destroyed as a result of European settlement.

The Sorell district was first explored by Lieutenant Governor Collins, who named the shallow stretch of water between Sorell and Midway Point, Pitt Water after the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Pitt. The name Pittwater was given to the whole district until 1821 when the settlement was named after Lieutenant Governor William Sorell by Governor Lachlan Macquarie on his tour of Van Diemans Land. Whilst Sorell was first settled around 1808, it remained an isolated farming community until 1821 when the Town of Sorell was established.

Sorell soon established itself to be the granary that fed the fledgling colony. After forty years of growth and development it was decided that a Council was needed to help build and organise much needed facilities and services.  The first Council was elected on 26 May 1862 and met for the first time on 30 June 1862.

Much progress soon followed, with the electric telegraph service introduced in 1876, the Bellerive-Sorell railway line built in 1892, a water supply connected in 1916 and electricity delivered to the town in 1930. During the early years of Sorell, residents relied on ferries to cross Pitt Water; otherwise they had to travel to Hobart via Richmond. In 1854 Sir William Denison began negotiations to construct a causeway. The causeways took eight years to complete, with the first vehicles making the crossing in 1872.

Sorell continues to grow and attract people with its affordable housing and close proximity to services and the city. It remains firmly as one of Tasmania’s fastest growing Municipalities, with recent population growth exceeding state averages.

Sorell has an active History Society who are committed to collecting and recording stories, photographs and artefacts that tell the story of Sorell – http://sorellhistory.org/

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