Cape Grim

Cape Grim was discovered and named Cape Grim by Matthew Flinders on 7 December 1798, as he sailed from the East in the Norfolk and found a long swell coming from the South-west, confirming for the first time that Van Diemen's Land was separated from the Australian mainland by a strait which he named Bass Strait.

It is the location of the Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station which is operated by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in a joint programme with the CSIRO. The Station was established in 1976 and has been operating ever since.

What makes Cape Grim unique is its isolated geographic location. The next land mass directly west of Cape Grim is not Africa, but the southern tip of Argentina. Winds that make their way to Cape Grim from Antarctica and the Indian Ocean hit no significant land mass. Air pollution values collected at Cape Grim are said to represent the closest representation attainable of a global average.

The dairy farm of Woolnorth is operated by one of Australia’s oldest companies, The Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL). The property is still under Royal Charter. VDL was established by royal charter in 1825, encouraged by Tasmania’s ability to raise fine-wool sheep in the 20 years since its settlement. In the charter, King George IV granted 143,500 hectares of land to VDL, covering much of the area between Burnie and the north-west corner of the island. Today, at 16,800ha, Woolnorth remains tasmania’s largest property, and is all that remains of the original land grant. Woolnorth station is the country’s biggest milk supplier.

Woolnorth Tours

Breathe the cleanest air in the world at Cape Grim and walk the coastal beaches where the Great Southern Ocean collides with Bass Strait at Tasmania’s extreme north west corner on a tour to Woolnorth and Cape Grim.

Enjoy a fascinating trip to the historic Woolnorth property on Cape Grim. Passing the dairy operations of the Van Diemens Land Company, arrive at the Roaring 40s largest wind farm in Australia. Here the prevailing winds generate about 10% of Tasmanian’s power needs. Cape Grim is the next stop, with panoramic views of Suicide Bay, the Dough Boys, Victory Hill and offshore islands. See livestock grazing, the lime-sand pit, shearing shed and the cookhouse, the oldest cottage in north west Tasmania.

At the director’s lodge, enjoy a delicious lunch of tender Cape Grim beef, fresh salads and a generous Tasmanian cheese and fruit platter, whilst seated at the 1780 boardroom table. Following lunch, the coach travels to Woolnorth Point, where the remains of the S.S.Colliboi have lain since 1932. The wooden steamship, of 310 tons, purchased by William Holyman & Sons in 1929, struck a reef near Hunter Island, whilst under the command of Captain Neilson.

Half day tour : designed for the individual travellers, and will be transported in Woolnorth tour vehicle.  Minimum of 2 people per tour. Includes Wind farm Morning tea at the Directors Lodge Cape Grim Woolnorth Homestead area.

Full day tour: See Cape Grim, Woolnorth Point, Homestead area, Roaring 40s Windfarm.  Enjoy refreshments and lunch at the Directors Lodge. Duration: 7.5 hours.

Bus tours: choice of four tours – Best of Woolnorth Morning Tea; Best of Woolnorth Lunch; Taste of Woolnorth (2 hrs); Woolnorth Wild Farm.

Location: Woolnorth Tours, Smithton. Ph (03) 6452 1493 Mobile 0428 340 579

Woolnorth Wind Farm

Bluff Point Wind Farm (65 MW) and Studland Bay Wind Farm (75 MW) are situated at Woolnorth, at Cape Grim on Tasmania's extreme north west corner. Both wind farms are operated by Hydro Tasmania who also own a 25% share, the remaining 75% Guohua Energy Investment Co. Ltd.


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The Cape Grim Massacre

In 1826 the Van Diemen's Land Company set up sheep stations at Cape Grim and at Circular Head. When the Peerapper band from West Point revisited Cape Grim in December 1827 they found several shepherds, their huts and many sheep. The shepherds attempted to entice some of the Aboriginal women into a hut with the Aboriginal men strongly objecting, resulting in a fight; one shepherd was speared in the thigh and one Aborigine shot dead.

In revenge the tribe drove a flock of sheep over a cliff, spearing 118 of them. One contemporary source claims that in February 1828 a Van Diemen's Land company punitive expedition killed twelve Aborigines in response. However, historian Keith Windschuttle argues that the account is dubious and is most likely a distorted rumour which conflates two other events; an incident when the crew of a ship's boat attempted to fire on some Aborigines but were thwarted by wet gunpowder and the conflict between convict shepherds and Aborigines at Cape Grim.

An unknown number were reported to have escaped. The hill where the massacre occurred was then called Victory Hill by the shepherds. The responsible Magistrate, Edward Curr, a manager of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, disputed the numbers killed, did not initiate an investigation into the massacre, and also did not immediately report the incident to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur.

Lieutenant-Governor Arthur declared martial law on 1 November 1828 allowing roving parties to shoot or capture Aborigines for resettlement. In 1830 it was estimated there were only 60 Aborigines of the north-west tribe where just 3 years previously the numbers had been estimated at over 500. George Augustus Robinson had been appointed to round up the last survivors of the Aboriginal tribes to take them to a "place of safety" on an island off Tasmania's north coast; however Aborigines in the north-west avoided him.

In 1830 at a sealer's camp he found an 18-year-old man called Jack of Cape Grim, whose Aboriginal name was Tunnerminnerwait from the Parperloihener band of Robbins Island, and six abducted women. Robinson threatened the sealers with legal action unless they gave up the Aborigines, and to the Aborigines he promised safety and an eventual return to tribal areas.

On this same trip Robinson investigated the massacre, interviewing two of the shepherds and visiting Victory Hill with one of them. He also interviewed Aboriginal women living with sealers on Robbins Island. Robinson came to the conclusion that about 30 people were massacred at Cape Grim in this incident.

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