Founded in 1816, the tiny historical village of Jericho is one of the oldest townships in Australia. Like its better known neighbour, Oatlands, the main road of Jericho contains some fine examples of early colonial sandstone architecture, and constructions including examples of convict cut culverts, bridges and walls, many of which date from the 1830s. A mud wall, a relic from the convict probation station, is appropriately known as the Wall of Jericho.
Old Jericho Road, one of the few surviving examples of the convict built road of the 1830s, still has some interesting convict constructions including stone walls, a bridge and some culverts.
The site of The Probation Station (1840), which housed over 200 convicts working on the road can be viewed. The paddocks to the left of the station originally known as ‘Fourteen Tree Plain’ was the site of the first horse race in the state in April 1826.
St James Anglican Church (1888) contains the grave of Trooper John Hutton Bisdee, who was the first Tasmanian to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Four years before the settlement of Oatlands began, the first recorded religious service was held at Jericho, on the 23 February 1823. It was conducted by the Reverend Samuel Marsden from N.S.W. in the home of Mr. Thomas Gregson, “Northumbria”, Jericho. The first church was consecrated by Bishop William Grant Broughton in May 1838. Fifty years later, cracks appeared in the building, and it was decided to erect another building on the same site. The new church, designed by Henry Hunter and built by Walter Fish at a cost of £839 pounds, was consecrated in April 1888. It is also thought that St. James Church was the first church in the southern hemisphere to have conducted an Ecumenical Service. St. James Church now houses a Pioneer and Heritage Museum.
Other notable buildings in Jericho are the Commandant's Cottage (built in 1842) and the Probation Station (built in 1840), which was constructed to house the 200 convicts who were used to construct the road linking Hobart and Launceston. The land adjacent to the station was originally known as ‘Fourteen Tree Plain’ and was the site of the first horse race in the colony of Van Diemens Land, held in April 1826.
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Wher is it?
Jericho is 71 km north of Hobart and 125 km south of Launceston on the Midland Highway on the nanks of the Jordan River.
Jericho was originally known as Jericho Plains and was named after its biblical namesake by a marine Lt. Hugh Germain, who, the story goes, had been sent with a convict named Jorgensen, to shoot kangaroos for food and guard the local shepherds. According to the story, the only books carried by them were the Bible and The Arabian Nights and they amused themselves by naming geographical features from each book in turn – hence Jericho, and the nearby Jerusalem and Jordan River.
The area was first settled in 1816 and became an important way station for coaches on the road from Hobart to Launceston. It is now one of the oldest townships in Australia.
The town flourished for a time in the nineteenth century as a stage coach resting post, but declined in the twentieth century. Now bypassed by the Midland Highway, the state's main north-south highway, it is a sleepy village that retains its colonial charm and is part of Tasmania's Heritage Highway.