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The punt

The Punt at Perth

The Punt at Perth, circa 1830. Reference: Tasmanian Archives; SLIDES 294S :CD IMAGES54, SD_ILS:652756 1830.

Perth was founded as the location to cross the South Esk River. Before the construction of a bridge could be justified financially, Governor Macquarie organised the operation of a punt; a small boat to cross the river. 

It was on May 30th, 1821, that Macquarie stood on the site of the future township, near where the Perth Bridge now stands, and his journal records:

Wednesday 30th May – Sent off our baggage early this morning so as to be a stage before us, having resolved on remaining ourselves another day at Gibson's. We all took a ride this forenoon to look at the new punt now building for crossing the South Esk about 3 miles lower down the river than Gibson's. I fixed on the place for the public ferry, and also on the site of a township for this part of the country, adjoining the ferry on a very rich point of land, which I have named Perth. Mr Gibson is a native of that town, having promised to build a good inn there directly. Perth is only 14 miles from Launceston and within 3 miles of Norfolk Plains.

Reference: Rait, B. 1971 'Perth and its story', Advance Publicity Co, Hobart. 


Communications, bridges, roads and water transport are vital in the life of any community. The ferry flourished after its foundation by order of Governor Macquarie. It came under private ownership about 1827. There were times when waters of the South Esk damaged it, washed it down the river, and on one occasion completely wrecked it. One of the earliest recorded contractors for the ferry was named Pike.

Reference: Rait, B. 1971 'Perth and its story', Advance Publicity Co, Hobart. 

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