In the Footsteps of the Past – Daniel Herbert

The town of Ross is situated on a byroad off the Midland Highway between Hobart and Launceston and it was to here, in 1835, that the convict Daniel Herbert was sent to work on the construction of a stone bridge over the Macquarie River. He had been convicted of highway robbery in England and sentenced to death. His sentence was later reduced to transportation for life and he arrived in Hobart Town in 1827. As a skilled stonemason Daniel was put to work on many government projects in Hobart before being appointed as overseer, with another convict James Colbeck, of the completion of the Ross bridge.

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This beautiful sandstone bridge is the third oldest bridge in Australia and is still in use today. It contains 186 carved keystones with images of animals, fantasy creatures, celtic symbols and people, including Daniel and his wife, local dignitaries of the time and the governor of the colony Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Arthur. The stones were mostly carved by Daniel and they were completed in just over a year. The bridge was opened in July 1836.

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When Daniel was granted a free pardon in February 1842 he chose to remain in Ross with his wife and he continued to work in the district as an ornamental stonemason. Many of the ornate headstones in the old cemetery are thought to be his work.

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One of his most beautiful pieces is the table-top tombstone he carved when his infant son died in 1846. Today it stands upon the grave in which Daniel lies, on a windswept hill overlooking the river and the bridge which forever bears witness to his skills.

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10 thoughts on “In the Footsteps of the Past – Daniel Herbert

  1. Amazing. It’s interesting what happened to the convicts that were sent to Australia. They seemed to live such fruitful lives. I recently read David Copperfield. Another example of a failure in life going to Australia and becoming a leading citizen, a pillar of the community! Did that happen a lot? If so, that makes a very good question for society about how we should consider treating criminals. (like they have something to offer, maybe) Just a thought!!! What a great story. I love it! 🙂

  2. What an informative article. 🙂

    The view of the bridge in the first photo could so easily have been taken in England.

    It’s a very fine and elegant bridge and not at all rustic – but not over-ornamented.

    I guess the cost of labour was low 😉

  3. Pingback: In the Footsteps of the Past – The Four Corners of Ross | The Eternal Traveller

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