Henry Woods Old Man of the Mountain

Extracts from my book.

                            Henry Woods

The Old Man of the Mountain



Mt Wellington

                                   Hobart Tasmania

Chapter 1 



My interest in Mount Wellington began the first day I arrived in Tasmania in 1960. Coming down the Midlands Highway, after alighting from the “Princess” at Devonport, I was disappointed in not seeing more mountains. Where were all those beautiful mountains I had read about before deciding to come here to live.


It was not until years later through my interest in early Tasmanian history did I learn that the first road between Launceston and Hobart had to follow the contours so as to have the easiest way of travel for the horses and carriages.


On our approach to Hobart I was to see my first mountain close up. It was Mt Wellington, a beautiful sight standing majestic against a beautiful blue skyline.  I fell in love with it from that moment.


Little did I know then that I would spend the next twenty years living in its shadow at Fern Tree, and still do but at a far greater distance at Rosetta.


I first became aware of the amount of history that the mountain held when I began to research a ex convict called James Dickerson who had taken walkers on excursions from Hobart to the Springs and then on to the newly discovered Wellington Falls in the 1840s.[1]


My attention was drawn to the unusual story of a Mr. Woods who had lived with his wife at the Springs from the mid 1850s till the 1880s.


This chapter in the book stayed on hold mainly because of my interests straying elsewhere and the fact that I could not find out very much about this interesting character called Woods, as he was mainly called Mr. Woods in what I had read and I could not trace him as there were too many men with the surname Woods.


Every now and again I would attempt to complete the book but after  adding a few more interesting points it would be set aside.


A couple of months ago on the family history list I am on, I noticed that someone wanted to know where Vauxhall Gully was. [2]  I knew that I had seen this name in connection to the Woods story and emailed the person who had made the enquiry, and to my surprise it was to do with this particular Mr. Woods.  This led to many exchanges of information between us, my being able to give some background on his life at the Springs and Anne being able to give me information on the family story. [3]


From there this very interesting unknown part of our history   unfolded until on being asked to do something for National Family History Week in 2010 I decided, because of the mountain being so well know by old and young people alike, that I would try to complete the story and present it as a talk at the State Library.





I would like to thank Anne Merrick for her work in finding Henry Woods and allowing me to have access to this information, without her I may never have found him.  Her research allowed me to finish the chapter I was doing on him for my book “Nature in its Wildness Form”, hopefully I will now be able to complete the whole book.   



Anne in her last email to me remarked that “How wonderful it is to uncover and share something that has been lost from memory.”


My thanks to the, State Library of Tasmania, Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, Allport Library, Museum of Fine Arts and  W.L. Crowther Library, for permission to use the images.                                 


Henry Woods


Henry Woods was born in Cheltenham England about 1801. On the 15 October 1821 he was convicted in Gloucester for shop lifting, and transported to NSW on the “Shipley” in 1821.


While employed by George Cox Esq. in 1824 on the clearing party at Mulgoa, Henry absconded from his gang at the Ten Mile Station on the Parramatta road near Sydney. Henry absconded again in 1826.


By 1828 Henry had obtained his Certificate of Freedom. This certificate was torn up in 1829 and he was permitted to clear out[4] on the Barque “Leda” sailing to Western Australia.


On arriving in Fremantle he was described as a shoemaker aged 29, he became an indentured servant to James Henty.


Henry married Elizabeth Robinson in Perth Western Australia on 9 October 1830, there were four children to the union. Sarah Emma born 1832, Henry Watkins born 1834, Jane Elizabeth born 1838 and Mary Norrit born 1841.


Life in Perth did not turn out as Henry and Elizabeth would have wished. Henry was tried for burglary for stealing a silver thimble on 2 April 1845 and transported to VDL per “Champion”. [5] With him came his wife Elizabeth and his two youngest daughters, Jane and Mary, leaving Sarah and Henry in Perth.


Henry served his period of sentence at Port Arthur. He was then assigned to the north of the island. Here he was in trouble resisting his master’s authority and removed, after a period of hard labour, to Hobart. In Hobart he received his Ticket of Leave in 1850, and appeared to have stayed out of trouble, receiving his Conditional Pardon in May 1853, and his Certificate of Freedom in May 1855, for the second time.[6]


As a ticket of leave man in 1852 Henry was residing at Cascades with Horace Cooley.


Horace Cooley was sent to VDL as a political prisoner from Canada in 1834, and arrived on the “Buffalo” from Quebec in 1840 with  other political prisoners. Horace received his conditional pardon in 1849.[7]


On the 1848 Census for Hobart, Horace Cooley was living on land at Macquarie Street with 3 others [8] (This land could have been up near Cascades where Macquarie Street starts)


By the time Henry was back in Hobart, Elizabeth has disappeared from his life, it is thought by the family researcher that she went to Sydney about 1849 and remarried. On obtaining his certificate of freedom, Henry married Jane McCurrie in Hobart on 21 November 1853. [9]


Jane was transported as Jean McCurrie for 7 years, on the “Sea Queen” in 1846 for stealing not one, but more than 7 shawls over a period of time. She was 25 years old and gave her trade as a dealer. Her description was given as having a dark complexion with black eyes. She was pock pitted and had a large burn scar on her back.

Jane was an Irish woman and came from Antrim. Her mother’s name was Martha, she had two brothers Henry and John who had also been transported, and two sisters Mary and Maggie.


On arriving in Hobart Jean was sent on board the “Anson” [10] for 6 months probation. On finishing her time on the ‘Anson” she was sent to work for a Mr. Binks, but was later sent to the Women’s Factory at the Cascade for misconduct, and was sentenced to 3 months hard labour.  This was the first of two similar sentences.


On 10 November 1848 Jean gave birth to a son, George, but he was to die two years later at the Women’s Factory in July 1850.


Jean received her T/L in January 1850 but continued to come before the court for absconding and being drunk and was not granted her Free Certificate until 1853. [11]


In 1859 Henry wrote to Mr. Calder of the Lands Department applying for Crown Land on which to build visitors’ accommodation at the Springs. He stated he had been living at Vauxhall Gully.  He advised that he intended to build a house for visitors to rest in. The letter went on to say that his wife was a steady worker and that they had established a garden, and was a tenant to Mr. Cooley and Mr. McRobie, [12]  for the previous ten years He was the first person to open the line of road for Mr. Cooley from the foothills of the mountain for the purpose of getting timber.[13]


Henry and Jane Woods

The Critic 3 August 1923


The Commentator:


                             “Bushman” writes thus: - have you any

                              records in your possession that will show

                              when the old Spring’s Hut, tenanted by

                              old Henry Woods and his wife was built.”


                             `Woods was known by the nickname

                              of “Old Man of the Mountain,”

                             and was always regarded as a splendid

                              bushman.  After Woods’ day the hut

                             was occupied by an old man named

                             Lacy and his wife.

                             Lacy lost his life through being

                             chocked by a sausage that got

                             wedged in his windpipe. I spent many

                              happy days in that old hut, if rough was homely.

                              One reply to this question is that the

                             information required is contained in the

                            useful records of the Lands and 
                           Surveys Department.’


On the 21 August 1859, the Department received the following communication from Woods, who then resided at Vauxhall Gully, which was situated on some part of the mountain. The letter which was addressed to Mr. J. E. Calder, then the Surveyor-General, ran as follows`. –


                        I respectfully beg leave to solicit permission to

                   occupy a portion of Crown land situate at the

                    Springs. It is my intention a good substantial

                    house for the accommodation of respectable

                    inhabitants visiting Mount Wellington, and

                   in case they maybe benighted to give them

                   shelter for the night. My wife, who is a steady

                    hard working industrious woman, will use her best

                   endeavors to make the ladies as comfortable

                    as she possibly can, should the Government at

                    anytime require the land allotted to me, the

                   same shall immediately given up on receiving

                   due notice from you. In addition to building the

                   house I will cultivate the few acres of ground which

                    will make the land valuable. I have been there

                   ten years as tenant to Mr. Cooley and Mr. McRobie,

                   and I was the first person who opened the line of road

                   for Mr. Cooley. Trusting that the subjoined testimonials

                   of character will operate as a stimulus to my

                    humble request, I most respectfully subscribe

                   myself your most obliging servant.  ----Henry Woods’. [14]


Permission was given, and from reports in the newspapers of the day the Woods family at the Springs became a household name to Hobart

walkers and visitors alike, who wandered over the mountain in summer and winter.


                                   Woods family at the Springs 

The hut was a vertical plank walled and shingle hip roof. Georgian style small cottage with a stone chimney at the N (north) end was built on the slopes - probably the upper slopes of the Springs – and looked out over Hobart………There is a barn/stables (a large building log cabin style structure with a gable roof of planks) and with a window and door at the N side, below and S (south) of the house. There is a small  shed – and immediately downslope of the barn (with vertical plank (rough) walls and a shingle gable roof, also facing north.


From his work with Cooley he appears to have developed a love for the mountain and decided to establish himself away from the temptations of the towns, which had been the cause of his past problems.


Many explorers wrote about it in their Journals, while others could not resist the temptation to climb its rugged slopes to the top.  Even women fell under its spell. Salome Pitt (whose parents came with Lt. Col. Collins in 1804) scaled it with an aboriginal girl as early as 1810.


‘The gang of unknown convicts together with someone with some surveying skills (probably their superintendent, a Royal Engineer)   packed tools and victuals and were sent to the Springs as early as 1825. They began digging a diversion channel a little less that two foot wide one foot deep and, creating a gentle even fall towards the Hobart Rivulet……..’[16]


An interesting description of a day on the mountain in 1834 by Baron von Hugel, tells of himself, Captain Neville and two soldiers starting early one morning from Hobart on horseback to travel to the top of Mt Wellington.[17]  His story was translated from his native German tongue and makes interesting reading [18]  He was spellbound by what he saw and parts of his journal reads like poetry. He wrote -


          Here in this virgin forest, where no one

                   has  walked, creation shows the secrets

                   of nature. Here are quite and solitude

                   that cannot be described’


 Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the Governor visited the mountain many times, and in 1843 she initiated the building of a hut on the Pinnacle and the Springs to encourage more women to climb the Mountain.


The ex-convict James Dickinson organized excursions to the Springs and to the Wellington Falls from the early 1840s. This brought about the Government financing a track to the Falls.[19]


‘In 1849 an Ice House was built of compact snow for ice, and transported to Hobart by pack horse ‘to be used by the confectioners in Hobart in the preparation of ice creams’. Henry Woods and his son also delivered ice from the Springs to Hobart.[20] The Ice Houses were substantial (c9cm x 5.5m) excavated areas c2.5m deep which were built up an additional metre with stonewalling, then roofed over with timber and sod covering.  In all, four ice houses were constructed …………………….The probable route for the ice into Hobart was via Fingerpost Track and then via Hobart Rivulet to Degraves sawmill……………’ [21]


Henry and Jane Woods from their humble little wooden hut at the Springs carried out all manner of help to the tired visitors from 1859 till their deaths in 1882 when their son Henry and his wife took over for a short period.


A description of a trip from Hobart to the Wellington Falls by Robert Mather and nine others in the spring of 1866 describes leaving in the evening for the Springs, where they ‘took up our abode at the hut. Set apart by a man who lives at the Springs, for visitors. The only bedding we had was a little carpet, and a few pillows besides a rug or two, and a cloak. A small table stood in one corner of the hut, and two stools and a bucket of water for our use.  There was plenty of wood for the fire, but the man did not seem to think wet wood would not burn’ they left at 4.30am to Wellington Falls via the summit. Returning that evening via the springs they ‘partook of tea’ then headed home.[22]


As early as 1865 Henry’s name appeared in the Hobart paper, when he was involved in a near serious accident in the town.

Mercury 25 January 1865.


Fall from horse


                   ‘About noon yesterday,

                   Woods, the well known keeper of the half–way

                   house on Mount Wellington, was riding through

                   Liverpool Street, he was thrown with

                    some violence from his horse. He was

                    removed to the hospital, where he was

                    found to have received no injuries,

                    except some of a very superficial character.’ [23]


About this time a lady from NSW arrived in Hobart for a holiday and walked with a party to the top of Mount Wellington. In her journal she wrote the following.


                             ‘The Captain of the party pressed

                              forward to the hut at a place called

                             the Springs to have breakfast prepared

                              for us. The water flows down the

                              mountain to the city. It is conveyed by

                              a channel in the earth about thrice feet wide.

                             The old man and woman who reside

                             at the hut supply visitors with

                              implements and cook what provider

                              they may take with them, for which

                             1/- per head is generally presented

                              to them. We arrived there at ½ past 8

                             and were glad to sit down to an excellent

                              breakfast of cold lamb and coffee.

                              We also enjoyed a draught of the cold

                              crystal water from the murmuring spring…

                             The Captain of our party wrote our

                              names in the book and when the old man

                              heard that one of us was from NSW

                              he began to ask some questions about

                             a family he had been coachman to some

                             37 years ago (1828) asking how master

                              Robert and master George were regardless

                              of the lapse of time which had made the

                             young men he had left grey headed fathers……’[24]


From a page from the visitor’s book at the Springs dated 1869 was written ‘After reaching the summit of a rise on the ‘mountain road’ the visitor comes upon a hut surrounded by a small garden in which nature and art are to be seen contending for mastery, the former, however, in triumphant judging by the dwarfed gooseberry bushes and cabbages. ‘Woods the old man of the mountain’. He and his better half, provide cooking utensils etc. for a consideration.[25]


In the years before 1870 while his wife Jane attended to the visitors needs, Henry was employed by the Water Works looking after the streams on the mountain and being paid 26 pounds a year. These wages and what they made at the Springs would have allowed the couple to live, not in any great comfort but keeping them in food and clothing and allow them to remain at the Springs.  Henry traveled to Hobart on his horse for supplies in Hobart a couple of times a week in all weather.


During this time the family was well known to the residents of Hobart and Henry was to becoming quite the celebrity. Many stories were written about him in the Mercury and other papers, their photos were taken on the mountain and in studios and they must have felt very important to have their tea room so well known.


The committee of the Water Board decided in 1870 that Henry’s services should be dispensed with. A few Aldermen with names that will be known even today (Risby, Pearse,) argued that Henry should not be dealt with so harshly and to retain him in his job at 10 pounds a year. The vote was lost and Henry became unemployed.


By this time Henry was almost 70 years old and been living on the mountain for twenty years, and had no wish to leave and live in Hobart.


Walch’s Tasmanian Guide book in 1871 had the following to say about the Woods and their life at the Springs.


‘At the Springs he (the traveler) will find the shelter of a cottage

roof, and an obliging residence hermit of the place who will

boil the kettle or perform other kindly ministrations if

required. The said hermit will also exhibit to the stranger a

book inspired to indite of the occasion. To judge from many

of the mementoes herein penned, the invigorating breeze alone can

scarcely be held accountable for the elation of mind and exceeding freshness exhibited’


‘The Hermit referred to in the quotation was a Mr. Woods who lived at that time in a hut near where Mountain Lodge (formerly known as the Springs Hotel, now stands) This man made a living by selling ice made from compacted snow which was packed in sheds built for that purpose some distance above the Springs. The snow was insulated by being covered with foliage and the resultant ice was brought down to town twice a week on a packhorse……………..’


‘Woods also had a novel device for helping to rescue lost mountaineers.  It consisted of a horn contraption fitted to an old blunderbuss, which when fired must have sounded like the last trump. At any rate it could be heard for miles and was very effective in advertising the old man’s latitude and longitude’ [26]


Henry Woods was collecting Blue Gum seed at the Springs in 1873. At around this time Blue Gum seed was collected for export to Southern Europe, South Africa, India, America, New Zealand and mainland Australia, and the timber was in high demand as a building timber because of its size and strength, and the oil from the leaves was important. [27]


Henry must have been one of the very first conservationists to take it on himself to care for the mountain – he looked after the water flow, cleared the tracks and gathered seeds.  He deserved more than just to be known as the old man of the mountain. (There are cairns for those who died while walking in their pleasure times, why not one to Henry and Jane Woods who looked after so many people who visited the Springs and spent thirty years caring for our mountain).


Their high profile did not last and their life on the mountain became one of near misery. They found themselves short of money, food and clothing.


By 1876 it was being observed by some folks in Hobart that all was not well with the keepers of the Springs and as it was is those early days the newspapers of Hobart were telling the public about their plight and offering to received subscription lists for food and clothing for the ageing couple.


Henry Woods jun. arrived in Tasmania from Western Australia in 1878 and went to live at the Springs.  Before coming to Hobart Henry jun. married Eliza Hines in Perth in 1865 but she did not accompany her husband to Tasmania.  Eliza was to arrive in Hobart in 1881, only to find her husband was living with another woman, Sarah Ellen Thompson who had given him one daughter, Jane in 1879, and was pregnant with a second, Elizabeth; this was to cause some problems later on.


Great hardship was to become a way of life for the Woods couple, during this time, and there were to be many more pleas in the Mercury for help to the pubic for the Woods, over the next few years.


Up until 1831 there was no road to the Mountain and traveling was carried out mainly by following the woodcutter’s tracts. Huon Road did not exist, ending at what is now the road leading off to the Waterworks on the Huon Road, turning off to the left and following the Sandy Bay Rivulet up to Halls Saddle, [28] and Fern Tree then on to the southern slopes of Summerleas before going on to the Huon.  It was not till 1869 that the second route was established to the Huon via the foothills of Mount Wellington.


In was not until 1888 that the construction of Pillinger Drive from Fern Tree began, using prison labour, it was later finished by free labour.


Henry’s journeys to Hobart on his white horse before this time would have been down the track from the Springs to Huon Road and then on to Hobart.






 Mercury    9 October 1876


                                    ‘The Old Man of the Mountain…


                   ‘Old age and want the ill matched pair are

                    creeping on.  He has not the strength

                   as of yore nor the means,

                    in fact, the Springs and the shelter there

                    provided for visitors must be given up,

                   unless the sympathies of the public find

                   a substantial expression…’



The Tasmanian Tribute 1877.


‘ The Old Man of the Mountain’


                   ‘All who have visited Mt Wellington have

                    made the acquaintance of “Old Woods”,

                    the man of the mountain. His name is

                    associated doubtless in the minds of many

                    now absent from the Colony, with very jolly

                   excursions and his attention and hospitality

                    in his oasis on the mountain, and well known

                    to tourists from Australia and New Zealand.

                   Many will therefore regret to hear that the old

                    man is at present in very distressed circumstances.

                    It appears that sometime ago he undertook upon

                    his own reasonability to construct roads for   
                    the connivances of visitors from the Finger Post to

                    the Springs and the track from hence to the top

                    of the mountain hoping that the public would

                    repay him for his labour and expenses – however

                    he was doomed to disappointment and the result

                    is that his credit has been stopped, and the old man                        reduced to a state boarding on starvation. Old age

                    has crept up on him and he has no longer the strength

                    to labour for himself - In seeking help for him. It would

                    be a pity for Woods to leave the mountain as he will
                   be compelled to do if he does not receive help. This 
                   paper is hoping to receive donations which will be sent to 


The Benevolence Society,[29] recommended that Henry be given assistance in July 1879 as he was past work, and unable to support himself. They also observed that he was in a pitiable state. Henry had walked to Hobart as his well known white horse had died that morning and he was left with no food in the house for himself or his wife. The Society supplied him with 3 loaves of bread, a little tea, and sugar. The article in the newspaper, [30] referred to the son Henry jun, aged 40 who was living with his parents was engaged as a mountain guide.


This relief was to continue on a weekly basis (having to be collected from Hobart and carried back to the Springs, and the committee thought as summer approaches he could work again. Henry was now 78 years old. A donation of one pound was sent to the paper.


 An English artist Marianne North described her visits to Mt. Wellington in 1881, ‘Another day I scrambled up the staircase of fallen trees and tree fern trunks by the bed of a half dry stream for 1500’ till we reached the first ridge of the mountain where an old convict and his wife lived summer and winter by boiling tea-kettles for visitors….’[31]


A previous written article in February 1881 was one of the last references to their suffering when the Mercury wrote the following –





                             At 9 o’clock yesterday morning the

                              “Old Man of the Mountain” and

                              his wife were found by the police

                              in Argyle Street, lying on the

                              ground, and apparently suffering

                              from illness. They were taken

                              to the General Hospital, where

                              they still remained last night, Mrs.

                              Woods condition being very serious.

                              Woods and his wife, it is well known,

                              are both very old. They had come into

                              town after their Benevolence allowance

                              and were overcome by the heat and

                              distance they had to travel. They are for

                              the present  well cared for, and it

                              will be for the authorities to consider

                              whether the old couple cannot be persuaded

                              to enter one of the Government havens of rest

                              which are open to them.’ [32]


When the couple recovered they left where they had been staying and returned to their home at the Springs.


We can only imagine what their life was like by what has been written in these articles as nothing has survived down through the family, without these stories in the papers their suffering would never have been known.


On the 18 July 1882 the following story appeared in the Mercury. –


The Old Man of the Mountain. –


                             A visitor to the mountain a day or

                              two ago calls attention to the miserable

                              plight in which Woods, the old

                              man who has lived so many years at the

                              Spring. He is now over 80 years of age

                              and has become completely unable to

                              move about, let alone look after himself.

                             The hut he lives in is in a state of decay,

                              and during the rainy and snowy weather

                              of late, his dwelling- place is deluged,

                             there being about 3in of water under

                              his bed. For many days the poor old man,

                             who has become somewhat deranged in his

                              mind, did nothing but saw up a little wood

                              to keep the fire alight, but lately he has been

                              unable to move from his bed.’

                             The bedclothes, which he has covered himself

                              with, are described as being some pieces

                              of old carpet. The cap on his knee is said

                              to be broken, and Woods suffers acutely

                              there from. His wife is getting very old

                             also, and able to do very little either for

                              herself or her husband, but the son

                              takes up provisions twice a week, and

                             otherwise attends to the old people as well

                             as his means allow.

                             The description of the state of the old people

                              will no doubt pain sensitive people, and  

                              many to offer assistance. It has been urged

                              over and over again upon the old couple

                              to come into the city, and take up their

                              quarters in the Invalid Depot, but they

                              seem to have a great aversion to that

                              course being taken, preferring to almost

                              starve with cold rather than do so.

                             Very few, if any, are aware of that

                              Woods and his wife are so badly off for

                              clothing and food, and the Benevolent

                              Society may do something towards

                              providing immediate wants, though the

                              residence of Woods and his wife may

                              place them outside the sphere of the

                              societies labour. But if immediate want

                              are supplied, we feel assured it is only

                              necessary that the state of the old couple

                              should be known to secure them aid

                              from the charitable. We shall be glad to

                              hear the active benevolence is being

                              manifested in their behalf.’ [33]


During this time their son Henry who was trying to look after the old couple appeared in court for the failure to pay the maintenance owing for his two children, this resulted in him being sentenced to two months goal, leaving no one to take food up to the hut. [34]



Jane Woods in a pitiful condition in the hut at the Springs on a cold August morning in 1882. The Mercury tells the story of the police having to get through 9 inches of snow outside the hut, to bring her body down to Hobart. It also tells of the dreadful condition old Henry was in – He was in a wretched  plight, having lost the use of his limbs and one of his legs was fractured. His mind was wandering and he was quite helpless and childish. He died at the General Hospital in Hobart, a month after his wife.


Henry Woods, Roman Catholic Aged 70, admitted to General Hospital 12 August 1882 Death date 6 September 1882 Residence, Mt Wellington. Buried by friends. [35]


An acknowledgement appeared in the Mercury on the 13 September 1882 from Henry and Eliza Woods to friends of his late father, thanking them for their kindness.


It appears that Henry jun. took over the hut and in December 1882 was continuing to advertise that visitors could obtain refreshments at the Springs. He also offered his services as a guide.


In 1886 it was recommended that the unsightly houses be removed and the establishment of a proper house of  accommodation, more befitting the requirements of visitors then the present wretched tenement. [36]


The following year Henry and Eliza Woods returned to Western Australia where Eliza managed a newly establishment  Coffee Palace, no doubt drawing on her experience of providing refreshments at the Springs.   Henry it seems also returned to Perth and died there in 1909. Eliza survived until 1922.


It was about 1888 that the first of the huts were built for the use of week-end recreation on the mountain. This trend lasted for more than three decades. Many were burnt by the bush fires that regularly swept the mountain. Timber was plentiful and the huts were rebuilt. Later stone was used for erecting the huts. Many are still used by walkers today.


So ended a time on the mountain that would never come again, other than those who lived at the Springs Hotel, no other persons were allowed to live on that part of the mountain. The Woods couple and their life there was very special. Their story may have had a sad ending but even that could not completely overshadow a very wonderful story of two people’s love for their home, as humble as it was, and a mountain they would not leave, even in the twilight of their lives.



Appendix I

Henry Watkins Woods (1834-1908)


Henry Woods jun. arrived in Hobart in 1878 aboard the S.S. Southern Cross without his wife Eliza. He settled at the Springs with his father and step-mother; he too acted as a mountain guide and at times, perhaps in winter when the income from this was insufficient, he also worked as a sawyer. Not long after arriving, Henry, now aged 44, became involved with 20-year-old Sarah Ellen Thompson, the daughter of William Thompson[37], a Hobart shoe and boot maker. Unaware that he was already married, Sarah Ellen moved in with Henry and his family at the Springs some time in 1878. In October 1879 a daughter was born named Jane, presumably after old Henry’s wife Jane. Henry himself registered Jane’s birth describing himself as “Henry Woods the younger”, a sawyer of Mount Wellington. He gave Sarah Ellen’s name as “Woods formerly Thom[p]son”. No doubt to Sarah Ellen’s mind she was married, all she lacked was the ceremony. But in early 1881 Eliza arrived and reclaimed her husband. By this time Sarah Ellen was pregnant again. She made sure that Henry did not shirk the responsibility to support his children and in April 1881 sued Henry for maintenance for Jane and later in the year for Elizabeth, another daughter born in August 1881. Sarah Ellen returned to the courts five time in 1881 and 1882 in her fight to ensure that Henry paid what was due to their daughters. Finally, in July 1882, when payment was not forthcoming, Henry was imprisoned at the Campbell Street Gaol; he stayed there for one night only as a benefactor paid his fines.


After Henry snr and Jane Woods’ deaths Henry jun. and Eliza attempted to continue the work of proving a guide and refreshments at the Springs. They did not stay long – by mid-1883 they were back in Perth, with Eliza managing the newly established Burnett Coffee Palace. Henry acquired land in Elizabeth Street, Perth and worked as a fruiterer and gardener. His fruiterer’s shop was at 474 Murray Street. Later, when his health started to fail, he turned his hand to confectionary making, a skill no doubt learnt from Eliza whose father had been a confectioner. Henry died in the Perth Hospital on 24 August 1908. Although widowed and childless, Eliza was surrounded by numerous nieces and nephews, the offspring of Henry’s sister Sarah and Eliza’s brothers. Eliza died in 1922 and is buried with Henry at Karrakatta cemetery.


By 1885 Sarah Ellen was involved with an American seaman, James Augustus Doran. James Doran was born in Brooklyn the same year as Sarah Ellen and had gone to sea at the age of nine. Sarah Ellen and James married in January 1891; they had seven children. James took on the role of father to Sarah Ellen’s other children, her son William John (born 1877) even took Doran’s surname. Her daughters, Jane and Elizabeth, always acknowledged Henry Woods as their father, naming him on their marriage certificates. Sarah Ellen died at Queenstown Hospital on 6 February1910 and was buried at Queenborough cemetery.

Jane Woods married Albert Tennant in June 1896; they had two children, Dorothy May and William Alfred. Jane died in Hobart on 15 August 1915, aged 36. Elizabeth Woods married Edward Charles Reader in Hobart in September 1898. Sarah Ellen was a witness at both of her daughters’ marriages. Elizabeth had 13 children and, eventually, 35 grandchildren, all descendants of Henry Woods. Elizabeth died on 5 October 1947 and is buried at Cornelian Bay.

                                                                                                ©Anne Merrick



Miss Wayn Card Collection for Mt Wellington[38]




1819 - Called Table Mountain.

1819 - First referred to as Mt Wellington.


1820 - Snow on Table Mountain.


1828 - Fredk. Hardwicke (Suicide)

1835 - Pinnacle Station built by G. Calder.


1837 - Party of Military men and ladies lost onmountain for 24 hours.


1837 -  Lady Jane Franklin party ascents Mt. Wellington. Ladies in spring-cart, men onhorses to Sassafrass Valley.


1840 -  Hut at the Springs built for Lady Franklin(owned by her)


1845 - Path between Springs and Falls nearly finished.


1845 - Water Catchments – Stone duck constructed.


1844-5 - Springs discovered by James Skine, road Surveyor Divided into temporary stone duct leading towards town to besubsequently made available toWaterworks.


1845 - Two young men out all night on Mt Wellington, returned home AM. 1845  Wellington Falls a very popular excursionlately 200 visitors.


1845 - Re-construction of track to Falls.


1845 - Subscriptions raised to lay down path from Springs to Falls.


1848 - Lady Franklin’s hut to be pulled down and rebuilt with 2 rooms and fireplace at public expense.


1848 - Hut at Pinnacle restored by G. Calder, andagain in 1876.


1849 - Ice House built.


1855 - Oliver – a young man lost.


1858 - Dr James Smith surgeon of S. Derwentwater lost.


 1872 - Landslip.



                       Highlights of events of early Tasmania



1792                Capt. Bligh of HMS arrived in the Derwent River.


1793                Lt John Hayes


1789                George Bass & Flinders climbed Mt Wellington.


1801                Francois Peron


1803                Lt John Bowen arrived in the Derwent River


1804                Lt Col. Collins established settlement at Hobart.


1810                Salome Pitt and aboriginal girl climbed Mt Wellington


1817                Convict timber getters working at the foothills of Mt. Wellington.


1819                Botanist Alan Cunningham ascends Mt Wellington


1822                Renamed Mt Wellington (previously known Table Mountain)


1820s               The mountain was the major source of timber for Hobart for most

                        Of the 19th Century.


1825                Canal work began with convict labour to channel the waters into                                    the Hobart Rivulet near Millers Track.


1825-28           Convict labour used to make a drain at the Springs to bring                                           water from the mountain upper slopes into the Hobart Rivulet                           basin.


1831                First major piped water supply built in Australia from the Springs                                   along the Hobart Rivulet in an attempt to source clean, potable                             water following industrial pollution of Hobart Town.


1832                Government sawpit in operation at Browns Flat (Junction Cabin                                    area)


1836                Charles Darwin climbed Mt Wellington during his Beagle voyage.


!840s               Wellington Falls was discovered.


1843                Jane Franklin, wife of the governor, had huts erected at the                                            Pinnacle and the Springs.


1850                First of the mountain ice houses was built to store compressed

                        snow for transport by pack horse to Hobart. Continued up until                                     the 1890.[39]


1851                Black Tuesday bushfire on Mountain


1869                Huon Road (the second routes route via the mountain) opened                          between  Hobart and the Huon.


1870s               Henry Woods the old man of the Mountain lived in the hut at   
                        the  Springs and provide refreshments to visitors and sells ice from
                        the ice  house.


1888                Construction of Pillinger Drive from Fern Tree to the Springs began using prison labour  The first of the famous turn-of-the century weekenders in the eastern foothills of Mt Wellington.


1892                St Raphael Church built at Fern Tree.


1893                Idea of hotel at the Springs mooted but opposed due to
                        the water contamination concerns


1898                The Neika School began operations (until 1944)


1902                New hotel built at Fern Tree replacing the 60year old Fern Tree


1907                Springs Hotel opens built at the cost of 3,000 pounds


1920                Skiing occurs on Mt Wellington The struggling Springs Hotel
                         purchased by the Hobart City Council


1937                Road to the springs and the summit opened. [40]










 [1]Nature in Its Wildness Form”

[2] There is a town called Vauxhall on the outskirts of London.

[3] Anne Merrick g, g, g, grand daughter of Henry Woods sen

[4]Allowed to leave Sydney

[5] The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. Quarter Sessions, Perth April 2 1845 (Full trial supplied by Ann Merrick).

6  This came about from the research by Anne Merrick a descendant of Henry Woods.

[7] The Exiles Return, edited by Cassandra Pybus; Watson. Reg, Canada’s rebels in VDL. Aus. Heritage Spring 2008 p50.

[8] CEN1/1/87 page 5.


[9] Jane McCurrie a convict arrived in VDL on the” Sea Queen” from Woodwick in May 1846 and spent time at the Cascades Women’s Factory ,where she had a son George who later died at the Cascade factory.

[10] Women listed as being on the Anson. http://www.tasfamily.net.au/~schafferi


[11] CON41/1/10 (Z2592); CON15/1/3 (Z2514): CON19/1/5 (Z2542)

[12] William McRobie owned over 2,6 00 acres of land near the Hobart Rivulet, giving it the name

 Mc Robie’s Gully, which it still retains today.

[13] The Critic, Friday August 3, 1923 (The Commentator) original document LSD 1/32/496 missing in Archives.

[14]  The Critic 3 August 1923. The original  record is missing from the records in the Archives. (LSD/1/32/496)

[15] McConnell and Script (2005) Inventory. A Wellington Park Management Trust Report.

[16] Lloyd. Bernard, The Water Getters p6.

[17] They only got as far as where the Cascades are today, before being forced to go on foot.

[18] Webster. Hilary, The Tasmanian Traveler.

[19]Schaffer. Irene, Unpublished manuscript “Nature in its Wildest Form”: Schaffer. Excursion Sandy Bay to Geeveston 1994.

[20] This was the second icehouse built on the mountain.

[21] Wellington Park Management Trust Report p16.

[22] The Tasmanian Tramp 23 (1979) R. Mather pp 65-67; Mt Wellington Park Management Report p35.

[23] Mercury 25 January 1865 p2 c3.

[24] A Lady’s Trip to Tasmania – unknown author.  1865-6. Library of NSW Manuscripts, Oral history etc. State Library of NSW.

[25] Guide to excursionists, Melbourne. H. Thomas 1869 p39; Wellington Park  Management Trust Report p35.

[26] Aves. Kelsey, Mount Wellington. Tasmanian Tramp No 12, 1955 pp 29-43.

[27] De Quincy. Elizabeth, The History of Mt Wellington (1987 p 68) ; Wellington Park Management Trust Report p 36.

[28] Later known as The Waterworks

[29] Benevolent Society was started in 1860, relying on public subscriptions. Schaffer. I, & Purtscher. Joyce,  The Sick and the Poor in Tasmania 1870.

[30] Mercury 25 July 1879 p2 c3

[31] Sheridan. Gwenda, 2004 paper, unpublished. This is the only reference I have found that mentions that Henry Woods was a convict.

[32] Mercury 19 February 1881 p2 c5

[33] Mercury 18 July 1882 p2 c4

[34] Mercury 19 July 1882 p2.  Henry only spent a night in goal as someone paid his fine the next day. No mention of who paid it.

[35] Purtscher. Joyce, Deaths at General Hospital  Hobart January 1864- June 1884. age nearer 80.

[36] Perrin. G.S. 23/11/1866 Report on the State Reserve at Mt Wellington; Wellington Park Management Trust Report p 37.

[37] Clark. Julia, The Career of William Thompson Convict. 

[38] Tasmanian State Library on line; THRA Vol. 30, number 3, December 2009 p145

[40] Extracts from Wellington Park Management Trust.

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