Name

The Denison Canal is named after William Denison, the sixth (and last) Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

He was an able administrator and an engineer by trade.

History

Proposals to dig a canal at Dunalley were first made in 1820. Settlers on the east coast wanted to make travel to Hobart easier. There were no roads they could travel on, which meant they had to make long voyages around the Tasman Peninsula.

In 1854, Lieutenant-Governor William Denison commissioned a report into the viability of digging a canal at Dunalley. The idea was eventually shelved for unknown reasons.

The Tasmanian Government decided to go ahead and build a canal at Dunalley in 1901. A tenderer called Henrikson and Knutson was selected to carry out the work because it quoted the lowest construction price (£17,999, or £2,262,396 today).

The twenty-ninth of May 1904 was chosen as the deadline for completion, but construction was delayed due to negotiations over who would own all the equipment after the canal was finished. The issue was eventually resolved and work got underway.

The Denison Canal was completed by March 1905. It was officially opened by Governor Gerald Strickland on 13 October 1905. The ceremony was attended by 70 people.

In 1965, the original hand-operated swing bridge was replaced with an electrical one, which is still in operation today.

Specifications
  • 895 metres (2,936 feet) long.
  • 34 metres (112 feet) wide at ground level, dropping to 7 metres (23 feet) at low tide.
  • Water depth varies from 3.9 metres (13 feet) to 2.6 metres (8.5 feet), depending on the tide.
Bibliography

Picnic facilities at the Denison Canal.

*   *   *   *

Tas That Was is a column that includes:

  • anecdotes of life in Tasmania in the past;
  • historical photographs of locations in Tasmania; and/or
  • documentaries about locations in Tasmania.

If you have an anecdote or photograph you’d like to share with us, please send it to [email protected].