Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 5 2010 Contents 16 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
Planning is underway
to celebrate the 200th
anniversary of Hobart’s
Anglesea Barracks in
December 2011. Here,
we look at the history
of one of the oldest
in Australia, its links
to British military
forces and whether it
may be haunted by ghosts.
Nestled amongst the undulating land between
Hobart’s stunning harbour and the imposing and
often snow-capped 1270-metre Mount Wellington,
Anglesea Barracks is arguably one of Defence’s
most beautifully situated sites.
Established before the more famous Port Arthur,
Anglesea Barracks was built in 1814 (only eight
years after Hobart itself was settled), making it the
oldest continually occupied Defence establishment
Governor Macquarie, during his visit to Van
Diemen’s Land in 1811, visited Hobart and was
concerned troops were living amongst the convicts
and the general community. After inspecting
the existing arrangements, he jumped on his
horse and, accompanied by Lieutenant Governor
Anthill, rode up the adjacent hill and confirmed
the selection of the current site by stating, “This
is the spot for the Barracks”. A short time later,
it is believed tents and a number of temporary
structures were established on the site.
The foundation stone of the officers’ quarters was
laid on the henceforth named Barracks Hill in 1814,
and several buildings were partially completed by
1818, however troops had occupied the Barracks
area several years before that date.
The Barracks soon became a thriving hub for
the then small Hobart Town, and was named
Anglesea by Lieutenant Governor Arthur after the
Marquis of Anglesey, commander of the allied
buildings at the Barracks, such as the captain’s
quarters and the drill hall remained in military
use. The military gaol was converted for use as a
reform school for ‘wayward girls’. The former girls’
reformatory is now home to the Military Museum
From 1898, the civil use of the site changed as
the Boer War of 1899-1902 became instrumental
in revitalising defence activity at the Barracks.
Following Federation in 1901 and the passing of
the Defence Acts of 1903 and 1908, Anglesea
Barracks gained in military importance and a new
military building phase commenced including
construction of married quarters and a new drill
hall. In 1901, responsibility for Defence passed
to the new Australian federal government and
the Barracks passed back into full military control
where it has remained ever since.
The Barracks provided support to Australia’s efforts
in the first and second world wars and continues to
support Defence activities, including support to the
12th/40th Battalion, Royal Tasmanian Regiment.
Today, the soldiers transition through Angelsea on
their way to operations around the world.
Architecturally, the Barracks can be divided into
three phases: buildings erected between 1814 and
1838 and made of convict brick; those from 1838 to
1870 made mostly from local sandstone; and those
erected since the turn of the 20th century.
Common to many historic parts of Hobart, it is said
that Anglesea Barracks is haunted. People staying
in the former soldiers’ hospital have reportedly
woken to someone mopping their brow, and more
than one Commanding Officer has reported seeing
a ghostly apparition of a woman standing in his or
her lounge room.
Currently Anglesea Barracks houses the Army
Personnel Agency-Hobart, Adelaide Universities
Regiment (Tasmania Company), Australian Army
Band-Tasmania, 29 Squadron RAAF, RAN and RAAF
Headquarters, Defence Support Group, Air Force
Cadets and Defence Force Recruiting.
Demonstrating that Anglesea still has an influence
on the modern Defence organisation, Defence’s
purchasing and travel cards are managed by the
Corporate Card Support Centre which is located in
the 1840s vintage soldiers’ Barracks.
Meeting our heritage obligations
Due to Anglesea’s long and distinguished history,
social and archaeological values, the Barracks
is on the Commonwealth Heritage List both as a
precinct and as individual buildings. It is carefully
managed by Defence, with special care taken
of its many unique features, such as the former
hospital’s innovative sky light under which the
operating table was positioned.
After developing a comprehensive heritage
management plan for the site, restoration works
have been undertaken to halt rising damp and
other water ingress issues from compromising
some of the buildings.
Interestingly, many buildings need to be returned
to their original state, as the use of original lime
washes allows the building to breathe and let
water escape, compared to modern plastic paints
that trap water and salts, crumbling the ageing
sandstone. In other places, techniques such as
clever trompe l’oeils (a style of painting that gives
an illusion of photographic reality) have been
used to show where original windows and doors
Defence Support Operations Base Support
Manager in Tasmania, Phil Spehr explained that
continuing use of the buildings has ensured their
survival, but much care is needed to make sure
that Anglesea Barracks continues to prosper.
“The people of Hobart have a strong connection
to their Barracks, witnessed by the outstanding
success of the Military tattoos and other
occasions,” Mr Spehr said.
“We’re grateful to have a heritage management
plan that deals with the sites issues so
Recognition for Defence
Through its highly effective management of
Anglesea’s heritage values, Defence has attracted
favourable comment from the Department of
Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and
has been called “a leader in the Commonwealth
for heritage management”, a statement of which
Defence is proud and which recognises the
Department’s considerable investment in this area.
As a steward of many of Australia’s environmental
and heritage treasures, Defence takes its
obligations seriously and is committed to ensuring
the best possible heritage outcomes whilst
continuing to use its military facilities. Heritage
sites also contribute considerably to the Esprit de
Corps that is an important, often intangible but no
less real aspect of military life.
Anglesea Barracks will celebrate its 200th
anniversary in December 2011 and the Anglesea
200 project committee is already busy planning for
the celebrations that will recognise this milestone
event in Australia’s military history.
cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo, and then Master-
General of Ordnance in England. From 1848 to
1858, the Barracks were home to the British 99th
Regiment of Foot.
It remained headquarters of the British military
forces in Tasmania until the last regiment left
in 1870, when most of the site then passed out
of military control; except for a small portion
retained for the volunteer forces which had been
raised during the 1850s, and a permanent military
From 1870-1901, the Barracks underwent a period
of civil occupation during which various education,
social welfare and recreational functions were
accommodated. During this time only a few
ABOVe: Built in 1846, the Military Gaol became a reformatory for the wayward girls of early Hobart Town and
is now the Military Museum of Tasmania.
RIGHT: The Sergeants Mess at Anglesea Barracks.
“After inspecting the existing
arrangements, Governor Macquarie
jumped on his horse and, accompanied
by Lieutenant Governor Anthill, rode
up the adjacent hill and confirmed the
selection of the current site by stating,
‘This is the spot for the Barracks’.”
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