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CONARA

 


The Corners Inn, built in 1850
Now known as The Disapearing House

(Photo: Barry Aulich)

 

Originally known as ‘The Corners’ the township of Conara derives its name from the aboriginal word for coal, although the relevance of this name may be questioned as no coal bearing seams exist in its vicinity. The term ‘Corners’, however, may offer a clue as the town, now reduced to a scant number of houses around a railway junction, lies on the old intersection of the coach road between Hobart Town and Launceston and the coach road from Swansea passing through Avoca in the Fingal Valley. Eventually, the construction of the Fingal Rail Line in 1886 met the Main Line Railway (Hobart—Launceston) at The Corners and was primarily built to convey coal from the Cornwall and Mt. Nicholas mines near St. Marys, a practice that has continued for well over 100 years.
Yet this unassuming location in the rural heartland of Tasmania has an even earlier history. As part of the original land grant to James and Catherine Smith, Conara went then by the name of Willis’ Corner, or more colloquially, ‘Humphrey’s Waterhole’, until it was requested of Smith to construct an Inn to provide overnight hospitality to travellers on the coach routes. Built in 1850 The Corners Inn has since been known by many different names, but most often referred to simply as The Disappearing House. Anyone journeying northward from Hobart on the old highway was often surprised by the optical illusion of the old inn sinking below the line of a small hill the closer one approached it.
The original name of The Corners remained with the adjoining land until 1958 when then owner, Graeme Taylor, sold his 400 acres (less the separate title for the old Inn), to Alan McKinnon who absorbed it into his property Glen Esk on the banks of the South Esk River near Epping Forest.
In 1891 a school opened at Conara (The Corners) on a part time basis until in 1903 enrolments lifted and the school became full time, continuing until 1974 when enrolments dropped and remaining students were bussed to Campbell Town. As a town, where almost the only employment was with the railway, homes were constructed and let by the rail owner itself until later years when rail passage lost favour and the houses were sold off. Once supporting a general store and shop, the doors of both have long since closed. A solid brick church now disused, stands silently amid the cemetery to the north of the town, while little evidence remains of the Institute Hall, where even Slim Dusty made the floor boards squeak and strain under the joyous stomping of residents from all around the district, as he drawled his universal ballads.

 

Bernice Jurgeit

 

 

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