From humble beginnings in 1819 to engineered highway by the late 1840s to intra-urban transit corridor carrying upwards of 10,000 traffic movements per day, the Main Road has come a long way from the rough (and not quite ready) bush track constructed by ex-convict Denis McCarty.
Notwithstanding diversions, changes in width, pavement surface treatments, drainage, and surrounds, vestiges of its earlier history and associations remain. The old staging points for horse drawn coaches located at Cooley’s, Undine, the Berrriedale Hotel, Travellers Rest (Connewarre), the York and the Black Snake all survive in various extant forms, as do sandstone bridges, culverts and the odd milestone in places.
These two photos from Council’s collection, taken in the vicinity of Connewarre in the early part of the 20th Century and back in 1983, give some idea as to how the Main Road, not to mention the mode of transport, has changed over the journey.
So, as you make your way along the Main Road this month, spare a thought for all those who have made their way along the western bank of the River Derwent not just over the course of the past 200 years but for thousands of years; from the Aboriginal people so unjustly displaced, to McCarty, the ‘plausible rogue’ who struck the first blow, to the convict road builders, and to the engineers and road crews past and present who have all had a hand in its evolution.
Main Rd, near Conneware, 1983