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Monday, February 24, 2014

Willow Court neglect "a national disgrace"

THE neglect of the Willow Court historic site was a national disgrace, Federal Parliament has been told. Making his maiden speech as the new Federal Member for Lyons, Eric Hutchinson described New Norfolk as a town with a "deep soul".

"New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley is a service town for the agricultural and remaining forestry activity in the surrounding area," Mr Hutchinson told the House of Representatives. "New Norfolk has a deep soul, and many locals still have close and personal connections to the historically significant Willow Court, which was for many years Tasmania's institutional psychiatric asylum," he said.

"The buildings, which pre-date Port Arthur, are some of the oldest in the nation. It is a national disgrace that such significant architectural and social history is being neglected," he said.

Mr Hutchinson also revealed his own personal connection to local history, thought his ancestor Alexander Gill who married Susannah, a granddaughter of William Abel who had arrived in Sydney Town in 1792 as a convict. "He arrived in Elizabeth Town, now New Norfolk—via Norfolk Island—as a free man, and was granted 34 acres of land on the banks of the Derwent River. He built the King's Head Inn, which was licensed in 1822 and remains as the oldest continually inhabited building in Australia on what is now Valleyfield."

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