Our next stop, Entally House, is one of the oldest mansions owned by Australia’s National Trust, and is the most historic of the Trust’s holdings in Tasmania. It is part of a story that is so Australian, it would be unbelievable if it weren’t true. While my book details the numerous fascinating buildings and remarkable collections at Entally House, here, I thought I’d share a bit of the history.
In 1790, at that age of 13, Mary Haydock of Lancashire, England, had the poor sense to ride a horse that didn’t belong to her, which resulted in her being convicted of horse stealing and being sent to the recently established colony of Australia. She was 15 by the time she set sail for Sydney. It was a long trip, and on the way over, she made the acquaintance of a young Irishman who worked for the East India Company.
In Sydney, Mary was assigned the job of being a nursemaid in the household of the colony’s acting lieutenant-governor (the sort of assignment that underscores the fact that the British government knew that most of the offenders they were transporting were not dangerous criminals). When the young Irish merchant from her ship, Thomas Reibey (also spelled Raby and Reiby at various times), returned to Sydney from his travels, he applied for a land grant and permission to marry the little convict girl, now 17. It was to be a remarkable partnership that would build not only a hugely successful importing business, but would also produce seven children. Because of his association with the East India Company, Thomas named their trading business Entally House, after a suburb of Calcutta. When Thomas died, Mary continued to build the business and raise her family. All the children grew up to be major players in the growth of the young colony, and today, Mary appears on the Australian $20 note.
But on to Tasmania: The eldest of Mary’s children, Thomas Haydock Reibey, was drawn to Tasmania by the shipping and trading interests that had made his parents wealthy. He, too, became successful and wealthy, acquiring land, cattle, sheep, and horses. Around 1819-1820, he built Entally House, named for his father’s business. In 1821, Thomas’s son, also named Thomas, was born. This Thomas went into politics, held a seat in the House of Assembly for almost 30 years, and even served for one year as Premier of Tasmania. He retired from politics in 1903 and died at Entally on February 10, 1912. So definitely a family firmly anchored in the history of Tasmania.
Entally House was opened to the public by the National Trust in 1948. The beautiful main house and many other buildings on the property have been carefully restored to show what it was like in its early days. It is a handsomely elegant home, the interiors reflecting subdued tastes of the British gentry, with much dark wood and clean lines.
The gardens also remain in tact, with an abundance of roses, which also reflect British tastes. Also on the grounds of the historic home is Australia’s oldest cricket ground. Thomas Reibey had been keen on sports.
The photo on the left shows the main house at center and left, with the stables visible to the right, behind the wall.