No. 198 - Church of The Ascension at Winnaleah - "Sanguine Expectations"

Winnaleah is a small rural town near Derby in North East Tasmania. The name Winnaleah was adopted in 1912 after the opening of a post in the district known as Toronna. The change in name came about to avoid confusion with Tarrana and Taronah in other parts of the State. The meaning and origin of the name ‘Winnaleah’ may be derived from an Aboriginal word meaning fire. 

The correspondent for Scottsdale's North Eastern Advertiser described the progress of the emerging township in the mid 1920's:

“Winnaleah is the youngest and one of the smallest townships on the North-East, but it is the background that gives it the name it so justly deserves. Of the richest volcanic soil, which has little equal… it is not much wonder, that in all parts of the State the name Winnaleah, attached to butter, potatoes or beef, is sufficient guarantee of the best.

Until the advent of the railway in 1919, it was just a small group of settlers who were trying to get together a few advantages of civilisation, and after much petitioning and long waits, a State School, a Public Hall and a Post Office were added. With the advantage of railway facilities, two fine general businesses were erected, as well as all the smaller shops that are necessary to a country township; an in addition an up-to-date butter factory”.

With the arrival of 'public facilities', shops and the butter factory came the churches. One of the first denominations to appear were the Anglicans:

“The Church of England people have been working for some years with the object of building a House of God worthy of His worship. The site is an excellent one, on the road to Moorina…. It was a gift from Mr. A.E. Johnston”.

On Ascension Day in May 1924, the foundation stone for a new church was laid. A report in the North Eastern Advertiser noted that:

“Mr. F. Heyward is the architect, and his plans show a building that any country town would be proud to have in its midst. A handsome spire and belfry is included, and in it will be hung the bell given by Mrs. Charles Krushka…. At present only a portion of the church is to be erected, but when complete the nave and chancel will be 60 feet in length and for the greater part 22 feet in width”.

The Church of the Ascension was opened by Bishop Robert Hay for its first service on Sunday, August 3, 1924:

“By the time his Lordship arrived from Derby, a little before 3 o’clock, it was evident that the most sanguine expectations of the committee were to be surpassed, for motors, buggies, etc., were arriving from all directions. Large contingents came from Gladstone, Weldborough and other centres of the Derby parish, while Branxholm, Ringarooma, Alberton and Legerwood were also well represented, and visitors were present from as far afield as Launceston and Lilydale. From Winnaleah itself people of all denominations came to show their sympathy, and interest in, the work”.

The Daily Telegraph of Launceston reported the Bishop’s address to the faithful:

“In an address that went home to everyone the Bishop impressed on the congregation the importance of religion in the life of the people… speaking to those who would look to this church as their own, he appealed to them to allow it to take its rightful place in their lives, using it not only for great events, such as their marriage etc., but also for regular and dutiful thanksgiving and worship, never passing on their way when they should be within”.

It seems that the ambitions of a larger church with nave and chancel were never realised although an additional room at the side of the church was built in 1968. The “handsome spire and belfry” was not built and Mrs Krushka’s bell was instead hung on a steel framed bell tower which stood in front of the church. (The remains of the tower can be seen to the right of the building in the photographs below.) I am not certain when the church closed but judging by the condition of the building it has clearly be closed for a number of years.

Origin of the name Winnaleah:

Aboriginal word meaning fire, (J Milligan). First listed in 1914 Walch's Almanac (

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018


North-Eastern Advertiser Friday 4 Oct 1912  Page 2
North-Eastern Advertiser Friday 13 June 1924, page 2
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 9 August 1924, page 6
The Examiner Saturday 9 August 1924, page 15
The Mercury Saturday 9 August 1924, page 6
North-Eastern Advertiser Friday 26 November 1926, page 7

Henslowe, Dorothea I and Hurburgh, Isa Our heritage of Anglican churches in Tasmania. Mercury-Walch, Moonah, Tas, 1978.


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