No. 408 - St Joseph's Catholic Church at Parattah

The township of Parattah was established when the ‘Main Line’ railway was built between Launceston and Hobart. First named ‘Oatlands Railway Station’, it is situated 7 Km southeast of Oatlands. It was named Parattah in 1879 by the Oatlands Council and is the aboriginal word for "ice and cold". There were three religious denominations established at Parattah: Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic.

St Joseph’s Catholic church opened in 1935 and was the last of the three churches built at the town. Catholics had used the Jubilee Hall as a place of worship from around the turn of the 20th century. The reason for for the delay in building a church is not known although fundraising had been ongoing since late 19th century. The Hobart Mercury reported on St Joseph’s opening Mass on Sunday 19th May:

“The blessing of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Parattah, took place yesterday in the presence of a large gathering. The ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Hobart (Most Rev. Dr. W. Hayden)… Archbishop Hayden congratulated the adherents of the Church for their work, and paid a tribute to the design of the building which, he said, reflected credit on Father Denis Murphy. …The Rev. J. H. Cullen, of Hobart, paid a tribute to the assistance received from other denominations. Father Denis Murphy said that the building, furnishings, and fittings, had cost about £700. Later he said that the debt had been well cleared…”

The Mercury’s report also provides details of the origins of the church:

“The erection of the church was first mooted about 50 years ago, largely due to a block of land having been given by the late Mr. Henry Dobson, of Hobart, and the late Mr. John Russell, who at that time had bought the Hilly Park estate at Parattah. The Anglican and Presbyterian denominations also received a block each, those churches having been built many years. Mr. F. H. Fox and the late Mr. Thomas Devine started a building fund 50 years ago. The late Mrs. H. M. Lale and the late Miss Margaret Bacon organised the first fair for the building 45 years ago, the function being held at Mr. F. H. Fox’s premises. During the past 10 years good work has been accomplished by Mrs. A. F. Fox and Miss K. Fox, who, as joint secretaries of a committee, have helped to raise about £500".

"The church is of brick, and is situated in the township. The interior has a bright appearance, set off by leadlight windows and hardwood linings and fittings, a feature of which is the parquetry at each end of the building. The altar and the prie-dieu are of polished blackwood, and are splendid examples of workmanship. Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Fox, Parattah, donated the organ. Miss E. Kelly gave brassware, .and Mrs. P. Fox, of Hobart, gave a pair of brass vases. The crucifix over the high altar was given by Mrs. A. F. Fox, Parattah. Father Denis Murphy (Oatlands) and Mr. S. B. Barnett, Hobart, also gave valuable assistance in the building of the church”.

Given that St Joseph’s church was half a century in the making is unfortunate that it operated for only 70 years before it was closed and sold in 2008. Its closure was one of several in that year with Catholic churches at Kempton, Fitzgerald and Hamilton with final Masses all held on the same weekend.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019


The Mercury, Friday 17 May 1935, page 7
The Mercury, Monday 20 May 1935, page 3 
The Mercury, 1 September 1908

Dennison, C. J Where in Tasmania. C. J. Dennison, Glenorchy, Tas, 1994.


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