No. 657 - Westerway - St Nicholas of Myra

Westerway is a township approximately 70 kilometres northwest of Hobart and is situated close to Mount Field National Park. Westerway was previously known as Russell or Russelldale, after the Surgeon J. J. Russell, one of a party of explorers who discovered a set of waterfalls near Fenton Forest. 

Three religious denominations were once represented at Westerway. However, no churches now exist in the township.  In the 1920’s a Methodist church was built and this was later used by the Anglicans. The Catholic community worshipped in local halls from the early 1930’s. A quarter of a century was to pass before a Catholic church was built.

Local efforts to build a church began in 1936 under the leadership of Mr Arthur Clay. Fundraising for this end was pursued by the Catholic community until the dream of a church was finally realised in the late 1950’s. Land for the church was donated by Mr Vincent Markey, in memory of his daughter Beverley Margaret, who passed away on April 16, 1954.  Her name was to be inscribed on a memorial plaque inside the church.

In 1959 Rev. Father P. Murphy commissioned architects R. Cooper and M. Vincent to design a church to accomodate 100 parishioners, including the Rosary House Sisters, who gave Catholic instruction when they visited Westerway.  The church was a vertical board structure and was built and furnished at a cost of £3400.

Leading local families donated most of the furnishings for the church. The altar was donated by Mr and Mrs Vincent and Valerie Browning of Fentonbury. This featured a beautifully modelled tabernacle inlaid with Tasmanian woods. Timber for the church was donated by Leslie Browning and Vincent and Valerie Browning, the owners of a local sawmill. The Brownings also provided for the church organ and Les Browning donated the pictures of the 14 Stations of the Cross.

St Nicholas was blessed by Bishop Guilford Young on Sunday 17 December 1961. Rt. Rev. Monsignor J. H. Cullen and Rev. Fr. R. Donohoe assisted the Bishop.

Masses at Westerway ceased in 1991 and after the church closed it was used as a facility and shop for the Society of St Vincent de Paul.  In 2003 the former church was destroyed by a fire along with altar which had not been removed. However, the Stations of the Cross escaped the flames as these had previously been removed to St Canice Catholic church at nearby Fitzgerald.

St Nicholas of Myra at Westerway - Source: The Standard, 29 December 1961

Sources and Acknowledgements:

* A special thanks to Michelle Browning who provided much of the information for this article.

Southerwood, W. T Planting a faith in Tasmania : the country parishes. [W. T. Southerwood], [Hobart], 1977

The Mercury, Tuesday 7 August 1934, page 2

The Standard, Friday 8 December 1961
The Standard, Friday 22 December 1961
The Standard, Friday 29 December 1961


  1. Hi duncan the westerway catholic church was called St Nicholas of myra was blessed by archbishop most rev g young d. D on 17december 1961ending 25years of community fund raising. Land was donated by Vincent markey of westerway in remembrance of his daughter Beverley markey as she passed on April 161954.there had been a plague inside the doorway entrance to door that said that. My parents Mr Vince and valerie browning and uncle leslie browning donated the timber to build the church which came from their sawmill. My parents brought the altar for the church which was made by Alex fyle from Alex fyle funerals of new norfolk costing 104pounds which featured a beautiful modelled tabernacle inlaid with tasmanian Woods. Pictures the ways of the cross my uncle purchased at a cost of forty pounds. My parents and uncle also donated money for the organ. Along with the 60pounds each each catholic family was suppose to donate. Rev fr Murphy commissioned Messrs Cooper and m. Vincent to design the church. The building consisted of vertical board structure supported by oregeon principals costing three thousand seven hundred and sixty one pounds which included the furnishings.
    The church seated approximately one hundred people and was also built to facilitate the rosary house sisters who gave catholic instry tion at the church when in the district. See catholic standard December 08 1961 the standard December 221961page 2

  2. Thank you so much for this information and my apologies for getting the name of the church wrong. I must confess that I know very little about it - Father Terry Southerwood referred to it as the "Westerway Catholic Church" in 'Planting a Faith' and I found it listed as St Joseph's in the booklet "Mass Times" for Tasmanian Catholic Churches published in 1980. That was clearly a mistake. If you don't mind I will update the article the article entirely using your information - and will credit you (although I don't know your name). I really welcome feedback and corrections for articles - especially from people who have a personal connection with churches. It is surprising how quickly this knowledge is lost once a church closes. Thank you also for proving the reference to the Catholic Standard. I am churning these articles out and I am very reliant on Trove's online database and it is difficult to get to libraries to do full and proper research using non-digitised newspapers. Thank you, Duncan.

    1. No worries duncan. Your website is very good. I am looking for info on the westerway Methodist Church which I got a little from TAS methodism by me stansall. Which was leased to Anglican church named St michaels. I am also researching fentonbury Methodist Church again from that book not much. A relation did fun raising for church sold and removed from site in 1956 shame I didn't ask for photo years ago lol. I am doing research for book on ellendale fentonbury and surrounds eg rosegarland bushy park etc. I had westerway St Myra catholic church ceased mass services 1991 and the fire was april 2003. Have to recheck those. Will get back tommorrow. Michelle J browning

    2. Hi Michelle. I am also looking for a photograph of the Westerway Methodist/Anglican Church. Also struggling to find images of the Fentonbury/Glenora Methodist (which was later used as a hall at Tyenna), as well as the Anglican Church at National Park. Do you know to where the Westerway church was moved? It is a difficult region to research as newspaper coverage is fairly limited and I have also been surprised at the paucity of photographs. Hopefully something will materialise but is will be a pity if photos are lost before they can be scanned. I will let you know if I find anything & I look forward to seeing your book published. Duncan

    3. Yes duncan looking for them to. Checked info from catholic archives hobart that's what they told me st nicholas of myra closed in or about 1991 before becoming a vinnies shop. And they said church Burt down April 2003. With the altar still inside. The pictures of the wa of the christ my uncle les browning donated had been moved to the fitzerald catholic church. The location of the church was a couple of blocks up from the westerway roadhouse which is 1573main road westerway. On the same side as the shop. Currently the site is still vaate.

    4. Duncan sent Scott Smith three articles re westerway st nicholas of myra for him to send to u having trouble sending them. If I find anything interesting will keep u in Mine. Sorry for typing mistakes typing on phone.

  3. Tenders
    Church building westerway
    Tenders closing on 31st may addressed to the undersigned are invited for the purchase and removal of Methodist Church building at westerway situated on dobson highway, (4) houses on western side of railway station. The highest or any tender not necessary accepted. H. W. Schoobridge bushy park. Derwent valley gazette may 16 1958page six.
    FROM THE TASMANIAN methodism 1820-1975by me j stansall
    Says services were held regularly until 1935 and again in the 1950s.
    The building was leased to the church of england during 1961.unfortunately the time came when its being no longer required and was sold for 300dollars. Formalities were completed in 1974.

    There was a wedding there. Did ask bride cud I have copy over ten years ago will try again.

  4. Hope these comments of a little help. Michelle J browning

  5. Hi Michelle; thank you, this information is appreciated. I am motivated t o bump these churches up my list and get posts done without photos in the hope that someone will respond with photos and other information. I have a reasonable amount of information to start working on articles. I have both the Fentonbury and Westerway Methodist churches opening on Saturday 24 September 1921. It seems as if the Anglicans had use of the Westerway church right from the start. It is also interesting that the Anglicans attempted to build a church of their own, to be called St Wilfred's (around 1945) but for some reason this was abandoned and they continued to use the Methodist church. I will update the article on the Westerway Catholic church in the next day or two with the information you have given me.
    Thanks again for all of this information, which is very much appreciated. Duncan.

  6. Hi Michelle, I have update the article and reposted. If you pick up any errors please let me know. Thank you again for your help with correcting this. Duncan

  7. Hi duncan thanks for updating info westerway catholic church. I got someone to contact Mrs Janet coleman as she was married in the church. Derwent valley gazette august 20 1970 page one said it was the first wedding to be held in the small English church at westerway.
    So looks like we miss out in a photo from them. She said someone asked her a couple of weeks ago.

  8. Above comments in relation to westerway anglican church which leased the methodist Church. Maybe the derwent valley gazette when they put for sale had photo? Cheers michelle browning


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