No. 1374 - Golden Valley - St Michael's Catholic Church (1896)

Golden Valley is a rural area located approximately 16 kilometres south of Deloraine on the northeastern side of Quamby Bluff. The name “Golden Valley” appears to have been in use from the 1860s although the settlement was locally known as “The Bluff” for many years. The district was settled by a number of Irish families including the Donaghues, Bernes, Mahoneys and Hennesseys.

In 1904 the Hobart Mercury's travelling correspondent visited Golden Valley which was briefly described in a series of articles titled ‘Notes From the North’:

“This locality…may be reached by two different routes from the river town [Deloraine], though both ways are about the same distance. One road runs along the eastern bank of the Meander River for about four miles, and then turns off to the left, while the other goes past the Deloraine school. Along the former road there is very little habitation. Throughout the district Golden Valley is better known as the Bluff, for it is located at the foot of a mountain called Quamby Bluff. The country is uneven but despite this fact there is a good deal of farming carried on, oats, peas and potatoes being prominent products. The post office is attached to the residence of Mr. Napper…The mail service….is bi-weekly. The local school master is Mr. E. Jones. There is one church the Roman Catholic, which is attended by a clergyman from Deloraine”.

The church mentioned in the report had opened in 1896. The building’s foundation stone was ceremonially laid in October 1895 by Father Beechinor of Deloraine. A report in the Mercury noted that:

“A feature in connection with the building is that the material has, for the most part, been supplied by residents at the Bluff and other kind friends, and the local artisans are also doing the work to plans drawn and generously donated by Mr Jonathan Graham”.

Land for the church was donated by the Mahoney family. Building work was supervised by Mr. Joseph Woodridge. A year was to pass before the church was completed and officially opened and dedicated to St Michael on Sunday 4 October. The Mercury reported:

“The habitual quietude of the Quamby Bluff Settlement was varied on Sunday last…by an influx of visitors from Deloraine and other parts of the surrounding districts, who came in carts, buggies, and even a well-horsed drag in order to be present at the opening of the new Catholic Church which is the first plane of worship ever built in the locality. Local residents also turned up in strong force, so that by the time the opening ceremony took place there was a large assemblage, among whom were many non-Catholics. The clergy present were the Very Rev. Dean Connell, Rev. Father Higgins, of Westbury, and the Rev. M. J Beechinor, the worthy pastor of the district, to whose untiring energy on behalf of his church, and large if somewhat scattered flock, the erection of this latest addition to the many sacred edifices of the Catholic Church in Tasmania, is due”.

“Mass was celebrated at 11 o'clock by the Rev. Father Higgins, and a powerful and impressive sermon was preached by the Very Rev. Dean Connell. Father Beechinor also addressed the congregation, and spoke of the many difficulties experienced in providing a suitable place of worship in such a poor part of the mission as the Bluff; difficulties that were, however, lightened by the liberal assistance given by many kind and generous persons outside of the parish. A collection was taken up, and a sum of £15 subscribed by those present, which leaves the church entirely free from debt. The church is a neat wooden building built on a substantial stone foundation and will meet all the requirements of the Bluff Catholics for many years to come.…”.

In 1916 the Daily Telegraph reported that a social was held to raise funds to paint the church:

“On Wednesday night a social was held in Mr Harry Donovan's granary for the purpose of raising funds for the painting of the Catholic Church at Golden Valley. Despite the inclement weather, the social was well patronised. The building was tastefully decorated. Dancing was kept up till 1.30 a.m. Supper was provided by the Ladies, after which a collection was taken up by. Mrs Riley and Mrs Hennessey, which amounted to £2 2s. …”

For many years the church served the Catholic faithful of Golden Valley. A decline in population and ease of travel by car contributed to the church’s closure in the late 1960s. The building was sold and used as a barn before it was later converted into a house.

I have been unable to locate a photograph of the church to illustrate this article but I am hopeful that one may still be found.

An early photograph Golden Valley - Weekly Courier, May 1907

The church after it was converted into a house in the 1980s. Photo: Western Tiers


Launceston Examiner, Thursday 1 August 1895, page 3
Launceston Examiner, Wednesday 2 October 1895, page 7
The Tasmanian, Saturday 5 October 1895, page 46
Launceston Examiner, Monday 5 October 1896, page 6
Mercury, Friday 9 October 1896, page 3
Mercury, Tuesday 23 February 1904, page 2
Daily Telegraph, Monday 18 September 1916, page 8
Western Tiers, Friday 16 December 1983, page 16

Bennett, Maureen. Shamrock in the clover / Maureen Bennett Regal Press [Launceston, Tas. 1987 


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