Campbell Town, proclaimed a municipality in 1866, boasts an impressive collection of colonial architecture including the Foxhunters Return (1834), the convict-built Red Bridge over the Elizabeth River (1838), St Luke's Church (1839), The Grange (Dr William Valentine's home, built in the late 1840s), and St Michaels Church (1857). The Campbell Town Golf Club, adjacent to the Midlands Highway, was originally a racecourse.
Dr William Valentine was one of Campbell Town’s most active early citizens. He arrived in 1839 to be the hospital’s doctor and became involved in many other aspects of the town until his death in 1876. He established Turkish baths, acted as Lay Preacher at the Anglican Church, was instrumental in the construction of St Luke’s Sunday school, set up a reading room and library and built two pipe organs himself. He lived in The Grange, which was built for him in 1847. His interests also included botany and astronomy and it was he who organised the viewing of the Transit of Venus in 1874. His memorial, put up by the community, lies just inside the churchyard and weighs two and a half tons.
Alfred Biggs, the town’s schoolmaster, made the first telephone call in the Southern Hemisphere from the Campbell Town Railway Station in 1874. He engineered two telephones from huon pine based on sketches by Alexander Graham Bell. He placed one at Launceston railway station and the other at the Campbell Town station and connected them via the telegraph line. The telephones can be seen at the Heritage Museum.
Harold Gatty was the son of the local headmaster. Born in 1903, he went on to conquer the world as a navigator. He and Wiley Post took 8 days, 15 hours and 15 minutes to fly around the world in 1931. Awarded America’s distinguished Flying Cross, he was the first Australian to be given a hero’s welcome in New York. He also wrote ‘The Raft Book’ standard issue to all US Marines for WWII.
He was also the instigator and designer of the navigational system used by the US Air Force in the Second World War. A memorial park in the town celebrates his achievements in aviation.Eliza Forlong left Glasgow, Scotland for Saxony in 1826. She set out alone and on foot to buy the best Saxon Merino stock she could find, with the intention of moving her family to Australia. As she selected her sheep, she placed a collar on each of them and paid a gold sovereign (reportedly carried in the hem of her skirts). She travelled twice more to Europe with her sons selecting stud sheep. The family were granted land in 1829, near Campbell Town and the original bloodlines of her flock in Tasmania still produce some of the world’s finest wool.
Thomas Meagher was a leading Irish republican of the time, he was transported to Van Dieman’s land in 1849 and frequented the Foxhunter’s Return. He married a governess he had rescued from an overturned carriage on the Mona Vale Road. He eventually escaped the colony and became acting Governor of Montana. His wife unfortunately died in Ireland on her way to join him.