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The Variety Bay Heritage Site

The site of one of Tasmania's earliest  pilot stations, built by William Lawrence in 1831. There are remnants of an 11 roomed house, a tower, concrete water tank, stables and several outbuildings. The foundations of the house and the tower are constructed of stone, indicating they were among the first to be constructed. Later additions such as the stables, kitchen and baker’s oven were built from bricks made on site. 

William Lawrence

Lawrence lived here and worked as a pilot for the next 25 years. He was granted a large number of assigned convicts and used these to establish a brick works (Site Plan Lot 2). Three kiln foundations and a clay pit remain in the gully near the creek. Over 60,000 bricks remained when the property was vacated and many of these were used to construct the Bligh Museum in Adventure Bay in the 1950s

Lawrence was a keen supporter of organised religion and became a friend of Archbishop Nixon. Lawrence provided the land, workforce and furnishing for St. Peters, the first Anglican church to be built south of Hobart. Nixon was supposed to have designed the church in the Colonial Bond design.

St Peters Church

The church served the whole Channel community and was serviced by itinerant ministers.


The Births, Marriages and Death records from it are to be found in the History Room. It fell into disuse in the 1890s, largely due to its isolated position and was also ravaged by bushfires around that time. Bricks for the building were manufactured on site and clay pits and a water hole are still evident near the church.

There is an accompanying cemetery with five known graves, there were probably more. The identity of the occupants is unknown. They may have been assigned convicts.  

Brick Kiln 

The main brickworks were in the gully near the homestead and the area was called the Brickfields. Remnants of 3 kilns which would have contained around 20,000 bricks in each remain. There is also another kiln near the church where bricks were fired to save transportation during the building of the church.


The Variety Bay Historic Site consists of a complex of three separate but linked areas located on  Murrayfield on North Bruny Island. Murrayfield is private property owned by the Weetapoona Aboriginal Corporation.


The site is managed by Bruny Island Historical Society Inc. on behalf of the Bruny Island community. We appreciate the recognition of the colonial heritage values of the site by the Aboriginal owners of this land. And the access that we have been given  which enable us to work together recording our shared histories.

Site Layout

Book a Tour 

Visitors interested in touring the site should contact Suzanne Smythe on 0409 259 118​

* tours are subject to availability

The Bruny Island Historical Society acknowledges the traditional and original owners of this land, the nuenonne people, who have walked upon and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay respects to those who have passed before us and acknowledge the Tasmanian Aboriginal community are the custodians of this land. We recognise Tasmanian Aboriginal people were dispossessed of these lands during colonisation. 

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