The area of Battery Point has a long history. Although the current site was settled in 1804, it was not until 1811 that land grants were given to free settlers. Those grants were used by the first settlers for farming. By 1814 several farms were located in the area. In 1818 a battery of guns, called the Mulgrave Battery, were placed on the southern side of the point as part of the coastal defenses on the deep water port established at Hobart Town. Although the outpost was originally established as a penal colony and defensive outpost, by the 1820’s the area had began to have free settlers arrive or establish themselves on farms around Hobart Town. One of the major infusions of wealth into the colony was that the Royal Navy made Hobart Town an important Pacific base. The Navy shipped timber, flax, and rum from the port.
Growth in the area of Battery Point turned the farms into a range of houses by the middle of the 1830’s.
These ranged from cottages to fine Georgian styled homes, many of which still stand today. Much of the construction was made of sandstone. Among these homes are the ones built at Arthur’s Circus. These were built for officers of the town and harbor garrison. Another area was developed along Kelly Street. Shortly thereafter, Kelly’s steps were constructed by James Kelly to connect the upper Battery Point area to the lower Salamanca area. During this time the gun battery still dominated the area. Both features allowed those who ran the lower port to live nicely from an area that overlooked it.
Fortunes for those who chose to live at Battery Point have remained high. Where the other original areas, like the central waterfront location of Wapping and Glebe suffered declines and have been torn down several times and rebuilt for other uses through the years, today one can tour historic Battery Point, wander through the original fine homes, and step back into time well over a hundred years.
The concern over the penal colony past has been, in recent times, less prominent. The Battery Point area is perhaps among the most quiet, conservative, and class-conscious area in all of Tasmania. Today the deep water port is both a major stop for international shipping and a last stop for several countries’ antarctic exploration. Many naval vessels stop here for shore leave, including the United States.