Continuing Part Two of Penguin, on the North West Coast, a peaceful seaside town offering much to the visitor and tourist… with a population of 5,500, quality friendly service, a wide range of retail outlets, cafes, and coffee shops can all be found at Penguin. Two historic churches, the Old Penguin Cemetery and the Penguin History Group are major draw cards for those researching family history with links to Penguin.

Big Penguin - North West Tasmania

Penguin: north west Tasmania (photos by Carol Haberle)

Big Penguin and So Much More

by Carol Haberle

The Big Penguin is located on the Penguin Esplanade, and is fast becoming one of Tasmania’s most photographed icons. Built and erected to commemorate the centenary of proclamation of the town of Penguin on 25th October 1875, the ‘ferro cement’ penguin stands three metres high. The penguin was constructed by Goliath Cement Co. of Railton, Tasmania, who donated all time and materials as a gesture to the Penguin Centenary. The Big Penguin was unveiled on The Esplanade on 25th October 1975, and was later coated with fibre glass to give it added strength. Today the Big Penguin is not ‘alone’, all the street rubbish bins in Penguin also have cement penguins along the sides.

Big Penguin - Statue

The Big Penguin: Tasmania (photo by Carol Haberle)

Historic Uniting Church

As settlement on the North West coast developed, Primitive Methodist services began in the Penguin Creek area in the early 1860s. The first services were conducted by laymen. In 1867 Rev. Walton was appointed to The North West Coast Mission and resided at Penguin, its headquarters. The primitive Methodist community built a small split timber church on land donated by Mr Lewis Grant of Don, Tasmania. This church was opened on 14th January 1866. The amalgamation of the Primitive Methodists and United Free Methodist congregations followed in 1901 and a larger building was required. Construction of the present church was commenced, with the earlier built church being shifted to the rear with a ‘block and tackle’, but sadly has since been destroyed by fire. The square tower holds a staircase to the upper seating area and the square spire is approximately 16 metres high. Bullnose weatherboards make up the outside of the church, while the interior is of local timbers, hardwood, blackwood, celery top pine and Tasmanian Oak with window sills of Huon Pine. The church has an octagonal congregational auditorium which seats 400 downstairs and 100 upstairs.

Overlooking the beach and Bass Strait, opened on the 10th May 1903 at a final cost of 1,100 pounds, the Penguin Uniting Church is an example of a Federation Carpenter Gothic Church, which displays Eastern European influences of keyhole windows and scalloped and horseshoe arches. Also of keyhole configuration is the floor plan, excluding the vestries.

Big Penguin - Uniting Church

Historic Uniting Church: Penguin (photos by Carol Haberle)

Historic St Stephens Anglican Church

St Stephen’s Anglican Church, a small church only 25 feet x 15 feet was constructed on land donated by Mr Clerke from his Coroneagh Estate in 1874, with the first service being conducted by Rev. S. B. Broome on Sunday, 17th January, 1875. Around 1900 the church was enlarged, with the old church being sawn in two, the eastern end was ‘stubbed up’ and made the ‘chancel’, while the other half was added to and became the ‘vestry’. A new ‘nave’, 30 feet x 20 feet was added. The church bell was donated by Mr W. H. D. Archer of Brickendon, Longford, and was transported out on the ill-fated Brier Holme, a ship that was later wrecked off the Tasmanian coast. The interior of the church is lined with blackwood that was grown in the district, and the altar was built in memory of the local men killed during World War 1. Late Penguin resident Albert Nobby Deacon, a devoted Anglican (Church of England) who served his church at Penguin, was the driving force behind the re-roofing of Penguin’s St Stephen’s Church with shingles in 1973. Today this quaint little church is a popular tourist attraction.

Penguin - Anglican Church

St Stephen’s Anglican Church (photo by Carol Haberle)

Penguin Market

The Penguin Primary School building was built in 1925, originally five rooms, it consisted of more than 20 rooms at time of closure and is today home to the largest permanent undercover market in Tasmania. Visitors and tourists can browse a wide selection of locally made products including jewellery and giftware, Tasmanian produce, plants, clothing, furniture and collectibles. Entertainment can be enjoyed with local musicians performing, face painting and jumping castle for the kids or enjoy a diverse selection of delicious foods in the undercover food court. The Penguin Market is open every Sunday.

Big Penguin - Market

Penguin Market (photos by Carol Haberle)

Penguin Railway Station

The Penguin Railway Station was built in 1901, when the rail line was extended from Ulverstone to Burnie, with the first train arriving at the Penguin Station on 15th April, 1901. In the early days crowds would fill the platform to watch while teams of horses and bullocks would arrive from the outlying rural areas to unload potatoes to be transported on the train. Passenger trains stopped running on 28th July, 1978, but freight continued to be transported by rail. When the Penguin Station closed the Tasmanian Government put it up for sale, and local businessman Ron Gee was keen to see history preserved and purchased the station. The building was cut in three and transported to his property in Penguin, where it was used as an amenities and storage building for his factory.

In 1997 the Penguin History Group approached Mr Gee to seek co-operation in relocating the building back to its original location. Supported and funded by the Central Coast Council, the station was returned to its original site and was re-opened on 15th April 2001. Today the Penguin History Group occupies two rooms at the station where local memorabilia such as historical photos are displayed each Wednesday between 10:00am and noon for tourists and locals to view. Also located next to the railway station is the ‘Old Penguin Gaol’, circa 1902–1962. The old gaol was originally located behind Penguin’ s courthouse, but was restored and resited in 1992 by the Penguin Apex Club.

Big Penguin - Railway & Gaol

Penguin Station and Gaol (photos by Carol Haberle)

So Much More at Penguin

Also to be found at Penguin are delightful clean beaches, Johnson’s Beach to the west also has nearby caravan park and is home to the miniature railway; a nine-hole bunker free golf course (but beware of the creeks!); historic cemetery, beautiful bushwalks, rural landscapes and so much more. Penguin is definitely a must see on any visitor/tourist itinerary.

Big Penguin - Beach & Cemetery

Johnson’s Beach; Historic Penguin Cemetery (photos by Carol Haberle)

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

Map: Big Penguin, Tasmania

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