DAVID KILLICK | March 19, 2013 04.28pm
THE State Government’s 2001 sale of New Norfolk’s Royal Derwent Hospital site was marred by multiple failures to ensure the buyers lived up to their side of the bargain, the Auditor-General has found.
The 250ha site was sold for $350,000 to a consortium made up of a private developer and the local council.
The sale, the sale price and the failure of the site to be developed as promised have been the source of much community anger over the past decade.
Previous valuations for the site had been as high as $45 million.
In a $130,000 report released today, Auditor-General Mike Blake found the sale price was fair because of the costs involved in remediating the site and there were no conflicts of interest among the panel which decided on the developers.
He noted that when the consortium split, the developer profited from the subdivision and sale of land and the council was left with crumbling heritage buildings which it could not afford to maintain.
The report noted the abilities of the prospective developers to fulfil their obligations were not properly assessed before the sale.
And it found that the Department of State Development failed to properly word the terms and conditions of the sale to achieve the desired outcome.
“While parts of the sites were developed for the benefit of the region, the sale agreement has not resulted in the purchaser delivering all specified outcomes on the site which is disappointing,” Mr Blake said.
“Despite the agreement’s expressed intention for development of the site, our view is that the terms and conditions of the sale contract were unenforceable.”
Mr Blake said future asset sales should include clear, unambiguous enforceable performance clauses to hold developers to their end of any deal.
Comment has been sought from the Government.
Auditor criticises Willow Court sale
Posted 22 minutes ago
Tasmania’s Auditor General has criticised the sale of New Norfolk’s Royal Derwent Hospital and Willow Court.
The State Government sold the property to the Derwent Valley Council and businessman Gordon Fyfe in 2001 for less than $500,000.
Auditor Mike Blake criticised the council and Mr Fyfe for failing to deliver on the promised sale outcomes, resulting in a “disappointing” result for the region.
Some land and houses were sold for about $10 million.
Mr Blake found the sale price was appropriate.
Topics: states-and-territories, new-norfolk-7140
Willow Court design nears- RESTORATION work at New Norfolk’s Willow Court historic site is to start next month.
THE MERCURY | March 18, 2013 12.01am
A convict hospital older than Port Arthur is at the heart of the site, which has been in Derwent Valley Council ownership since 2001.
Since last year, restoration has been in the hands of a council committee headed by former deputy premier David Llewellyn and project manager Brett Noble.
The pair said last week works over the next six to eight months would include external conservation of the hospital, which was built along barrack-square lines in 1830.
In a briefing to the council, they said the installation of a power supply was almost complete, giving a kick-start to further works.
Mr Noble said there was about $1.5 million available to do the priority work and it would have to go a long way.
This included the development of a visitor centre in a wing of the adjacent Bronte building (1925).
He said the two buildings were in remarkably good condition and it would be possible to reuse many original features, including doors and windows.
The site would soon close to all visitors for six to eight months but this would not affect nearby businesses operating in privately owned sections of Willow Court.
Mr Llewellyn said the committee was looking for an anchor tenant.
OMG this video is amazing, I love the various designs of the tunnel you see thru the video play back. Some look in excellent condition despite being derelict and 8m below the road in some points.
Super Excited about this video, now there is solid un-disputable evidence we need to protect and restore this tunnel before its lost forever unlike many of the former wards. What an asset!
The link to the Mercury article including the video - http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2013/03/15/374695_tasmania-news.html
This piece is straight from the ABC Tasmania website.
From this information its now almost certain it was no storm water drain or sewer as some people and websites suggested.
The excitement and fascination with Willow Court grows!! What could be down there, what was the intent of the tunnel? And where is the history?
Engineers are examining videos of historic underground tunnels in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley.
Works in Burnett Street in New Norfolk last year uncovered ventilation shafts.
Further investigations revealed tunnels about six metres below the surface.
Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans says the tunnels have now been filmed.
It is believed the tunnels date back to the 1830s and could have been used to transfer convicts and patients to the mental health hospital at Willow Court.
“We’ve actually had people with confined spaces apparatus in the tunnel to do some filming,” he said.
“There is no stormwater infrastructure going into them, there is no sewerage infrastructure in the tunnel…it looks like it’s a purpose-built tunnel for moving people through.”
The council wants to work with Heritage Tasmania and the Government to conserve the tunnels.
Topics: history, human-interest, new-norfolk-7140
Derwent Valley Mayor, Martyn Evans, was very excited today with the release to Councillors of a video of historic tunnels that run under New Norfolk. “There has been speculation for some time about tunnels running under our town, the video shown to Councillors today at a Council Workshop confirms this important discovery.
“The tunnels run in vicinity of Burnett Street to The Avenue area and are believed to have been built in the mid 1800s; with significant repairs having been done in the late 1920s.“Much of this find is still to be confirmed; however it opens up a whole new world of heritage and tourism opportunities for New Norfolk and the wider Derwent Valley,” Martyn Evans said.
For many years there has been speculation that New Norfolk housed a series of underground tunnels. Some believed they were used for transferring convicts or patients to and from boats and Willow Court, while others thought that they were drains put in during the settlement period. The video shown to Derwent Valley Councillors confirms that these are tunnels that are wide enough for people to walk through comfortably.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, including further investigation and filming of the find. Council is hoping to work with Heritage Tasmania and the State and Australian Governments to ensure that this important find is conserved and if safe, made available to the public to see.
“These tunnels compliment the Derwent Valley’s already strong reputation as a heritage hot spot in Tasmania, and will provide not only tourism but also research opportunities well into the future,” Mayor Evans said.
The video is said to be taken on Burnet St between the United Service Station and the corner Supermarket approximately 90 metres away.
My sources tell me the person who filmed the tunnel was hired by the local council. It was stated that they initially filmed the tunnel using a remote camera followed by an actual walkthrough.
I have been informed that the filming occurred last month, which begs the question how did they get into the tunnel from that location?????
The film and pictures have been sent to the media via the Council, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.
Below is a few tunnel posts that I have blogged about in the past. The truth about the tunnel has been a personal quest for me for quite some time with very little information been uncovered.. I’m hoping the latest finding will be the start of many things for the Tunnel including what was the tunnel for??
I have been trying to research and find this tunnel for a number of years. I have been told about its existence by a number of credible people. Council workers told me they seen the tunnel in Burnett St whilst they were installing the planter boxes a few years ago, they stated it was big enough to walk thru. Another source also told me it was big enough to walk thru and had a small drain running thru the middle of it. I have also been told many years back that a Backo fell partially into the tunnel outside Ward J.
I do know 100% that there is a drain that runs underneath Burnett St as I have seen the Mercury news paper clipping on TROVE:
So Far the Council have denied any information in regards to the tunnel. It can’t be ignored now it has gone statewide in today’s Mercury 12/11/11. Something has to be done to protect the tunnel before its ruined!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here is the latest up to date information regarding the Tunnel
I have been saying it for quite a while, but here is the first photo of what appears to be a ventilation shaft from the Mysterious Tunnel in Todays Mercury Newspaper http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/11/17/277681_opinion.html
In today’s Mercury Newspaper and online there is a great article about the uncovering of a ventilation shaft from a possible Tunnel that runs under Burnett St from Willow Court to the Bush Inn.
The article has some information from people who seen the shaft first had on the day it was dug up, also some good comments from local historians and private owners.
This is very exciting times and news midst some sad news we had yesterday in regards to the fire and demolition of Ward 1.
I strongly support some form of archaeological investigation and the sooner the better. This could be another tourism gold mine for New Norfolk a town that has so much tourism potential it’s crazy. Let’s hope something is done!!!!
I put my hand up for any Investigations of the tunnel LOL
At last night DVC council meeting item 10.5 on the agenda was the Willow Court Paranormal Documentary Approval.
Two days previous to the DVC meeting we got an email from the General Manager of the DVC informing us that the 2 opponents on the Friends of Willow Court Committee made another last ditch effort to block the documentaries approval by going to the Australian Anti Discrimination Officer claiming that the documentary was discriminatory, under what section of the act is still unknown.
The General Managers response was to take the matter to the Councils solicitor where he attempted to contact the Discrimination Officer directly without luck. The solicitor made mention he did not think they had any authorisation to stop the approval and release of the docco, however the solicitor wanted to view the docco for his information anyway.
We eagerly awaited our agenda item whilst Question Time and pervious items were covered.
We knew from the start to expect some small obstacles from 2 opponents and they made their opposition known during questions time. Once they raised their question regarding why the long defunct Willow Court Working Group were not consulted during the approval of the docco the Mayor told them their question would be covered during item 10.5.
For your information, the original contract between DVC and the Willow Court Working Group in regards to the docco is no longer relevant based on a few points but the main one being Willow Court Working Group no longer exists. The council have continuously told the two opponents who are now members of the Friends of Willow Court that Council would be making the final decision of the documentary not them.
It should be noted that the original Willow Court Working Group endorsed and supported the paranormal documentary. Both the defunct Willow Court Working Group and Friends of Willow Court did have some involvement in reviewing the documentary and APIU took on board any suggestions made by them at the time.
When our agenda eventually came up there was quite a bit of discussion, however most of it was positive, noting that APIU had followed all due processes that were asked of them and even had approval of Tasmanian Archives to release the docco.
Cr Bromfield made an amendment in leiu of the last minute phone call to the anti discrimination office along the lines of
“The council recognises APIU as the creator and owner of the Willow Court documentary film, If These Walls Could Talk, and gratefully acknowledges APIU’s offer to contribute 100% of the nett proceeds of the sale of DVD copies of the film to the Willow Court Fund for a period of 18 months followed by a review”.
“That Council approve the Docco for release subject to their solicitor viewing.”
The end result was positive and council voted unanimously to approve the docco subject to their solicitor viewing it.
From my information and from where I was sitting only 2 councillors Cr Lathey and Cr Nicholson opposed and wanted council to hold their approval until their solicitor viewed the item and addressed the anti discrimination claim.
The opponents were fuming as you could imagine and one even made a derogatory remark as soon as Council reached their decision.
I would like to congratulate the Council for being the voice of reason and approving the docco. It’s been a long process filled with a lot of attempted and petty road blocks which APIU overwhelming overcame based on their professionalism and respect for Willow Court. Last night proved that the Council are able hear both sides of the story and still make fair, reasonable and rational decisions based on fact and their confidence in the quality of the documentary or the people that represent it.
Thankyou DVC and we look forward to working with you guys in future!
Another interesting motion was passed at tonight’s meeting in regards to Willow Court, it stated
All tours held on willow court will now incur a small charge that would go into the Willow Court restoration fund” which I think is quite fair.
Some people believe this is a step in the direction in approving night tours at Willow Court. I personally think this had no real connection with night tours and the people that think that are getting a little ahead of themselves and seemed to be more wrapped up in the paranormal than the people actually doing the investigating.
I will post the minutes as soon as they are released.
I thought I would share this with everyone, there is a First edition signed copy of Troubled Asylum on ebay that includes 3 original keys.
It has 15 hours left and the bidding is up to $41.
This an extremely rare book even more so when its a 1st edition and signed.
The full DVC Agenda cane be found here: http://www.derwentvalley.tas.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/21%20February%202013.pdf
*All are welcome to attend the DVC council meeting next Thursday 21/2/13 6:30pm at the New Norfolk Court House.
10.5 WILLOW COURT PARANORMAL DOCUMNETARY
Introduction and Purpose
The purpose of this report is to obtain approval from Council for some members of
the Willow Court and Barracks Working Group Special Committee to undertake a
paranormal investigation of either the Alonnah or Carlton Ward.
S3 To encourage the development of local sporting, cultural and artistic activities.
The Willow Court and Barracks Working Group Special Committee have advised that
three members of their committee have discussed at the committee level their request
to undertake a paranormal investigation of either Alonnah or Carlton Ward and to
make a documentary video recording of the investigation for future display and
The Working Group has given in principle approval of the project subject to the
1. Council giving its approval for them to remain in the building overnight for up
to three nights to undertake the investigation; and
2. The Willow Court and Barracks Working Group Special Committee having
final approval of the script and video before it is released.
The Working Group also advised that the building to be used for the paranormal
investigation is Alonnah and they need approval to stay overnight for up to three
There are things that Council would need more information on and these issues are as
1. The qualifications of the persons undertaking the investigation.
2. The persons undertaking the investigations would also require appropriate
insurances. Derwent Valley Council
Council Meeting Agenda
21 February 2013
3. Council may also wish to be involved in the final approval of the script and
video content before its release.
4. Assurances that the footage not used for the documentary is either destroyed, or
approval must be sought from the Working Group and or Council for it use at a
5. It may also be prudent for all the above conditions to be included in a contract
signed by all parties.
Since this time the Paranormal Documentary Team have shown the video to some
members of the Willow Court and Barracks Working Group Special Committee and
The Documentary has been scrutinised by the State Archivist in regard to the
contents of the documentary.
There has also been some discussion in regard to the MOU for the Willow Court
and Barracks Working Group Special Committee, and the view that they do not
wish to be liable for the release of the documentary.
This committee was only an advisory committee when it was formed and
recommendation from them was to be the subject of a report to Council. On that
basic it would be Council that made the decision in regard to the release of the
Some members of the Friends of Willow Court Special Committee were concerned
in regard to the content in the video this as stated above was the subject of a review
by the State Archivist and his approval for its release has been given.
Consultations That Have Taken Place
(a) The Community
Willow Court and Barracks Working Group Special Committee and Derwent
Valley Councillors and Staff
Proposed Community Consultation, Public Relations and Media Issues
That if approved by Council the Mayor and the Paranormal Documentary Team
undertake a joint media release in regard to the availability of the video.
These Plans were available for viewing at the DVC however these were sourced from http://www.damianbester.com/
Wow that Oval Supermarket is a huge development; this will leave a big impact of the historical site. I think the Old Willow Court gates are gonna look fairly odd perched up next to this new development.
Keep clicking on the pics to enlarge!
Just re-visited this old video from when Maccas was planned opposite Willow Court gates.
Gee this seems a little insignificant now with the plans for the supermarket etc on the oval, you won’t even see Maccas from Willow Court anymore.
I wonder if RAID had any input in the latest plan for the Oval??
The video says it all………………………
For more info visit: http://www.derwentrealestate.com.au/properties/Lease
Firstly I will start off the piece was the on page 5 of the Gazette (16/1/13) Titled Shop Complex Closer.
It makes mention that the Oval precinct including the Wards has been made public and the start of the Willow Residences a step closer. The plans are on display at the DVC as of last week and will remain there till COB 23/1/13.
The plans for the WCC oval itself feature a large supermarket and twice the size of the current NN Woolies and space for a few other shops. These plans have been sent to Heritage Council for approval.
Cr Evans states it appears the plans of the oval will be in keeping with the adjacent Willow Residences and enhance the appeal of the development.
I also posted in he Mercury last week an application for planning permit for the RDH site or Ring Road. The proposal is a Major shopping centre. The applicants name is R Sadri and app no. is 68/2012
The plans and documents will be available for viewing at the DVC.
There is also a piece in NewsNN titled investment bonanza tipped, To read more please visit
Here is a Teaser for all our loyal fan’s and supports of Willow Court. A trailer is currently in production and final approval is just around the corner for the full feature documentary.
Permission has been sought from Tasmanian Archives to use their Footage.
For more info visit: http://www.facebook.com/APIUPresents
A working bee took place on Sunday at Frascati.Unfortunately when they arrived several young people had bent the gate to get in and had torn a massive hole off the side of the house. The literally tore the boards off. They were standing on the 2nd story of the other ward, in the doorway, waiting for us to check out the damage. Such as Shame
Unfortunately no clean up/repairs were done inside Frascati House as anticipated by some members, only outside ground work was conducted.
If you wish to become a volunteer or be part of the Friends of Frascati they are always welcoming new members. For more info please call the Derwent Valley Council on 62618500.
Also don’t forget about the up and coming Frascati Heritage Day on the 20/1/13 from 2-5pm.