Our History

A Brief Historic Timeline

  • 1802January 13th
    French Baudin French Baudin

    The Nicolas Baudin Expedition

    French Baudin Expedition vessels Naturaliste & Geographe emabarking on a 3 year voyage using charts from the 1792 D'Etrecastreaux Expedition. Arriving in Tasmania in early 1802.

  • 1802June 11th
    Louis Freycinet’s Louis Freycinet’s

    Louis Freycinet's Map

    1802 MAP of VAN DIEMAN’S LAND, with Pierre Faure’s mariner route showing a landing on what is now known as Riversdale. Riversdale is in possession of an original copy.

  • 1824January 1st
    Old Homestead Old Homestead

    Riversdale Old Homestead

    The Old Homestead at Riversdale, the foundations and partial structure still remain today.

  • 1919August 15th
    Doug Denholm Doug Denholm

    Doug Denholm

    'Soldier Settler' Douglas Denholm ploughing with his horse Penny. In the location of where block 2 chardonnay is planted.

  • 1934September 7th

    Doug's Southdown Sheep Stud

    Denholm’s famous Southdown sheep stud became recognised in later years for their quality which was recognised at the Royal Hobart, Richmond, Sorell & Bellerive stock exhibits. 

  • 1980January 9th
    Panoramic Picture Panoramic Picture

    Riversdale

    A panoramic photo taken two years after Ian Roberts purchased the property as a 26 year-old student. Note the dryness.

  • 1980October 21st

    Ian & Titanic

    'Titanic', Ian's Grand Champion who would become a record Angora Buck - a special animal that has it's place on theRobertsFamily Crest.

  • 1981May 9th

    Poll Dorset Stud Established

    Ian with his newly purchased record Poll Dorset Ram from the North of Tasmania. Continuing on with a strong history of sheep husbandry on Riversdale.

  • 1982October 14th

    Ian & Noel

    Located Bottom Left: Ian & Noel (Ian's Father) Roberts with two of Ian's Champion Angoras resulting from advanced husbandry.

  • 2016January 6th

    Ian & Wendy Roberts

    Ian & Wendy Roberts pictured in Block 8 after winning a Trophy for the Stellar Reserve Label Crater.

  • 2015January 1st

    Roberts Family Crest

    Granted by the College of Arms, the crest represents the Roberts Family by citing important heritage and culture from the past & present. It is accompanied by a motto which is the bedrock permeated in the family's culture & ethos.

    "It is a good life, if you do not weaken"

  • 2022October 29th

    Elli & Anton Roberts

    Anton, the 2nd son of Riversdale marries Elli Hopkins.

  • 2024April 27th

    Catherine & Christiaan Roberts

    Christiaan, the 1st son of Riversdale marries Catherine Crawford.

The Riversdale Story

 

Riversdale was first settled in 1824 as part of a desire to grant land to ‘free’ colonial settlers in Tasmania’s early English history. Located in the heart of the Coal River Valley which was named for its abundant local supply of coal adjacent to the flowing freshwater river, Riversdale was originally destined to be a small community called Burnham Village. As Riversdale fronts Pittwater, the early land surveys concluded that due to both water and land mobility the land could therefore sustain a village, Burnham Village. However much like other planned villages in Tasmania, this was not to be.

 

Riversdale started with a certain ‘convict settler’ named James Belbin Sr. Belbin was born in London and convicted for theft at the Old Bailey in 1789 aged 16, his sentence was commuted to transportation for several years. After various incidents in which being wrongly victimised, Belbin received letters from Governor Macquarie that granted him land between Hobart and Pittwater to be known as Riversdale.

From 1824 Belbin built the Riversdale homestead which to this day the foundations and flooring remains. Belbin raised a family, worked the land and became Superintendent Stock Inspector in 1819. After being granted a pension of £75 in 1844 he died in 1848 at age 77. 


A European connection was however seen prior to the 1803 English settlement of the area. In 1802, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, Pierre Faure aboard theNaturalisteof the French Baudin Expedition left for a 3-year voyage. Using charts from the 1792 D’Entrecastreaux Expedition, Faure intended to explore the “North Bay” for an 11-day expedition, now known as Frederick Henry Bay. 


As a consequence of this exploration, Faure was the first European into Pittwater and his expedition landed on the shores of Riversdale in 1802. The two ships part of the Voyage known as Geographe & Naturaliste were on an official expeditionary voyage to further science & understanding, however it is now believed they were also secretly tasked with the mapping of various English settlements for strategic purposes, with a focus on Sydney. The furtive intentions of the French government were not helped when Louis-Henri de Freycinet renamed and published a revised chart with the continent titled “Terra Napoleon”.


The farming lands at Riversdale reawakened in 1919 when ANZAC ‘Soldier Settler’ Private Douglas Denholm of the 40thAIF Battalion was granted the land known as the “James Belbin Grants”. By late 1919, Denholm advertised crossbred lambs for sale, this became the cornerstone of his operation for years to come. Denholm’s famous Southdown sheep stud became recognised in later years for their quality which was recognised at the Royal Hobart, Richmond, Sorell & Bellerive stock exhibits. Denholm also produced Angus Hereford yearling steers, which at the timed reached prices of £47. A notoriously known hard worker and forever valley bachelor, the ethos Doug exemplified was fierce and one that of a true Australian battler. Denholm later died in 1965. Yet to be awoken, the secrets of Riversdale’s unique climate remained yet again unknown until 1980. 


In 1980. Riversdale was purchased by 26-year-old Ian Roberts who required large scale acreage from which to run his world class Angora Stud programs. Ian was an ambitious young man with a keen mind in search for land with a great potential for evolution. Ian purchased Riversdale during a drought for a district record and it has since been only one of three properties sold in the area for 75 years. 


Ian’s Angora Stud program reached international acclaim with his various mohair fleeces fetching international records in quality and value. Ian’s Angora stud also developed locally and internationally with stock also breaking records for value and quality. In 1991, the first vineyards on Riversdale were planted along with a large olive grove. These vineyards were some of the first in the valley and it was then that the unique micro-climates were subsequently discovered. Since 1991, 40 hectares have been selectively planted in various areas on the property by Ian, Wendy & their three sons Christiaan, Anton & Rainier. 


Riversdale is a unique property that has seen consistent quality derive from the very soils that lay upon the banks, slopes, and flats of today. Whether this be in the quality of the livestock born from the lands, the quality of the pastures that fed the valley or to the now intense juices which flow from the grapes planted within the unique terroir; all contribute to exemplifying the pure expression of Riversdale, and expression one can now taste 200 years since the land was first cultivated.

 

 

“It is a good life, if you do not weaken” – Latin translation from the Roberts Family Crest