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History Corner – The Ralph’s Bay Canal

By Reg. A. Watson

 

THE dead-end canal of Ralph’s Bay in Lauderdale is now used for recreational purposes, but it has a long history.

With a large number of farms in the area by the turn of last century, a proposal was made to build a canal across the half mile neck at Ralph’s Bay.

It took many years for anything to happen, but before the First World War a law was enacted by parliament for construction to begin.

The canal was to be three metres deep and eight metres wide.

On 7 January 1914, work began with dredging, but clay was encountered only seven feet down.

Equipment for the work proved to be unsuitable and just after five weeks, the project was abandoned, with the coming of the war another factor for cessation.

Over the years, farmers in the area solicited the government in an effort to recommence and petitions were sent.

Further construction began, but difficulties were faced after strong storms forced sand into the canal.

Continual work began to blow the budget out.

By 1924, work was finally halted and on 27 July 1927, an official statement read, “that in view of the evidence submitted, the Committee does not feel at present justified in recommending any further expenditure on the Ralph’s Bay Neck Canal.”

Following this, a Bill was passed in the House of Assembly, bringing a suspension of all further work.

This is why the canal as it is today in the year 2020, falling short of its intended aim.

The area of Lauderdale was named after Robert Mather’s home, ‘Lauderdale’.

He had settled in the area after arriving in Van Diemen’s Land as early as 1822.

It was he who first considered a canal.

Caption: The canal from the beach area.