The walk begins at Cottage Green, where the Reverend Robert Knopwood was granted 30 acres of land which encompassed most of the area between today’s Salamanca Place and Hampden Road in 1805. Here he built his home, Cottage Green, the first in Battery Point, on the rise above the present day Wursthaus Kitchen, and he immediately established a productive garden.
He grew both ornamental and useful plants and often noted visitors in his diary. In 1805, these included an Aboriginal woman and her child who camped at the bottom of his garden on the shoreline before disappearing. Thus began a much longer tale of Aboriginal expropriation across the island.
Other colonists delighted in his garden.
Mrs Collins returned and took fruit at my house; Mrs Birch and Mrs Mitchell came and walked in my garden. – 5 Feb 1815
Although Knopwood had difficulties with the government, many people appreciated him. Henry Savery, a Bristol merchant transported for forgery who later became Australia’s first novelist, wrote that:
[Knopwood] possessed a remarkably mild, placid countenance and his manners were easy and gentlemanly in the extreme; his conversation was lively and agreeable, and we soon appeared perfectly to understand each other. – The Hermit in Van Diemens Land, Henry Savery
Although he never married, Knopwood adopted a young orphan girl, his beloved Betsy Mack.
As shipping activities increased with the development of New Wharf (now Princes Wharf), so too did the value of Knopwood’s land. However, financial problems forced him to sell several allotments in 1824 to merchants along what is now Montpelier Retreat. Later, the remainder of his land was taken over by Lieut. Governor Arthur in 1829 in a questionable land deal. Knopwood packed up and left his beloved Cottage Green a sad and bitter man.
When my man came this morning I enquired what had become of my sable guests that came the eve before and was informed that they were in the kitchen and had breakfasted of bread, potatoes, meat etc. When I got up they were then going away with the whole party … I walked down the garden and found that the natives had made a fire at the bottom of my land and were getting oysters and mussels. At different times of the day, many of the inhabitants came to see the natives. They stayed there all the day and night.
– November 1815, extract from Reverend Robert Knopwood’s Diary