The first European to explore the district was surveyor Charles Grimes who passed through the area while mapping Tasmania’s central area including parts of what later became known as the Macquarie River. On an expedition in 1821, Governor Lachlan Macquarie passed through the area himself and, as he recorded in his journal,
- I named our last Night’s Station “Ross”, in honor of H. M. Buchanan Esqr. – that being the name of his Seat on Loch-Lomond in Scotland; this part of Argyle Plains on the Right Bank of the Macquarie River being very beautiful and commanding a noble view.
Later that year, a timber bridge was built over the river and subsequently Ross became an important stopover on road journeys between Launceston and Hobart. It developed as a base for the local garrison and became a centre for trade for the surrounding district. Between 1848 and 1854 approximately 12,000 female convicts passed through the Female Factory.
Ross Post Office opened on 1 June 1832.
By the time of Australian Federation in 1901, the permanent population had grown to 311 and the wider area had become known as a fine wool growing district. At this time Ross had four churches, a post and telegraph office, a savings bank, one hotel, and a town hall and library.
The Four Corners of Ross
The town is centred on the crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets with a field gun from the Boer War and a war memorial as a central part of the intersection. The crossroads area is humorously referred to as the “Four Corners of Ross” with each corner having a label:
- Temptation: the Man O’ Ross Hotel or “The Ross Hotel”
- Recreation: Town Hall
- Salvation: Roman Catholic Church
- Damnation: Jail (now a private residence)