The first subdivision of land at Clifton Beach was a private estate established in the 1920s that is apparently like no other estate in Tasmania.
A book 'To Clifton Or Bust - A Review Of Eight Decades At Clifton Beach in Tasmania' by Diana Gee, is a remarkable compilation of stories and accounts of life at Clifton Beach for families with shacks and/or land for camping in the Private Estate. The book mentions my grandfather Ted Watson who lived up 'on the hill' at Clifton. One copy of the book is available for loan from the State Library. Another is available for reference in the History area at the library.
A small number of families including the Canes and Thompsons, travelled by car to the beach for day trips and fished and had picnics near the rocks at the southern end of the beach. There was surfing and swimming at the beach, and fishing in Pipe Clay Lagoon. Travelling from South Arm Road to the beach involved opening and closing about eight gates. Cedric Cane and Harvie Thompson decided to approach the property owner Mr Watson Calvert to buy land with beach frontage in the vicinity of the southern end. An agreement was reached and Harvie and Ced each bought a double block and engaged Colonel G. Payne to survey the remainder of the estate into blocks, with connecting roadway and three access right-of-ways to the beach. A small triangular area was set aside in the centre for the future use of all landowners within the area.
A few blocks were sold before 1930, with half of the proceeds going to Watson Calvert and one quarter each to Ced and Harvie. By the 1940s, almost all blocks had been sold but not all were built on. Roads improved by the 1950s and electricity was connected in 1950.
Michael Topfer remembers visiting Ced Cane several times with his grandfather Ted Watson in the 1960s. Ced Cane was one of a few permanent residents at Clifton Beach at that time. Michael recalls a long sandy road up to his place lined with 44 gallon drums with plants growing in them. Ced had a magnificent garden, very green and lush helped by a bore water supply. Michael remembers too Alan White and his family who had a shack in the estate and lived at the original Acton property before it was subdivided. Growing up we would spend weekends and school holidays at the farm 'on the hill' particularly during the summer and walk down to the beach for a swim. We would spear flounder at night in the shallows of Pipe Clay Lagoon using a light on a rod to find them. Seining with a large net taken out behind the breaking surf at the beach and pulled in at each end was another great activity which always received lots of attention and lots of fish to share. Very sad that fish stocks are now so low around the Peninsula.
There are many more residential blocks at Clifton following further subdivisions of Calvert and Lazenby land along Clifton Beach Road and Bicheno Street. The Clifton Beach Surf Life Saving Club was established in March 1963 and is Australia's southernmost surf life saving club.