Sunday, June 26, 2016

The history of Tasmania

In 1852 John West published The History of Tasmania with copious information respecting the Colonies of New South Wales, Victoria & South Australia etc. This work was republished in 1971 by Angus & Robertson. This edition was edited by A G L Shaw. This detailed work begins as a chronological study of European settlement in Van Diemen's Land followed by sections dealing with Zoology, the Aborigines and Transportation. The 550 pages of text is followed by an extensive section of reference notes, a bibliography and index. A good resource for anyone investigating the early history of Tasmania.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Silent Inheritance

This book was recommended to me by one of the patrons in the library where I work. The location for much of this work is the City of Whitehorse and nearby environs so many of the places mentioned are familiar to those living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. A major theme of the book, the hunt for a serial kidnapper and murder of young girls, is told from the point of view of the murderer and his latest victim as well as an account of the investigation led by Detective Ross Hunter. The book also tells the story of Sarah and her daughter, Marni, especially the effect of the revelation of long buried family secrets on their relationship. This book is a good addition to Australian modern crime literature.

Closing Hell's Gates: the death of a convict station

In December 1815 James Kelly named a small island in Macquarie Harbour Sarah Island after Sarah Birch, the wife of the sponsor of his exploritory exhibition, Thomas William Birch. For eleven years between 1822 and 1833 Sarah Island, also known at the time as Settlement Island, was used as a convict station. The penal settlement was situated in a remote environment with no nearby habitation. To get to the island the boats had to travel through the narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour referred to as 'the Gates of Hell'. The island was windswept especially when partly cleared to construct building for the settlement. Hamish Maxwell-Stewart has written a detailed study of the establishement of the penal settlment on Sarah Island and the challenges faced by the convicts unfortunate enought to be sent there.

Another book on this area has been written by Kerry Pink. Through Hell's Gates: a history of Strahan and Macquarie Harbour provides a brief history of the area from the exploration and discovery of Macquarie Harbour in 1815 to more recent times. The first European settlers in the area were there to gather Huon pine growing on the shores of the Harbour. Thomas William Birch and James Kelly had exclusive licence for cutting the timber for twelve months before others timber cutters were allowed into the area. The penal settlement is covered in one section of the book. In later years there was a mineral boom in the area, initially gold mining followed by the mining of copper from the Mt Lyell Mine. A railway from Strahan connnected to the mine. The 1980s saw environmental movements to save the Franklin River. The area is now a tourist area.