More To History Than What Is In Books…..

Still driving around the island of Tasmania, waking up each day with absolutely no plans. Some travellers allow only a few days to discover the essence of Tassie. This is my 7th trip and I always stumble upon new places and things on each and every journey.

This holiday I seem to have focused on war memorials in country towns as well as the infamous Tasmanian Scallop Pie. These monuments to the memory of previous generations provide such a rich history of townships, in many cases documenting the deaths of multiple members within families in both World War 1 and 2. 

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Avoca, in the Midlands (meaning that it is between Launceston in the north and Hobart in the south, and in the very guts of the island) is rich grazing land. With a population of only 123 at the 2006 census this is the township’s memorial, with a tree planted for each of the fallen. More trees than residents nowadays……tells a story, doesn’t it?

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A little south is the town of Ross, another farming community with sandstone buildings dating back to convict times. On the crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets there is a field gun from the Boer War and the war memorial is a central part of the intersection, as was popular in many country towns. This crossroads area is humorously referred to as the “Four Corners of Ross” with each corner having a label:

▪Temptation: the Man O’ Ross Hotel

▪Recreation: Town Hall

▪Salvation: Roman Catholic Church

▪Damnation: Jail (now a private residence)

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Jericho, slightly off the main highway, where mud walls built by convicts in the early 1800’s still stand, is the resting place of John Hutton Bisdee, the first Australian born recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Travelling south to the East Coast it was fascinating to locate a memorial to all sailors in the services at Triabunna, including the name of one of Tasmania’s better known sons, Teddy Sheean.

More on Scallop Pies next time……

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Serendipity, Country Towns and Errol Flynn

I’m putting it down to another serendipitous moment in my life. There have been a few over the years.

Currently travelling around our beautiful Island State of Tasmania I deviated from the coast today, opting to travel through the midlands, past rural towns full of colonial history including convict settlements, bush rangers, and the decimation our Indigenous people. The midlands is also prime agricultural country and I have enjoyed mooing and baa-ing at the spring calves and lambs, and whatever noise baby alpacas make.

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This means that a Devonshire Tea in a country town was mandatory. Population less than 400 look what I found in a Cafe in a wee township with nothing but old buildings, history, and sheep in the pastures.

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Let’s just say I was a tad excited.

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Hobart, Tassie’s capital city, is the birth place of Flynn. When I return home I will share my finds….

Road Trips and Trivia

I love road trips, stopping wherever and whenever it suits. And I love that there is so much history that can be gained from the little country towns that dot the landscape.

Clunes, in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales, and with a population of less than 600 had me with Uncle Peter’s Secondhand Bookshop. The lush vegetation was gorgeous too.

Tabulam, with a population of less than 500, is the birthplace of Lt General Sir Henry Chauval of the Australian Light Horse. Not only is there a monument to the Light Horse Brigade in this fly spec of a spot but last November being the 100th anniversary of the Charge of Beersheba, there was a re-enactment. ( yeah, makes the mind boggle, doesn’t it?)

The township of Drake, a bustling centre in the gold rush of the 1870’s and 80’s, has a population of less than 130. The foot never touched the brake pedal when the Lunatic Motel was spotted.

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We’ve yet to investigate Tenterfield, our destination, though a few big things already appeal to my sense of trivia :

Major J F Thomas was born in Tenterfield.

Who?

Major Thomas was the country solicitor who defended Harry “Breaker” Morant ( and Peter Handcock ) during the Boer War in South Africa. If you’ve seen the Aussie flick, Breaker Morant, think the character played by Jack Thompson.

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A B Paterson, Australian poet and war correspondent, married a Tenterfield lass in April 1903. St Stephens Church, a tiny, wooden structure revisits this event annually in an attempt to keep Banjo’s poetry alive.

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around that the colt from Old Regret had got away
And had joined the wild bush horses, he was worth a thousand pounds, so all the cracks had gathered to the fray
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far had mustered at the homestead overnight
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are and the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight

It was a cold winters night in the Hill Top Farmhouse last night, though good news : we may have broken their drought.

The Inaugural Peter Allen Festival In Tenterfield, NSW.

When I was 21 I experienced my very first overseas adventure. To New Zealand. Yeah, I know, just across “the ditch”. But all those years ago, air travel was still expensive, and ENZED seemed so very far away. It was a great trip, and I loved experiencing the best that she had to offer, though you know my fondest memory of that beautiful country with it’s glorious palettes of blues and greens?

Flying home over the iconic Opera House and the Coat Hanger (Harbour Bridge) in all their glory, surrounded by the beautiful Sydney Harbour, with Peter Allen’s anthem, “ I Still Call Australia Home” playing over the PA system. It was a true Kleenex moment as I sobbed into my tissues……

“I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and Old London Town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home
I’m always travelling
I love being free
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home”

Lyrics by Peter Allen

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Peter Allen was an Australian born singer, song writer and all round entertainer, best known for his wild Hawaiian shirts and flamboyance. Many of his songs were made international hits by other popular recording artists of the day.  To be honest, he was a bit before my time (1949 -1984) though interest in his music continues to grow thanks to the award winning musical based on his life, The Boy From Oz.             ( Personal aside : I’m a Todd McKenney girl, not Hugh Jackman).

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Born Peter Richard Woolnough, he is being honoured in the town of his birth, Tenterfield, NSW, in the Inaugural Peter Allen Festival this September.

Of course, I’m going. Accomodation booked. Tick. Tickets to concert booked. Tick.

Tenterfield is a small country town in northern New South Wales where Allen’s grandfather, George Woolnough, worked as a saddler. For 50 years the quaint blue-granite Saddlery on High Street was the meeting place for those who enjoyed a chat. It was the compassion of George Woolnough that attracted so many to the High St Saddlery from 1908 until his retirement in 1960.

On 26 November 2005 an extension of the Tenterfield Library was opened and named the “George Woolnough Wing”.

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Allen’s father, Dick, became a violent alcoholic after returning from World War Il and committed suicide by gunshot when Peter was still young, an event from which George nor Peter never recovered.

Young Peter travelled the world and married Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland’s daughter, with the “interesting face”, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tenterfield is home to galleries, wineries, a lavender farm and some hospitable country pubs. This weekend will include market stalls, fresh farm produce, and no doubt, an array of colourful Hawaiian shirts. I’ll let you know how it goes…..

Intention to have good fun?  Tick.

Hawaiian Shirt? NOOOOOO!