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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From The Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

With limited time in Canberra my visit to the Australian War Memorial was reduced to hours. No matter. I focussed on the most recent Exhibition : Australia’s Special Forces.

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I’ll share more about this another time. A lot to process and quite confronting.

So I pressed on to see the artwork depicting Teddy Sheean. Up until twelve months ago I was clueless about Edward “Teddy” Sheean, a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. A friendly Tasmanian who was fond of both a story and a drink told me about this young, Tasmanian lad.

From Wikipedia :
“Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean was killed during the attack by Japanese aircraft which sank the Bathurst Class corvette HMAS Armidale in the Arafura Sea on 1 December 1942. Armidale set out from Darwin for Betano, Timor, on a twofold mission: to take relief troops to Sparrow Force, the Allied presence on Timor, and to bring back withdrawing troops. Under frequent air attacks, the ship was unable to complete its mission and sank within minutes of being hit by two torpedoes. After the order to “abandon ship”, Teddy Sheean, although twice wounded, stayed at his post at the aft Oerlikon gun, bringing down an enemy bomber. He was still firing when the ship sank”.

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Artist :DaleMarsh

Sheean was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches “for bravery and devotion to duty when HMAS Armidale was lost.” In May 1999 Sheean was honoured by the Royal Australian Navy when Collins Class Submarine No. 5 was named HMAS Sheean. This is the first occasion on which a RAN vessel has been named after an ordinary seaman.

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To this day there remains a push to award Sheean the Victoria Cross.

Forever Eighteen by Lee Kernaghan.

With Anzac Day less than ten days away the AWM is in full throttle preparing for thousands of visitors from interstate and overseas. It is both an amazing building, and a humbling experience.

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PS Gone Fishin’.