Welcome to Day Five of the A-Z April Challenge.
Despite my best intentions of darting haphazardly across Tasmania in our Alphabetical Tour, so far we’ve been travelling in a fairly direct route. We started out at Ashgrove Cheese at Elizabeth Town, moved onto Bridport in the North-East, down to Campbell Town and then onto Doo Town on Eaglehawk Neck, South of Hobart near the historic convict prison, Port Arthur.
Today, we’re staying close and exploring the broader region of Eaglehawk Neck. Not that Eaglehawk Neck, as its name suggests, is a vast expanse.
The Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula, and hence to mainland Tasmania. A township settlement in the same region is also called Eaglehawk Neck. Locally known as the Neck, the isthmus itself is around 400 metres (1,300 ft) long and under 30 metres (98 ft) wide at its narrowest point.
The area features rugged terrain and several unusual geological formations. These include the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman’s Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil’s Kitchen.
These days when you visit the Neck, you’re immediately struck by its natural beauty and if you hadn’t already heard about the the Dog Line, which was set up to prevent convicts from Port Arthur escaping, you find out about it quick once you visit the area. There’s even a statue.
However, what I didn’t know about until I started searching old newspapers today, was about Tasmania’s “Black War” and while I had read about the Black Line over the last couple of months, I didn’t really know what it was.
Indeed, I studied Australian History at university and even did my Honours and I hadn’t heard anything about this. I only remember seeing a “video” about the “primitive” Tasmanian Aborigines and how they were so backward they didn’t even fire. This video, not unsurprisingly, failed to mention any of their strengths.
We were also taught that Truganini was the last “full” Tasmanian, and this also appears to be incorrect.
Since I’m obviously no authority on the subject given that I only stumbled on it today, I’m not going to explore this war in further detail here. However, I’ve included a newspaper account from 1886:
EAGLEHAWK NECK, TASMAN’S PENINSULA.
Apart from its picturesqueness, which is of no mean order, Eaglehawk Neck is mainly memorable as the scene of that gigantic and yet fruitless enterprises ever undertaken by Tasmania, known as the Black War. In the early days of the colony the settlers had experienced but little trouble from the blacks, but as time went on the continued to increase in the number of convicts let loose had its result.. Accustomed to brutality and acts of violence, they repeated them on the unfortunate natives to an incredible extent. Their children were kidnapped, men and women were shot down indiscriminately on the slightest pretext; in fact a blackfellow hunt was looked upon as one of the pastimes of the day. No cruelty was too great to be inflicted on them, and in the words of the ‘historian West, who describes one of the frequent midnight raids “The wounded were brained ; the infant cast into the flames ; the bayonet was driven into the quivering flesh; the social ‘ fire ‘ around which the natives gathered to slumber became before morning their funeral pile.’ This infamous treatment bore its’ fruit. Savage murders were committed in retaliation, the maddened blacks sparing neither friend nor foe in their thirst for revenge; and to such a degree had the war between the two races reached, that Governor Arthur, finding it impossible either to conciliate the blacks or re strain the outrages of the convict element of the populace, determined making that gigantic coup-de-main known as the Black Line. The object of the undertaking was to establish a cordon from one end of the island to the other, and drive the hostile tribes on to what is known as Tasman’s Peninsula, where they would be finally secured. How the plan failed is now a matter of history, but it suffices to say that although there were in all about 3000 persons engaged in maintaining the line, yet the sole result of the expedition was the capture, in an accidental way, of one man, and a boy. Thus ended the Black War of 1830, an undertaking which cost upwards of ‘£50,000. Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 – 1889), Saturday 18 September 1886, page 154
Obviously, I’ve uncovered a huge area for further research, which I intend to follow-up soon. My son will also be studying what is now referred to as the invasion of Australia and it would be good to catch up.
Meanwhile, even my very basic gleanings here, remind me of the importance of writing about what we don’t know, don’t understand and use writing as a learning experience. That writing becomes a way of extending ourselves when we break free of that old adage: “write about what you know”and being a very limited expert in your pencil-thin ivory tower.
It’s important to remain curious.
After all, what I’m starting to notice is so-called smart kids, is an unquenchable curiosity with its endless complex questions. There’s a constant quest to find out rather than the “I know”.
Moreover, if we only ever write about what we know, we’ll never grow!
However, we would have well-formulated paragraphs, conclusions and some idea of what we’re writing about. We’d be feeling confident and knowledgeable, in our comfort zones and let’s face it…who likes getting lost, even if it is only in your head or on paper. It feels so much better to know, doesn’t it!!
So, goodness knows what else we’re going to find on this somewhat crazy Alphabetical Journey Around Tasmania. Bring it on!