Tag Archives: history

S- Salamanca Place, Hobart.

Welcome once again to Day 16 of the Blogging A-Z Challenge. Today, we’re going to Hobart’s famous Salamanca Markets, which are held from 9.00AM to 3.00PM every Saturday in Salamanca Place. However, before reading about Salamanca Place, I recommend you read the preamble, which provides a quick snapshot of the early days of Hobart Town.

salamanca-market-map-v4

Although I love markets, I must admit I was completely spellbound when we visited Salamanca Markets on our January visit. A few months down the track, the details of Salamanca Markets are a blur. I was absolutely dazzled by such a kaleidoscope of colour, texture, food and razzle-dazzle within its stoic historic setting. There was such a range of clothing, new and vintage and such an eclectic array of ephemera as well as scrumptious treats. It now feels like so much, so much of everything and almost overwhelming. In two hours, we’d barely touched the sides. I hope you enjoy the photographs and you get the opportunity to get there yourself.

However, there’s so much more to Salamanca Place than just the markets when you go back in time.

Originally called “The Cottage Green”, Salamanca Place was named after the Duke of Wellington’s 1812 victory in the Battle of Salamanca, Spain. Salamanca Place itself consists of rows of sandstone buildings, originally used as warehouses for the port of Hobart Town. To give you a feel for Salamanca Place during the warehouse era, I’ve sandwiched together numerous newspaper snippets:

sailors Rest Hobart

John Shirlow’s 1933 etching of Hobart’s run down Sailor’s Home in Salamanca Place.

“A SAILOR MISSING -a Water Police Sergeant Ward reported at the Central Police Station, Hobart, on Saturday that Mr. Vimpany, of the Sailors’ Home, Salamanca Place, had reported to him that James Corbet, seaman of the barque Wild Wave, had been missing since the 20th. Corbet is about 50 years of age, 5ft. 7in. in height, of medium build, grey hair and moustache. When last seen, which was in Macquarie-street at 11.40 and 11.55 the night of the 20th, he was dressed in a dark coat and trousers and a hard hat. He was then under the influence of drink… A deputation consisting of members of the Sailors’ Host (Salamanca-place) committee waited on the Premier yesterday to ask that tho Government grant them a site for new premises. Mr. Cleary, M.H.A., having introduced the deputation, Mr. Jno. Macfarlane (chairman of the committee) said the institution was established 36 years ago, and was an entirely unsectarian effort, churches of all denominations being represented on the committee of management. It proved an inestimable boon to sailors when in port, but the building was very old, ramshackle, and unsuitable, and was often crowded out with sailors. The committee proposed selling the present building, and erecting a new and more suitable one, anticipating that after the war, when so many vessels would be putting into the port, there would be a greater demand than over for accommodation, and all that was possible in that way should be done for our brave sailors of the mercantile marine, to whom the Empire owed so much in braving the submarine and other dangers. The Victorian Government had granted new sites ‘for sailors’ rests in Melbourne and Geelong. It would be a graceful act for the Government of Tasmania to grant a site as a peace offering. There were two sites which it was desired to submit as suitable. One was a piece of ground at the back of the Museum, and facing Constitution Dock, and the other a site next to where the Mariners’ Church stood. Both sites would be very central… Thieves who attempted to break open a safe in a factory in Salamanca Place, Hobart, on Wednesday night, gave up after jamming the door… HOBART HOSPITAL CASES. Eric Warne, 29, working at a pressing machine in a cider factory in Salamanca Place, Hobart, yesterday, got his left hand caught between one of the spindles and the bulb on the driving wheel, causing the fracture of two bones. He was admitted to the Public Hospital. Walter Cloak, 48, builder, of 13 Tower-road, New Town, fell from a ladder yesterday afternoon. He was admitted to the Hobart Public Hospital, and his condition is satisfactory… Fire at Salamanca Place. About 2 p.m. today a fire broke out in a large quantity of hay stacked in a yard at the rear of Messrs J . B Fryer and Company’s bay and chaff store, Salamanca Place. It appears that the hay, which is in a green condition, was carted from the Railway Station this morning and stacked in the yard, and when the men left at 1 o’clock everything appeared safe. At 2 o’clock a person named Hallett had his attention drawn to a cloud of smoke issuing from Mr Fryer’s yard. He immediately ran round to the scene of the outbreak and found flames bursting forth from the hay from several parts. With the Assistance of a number of Mr Fryer’s employees he pulled the bales apart. This, instead of smothering the flames, caused them to burn more fiercely. A few minutes afterwards the Brigade arrived, and by pouring a copious supply of water on the burning bales, they prevented the further spread of flames it is estimated that over 16 tons of hay are destroyed, The cause of the fire is at present unascertained. Experts attribute it to spontaneous combustion, while others think that a lighted match might have been carelessly thrown down…HORRIBLE STENCH IN SALAMANCA PLACE. SIR, For some time past a sickening stench has permeated the neighbourhood of Salamanca-place, caused by the storage of the offal meat which is collected weekly from the butchers, and during the recent hot weather the smell has been intensified, causing headache and nausea to those compelled to breathe the sickening odour…Parts of Salamanca Place had been the subject of many disputes up till comparatively recent times. What the merchants and their successors in title feared was that, if hidden by a row of high buildings, Salamanca Place would develop into a slum. The present City Council and Marine Bd. were working together in amity with a view to improving the harbour front… USE AND BEAUTY. Change In Salamanca Place STRANGE how one can live in a place and still know little of what is taking place except in the circumscribed area covered by one’s daily routine. Yesterday I took a walk down Salamanca Place and round by Castray Esplanade to Sandy Bay Rd. I was delighted with the work already done to get rid of the old eyesore of junk deposits in Salamanca Place. Beside No. 1 shed of Princes Wharf a vast concrete pavement is being laid about 20 or more yards wide, part of which is completed. The unsightly enclosures that disgraced this area have been pulled down, and soon their place will be taken by something much more inviting. The approach to Hobart from the water will be improved, and the road, with its row of finely-grown trees on one side and old stone buildings on the other, will be a spectacular asset of the city. After that the visitor can stroll along the esplanade, passing Princes Park-a lovely little spot -and, with a constantly changing view of the river, wend his way to Sandy Bay. Few cities I know can offer a more pleasing stroll than this… “That Tree”. RECENT criticism has made the tree in Salamanca Place, Hobart, look slightly ridiculous. It stands alone in heavy traffic and serves no useful purpose. Its removal would lessen traffic hazards on the waterfront without detracting from the harbour’s beauty. Lawns and shrubs in front of Parliament House would provide all the natural beauty one could desire in such a business area. The large concrete areas near the piers, and the present concreting of Franklin Wharf can only result in faster traffic and greater hazard to pedestrians.”

Hobart near Salamanca crop

Salamanca Place and Hobart Wharf.

 

Naturally, it is very hard to look at the Salamanca Place of today and even imagine this past. However, I think it’s very important we delve into our surroundings. That we scratch beneath the surface and try to glean something about all those many, many layers which have gone before us. Not to turn back the clock and live in the past, but rather to gain a better understanding of how we reached the present, and what has helped make us what we are as a community today. After all, as much as we have personal memories which need to be preserved, we also need to know, find out and preserve our community memory…that eclectic mix which becomes our culture.

Having this essential critical need to know my personal, family and community history, makes the genocide of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people resonate all the more with me. What was lost. It’s hard to know what to say so many years later, but I think our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got it right with a simple “sorry”.

I am sorry.

xx Rowena

 

S- Prelude to Salamanca Place, Hobart.

Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may recall, we are Travelling Alphabetically around Tasmania. Last night, we drove from the Richmond to Hobart to get an early start at the Salamanca Markets.

Although you might think I planned to get us here for the markets, it’s pure luck. I simply added places to letters and don’t have the brain power to calculate when and where we’re going to be on a given day, especially as we get towards the end of the list.  So, we’ll have to put it down to “serendipity”, that funny sense of “meant to be” you experience when random things collide. You see, Salamanca Markets are only open on Saturdays from 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM. So, they’re very easy to miss, when you’re trying to squeeze the entire island into such a finite time.

However, before we hit the markets, we’d better touch on Hobart’s origins.

Located on the Derwent River, Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and the second oldest city in Australia. Prior to British settlement, the area had been occupied by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuennone, or South-East tribe for at least 8,000 years, but possibly for as long as 35,000 years.[1] In 1803, the British established a settlement at Risdon Cove after explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders proved Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was an island and they were concerned about a French invasion. In 1804, Hobart was established in 1804 at Sullivan Cove at the mouth of the Derwent River where it make a major convict outpost. From 1803 – 1853, over 75,000 convicts served time in Van Diemen’s Land, but prior to 1812, all VDL convicts came out via NSW.

Drunken Admiral

While it’s hard to find a family connection with Hobart, we do know that Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandmother, Bridget Vaughan was accommodated at what in now the the Drunken Admiral Restaurant, on Constitution Dock when she first arrived in Van Dieman’s Land. An inmate of the Ennimyston Workhouse in Ireland, Bridget was brought out as part of the Orphan Immigration Scheme, arriving on board The Beulah. The Beulah sailed out of Plymouth on 15 July 1851, arriving at the Old Wharf at Hobart in Van Diemen’s Land. I don’t know how long Bridget spent in Hobart, but it felt quite profound and almost creepy walking over the same wooden floorboards Bridget had trod on our last visit.

This reminds me that, although Geoff came from Tasmania, he’s barely dipped his little toe in Hobart. Growing up in N.E Tasmania, Hobart was a 3 hour drive each way and they simply drove down and back in a day. Moreover, as Geoff’s older siblings had left Tassie when he was still a boy, family holidays tended to be on the Mainland or off to Nanna’s in Bridport. Even at university, he only ever visited Hobart for kayaking competitions. That was sufficient. Sounds  to me like Hobart was a different world.

Constitution Dock

Constitution Dock, 2017.

This reminds me of the intense rivalry between the North and South in Tasmania. For a small State which is frequently left off the map and struggles economically, it’s hard to conceive how this rivalry  could be so intense. Rather, you’d expect Tasmanians to stick together against their common enemy…the Mainlander and maybe they ultimately do. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t turn on each other with a passion. Oatlands, at least was,  considered the dividing line or “trench” between them. With Launceston being the “capital” of the North, Hobart was Tasmania’s official state capital. There were mostly free settlers in the North, and a higher concentration of convicts in Hobart. The battle between North and South, even extends to the beer. In the North, they’ve historically drunk Boag’s and in the South, it’s been Cascade and never the twain shall meet. When Geoff was there, it must also be remembered, there was also no National Aussie Rules Competition and the Tasmanian competition was divided into three regions, and never the three shall meet…South, North-East and North-West.

So, this means that while I’ve been researching Salamanca Place and trying to get an intimate feel for the geography of Hobart, I haven’t been able to consult my in-house Tasmanian expert. Rather, I’ve had to depend on historic newspaper sources and maps to establish that sense of Salamanca Place as a working landscape. That its been more than just a bunch of historical buildings and background canvas for the markets.

DSC_1431.JPG

Salamanca Markets January 2017 with historic buildings in the background.

So, prelude over, let’s adjourn to Salamanca Place! We’re only walking down the street, but it’s still a big day.

xx Rowena

 

Q- Queenstown, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 16 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we are Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania at Beyond the Flow this year. This morning, we left Port Arthur ridiculously early for the 5 hour (340 km) drive to Queenstown, on the West Coast. We will be going on a very quick detour to check out Russell Falls, which is a quick 10 minutes walk from the Mt Field Visitors’ Centre. So, if you’re wanting to get onboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway at Queenstown, we’ll have to hurry up. After all, we’re only here for one day.

The route we are taking today retraces my journey from Port Arthur to Devonport via Queenstown on my first trip to Tasmania in 1995…a trip I have always considered a big mistake. Back in the days long before I’d met Geoff my favourite Tasmanian, I’d flown down to Tassie to see the end of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I was staying in the youth hostel in Hobart, when I hooked up with another backpacker and we hired a car to get around. When I tell you that we headed straight for Queenstown on the West Coast after leaving Port Arthur, you’ll know I hadn’t done my research because we completely missed the beauties of Freycinet National Park, including Wine Glass Bay.

Instead, we experienced Russell Falls, which were amazing from memory (I more remember photographing the falls, which won’t surprise you). From there, we kept travelling west and needed somewhere to stay. That’s how we ended up in Queenstown. It was a large dot on the map and off we went. For those of you who are uninitiated into travelling around Tasmania, you won’t appreciate the implications of this. Back then, Queenstown was nothing but a decimated moonscape after years of Copper mining:

“The copper smelters wreaked havoc on the surrounding landscape. Not only did the sulphur fumes kill off plants in the area but the eleven furnaces required vast quantities of timber and the mining company simply cut down the forests to fuel the fires. It has been estimated that hundreds of men were employed as timber cutters and that over 3 million tonnes of timber were cut down between 1896 and 1923. At its peak the furnaces were consuming 2,040 tonnes of wood each week. The combination of timber felling, the sulphur fumes and the heavy rainfall in the area (which washed away the top soil) ensured that by 1900 the whole valley looked like a desert.[1]

Queenstown

I also came across this piece about Queenstown written by Alan Banks, age 13 and particularly loved his description of the Galena crystals (Geoff has since told me his sister had such a lump):

“QUEENSTOWN, Tasmania, has a recorded population of 2800, but this has shrunk a great deal, for there were many people prospecting for gold some years ago. Nearby is Mount Lyall, the source of much copper. Many metals are mined here, including gold, silver and lead. Silver-lead ore, the galena crystal for wireless sets, for which one pays so much in the Sydney shops, was often dug up in lumps the size of a football in back yards and gardens. Sulphur is also extensively found here, and whenever the north-east wind blows Queens-town smells horribly, (Mt. Lyell is to the north-east of the town.) Bush fires in summer frequently occur; they presented a magnificent sight to us at night time, for our house was just opposite the mountain and we had splendid views of the broad sheet of flame rolling down the steep mountain side. The crackling of the fires could be heard in the town. Not far away are the pleasant sea side resorts of Zeehan and Strahan. Zeehan, where boating and swimming facilities are ideal, is famous, even in Tasmania, for fishing. Tourist trips on the Gordon River are very popular. Parties arc taken up the river in launches, and spend several days in camp on the edge of the impenetrable jungle. The rain fall is extremely high here, which, with the fertility of the soil, accounts for the heavy growth of trees and vegetation. The average annual rain fall is 100 inches.”

Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Sunday 3 January 1932, page 2

While I’m pleased I made the trip in hindsight, I was a bit pissed off with myself once I’s seen photos of Wineglass Bay and saw what I’d missed. I’d only had about a week in Tassie at the time, so every day was precious and on your first visit, you want to do the best, rather than the more “educational” stuff.

Since that first trip, I’ve been back to Tassie about five times with Geoff and we really do tend to stick around the North and North-East with fleeting trips down south to Hobart and more recently Port Arthur. This means I’ve never been back to Queenstown and we’ve only made it down as far as Strahan on a previous trip. This has not been due to last of interest, but lack of time. There really is so much to see in Tassie and we tend to explore in detail, rather than spreading ourselves thin. However, we are planning to explore the West Coast on our next trip and take the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

That means we’d better start saving our pennies. We can’t get enough of Tasmania.

xx Rowena

References

[1] http://www.theage.com.au/news/tasmania/queenstown/2005/02/17/1108500205909.html

P- Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 15 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we’re Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania. So far, we’ve explored: The Nut at Stanley, Launceston, Home (Scottsdale)Eagle Hawk Neck and Bridport, while reading John Mitchel’s Jail Journal. We’ve indulged on Ashgrove Cheese, Convict Pizza and had fish & chips at Penguin.

In other words, we’ve been squeezing the essence out of every single nook and cranny and really absorbing Tasmania. Well, at least the parts we’ve been to, because there have been many glaring omissions and we could definitely return and easily run through an entirely different alphabet without too much trouble.

That is, if we still had any oomph left. I don’t know how you’re holding up but we’re starting to get a bit worn out and the kids are starting to ask the inevitable…”Are we there yet?”

Don’t get me wrong. I love travel. I don’t want to go home yet. Indeed, my husband and I have had more than a passing glance in real estate windows, while we’ve been in Tassie.

However, as much as we love Tasmania, I’m starting to feel like a pyjama day and not only sleeping in, but sleeping through an entire day and not going anywhere at all. Indeed, I’ve started wondering if they could lock me up at Port Arthur for a bit. Give me a chance to stare up at the sky and count clouds for an entire day or even a week, without feeling I’m supposed to be going somewhere, being somewhere else?  I’d also like to be a HUMAN BEING again, not just a HUMAN DOING, getting in and out of the car, looking, looking, looking, walking, photographing, eating,  wishing we could move here and be in this place forever, only to repeat the whole process the next day and the next. It does become rather exhausting and I have felt like I’ve been leaving bits of myself all over the place, while my bag fills up with enough of Tasmania to create an offshoot back home.

Yet, we’re made of tougher stuff and the journey goes on.

So, today, we’ll be driving 156.2 KM south from to Port Arthur, the notorious convict prison.

port-arthur-illustrated-news

OLD CONVICT CHURCH, PORT ARTHUR, The ruins of the old convict church at Port Arthur form one of the few remaining relics that mark the site of the once famous penal settlement of Tasmania. This settlement was situated on Tasman’s Peninsula, a narrow strip of land to the south east of Hobart, from which it is distant about 64 miles, and, on account of its almost complete isolation was considered to be the most secure prison in the island. Surrounded almost on every side with water which teemed with sharks, its only connection with the mainland ; by Eagle Hawk Neck being guarded by chains of sentinels and ferocious blood hounds, it well deserved the trust reposed in it by the convict authorities, for few were the escapes, that took . place from it. Even old hands that had broken prison time after time, recognised the fact and took for their motto “All hope abandon ye who enter here.” For over 40 years it remained a penal settlement, but in May, 1877, it ceased to be a prison, the establishment being broken up, and now very little remains to mark the spot of the ancient stronghold of the law. The old church, which we illustrate is one of the most interesting objects in the place, and if only on account of its picturesqueness is well worth visiting.” Illustrated Australian News (Melbourne, Vic. : 1876 – 1889), Saturday 8 January 1887, page 10.

However, for us Port Arthur is more than just a historic site. Since our trip, there’s been some doubt about whether or not Geoff’s 3rd great Grandfather had been held at Port Arthur while serving out his 14 year sentence for burglary. However, while we were there in January, we were under the impression that he had, which gave our visit there such poignancy. Such meaning. I couldn’t help but think about how James Newton would’ve felt when he first saw Port Arthur… It’s hard to imagine any human being in leg irons these days and enduring the barbaric punishments and isolation they experienced there, but it did. Knowing it happened to family, gave me chills. He didn’t kill anyone, but he did commit multiple burglaries on one night so he was no saint either.

However, since we only have a day to see Port Arthur, we’ll be taking the ferry ride passed the Isle of the Dead (where the convicts were buried) and onto Point Puer, where the young boys were detained. We’ll also go on a tour to hear some of the history of Port Arthur. Then, we’ll walk over to the Chapel, the Chaplain’s house and the gardens. This has left a vast amount of Port Arthur for next time, but as it is this will be enough. If we were able to stay overnight, I would’ve loved to do a ghost tour.

Since I’ve already written about these before, I’ll simply leave the links for you to pursue yourself on what becomes something of a self-guided tour.

Port Arthur Harbour Cruise.

The Chapel, Port Arthur.

The Chaplain’s Voice

The Gardens At Port Arthur

On that note, I’d better be heading to bed myself. While I’ve been running around Port Arthur on the blog today, in real life I was meandering around Sydney’s Royal Easter Show, much of it looking for the dodgem cars. We walked over 5 kilometres and I can barely walk after arriving home. My legs are on strike!!

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed out very brief trip to Port Arthur.

Best wishes,

Rowena

J-Jail Journal : A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 10 of our Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania.

Today, we’re visiting John Mitchel’s Jail Journal, which is indeed a book, rather than a place. The first edition of John Mitchel’s Jail Journal was published in the New York Citizen, the journal established by Mitchel on his arrival in America, between 14th January and 19th August 1854.

As you may recall, I wrote a brief bio of John Mitchel: Here.

John mitchel with signature

Unfortunately, I have to admit that I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew, trying to sum up Jail Journal in a few quick paragraphs. Indeed, I’m choking on my folly.

Of course, writing about Jail Journal seemed a fabulous idea three months ago, when we were driving around Tasmania and I was scrawling out my list of all things Tasmanian from A to Z. Back then, I not only needed a “J”, I also thought I had a good grasp on the book. Well, at least the story.

However, it turns out that I’d only read the chapters pertaining to Mitchel’s escape, and hadn’t exactly read most of the book. Moreover, now that I have read most of the book (more in the manner of an express train than pausing at every station), all I’m seeing is a blur. Still, I’ll attempt to pull out some detail.

So, I apologize in advance for any mistakes or omissions and ask you to add these in the comments please. Today, I’m very much on my L Plates (that’s what we stick on the car in Australia when you’re learning to drive).

Jail Journal

Jail Journal opens on May 27, 1848 in Newgate Prison after John Mitchel has been sentenced to 14 years transportation:
“On this day, about four o’clock in the afternoon, I, John Mitchel, was kidnapped, and carried off from Dublin, in chains, as a convicted felon. I had been in Newgate Prison for a fortnight. An apparent trial had been enacted before 12 of the castle jurors…Sentence had been pronounced, with much gravity, by that ancient Purple Brunswicker, Baron Le Froy- fourteen years’ transportation; and I had returned to my cell and taken leave of my wife and two poor boys.1. ”

Trial_of_John_Mitchel_1848

Trial of John Mitchel 1848

Mitchel goes on to ask:

“…for what has this sacrifice been made? Why was it needful? What did I hope to gain by this struggle with the enemy’s `Government’ , if successful? What unsuccessful? What have I gained? Questions which it truly behoves me to ask on this evening my last day (it might be) of civil existence. ..I am on the first stage of my way, faring to what regions of unknown horror? And may never, never- never more , O, Ireland! – my mother and my Queen!- see vale, or hill, or murmuring stream of thine. And why? What is gained? 2.”

As it turns out, John Mitchel travelled to Van Dieman’s Land in a circuitous route via Bermuda and South Africa. Once he reaches Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania), he finds out that he will serve out his sentence “as a gentleman”, rather than a run of the mill convict. The journal follows the ups and downs of being exiled from his homeland, his family and describes his encounters. It concludes on the 29th November, 1853 four and a half years later, after his escape culminates in his arrival in New York.

While the dust cover suggests Jail Journal is acknowledged as an important piece of Irish literature, it’s not well known in Australia, even in Tasmania.

Indeed, despite having an Honours Degree in Australian History and also studying Australian Literature at the University of Sydney 1988-1992, I’d never heard of John Mitchel or Jail Journal until we were researching Geoff’s family history. Geoff’s family pretty much populates the North and North-East of the State. However, we only needed to trace back his direct line, to find our connection with John Mitchel and quite a few references to his family throughout Jail Journal.

Daniel Burke

Daniel Burke- Geoff’s Great Great Grandfather who helped John Mitchel escape.

You see, Geoff’s Great Great Uncle, John Burke and wife Honora (formerly O’Meara) concealed Mitchel in their Westbury home for two weeks, during which time Mitchel acted as nurse for their son, William Morgan Burke:
“Mrs Burke is busied in preparations for our departure, and in providing what is needful for our journey. Amongst other things, the good creature gets some lead and judiciously casts bullets. Her husband comes with us, as well as his brother (Daniel Burke); and their father (William Burke) lends me a good horse”3 .

BTW, such was the closeness between Mitchel and the Burkes’, that Mitchel left Daniel Burke his infamous horse, Donald, after his escape. This Daniel Burke went on be the Warden of Westbury for many years and celebrated his 100th birthday.

While my kids have had their heads overloaded with family history and more stories than they could ever hope to remember, my husband grew up knowing very little about his family’s part in Mitchel’s escape. In recent years, we’ve met up with various cousins who’ve helped reunite us with Geoff’s family history, but it’s been something we’ve acquired and had to research ourselves, not passed down through the family.

Anyway, when John Mitchel arrived in Hobart Town on board The Neptune on the 5th April, 1850; his first impressions were far from positive:
“We are becalmed in the Channel; but can see the huge mass of Mt Wellington, ending to the Eastward in steep cliffs. In the valley at the foot of those cliffs, as they tell me, bosomed in soft green hills, bowered in shady gardens, with its feet kissed by the blue ripples of the Derwent- lies that metropolis of murderers and university of burglary and all subter-human abomination, Hobart-Town.4″

I’m not going to dwell on Mitchel’s time in Tasmania prior to his escape, except to mention that his family moved out from Ireland to join him and they bought a farm…Nant Cottage.

nant_cottage_big

Nant Cottage, Bothwell where John Mitchel lived with his family in Tasmania.

To all intensive purposes, aside from the occasional ripple, it appeared John Mitchel had accepted his fate and put down roots.
However, all that changed with the arrival of “Nicaragua” Smyth from New York, who’d been sent to help the Irish exiles escape. Being too difficult to for them to escape at once, it was agreed that Mitchel would go. However, first he would have to withdraw his word as a Gentleman that he wouldn’t escape. This would cancel his parole and, of course, alert authorities to his plans. So, he had to make a speedy and well-orchestrated getaway. Desperate Mitchel now resolved to trust to his disguise, and go to Hobart Town by the public coach, so, getting into Launceston by midday, he walked coolly down the street to the house of a friend, and having eaten, took passage as Father Blake by the night coach. He accomplished his journey safely, notwithstanding that he had a fellow-passenger, the Hon. T. M’Dowell, then Attorney-General, who tried to get him into conversation about his “bishop.” At Green Ponds, where every creature knew him by sight, he had a narrow escape. The chief-constable, on “special business,” looked in upon him; but Father Blake, with one hand on the farthest door-handle, and the other grasping the butt of a pistol hidden beneath his cassock, met the inquiring gaze unflinchingly. At Bridgewater Father Blake alighted, feeling that to brave the “door of the Ship Inn in Hobart Town, crowded with detectives,” would be madness. He spent the day walking by the river bank, and took passage by the night coach to Hobart Town. In the centre of the town he made the coachman pull up, and walked to Conellan’s house in Collins street where he was met by Nicaragua Smith. After many false starts and dashed hopes, on the 20th July, 1854 John Mitchel finally escapes on board The Emma bound for Sydney and eventually arrives in New York the 29th November, 1853 to a hero’s welcome.

Of course, being a diary, Jail Journal has been written in the first person and even though he refers to others’ views and comments, it is still 100% his perspective…his story. As I read Jail Journal, I found him quite likable. He’s evidently a literary man and wrote beautifully, even if some of his rantings complete with classical allusions and Latin quotes sound hilarious to the modern reader. Moreover, while Mitchel strongly defended Ireland’s freedom, he went on to support the South in the American Civil War and opposed the abolition of slavery. Moreover, while he could well be cast in the same light as Ned Kelly, Australia’s favourite rogue, terrorism is still terrorism. The use of force against innocent people is still a crime.
So, I’m left with mixed views.

On that note, I hope I’ve drawn this to something of a close. I feel like I’ve been wading through thick mud trying to get these details straight. Any corrections and comments will be more welcomed and encouraged.

xx Rowena

References:

[1] John Mitchel, Jail Journal, Sphere Books, 1983, p. 1.

[2] Ibid. pp 4-5.

[3] Ibid pp 301-302.

[4] Ibid, p. 201.

H- Home: A-Z April Challenge.

“The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different[1].”

-Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013.

Welcome to Day 8 of our Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re going “Home”.

Not that you’ll find “Home” on the map.

Indeed, the more I think about it, so many of us have moved around so much, that pinpointing “Home”on the map, is almost impossible.

Yet, we still carry that core of where we grew up somewhere deep inside us, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Not that I’m suggesting that we’re controlled by our environment or pre-programmed in some way. However, place does have an undeniable influence.

For us, so many of these notions about Home came to a head while we were travelling around Tasmania.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband Geoff is Tasmanian and was born and raised in Scottsdale in the North-East.

So, as we were travelling around Tassie and people asked us where he came from, I was quite surprised, when he referred to our current home on the Mainland instead. After all, when we’re back at our home, he says he’s from Tasmania.

So what’s the story?

I guess it gets back to what I said about “Home” being complex, and much more of a composite of several different places, than just where we were born.

My dear friend Google, introduced me to an insightful TED Talk by Pico Iyer: Where Is Home? Here’s some of what he says about home:

“…when I go to Hong Kong or Sydney or Vancouver, most of the kids I meet are much more international and multi-cultured than I am. And they have one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place where they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more besides. And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project on which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, “Where’s your home?” I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be. And I’d always felt this way, but it really came home to me, as it were, some years ago when I was climbing up the stairs in my parents’ house in California, and I looked through the living room windows and I saw that we were encircled by 70-foot flames, one of those wildfires that regularly tear through the hills of California and many other such places. And three hours later, that fire had reduced my home and every last thing in it except for me to ash. And when I woke up the next morning, I was sleeping on a friend’s floor, the only thing I had in the world was a toothbrush I had just bought from an all-night supermarket. Of course, if anybody asked me then, “Where is your home?” I literally couldn’t point to any physical construction. My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me. And in so many ways, I think this is a terrific liberation. Because when my grandparents were born, they pretty much had their sense of home, their sense of community, even their sense of enmity, assigned to them at birth, and didn’t have much chance of stepping outside of that. And nowadays, at least some of us can choose our sense of home, create our sense of community, fashion our sense of self, and in so doing maybe step a little beyond some of the black and white divisions of our grandparents’ age.[2]

Anyway, moving forward from these semantic and philosophical wonderings, welcome to Scottsdale.

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I’m not quite sure how long Geoff’s mother’s family has lived in Scottsdale, but his parents, grandparents and Great Grandparents are all buried in Scottsdale Cemetery. I’m not sure if that’s a measure of being a local. It’s been about 30 years since Geoff and his immediate family left Tasmania and although he has a number of cousins living in the district, I don’t believe the ones in the cemetery still count.

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Yet, Geoff can still go into town and ask for a “Curley”, which is local lingo for a Cornish Pasty, a local delicacy as far as Geoff’s concerned. According to him, you can’t buy an authentic Cornish Pasty anywhere else. Indeed, we bought at least a dozen, which we froze to take home. That is, to our current home.

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Geoff with his brother outside “Home”.

Anyway, Geoff was born at the local hospital and grew up in a white, weatherboard farm house set on 10 acres on the edge of town. By the time he’d arrived on the scene as the much youngest of four, his mum had learned to drive and had a car. She’d also stopped milking, so Geoff was spared that “joy” growing up. He swung from the walnut tree out the back, fought off allergies to the masses of farm cats and longed for the time he’d be old enough to drive his brother’s old car.

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Looking over the home paddocks to the swamp.

So, not unsurprisingly, the family home was our first port of call in Scottsdale. It was a very powerful and emotional time for the four of us. Geoff has shared so much of his time in Scottsdale with the kids, and this was the first time they were old enough to acknowledge: “That was Daddy’s house”. You could almost sense a solemn silence, a reverence. Of course, we paused for photos out the front, hoping the current owners weren’t home. Isn’t it funny how you still feel you “own” the family home generations after you’ve moved away?  That is, even after the house has changed hands a couple of times and the Newton era has all but been erased.

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After stopping off for Cornish Pasties, we drove into town and drove up and down the aptly named Main Street. I could hear Geoff’s Aunty Joy and Geoff’s sisters talking as we walked past the Lyric Theatre, where his mother sung Gilbert & Sullivan and school speech nights were held. He drove to check out the Scottsdale Football Club where his Dad had played and the trotting track with horse hoofs still indented in the grass. We even managed to go on a tour around Scottsdale High School, where Geoff and his siblings, cousins and his mother and her siblings all went to school. We walked also walked along the old railway track which ran behind the house where his mother grew up in. Geoff told the kids about how his mother had nightmares about getting the cows stuck on the line in front of the oncoming train. I remembered Aunty Joy telling me about how the family sold cream and butter back in the Depression to make ends meet and how proud she was to have home-baked bread and hand-knitted  jumpers. I also remember laughing because I remembered how Geoff loathed having a hand-knitted jumper when he went to school and yearned for a machine-knitted jumper like everyone else. Times had changed.

The only trouble was that these weren’t Geoff’s memories. They weren’t what he knew as “home”. Indeed, he ended up telling me that he rarely went into town and spent most of his time at mate’s places. It also sounded like there was quite a bit of time flogging that Datsun 120Y to nearly to death on dirt roads. Roads which I suspect were a lot more rugged than those in the John Denver’s Classic.

So, this leaves us with a concept of home which is far more complex and not very concrete at all.

Indeed, it just leaves me confused. It’s much easier to relate and connect to these buildings I can see, than the intangible experiences of an 18 year old male…a world I’ve never known, and can’t step into no matter how much I try. Geoff can’t experience it anymore either. He turned 50 last year and is hardly 18 himself anymore.

I guess this is what I like about that saying: “Home is Where the Heart is”. That’s because home ultimately is something within….be it in our hearts, our heads, our souls. It’s not caught up in a house, building, people, experiences or memories. Rather, it’s some mysterious and magical infusion or concoction of the lot…some kind of alchemy.

On that note, I’ll leave you with the words of -Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013:

“Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”

What about you? What are your thoughts of “home”? Where does it take you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Pico Iyer

 

[2] Pico Iyer

Weekend Coffee Share: 9th April, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee  Share!

Our TV was disconnected this week so No. 1 son could get his assignments finished. While I could’ve questioned why the rest of us had to miss out on his account, you won’t find any complaints here. Indeed, I felt liberated and was delighted to see him reading his book and we got back to having dinner at the kitchen table. That had lapsed over the hot Summer when we escaped into the air-conditioned lounge room. It’s now time to move back. After only one family dinner around the table, I could see the difference as we discussed so much and started to moved closer to the same page. With so many comings and goings and these only intensifying as the kids get older, the family dinner as corny as it sounds, is worth fighting for.

The other thing about turning the TV back on, is hearing the news.

Our condolences to the people of Sweden.

This past week, was the last week of term one for the kids. This saw our son frantically needing to finish off some assignments, which had lagged after he’d  been sick for about a month. We also had open week at the dance studio. I felt so privileged to be able to watch my daughter’s classes and  also see her teachers’ dance. I have become intrigued at how it could well be the seemingly little things which differentiate a good and great dancer. That how you point your foot or hold your hands, and smile while dancing, make an enormous difference. I could well be a case of “take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.”

I spent the day at the studio yesterday. My daughter is now in Dance Team and they put on more of a performance and the students taking privates, performed their solos. Naturally, performing in the studio, is a great stepping stone, easing them into public performances. Contrary to the stereotype of very extroverted performers dominating the creative arts, I find so many creatives are actually exceptionally sensitive, intuitive and can find performing excruciatingly difficult. From what I’ve seen the likes of Sia, who doesn’t want to show her face in public, aren’t the exception. So, well done to all the students who got out there and performed their magic. I loved each and every performance.

Anyway, after a very stressful week and feeling so relaxed watching the dancing on Friday night, I decided to do my taxi runs and dinner and head back. My daughter decided not to join me as she needed to unwind. Said she’d be trying to work out the steps in her head and being a serious observer. I told her that I would be doing the same thing. That said, my expectations of being able to are set at a realistic zero, where she has aspirations. Huge aspirations which seem to be getting bigger and bigger by the day and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for “mortal mum” to keep up. I’m still trying to get one foot in front of the other and am thankful I have a place for my car keys.

Last week, my Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge continued. So Far, we’ve been to:

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Theme Reveal

A- Ashgrove Farm (Here’s the cheese!)

B-Bridport.

C- Convict Brick Trail, Campbell Town.

D- Doo Town, Eaglehawk Neck.

E- Eaglehawk Neck.

F- Ferndene, Penguin.

G- Gordon River Cruises

It’s been fantastic to revisit our holiday and a timely reminder to keep putting the photos away, reprint some more and write up some kind of family journal. After all, this was no ordinary holiday. My husband is Tasmanian and his roots go back as early as the 1830s. So, we had a lot to catch up on as well as checking out the usual tourist spot and nature escapes.

I’d love you to join us on this epic journey.

Well, I hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

The Weekend Coffee Share was created by Part Time Monster .  Thank you Diana for all the great Coffee Shares in the past!  If you haven’t heard, the Coffee Share is now hosted by Nerd in the Brain.  Thank you Emily!  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“.  In fact, I encourage you to click on the “linky” to see what’s been going on in the lives of other bloggers and even join us if you haven’t before….Trent put this too well to come up with something better myself!

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena