In Issue Nineteen: The Vale of Belvoir + Conjuring Lost Marsupials + As the Seasons Turn + Tasmania in High Definition
After Issue Eighteen, there was a remarkable conversation with the State Library of Tasmania- they’ve requested archival copies of Tasmanian Geographic to deposit for future generations.
This sparked a conversation on how to print or statically archive a dynamically generated web page. It’s a good challenge, though, and I think before long we’ll find a way to puzzle a suitable format. If you’ve got any suggestions or ideas on how to go about this, please let us know!
You’ll find some marvelous stuff in this issue. You might recall the brilliant illustration accompanying the article on Thylacleo. We are delighted to be able to share more extinct marsupials from the portfolio of Nobu Tamura, one of the world’s most prolific illustrators of extinct species. If you click around the web researching long-gone animals (and you should!)- you’ll have found his work all over Wikimedia. He’s provided us a lovely collection of Pleistocene marsupial illustrations, and they bring these recently lost animals to life in a dramatic way.
Arwen Dyer returns to share her finely crafted images of the montane Nothofagus trees, as they lose their leaves in autumn. If you enjoy her work, you’ll also enjoy seeing learning about her campaign to head to Flinders Island for a photographic residency.
Dennis from Studio Junkyard introduces us to the Vale of Belvoir in northern Tasmania. He’s the creator of Studio Junkyard and an active proponent of open source web and photography ethics.
And of course, we’ve had Milosh K’s wonderful travelogue of Tasmania- filmed in high definition- posted on TG since the earliest days but we’re only now giving it the featured spot it deserves. Enjoy!
We hope you enjoy reading Issue Nineteen as much as we enjoyed putting it together!
As always, we rely on YOU to help us spread the word about these wonderful stories.
Australia is the primary home to the monotremes and the marsupials, two of the distinctive lineages of mammals. But did you know that the species alive today are only a small portion of the animals that were present less than a hundred thousand years ago? Just an instant ago- in geological time– there were gigantic wombats, monster platypuses, titanic kangaroos, and carnivorous beasts…
It takes a observant artist to reconstruct their faces and styles…take a careful look into their eyes and try to imagine the Australian landscape of the Pleistocene….
Learn more about the lost marsupials of Australia:
What’s red, yellow, orange, and green, is found up high, and is about to fall?
As the autumn races towards winter, the subalpine forests of deciduous beech are changing in the mountains of Tasmania. Join Arwen as she focuses in on the fine detail and rampant colours of the Nothofagus in autumn.
Located fifteen kilometres north-northwest of Cradle Mountain, the Vale of Belvoir is a large open limestone valley, about ten km long and two km wide wide, flanked by ancient rainforests and eucalyptus forests.
The Vale of Belvoir is an important botanical, geological and historical site, with a surreal, majestic and welcoming ambience.
The Vale was given its name in 1827 by Joseph Fossey, after the valley in Leicestershire in England. Cattle was grazed in the area from the 1850s, originally by the Field family, then by George Moon, then by the William’s family from Narrawa, near Wilmot. George Williams also ran a dairy herd and operated a cheese factory. The discarded whey was popular with the local thylacines and tiger snakes.
The Charleston family from Wilmot took over grazing from the Williams during the 1960s, with the annual cattle drives from Wilmot and back were part of the families memorable events. They later sold their Vale property to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy in 2008, while continuing the right to graze during summer periods.
The Vale lies at an altitude of about 800m and is covered by subalpine vegetation. The Vale is underlain by Ordovician limestone which has been dated to be about 450 millions years old, and represents the only sub-alpine limestone valley in the state.
The Vale has an unusual bi-directional drainage of the valley, which may be a result of the basalt flow of dolerite that covers much of Central Tasmania. At the north end is Lake Lea, which flows northwards via the Lea River into the Iris-Wilmot system and out into Bass Strait. The Southern flowing Vale River drains the rest of the Valley, out into the Pieman River on the West Coast.
As with other limestone valleys, numerous sink holes and caves appear across the Vale, and are typically 10-20m across, with grassy and muddy walls, and floors where the soil has collapsed over time into the cave beneath. Many of these have wombat burrows on their sides, showing very large populations, and other marsupials in the area.
If you’re traveling to Cradle Mountain, take a moment to appreciate this unique, high altitude valley.
You can learn more about the Vale of Belvoir at the Tasmanian Land Conservancy:
Since the last issue, we’ve headed into Tasmania’s convict and judicial past and into the gaol cell in the Campbell Street Penitentiary to record an immersive photo sphere. Look up, look look down, look around, and let your imagine go to work.
In this issue we’d like to introduce the works of Irene Schaffer, a freelance historian of great enthusiasm and scope. She’s been published and self-published extensively for several decades and has graciously begun collaborating with Tasmanian Geographic to share some of this work with you. We reckon you’ll enjoy learning about one of Tassie’s most important boats- the Lady Nelson.
We’re exceptionally delighted to bring a formal geography element to Tasmanian Geographic: we’ve started working with a small public domain portable atlas to generate a series of simple challenges.
It’s a great excuse for us here to have a good look at maps of faraway places, and a great opportunity for you to take five to answer the challenge questions. You’ll be glad you did.
And, we also are glad to connect with Sam Wilkinson, and join him for a midwinter climb of Tassie’s southern quartzite peaks- the Sentinels- to catch a magical sunrise on black and white photograph film.
As always, we rely on YOU to help us spread the word about these wonderful stories.
Three weeks after the arrival of the First Fleet at Botany Bay in January 1788 Lieutenant King and a party of 23 were dispatched by Governor Phillip to Norfolk Island to take possession and establish a settlement there.
From this small beginning the population grew slowly until the Sirius was wrecked in March 1790 swelling the number overnight to 497. This caused many problems, as there was not a ship available to take the soldiers and sailors back to Port Jackson.
Over the next 20 years the population rose and fell depending on the number of convicts that were sent there. The numbers of free people on the island also grew as a large number of the convicts became free, married and reared families.
The H.M.S. Lady Nelson was to play a large role in the lives of the Norfolk Islanders over the coming years. This small 60t on brig had sailed from England in 1800 and was the first vessel to pass through Bass Straight from west to east, reducing the sailing time to Sydney by many days, and dispensing of having to sail around the south coast of Van Diemen’s Land.
For the next few years the Lady Nelson was kept busy sailing as a tender under the British flag. After her arrival at Port Jackson in December 1800 she sailed again in 1801 and 1802 with instructions to explore Port Phillip Bay.
The following year she was sent to Risdon Cove in the River Derwent with Lt. John Bowen, and assisted him in the first settlement in Van Diemen’s Land. Later in 1803 she was ordered to sail to Sorrento in Port Phillip Bay to assist Lt. Col. Collins with his departure to the River Derwent.
From 1803 the Lady Nelson continued her voyages to many places. She delivered dispatches, military personal and convicts back and forth to Norfolk Island as well as her many trips to Port Macquarie and Newcastle.
Again in 1804 the Lady Nelson recorded another first, when she sailed with the Buffalo, Francis and the Integrity to the Tamar River in the north of Van Diemen’s Land to establish another new settlement under the British Government.
Evacuees from Norfolk Island began to leave as early as 1805, when five men arrived at Port Dalrymple. It would be another two years before there was any further movement from the island.
One of the Lady Nelson’s longest voyages during this time was when she went to New Zealand in 1806, returning the Maori Chief Te-Pahi to his homeland.
The Lady Nelson was commissioned to bring the first shipment of passengers from Norfolk Island to Hobart Town, arriving there on 29 November 1807 with 34 men, women and children. The next ship to arrive was the Porpoiseon 17 January 1808 with 180 passengers also to Hobart Town.
The Lady Nelson made her second voyage with a further 50 passengers in March 1808, She was followed by the Estramina who arrived in June 1808 with 62 passengers again all to Hobart Town. The last evacuees to arrive at Hobart Town came on the City of Edinburgh, they numbered 242 and theirs was the longest and most difficult voyage of all. It took them nearly a month to reach Hobart Town and most of them with only rags on their backs and very little food on board.
In total there were 568 men, women and children (most of them free by this time) who arrived in the River Derwent during the twelve months, making life in the four year old settlement very difficult. Lt Colonial Collins in Hobart Town was having an extremely difficult time feeding those that had arrived in 1804 and well as those who arrived in the Colony after that time. He had been told to expect 100 souls from Norfolk Island and now he to feed and cloth nearly 600.
By 1813 the remainder of those still on Norfolk Island were ordered to sail on the Lady Nelson and the Minstrel to the Tamar River where they then walked to Muddy Plains (now Longford) and settled there on their grants of land.
The profiles in the Exiled Three Times Over book gives an example of what life was like for them before and after they arrived in Hobart Town. Some did very well, while a few fell by the wayside. For the majority it was hard work, the land they were granted was difficult to farm due to flooding of the Esk River, yielding hardly enough for them to live on. This resulted in most of having to live off government stores for the first two years.
If the coming of the evacuees made Lt. Governor Collin’s life difficult it did do one good thing. There were over 261 young people on board the 5 ships. This added to the very small number of 38 that had arrived with Collins (allowing that a small amount had been born in the 4 years since Collins had arrived) Some of those who arrived from Norfolk Island married members of Collin’s party who had arrived on the Oceanin 1804, swelling the populating and giving it new blood to tackle the future of the island within the first year of their arrival. Without this new blood the Colony may have not survived.
Certainly it would have taken many more years for those who arrived in 1804 to multiply with only their few couples to provide more children. The convicts men would have had no hope of finding partners amongst the free arrivals who came with Collins as it was a few years before any marriageable female convicts arrived. When they did it was the worst sent from Sydney to rid that town of their company.
The following generations of the Norfolk Islanders were to struggle for many years but in time most of them were to become valued citizens and their descendants now number in the thousands. Many of these descendants live in Tasmania while others can be found all over the world, many still carrying their convict ancestor’s names.
This brave little ship’s life nearly came to an end when at Port Macquarie she holed on some rocks in 1821 and was left to her fate. That was until Governor Macquarie, on one of his official trips to Newcastle, saw her and asked what she was doing there. When told she was holed her ordered her to be brought up on the beach and repaired. Both Macquarie and Mrs Macquarie had a soft spot for the Lady Nelson, having sailed on her to Hobart Town in 1811. It was said that they thought her the safest ship they had ever sailed on.
The Lady Nelson continued her work along the east coast of Australia under many colourful Captains (some of them ex-convicts) until she was commissioned to sail to Port Dundas at the northern part of Australia in 1824 to again help with a new settlement.
This voyage was to be her swan song, on arriving in the north she was sent to the Timor Sea in an attempt to buy pigs for the new settlement. While on the island of Baba the Lady Nelson was overrun with islanders, the crew was killed and the ship stripped and later burnt and sunk. This was the end of the Lady Nelson, who had been the Colony’s work-horse for over twenty-four years.
In the early 1980s it was decided to build a replica of the HMS Lady Nelson and work was started on her in 1986 and completed in 1987. Built by Ray Kent at Woodbridge, she was launched in 1987.
Situated on the corner of Brisbane and Campbell Streets in Hobart, Tasmania, the Penitentiary Chapel was built in the early 1830’s according to the design of Irish born Colonial Architect and Civil Engineer John Lee Archer. Originally designed as a Chapel for the growing male convict population in Hobart Town, there was also the inclusion of 36 solitary confinement punishment cells, unlit and poorly ventilated, constructed beneath the Chapel floor.
The Chapel served the adjoining Prisoners Barracks or Penitentiary, which later became the Hobart Gaol. Today, the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site remains a fascinating insight into Colonial Tasmania. A beautiful 1834 tower with the two Courtrooms remaining virtually unchanged for over 150 years, and the Gaol Chapel restored to display John Lee Archer’s original design.
What better way to learn about our Southern Hemisphere neighbours than through maps?
Here’s a geography challenge for you…
There’s a hotspot of biodiversity on an island nation lying offshore of Africa’ southeastern cast. It is about five times the size of Tasmania. Which island nation is it?
There are two countries in the south of Africa completely encompassed by a third. Which ones are they?
What is the capital city of Namibia?
The world’s largest waterfall is Mosi-oa-Tunya – formerly known as Victoria Falls. On what river between Zimbabwe and Zambia is it located?
In which landlocked country’s northern parts can you find the Tsodilo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 100,000 years of archeological heritage, and the Okavango Delta, a completely landlocked inland river delta?
Maps were sourced from From the Free, Open Source Portable Atlas Project:
Mid-August, six AM , it’s minus one degrees Centigrade and my fingers are not working.
As the stars start to fade and the first light of the day is coming, I set off with ten kilograms of camera gear to climb into the Sentinel Range. After signing the log book, it’s a steady uphill stretch through buttongrass plains. Lake Gordon is appearing behind me and the white dusted silhouette of Mount Wedge to my left.
Thirty minutes in, the mud turns to quartz and I begin scrambling up. Stopping to take a break, I get out my Hasselblad camera, loaded with black and white film, to take a shot of the rising sun
The sun is out, fiercely burning my neck, yet I’m still cold in the notorious Tassie day. I reach a false summit, which is visible from the camp ground, and spend an hour there taking photos, being idle. There is little wind and I can’t hear anything, I’m at peace. I push on to climb the true summit not far away, rising high above the more sheltered, intimate false summit.
About the trail:
Heading towards Strathgordon along the Gordon River Road stands the Sentinel Range. Turning around the bend, this amazing quartzite range shoots up suddenly and the driver can be easily distracted by its beauty. Standing at only 974 meters above sea level, it’s appearance is deceiving due to the range being less than 1 kilometer wide and 5 kilometers long.
Access to the start of the walking track is through the Wedge River Picnic Ground, which includes shelter, two fireplaces, shelter, and flat camping areas. This 4 kilometer walk takes about 3-4 hours return. It’s very steep but quite safe to climb with the help of thick branches and good foot holes.
The climb down is tougher than going up- sore joints and careful footing can result in a few bush landings. This is easily my favorite day walk in Tasmania.