Mountain Stories: Echoes from the Tasmanian high country

I have just completed my latest project Mountain Stories: Echoes from the Tasmanian high country. The manuscript has been sent off to the printer with copies available in early December.

The book is a collection of over 50 stories a number of which were published in my Mountain Stories blog on this website.  These stories have been revised and many new historic photographs added. A significant number of never-before-published stories have also been included. What has emerged is a unique set of historical musings about people, places, huts and events from that broad arc of country from the Great Lake west to the Vale of Belvoir near Cradle Mountain. Nowhere else is there such a range of stories that provide such vibrant insights into the European history of the Tasmanian high country.

Mersey hunters, 1939. From left: Ray Miles, George Miles, Geoff Holloway, Dick Miles and Wilfred Byard. Ken Field photo, Vin Walters collection 

They include tragic stories such as the drowning death of young Harry Glover in Lake St Clair in 1921, the death through exposure of hunter William Nutting near the Walls of Jerusalem in 1927 and the sad fate of Frank Cole, a broken old man who lived in a chimney at Lake St Clair for perhaps as long as two decades. Through other stories we meet some high country identities such as Lewis Lee, Paddy Hartnett, Harry Stanley, Reg Dixon, Wally Connell, Albert Fergusson, Roy Davies and Harry Andrews. The stories of a number of mountain huts such as Paddy Hartnett’s Du Cane and Ossa huts, the McCoy huts at Pelion Plains and Basil Steers’ huts on the February Plains are explored. So too the determined search for Parsons Hut near Lake Mackenzie by friends Ian Hayes and Peter Brown armed only with a 100 year old photograph.

Old Pelion Hut 1933. From left: Roger Orme, Geoff Holloway, Bert Nichols, Reg Holloway. Ken Field photo. Courtesy Tony Harris Collection

Then there are stories that document the high country hunting industry, the development of the skin shed and the emergence of annual fur sales in country towns in northern Tasmania. Long lost huts such as Humphrey Howells’ 1840s hut near the Fish River are rediscovered and the story of ‘Jack Johnson’, the wild bull that terrorized walkers at Pelion Plains in the 1930s is recounted. Stories are included that cover the recent draining of Lake Rowallan that revealed an extraordinary series of enormous ditches dug to drain the wet Howells Plains and the discovery of long lost huts including one built around 1850. Spectacular historic photographs, some of which have never before been published, liberally illustrate the book.

Signed copies of Mountain Stories: Echoes from the Tasmanian high country can be ordered here.