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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about Tasmania

9. From Alcorso to Zeehan

Commonwealth records were originally drawn up, to adopt the phrasing of the great English archival theorist Sir Hilary Jenkinson, 'for purposes almost infinitely varying – the administrative or executive control of every species of human undertaking'. The uses of archives to posterity in providing information on a range of subjects, he added, were 'totally different but equally wide'. This observation is certainly true of the National Archives' collection. It includes source material on a remarkable range of subjects, people, events, institutions and other historical themes about, and relating to, Tasmania.

To illustrate the potential for additional topics and to complement the preceding larger themes, this final chapter offers samples of shorter treatments around which researchers could readily weave stories, advance theories and fill gaps in Tasmanian history.


Claudio Alcorso and family

In his autobiography The Wind You Say (Angus & Robertson, 1993) Claudio Alcorso described himself paradoxically as 'a perplexed, fortunate man'. By any measure, he was generous and forgiving, though he saved his strongest feelings for 'the ignorance, incompetence and prejudice of our Intelligence Service'. The archives show why. An Italian-born immigrant, he moved to Tasmania from Sydney in the late 1940s following internment (with his brother Orlando) as an 'enemy alien' during World War II. He quickly succeeded as a textile merchant, processing and printing silks and cottons, then from the 1950s established vineyards at Moorilla Estate. For a time he was also a person of interest to ASIO. He was a generous supporter of the arts, Aboriginal land rights and environmental causes, a renown enhanced by the Alcorso Foundation and Moorilla's integration with the Museum of Old and New Art.

Selected items relating to Claudio and Orlando Alcorso and family
National Archives, Melbourne
Prisoner of war/internee; Alcorso, Claude; year of birth – 1913; nationality – Italian, 1939–45 MP1103/2, PWN9221
Prisoner of war/internee; Alcorso, Orlando; year of birth – 1916; nationality – Italian, 1939–45 MP1103/2, PWN9222
National Archives, Adelaide
Alcorso, Claude – nationality: Italian; place of birth: Rome, Italy; arrived: Sydney, 21 February 1939. Also known as Alcorso Claudio Piperno, 1939–43 D4028, ALCORSO CLAUDE
National Archives, Sydney
Orlando Piperno Alcorso, 1940–47 ST1233/1, N34660
National Archives, Canberra
America – issuance of visas to Claude and Orlando Alcorso, 1945 A1066, IC45/66/9
Naturalisation – Alcorso, Claudio P – born 5 October 1913 – Italian, 1946–47 A435, 1946/4/2161
Alcorso, Claudio Piperno; born 5 October 1913; nationality Italian; travelled per Strathallan arriving in Sydney on 24 February 1939, 1939 A12508, 31/72
Alcorso, Orlando P; born 9 July 1916; nationality Italian; travelled per Strathallan arriving in Sydney on 21 February 1939, 1939 A12508, 31/73
Alcorso, Orlando Piperno – born 9 July 1916 – Italian, 1945–46 A435, 1946/4/2374
Alcorso, Amilcare P; born 17 March 1986; nationality German; Alcorso (aka Piperno) Niny age 48; Orlando age 23; Claudio age 26, 1938 A997, 1938/10
Mr Orlando Alcorso, Silk and Textile Printers, Hobart – export of printed woollens, 1947 A1539, 1947/W/1012
Consular representatives in Australia – Italy; establishment of Vice Consulate at Hobart – Mr Claudio Alcorso, 1953–62 A1838, 1515/1/36/13
German-born Kasper Spiegel, 30, assistant purchasing officer, inspects a sign announcing Alcorso Village to workers at Silk and Textile Printers Limited, Derwent Park, Hobart, Tasmania, The Australian-Italian-British Silk and Textile Printers Limited began a housing and immigration scheme to parallel industrial expansion in its operations at Derwent Park, 1958 A12111, 1/1958/16/284
Personal papers of Prime Minister Chifley – correspondence S, Part 2, includes representations from C Alcorso (Silk and Textile Printers Ltd, Tasmania), 1946–48 M1455, 330
Alcorso, Claudio, 1948–55 A6119, 173

Not surprisingly, TAHO also holds primary source material on Alcorso. There are more than a dozen record series, a selection of which is listed below.

Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, Hobart
Claudio Alcorso and family, 1913–2000 See NG2242
Internment records, 1938–90 NS2998
Diary of Claudio Alcorso, 1957–58 NS3009
Correspondence and associated papers relating to Claudio Alcorso's interest in Sullivan's Cove, 1977–97 NS3012
Manuscript, The Wind You Say, 1985–2001 NS3004

Roald Amundsen

In a centenary appraisal, Professor Chris Turney wrote, '1912 heralded the dawn of a new age in our understanding of the natural world'. Not least, he explained, because a Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen (1872–1928), led an expedition to the South Pole in late 1911, ahead of the British expedition led by Robert Scott, and documented it before returning to personally vouch for the fact. Amundsen entered the Commonwealth record because in March 1912, with the help of Frank Bowden, Manager of the Telegraph Branch at the Hobart GPO, he sent an encoded telegram announcing his success to the King of Norway, his brother, and the Daily Chronicle after the Fram sailed into Hobart. (There was a re-enactment on 11 March 2012 of the telegram sending on the steps of the GPO in the presence of the Norwegian Ambassador, with Frank played by his grandson Tim Bowden.) Of the original brush-with-fame itself, no record has survived, but Bowden (and his son Eric) nevertheless provide a further illustration of the collection's ability to surprise and delight.

Selected items relating to Roald Amundsen
National Archives, Canberra
Captain Amundsen – registration and exhibit [Antarctic], 1912 A1861, 2569
Roald Amundsen's party which reached the South Pole – registration and exhibit [Antarctic], 1912 A1861, 2566
The ship's company – Roald Amundsen's expedition – registration and exhibit [Antarctic], 1912 A1861, 2565
Oscar Wisting and dog 'Oberst', from Roald Amundsen's expedition – registration and exhibit [Antarctic], 1912 A1861, 2567
Japan – luncheon to [honour] Captain Amundsen in Tokyo, 1927 A11804, 1927/222
National Archives, Hobart
Captain Roald Amundsen – slides of Antarctic views, 1912 P437, 1912/631
National Archives, Melbourne
The Barque Fram taking in stiffening at Number 4 Crane, Newcastle, 23 November 1911 R32, SUNDRY 2/65
Selected items relating to Frank Bowden
National Archives, Hobart
Inland correspondence – notification that Mr Bowden is to act in the capacity of Manager of the Postal Department, 1902 P234, 1902/3/78
Memo re Mr Bowden performing duties – Manager, Telephone and Telegraph Branch, 1902 P234, 3924/02
Internal correspondence and memoranda – correspondence re whether Mr FP Bowden, Postal Department officer, is entitled to act as Choirmaster at Holy Trinity Church, Hobart, 1906 P234, 1906/1/224
Correspondence re question as to whether FP Bowden should be allowed to act as Choirmaster at a church and accept remuneration, 1906 P234, 4694
National Archives, Canberra
Bowden, Eric James Germain; SERN LIEUT; place of birth – Hobart, Tasmania; place of enlistment – Claremont, Tasmania; next of kin – Bowden, Frank Prosser, 1914–20 B2455, BOWDEN E J G
Appointment of Frank Prosser Bowden to the position of acting commonwealth electoral officer for Tasmania, 1919–20 A406, E1920/822


Bass Strait

Tasmania's sense of separateness from the mainland strengthened with Federation. Culturally, militarily and politically, overseas gradually came to mean not London but Melbourne (the site of federal Parliament for nearly three decades) and, to a degree, Sydney. Despite the strong ties of many with Victoria and the emergence of the telegraph, radio and air travel, ocean-going vessels were required to defeat this vast expanse of often dangerous water when it came to haulage, mail and transport. Freight costs became a constant reminder of Tasmania's disadvantage, and until regular reliable air services, it was not unheard of for a Tasmanian premier to be so late into Melbourne because of bad weather as to miss a meeting by half a day. Even in 2012, in Henry Reynolds' judgement, 'Bass Strait still matters. The coincidence of the state boundary with the encompassing shoreline reinforces the sense of separateness. The Strait is much mightier than the Murray or any other of the state boundaries'.

In the late 19th century, services developed providing sea transport between Launceston and Melbourne. Ships of substantial tonnage, such as Pateena, Rotomahana and Loongana, became familiar names, as did the Nairana in the 1920s and, from 1935, the Taroona. As for Hobart to Sydney, Tasmanians caught the Zealandia. After World War II, large roll-on vessels like the Princess of Tasmania and a second Rotomahana began operating, then larger still the Empress of Australia and the Australian Trader. By the end of the century, ferries with bow and stern doors were in use, such as the Spirit of Tasmania.

Selected items relating to Bass Strait ferries
National Archives, Hobart
Pateena – declaration of ownership on behalf of a body corporate, 1884 P560, BUNDLE 3 1884 SET/PATEENA
Pateena – certificate of survey, 1883 P560, BUNDLE 2 1883 SET/PATEENA
Victoria – Tasmania mail service – steam ships Loongana and Rotomahana – articles of agreement, 1908–10 P234, 1908/5712
Outgoing passenger list; transire outwards; shipmaster's certificate; A A certificate – Rotomahana to Sydney, departed Hobart 9 October 1911, 1911 P2004, ROTOMAHANA 9 OCT 1911
National Archives, Canberra
Transport – sea – New Bass Strait ferries, Tasmania, 1985 A6135, K15/3/85/2
TSS Loongana – seaworthiness, 1930 CP46/2, 57
Shipping disputes – SS Nairana dispute, 1927 A458, AA502/2
Tasmanian Shipping Services – subsidy of Taroona, 1950 A4639, 58
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission – sale of liquor on Bass Strait ferries – Princess of Tasmania, 1959 A432, 1959/3171
The Princess of Tasmania at her berth at Devonport, Tasmania. A 'roll-on roll-off' vessel, the freight vehicle on the right is typical of the commercial transport units which, in addition to motor cars, it was designed to carry, 1959 A1200, L33499
National Archives, Melbourne
Grounding of SS Nairana in River Tamar, 1924–25 B323, N1925/456
SS Nairana – grounding , River Tamar, Tasmania, 1942 MP150/1, 674/205/1702
Tasmanian mail contract – disablement of the Taroona in May 1936, 1936–37 MP33/1, TAS1937/16
Wilcox Mofflin Ltd, Launceston – shipment of skins per Taroona for transhipment to – 'City of Elwood', 1940 B13, 1940/51954
SS Zealandia – Sydney–Hobart Shipping Service, 1940 MP138/1, 603/234/208


Child migration

As Jill Cassidy explained in the Companion to Tasmanian History, child migration formed part of Tasmania's post-World War I migration story, including specialist programs like the Farm Boy Learners Scheme. None was particularly successful compared with the post-World War II schemes. Approximately 300 child migrants were sent from the United Kingdom to Tasmania between 1949 and 1976. There is disagreement about which Tasmanian institutions received child migrants – some sought approval but were unsuccessful, or were approved but in fact never did receive children. Nevertheless, it is certain some were in the care of the Salesians' St John Bosco Boys' Town in Glenorchy; Hagley Farm School near Launceston, which operated under the Fairbridge scheme; Fairbridge Society's Tresca House in Exeter; and Church of England's Clarendon Children's Home in Kingston.

Child migrants were sponsored by the Commonwealth but nominated by voluntary organisations that needed government approval to care for them on arrival. Some children were also sent to the care of private individuals. Federal and state financial incentives in the form of capital grants were offered to encourage institutions to participate. So while largely a matter of state, religious and private institution involvement, child migration to Tasmania is also documented in the Commonwealth record.

Selected items relating to child migration
National Archives, Canberra
Premier of Tasmania – proposals child migration [6 folios], 1944 A436, 1945/5/37
St John Bosco Boys Town – Glenorchy – Tasmania, 1948–58 A445, 133/2/29
St John Bosco Boys Town, Glenorchy, Tasmania – governmental assistance toward costs of building operations for accommodation of British child migrants, 1948–53 A432, 1953/21
The first five children to Tresca – Guy, 11; Ian Godden, 7; Donald Rolston, 7; Paul Godden, 8 and Mark Godden, 5 – a Fairbridge Society farm school near Launceston. In 1958, the society took over and modernised Tresca, in addition to farms schools for British migrant children at Molong, New South Wales, and at Pinjarra, Western Australia, 1958.
See also A12111, 1/1958/8/3 – A12111, 1/1958/8/12
A12111, 1/1958/8/2
Overseas Children's Scheme – nominations forwarded to London from Tasmania, 1940 A659, 1940/1/6451
Overseas Children's Scheme – record of children and custodians (Tasmania), 1940–44 A659, 1944/1/3283
National Archives, Sydney
St Joseph's Orphanage, Collins Street, Hobart, 1976 P2813, 26
National Archives, Hobart
Architectural drawing [back-to-front copy print] – St Joseph's Orphanage, Harrington Street, Hobart, Tasmania – showing ground floor plans and footing details, 1955 P1715, T5503-1 (I)
Children – organisations – St John Bosco, Glenorchy, 1948–75 P7, T232/2/6
Children – organisations, Fairbridge Society, 1964–78 P7, T232/2/2
Children – organisations, Hagley Farm School, 1948–56 P7, T232/2/4
Children – organisations, Clarendon, Kingston, 1948–72 P7, T232/2/1
Children – organisations, Roland, Sheffield, 1950–51 P7, T232/2/5
Children – organisations, payments in respect of migrant children, 1970 P7, T232/2/8
Children – organisations – St Joseph's, 1949–54 P7, T232/2/7

Peter Cundall

Now in his eighties Peter Cundall (1927– ) is a very well-known Tasmanian horticulturalist and conservationist (retired), who migrated to Australia from the United Kingdom in the early 1950s via enlistment in the Australian Army. He is involved in environmental activism, stood as a senator for the Communist Party of Australia in 1961, and for many years was the host of the ABC TV series Gardening Australia.

Selected items relating to Peter Cundall
National Archives, Hobart
Cundall, Peter Joseph, 1974 P3, T1974/0585
National Archives, Canberra
CUNDALL, Peter Joseph Volume 1, 1960–76 A6119, 4245–4247
CUNDALL, Peter Joseph Volume 2, 1960–76 4246
CUNDALL, Peter Joseph Volume 3, 1960–76 4247
Cundall, Peter, 1964 A9626, 209

Communication with the mainland

The availability, efficiency and cost of communicating with the mainland remained a feature of Commonwealth-Tasmanian relations until World War II.

With Federation, posts and telegraphs became a national responsibility, practically coinciding with the arrival of modern communication. As Alison Alexander put it, virtually everyone in Tasmania could now send a telegram, though they were expensive and usually kept for important occasions, such as births and deaths. The year 1903 saw the linking of Hobart and Launceston by telephone and the 50th anniversary of the telegraph in Tasmania. A decade later, mail had begun to be moved by automobile, and a wireless station was operating in Hobart. But whether via the post, telegram or radio, communication within Tasmania was one thing; contact with the mainland was another. Agitation by Tasmania's parliamentary representatives to secure improvements led to an inquiry by a Joint Committee of Public Accounts (CA 3200) and a report (Communications between Tasmania and the Mainland) tabled in November 1927. Things improved in the 1930s; Anne Henderson wrote, 'Communications – over the air, in the air and by land and sea – were on a roll'. There were advances in the interstate radio network, creation of a regular air link with the mainland, and in 1936, the opening of a Bass Strait phone cable enabling interstate calls.

After the war, broadcast communications quickly came to mean television, which was an Australian reality by 1956, and those with large aerials living on Tasmania's north coast could watch Melbourne programs. By April 1960, Hobart had its own stations (TVT–6, then ABT–2) and in 1962 Northern Television began exercising a licence from Launceston as TNT9. The ABC followed a year later with ABNT–3.

Selected items and series relating to Tasmania's communications with the mainland
National Archives, Sydney
Programs shown on ABT – Channel 2 (television layouts), 1960–78
VOL 1 to VOL 20
National Archives, Canberra
Submarine cables to be laid between Victoria and Tasmania, 1908–09 A1, 1909/4968
Communications between Tasmania and the mainland – evidence, 1924–27 A12835, 1
Report/statements and evidence, 1924–27 A12835, 2
Inquiry correspondence, 1924–27 A12835, 3
Communications between Tasmania and mainland – report by Transport Committee, Development and Migration Committee, 1929 A458, AH212/16
Telephone services Tasmania – mainland service, 1923–42 A461, S388/1/5
Communications between Tasmania and the mainland – evidence, 1924–27 A12835, 1
Shipping – Tasmania and mainland inquiry by Sir William Clarkson, Postmaster-General's Department and Navigation Branch, 1929–33 A461, B418/2/6
Mail services – Tasmania, 1931–43 A461, E388/1/2
Students looking at a television studio camera, Mount Wellington, Hobart, Tasmania, 1959 A1200, L30755
National Archives, Melbourne
Tasmania-Victoria mail service contract – one plan of the Melbourne and Tasmanian Rail Service, 1899–1906 MP33/1, TAS1919/177 PART 1
Radion – Victoria – Tasmania report by Mr Heketh on proposed establishment of system of wireless telegraphy between Victoria and Tasmania, 1901–05 MP341/1, 1902/2998
Tenders for laying of cable between Victoria and Tasmania, 1908 MP341/1, 1908/2705
Communication between Tasmania and the mainland, 1920–55 MP341/1, 1925/4191
Visit to King Island and Tasmania – laying of mainland-Tasmania cable, 1935 MP341/1, 1935/10316
Mail service between Melbourne and Tasmania, 1923–24 MP33/1, TAS1924/656
Burnie as mail distribution centre – plan of Melbourne and Tasmanian mail service, 1912–29 MP33/1, TAS1929/245
Tasmania-Victorian mail service, 1931–32 MP33/1, TAS1932/162
Tasmanian mail contract – disablement of the Taroona in May 1936, 1936–37 MP33/1, TAS1937/16
Mainland Tasmania submarine cable telephone service – opening of, 1936 MP341/1, 1936/2996
Agreement between Commonwealth of Australia and Holymans Airways Pty Ltd – Melbourne & Hobart, includes Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd sales specification for AWA 75 watt aircraft transmitter and receiver and marconi visual beacon receiver, 1934 MP183/1, 93
TNT – Launceston Tasmania – Northern Television Ltd – program – complaints and criticisms, 1966–77 MP1897/1, TNT/20


Image 17: Eddie, John and Ineke Hoogenhout, Catharina Besselink, and Nieske and Jan Hoogenhout outside the family’s bakery on Main Street in Sheffield, Tasmania, 1970

Image 17: Eddie, John and Ineke Hoogenhout, Catharina Besselink, and Nieske and Jan Hoogenhout outside the family’s bakery on Main Street in Sheffield, Tasmania, 1970
NAA: A12111, 1/1970/16/319
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Dutch immigrants in Tasmania

From the late 1940s, migrants from the Netherlands began to establish Tasmania's largest non-English community. Numbers increased following the Netherlands Australia Migration Agreement of 1951. As a result, wrote Lloyd Robson, 'Sleepy settlements in the state were suddenly galvanized by the presence of Dutch and other nationalities who seemed utter strangers to the local customs and rate of transactions'. By 1961, 9 per cent of the population were overseas born, a contrast with 17 per cent for the rest of the country. That year, Dutch migrants represented the largest of the non-English speaking groups, at 27 per cent, well ahead of German, Polish and Italian migrants. They took quickly to the building industry and associated trades, the Australian Building Corporation at Kingston south of Hobart sponsoring and employing numerous Dutch immigrants. It was fitting then that Queen Beatrix should unveil a statue to Abel Tasman in Salamanca Place in 1988.

Selected items relating to the Dutch community in Tasmania
National Archives, Canberra
Implementation of Netherlands Australia Migration Agreement, part 1, 1950–51 A446, 1962/65331
Implementation of Netherlands Australia Migration Agreement, part 2, 1951 A446, 1962/65332
Dutch language newspapers – published for the Netherlands Tasmanian Association – Abel Tasman, 1952–55 A1533, 1955/1703
Three Dutch migrants working together in a packing shed in the Huon Valley – Mrs Marie Commissaris, 26, from Oostzyde Str Zaandam, her sister Mrs Corrie Pitt, 23 and Mrs Tina Smith, 30 from Haarlem, 1958. Apple growers in Tasmania that year harvested their best crop since World War II. They expectd it to total 5.73 million cases, of which some 5 million should be suitable for export, mostly to Europe and the British Isles. Export income was expected to be about £7 million. A12111, 1/1958/16/185
Toolroom fitter Hendrick Bakker, 30, at work in the Repco plant, 1958. He came from Edam, Holland. The Repco Bearing Company Pty Ltd employs 40 migrants among its 270 workers at Launceston, Tasmania. The plant turns out 17,000 automotive bearings a day to satisfy an ever-growing demand from Australia's motor car industry, itself a major employer of migrant labour. The Launceston factory was opened nine years ago and is now the major Australian producer of motor car bearings, making them in 800 different sizes. A12111, 1/1958/16/31
A primary school at Kingston, Tasmania built by Dutch voluntary workers, 1969 A1200, L81575
Visit of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands – Hobart, 1988 A8746, KN1/12/88/79


Image 18: New acid plant at Risdon, Tasmania, 1948

Image 18: New acid plant at Risdon, Tasmania, 1948
NAA: B4498, 119E8
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Electrolytic Zinc Works

At the start of World War I, Australia urgently needed to find a source of zinc for munitions other than the previous supplier, Germany. It did have ore from Broken Hill but needed electricity for processing. Coincidentally, from 1916 Tasmania had cheap electricity available from the new government-owned Waddamana hydro-power station. And so four Collins House Group companies formed the Electrolytic Zinc Company and established zinc works at Risdon on the Derwent River. Here, the company poured its waste for the next 50 years, yet in other ways the owners were ahead of the times. Managed by Herbert Gepp (1877–1954) during its formative decade, the company flourished throughout most of the 20th century, prices inevitably fluctuating but resulting by the mid-1960s in the world's second-largest producer of zinc with a workforce of 2800. Its employees shared the fortunes, and for a time were treated unusually well in terms of conditions, amenities, consultation and accommodation at a 'company village' called Lutana. By its last mention in the records, dated 1984, the company had been taken over by North Broken Hill.

Selected items relating to the Electrolytic Zinc Works
National Archives, Melbourne
Unloading zinc concentrates from MV Zincmaster ex E X Works in Risdon, Hobart, Tasmania, 1945–86 B4498, 163E10
New acid plant at Risdon, Tasmania, which will bring its capacity for the production of sulphuric acid to 170,000 tons a year; angular views of plant at conversion heat exchanger section, Electrolytic Zinc Works, 1945–86 B4498, 119E8
Loading zinc for export – Risdon, Tasmania, 1964–80 B942, DOCKS & SHIPPING [6]
Aerial – Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia Ltd – Risdon Works, Hobart Tasmania, 1968–78 B941, SILVER, LEAD, ZINC/PLANT/AERIAL/2
National Archives, Hobart
Lutana postal and telephone facilities, 1920–26 P234, 3454
Waddamana-Risdon hydro transmission line, 1921–23 P234, 4776
Zinc oxide – manufacture of pigments by Electrolytic Zinc Company, Risdon, Hobart, 1924–26 P437, 1925/2681
Naval oil fuel installation – fuel stock of furnace and diesel oil, facilities, includes plans of Domain Navy and Risdon Electrolytic Zinc Company oil storage tanks, 1936–51 P1218, T13/5
National Archives, Canberra
Sulphate of ammonia – manufacture at Risdon, Tasmania, 1948 P1539, 1948/W/485
Zinc being stacked on the wharf at the Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon, Tasmania. Australia is one of the world's largest producers of zinc, which is also a major mineral export, 1948 A1200, L10966
Proposed assistance to Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia Ltd – disposal of waste products at Risdon Works, Tasmania (Pegara Storage Project), 1971–72 A7192, 72/15
Electrolytic Zinc Works, north of Hobart, 1983 A6135, K18/2/83/5
Environmental protection and pollution – pollution of the marine environment – disposal of jarosite waste – monitoring program related to the disposal of jarosite, dumping at sea – Electrolytic Zinc Company Ltd, 1982–84 A8520, WE5/4/1 PART 1


40th infantry battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Most Tasmanians who rushed to enlist when war was declared in August 1914 joined the 12th infantry battalion, constituting half its number when it sailed with South and Western Australians to Egypt and Gallipoli in April 1915. But in the annals of Australian military history, few infantry battalions are as heavily identified with one state as the 40th with Tasmania. Lobbying ensured an all-Tasmanian battalion was part of the new 3rd Division formed in 1916. The battalion was engaged on the Western Front from late 1916. Its last battle honour was St Quentin Canal where fighting ended in October 1918. Two sergeants, Lewis McGee and Percy Statton, were awarded the Victoria Cross.

The battalion in various guises enjoyed links with related units in the 1920s and 1930s, and with the 2/40th during World War II.

Selected items and series re: the 40th infantry battalion, World War I
National Archives, Hobart
40th Battalion Rifle Club – Tasmania – formation, 1927 P617, 411/4/37
Trooping of Colours – 40th Battalion AIF (Derwent Regiment), 1932–37 P617, 427/2/29
Opening of new training centres and reorganisation 40th Battalion, 1938–39 P617, 507/2/37
Statton, Percy Clyde (Sergeant) – Fitzgerald, Tasmania, 1920–34 P2603, STATTON P C
National Archives, Melbourne
40th Battalion to be raised in 6 Military District, 1916 B539, AIF264/1/152
Whole of 40th Battalion to be raised in Tasmania, 1916 B539, AIF369/1/152
National Archives, Sydney
McGee, Lewis [Victoria Cross Recipient], Sergeant – regimental number 456, 40th Battalion [application for war gratuity], 1916–21 P1868, McGEE L 13293
National Archives, Canberra
Statton, Percy Clyde; service number – 506; place of birth – Beaconsfield, Tasmania; place of enlistment – Claremont, Tasmania: next of kin – (wife) Statton, Elsie May, 1914–20 B2455, STATTON PERCY CLYDE
Statton, Percy Clyde; service number – T560: date of birth – 21 October 1890; place of birth – Beaconsfield, Tasmania; place of enlistment – unknown; next of kin – Statton, Grace, 1939–48 B884, T560
Australian War Memorial
AIF war diary: 40th Infantry Battalion – from February 1916 (AWM4, 23/57/1) to April 1919 (AWM4, 23/57/38) AWM 4
40th Infantry Battalion AIF – nominal roll – arrivals/departures, 1916–18 AWM 9, 27/1
40th Infantry Battalion AIF – nominal roll, 1918–19 AWM 9, 27/2
[Medical] RMO's reports – 40th Australian Infantry Battalion, May–September 1918, 1918 AWM 25, 481/88
Routine orders – 40th Infantry Battalion, AIF, May, October–December 1916, 1916 AWM 25, 707/9 PART 400
Field returns – 40th Australian Infantry Battalion, August 1917 – February 1918, 1917–18 AWM 25, 861/9 PART 287
Exhibit – regimental flag of 40th Battalion, AIF, 1921–25 AWM 93, 7/4/101
Unit histories – 40th Battalion, 1920–31 AWM 93, 67
Re graves of 3566 Private RT Wilkins, 40th Battalion and 4698 Driver EA Sutcliffe, 2 Field Squadron Engineers – Tasmania, 1936 AWM 62, 82/1/568


'Giblin's platoon'

Opening his 2011 Giblin lecture at the University of Tasmania, Dr Ken Henry noted that the lecture series 'commemorates a truly outstanding Australian – indeed a truly outstanding Tasmanian', explaining that 'Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin (1872–1951) and three of his colleagues (James Brigden, Douglas Copland and Roland Wilson) formed a personal and intellectual bond at the University of Tasmania between 1919 and 1924'. This was 'Giblin's platoon', a group that 'was pivotal in the shaping of economic thought and policymaking in Australia'. They had many things in common, from the University of Tasmania to The Australian Tariff: an economic enquiry (1929), which three of them co-authored. It was Giblin's platoon that Robson had in mind when he quipped that economists become one of Tasmania's leading exports.

LF Giblin was a Hobart-born soldier, statistician and economist who, in the 1920s, advised the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments, co-authored reports and helped devise a more logical approach to calculating and remedying Tasmania's comparative disadvantage under federation.

Sir Douglas Berry Copland (1894–1971) was a New Zealand-born academic, economist, administrator and diplomat whose seven years in Tasmania (1917–24) coincided with the first stage of his distinguished career as a teacher, economist and government adviser. He was a lecturer, then professor of economics at the University of Tasmania and director of tutorial classes for the Tasmanian Branch of the Workers' Educational Association.

Sir Roland Wilson (1904–96) was a Tasmanian-born economist, statistician and administrator (and amateur engineer and inventor). Although for much of his career he served on the mainland (15 years as Secretary of the Treasury and substantial terms as Chairman of Qantas and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation), he studied commerce at the University of Tasmania, lectured there in the early 1930s, and worked for some years with the Commonwealth Statistician's Branch in Hobart before promotion to Canberra.

Jim Brigden (1887–1950) was a soldier, economist, administrator and diplomat whose links with Tasmania recall Copland's. He lectured for the Workers' Educational Association at Queenstown (1921), authored The Economics of Lyell (1922), lectured in employment relations at the University of Tasmania (1923), then replaced Copland as its professor of economics (1924–30). With Giblin in 1925 he joined the committee appointed to inquire into Tasmanian disabilities under federation.

The 'platoon' inevitably has a substantial presence in the Commonwealth record, as illustrated below, but as noted in Chapter 8 all four are also represented in the manuscript collection of the National Library of Australia.

Selected items re: 'Giblin's Platoon'
National Archives, Melbourne
Resignation of Lieutenant LF Giblin as Area Officer, 1913 MP84/1, 1728/1/19
Booklet and papers relating to James Bristock Brigden (early Secretary and Permanent Head Department and Munitions), 1940–51 MP956/2, 108
Professor LF Giblin – letter to Minister for the Army requesting release of UK internees, 1941 MP508/1, 255/744/45
National Archives, Sydney
Statistics for the state of Tasmania, annual series, 1930–67 P1676
National Archives, Canberra
Giblin, Lyndhurst Falkiner; SERN Major; place of birth – Hobart, Tasmania; place of enlistment – N/A; next of kin – Giblin AV, 1914–20 B2455, GIBLIN L F
Brigden, James Bristock; SERN 3193; place of birth – Maldon, Victoria; place of enlistment – Melbourne, Victoria: next of kin – Brigden James, 1914–20 B2455, BRIGDEN J B
Monetary policy and its application to Australia by DB Copland, 1926 A5954, 829/14
Printed copy of minutes of evidence taken at Launceston on Saturday 3 September 1927 and annotated by witness James Bristock Brigden, 1927 A11636, 2/108
Roland Wilson, 1931 A1606, AJ25/1
Appointment of Commonwealth Statistician – Roland Wilson, 1935 A571, 1935/1890
Professor LF Giblin and LG Melville – correspondence, 1939 M2806, 554
British Commonwealth Relations Conference 1945 – Australian Paper Number 3 – The Australian Balance of Payments by Professor LF Giblin, 1944 A4311, 174/24
Work of LF Giblin for Commonwealth Treasury 1939–47, 1952 A571, 1939/4816
Brigden, James Bristock – personal, 1946 A3300, 356


Image 19: Hobart trolley bus, 1947

Image 19: Hobart trolley bus, 1947
NAA: 6180, 24/5/74/28, 6180, 24/5/74/28
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Hobart collection

The 'Hobart collection' is shorthand for the 1.3 to 1.4 kilometres of Commonwealth records managed by the National Archives' Hobart Office. It comprises the surviving kernel of a holding more than 20 times that size developed since the National Archives established a presence in Hobart in 1974. Its work produced highly prized records of undoubted archival – as well as temporary – value which, over the past decade, shrank due to the winnowing consequences of repository moves, re-evaluation, transfer of consignments to the National Archives' Sydney repository and, in the case of its railway component, transfer out of Commonwealth ownership.

Of these factors, re-evaluation was deliberately instigated to reduce the total by requiring solid justification for archival and local retention. The National Archives applied a methodology developed in 2000 called CROLS (core records of local significance) to material still in Hobart in 2010. The process looked for records of high significance to Tasmania, records attracting or likely to attract future high researcher use, records of intrinsic or iconic value, and records championed by stakeholders. As a result, the most important series in the Hobart collection now include those listed below.

Selected significant series created by Tasmanian–based Commonwealth agencies and for which all or some consignments are held by the National Archives, Hobart
Antarctica (for related material at the Australian Antarctic Division, see Appendix F)
Files containing Antarctic station reports with station log books interspersed, 1947– P1556
Files containing Antarctic voyage reports with voyage leader log books interspersed, 1947– P1557
Exploration maps and charts collected by Captain John King Davis, 1901–59 P2819
Correspondence files, 1950– B1387
Buildings and land
Drawings – Commonwealth buildings, Tasmania, 1903–32 P1715
Valuation field books, 1923–64 P2134
Land acquisition registers, 1951–88 P2721
Correspondence files, 1909– P437
Passenger lists and crew lists (outward) – Port of Hobart, 1903–51 P2004
Passenger lists and crew lists (inward) – Port of Hobart, 1903–51 P2005
Correspondence files, 1906–54 P617
Correspondence files, 1972–88 P625
Army pay files, 1939–50 P804
Citizens Military Forces enlistees files, 1940–49 P806
Application for war gratuities and allotment files, World War I, 1914–63 P1868
Personal case files, 1906– P3
British selection documents, 1959–71 P8
Nominal index cards for personal case files, 1948– P13
Registration cards for non-British migrants/visitors, 1948–71 P1183
Registration papers for non-British migrants, 1939–66 P1184
Incoming passenger cards, 1948–68 P1185
Applications for Australian citizenship, 1980– P2682
Maritime (for records of specific lighthouses, see chapter 5)
Registers of British shipping, 1846– P559
Ships' registration papers for the Port of Launceston, 1875–1947 P560
Ships' registration papers for the Port of Hobart, 1873–1956 P1087
Correspondence files, 1915–62 P1130
Files and papers relating to particular Tasmanian lighthouses, lexicographical series, 1919–62 P1131
Record of annual survey of Commonwealth registered trading and commercial vessels [Docking Book], Tasmania, 1923–67 P2808
Field books, meteorological observatory, Hobart, 1883– P401
Historical, climatic and scientific notes, reports and associated data compiled by meteorological observers, Hobart, 1941– P2391
Registers of meteorological observations, Tasmanian lightstations, 1881–89 P2651
Climate data, Tasmanian stations, 1882–1963 P2810
Postmaster-General's Department – Tasmania – correspondence files, 1883–56 P234
Scientific research
Cruise plans and summaries of fisheries and oceanographic research voyages, alphabetical series, 1959–84 P2329
Original cruise documentation for the research vessel Franklin, 1985– P2355
Cruise logs and diaries maintained by merchant seamen on Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research cruises, 1938–62 P2508

Hursey case

Like the Orr affair beginning to play out around the same time in the 1950s, the Hursey case created a sensation, though the divisions it exposed were industrial and ideological. The Hurseys, father Frank and son Dennis, objected to paying a levy to the Waterside Workers' Union. It retaliated by withdrawing their tickets, effectively denying them the right to work. There were picket lines, deep factional divisions within both the union movement and the ALP and two court cases. The Hurseys, represented by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Reginald Wright, won in the Supreme Court (1958), then lost in the High Court (1959). In effect, the legality of the union's action in imposing levies and expelling members like the Hurseys was upheld.

Selected items relating to the Hursey case
National Archives, Hobart
Frank J and Dennis V Hursey – Waterside Workers' Federation dispute – Department of Labour and National Service correspondence, 1957–59 P945, 1957/100
Frank J and Dennis V Hursey – Waterside Workers' Federation dispute – Department of Labour and National Service correspondence 1959, 1958–59 P945, 1959/42
Waterside Workers' Federation – Hursey dispute [Hobart waterfront], Commonwealth Investigation Service case file, 1958–58 P1436, T1958/9172
National Archives, Canberra
Dismissal of two waterside workers in Hobart (the Hursey case), 1958–59 A463, 1958/958
Parliamentary question regarding reporting of Hursey case, 1958 A463, 1958/2868
The Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia – Lowergan, John; Morriston, James; Sheppard, Charles Edward; Brown, William Percy; Bull, Tasman Ivan and others versus Hursey, Francis John; Hursey, Dennis Victor Alexander, 1958 A10145, 1958/11 PART 1
The Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia – Lowergan, John; Morriston, James; Sheppard, Charles Edward; Brown, William Percy; Bull, Tasman Ivan and others versus Hursey, Francis John; Hursey, Dennis Victor Alexander, 1958 A10145, 1958/11 PART 2
The Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia – Lowergan, John; Morriston, James; Sheppard, Charles Edward; Brown, William Percy; Bull, Tasman Ivan and others versus Hursey, Francis John; Hursey, Dennis Victor Alexander, 1958 A10145, 1958/11 PART 3
The Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia – Lowergan, John; Morriston, James; Sheppard, Charles Edward; Brown, William Percy; Bull, Tasman Ivan and others versus Hursey, Francis John; Hursey, Dennis Victor Alexander, 1958 A10145, 1958/11 PART 4
The Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia; Lowergan, John; Morriston, James; Sheppard, Charles Edward; Brown, William Percy; Bull, Tasman Ivan and others versus Hursey, Francis John; Hursey, Dennis Victor Alexander – [Transcript Volume 1], 1958
Ten further volumes of transcripts also held.
A10145, 1958/11 TRANSCRIPT 1
Waterside Workers' Federation – Tasmania – including dispute involving stevedores Francis John Hursey and Dennis Victor Hursey, 1953–58 A1533, 1953/793 PART 1
National Archives, Melbourne
FJ and DV Hursey – refusal to pay political levy and subsequent action by Waterside Workers' Federation – includes five photographs, 1957–58 B142, SC58/22
FJ and DV Hursey – Hobart waterside workers proposal to pay a political levy and subsequent action by the Waterside Workers' Federation, 1958–59 MP607/1, 1958/2150



In 1919, as if there had not been enough suffering, the world confronted the Spanish influenza pandemic. No-one really knew how to combat it apart from isolation. The Tasmanian authorities thus attempted to quarantine the island. Ignorance and action both created alarm. Cotton masks were deployed, which Robson and Roe said, 'were about as useful as using barbed-wire fences to keep out mosquitoes'. A third of the population was affected; 170 people died.

Selected items relating to the 1919 Spanish influenza epidemic in Tasmania
National Archives, Hobart
Tasmanian Lighthouse Service – instructions regarding influenza epidemic, 1918–20 P1130, 19/0223
National Archives, Canberra
Influenza Tasmania – troops, 1919 A2, 1919/1657
Influenza epidemic Tasmania – declaration of infected area, 1919 A2, 1919/2959
Influenza – quarantine restrictions, Tasmania – shipping, 1919 CP103/11, 406
Influenza epidemic –Tasmania permits to leave state – ports of entry and exit, 1919 CP103/11, 416
Influenza – quarantine – hipping between Queensland and Tasmania, 1919 CP103/11, 422
Influenza – shortage of wheat in Tasmania and increase in freight, 1919 CP103/11, 431
Medical – influenza – Tasmania – claims by staff nurses, 1921 A457, 501/36



Tasmania was world famous for its jam. By the 1870s, the processing of fruit for jams and preserves sourced initially from the New Norfolk, Huonville and Dover districts was flourishing, and markets in Melbourne and Sydney – even before the Boer War created interest throughout the Empire – stimulated investment and attracted entrepreneurs. The best known initially was the Kentish immigrant George Peacock, and later his nephew WD Peacock and one of his employees Henry Jones.

Selected record items relating to Tasmanian jam
National Archives, Hobart
Manufacture of jam in Tasmanian factories, 1922 P437, 1922/646
Request for quantity of strawberry jam consumed in Tasmania annually, 1922 P437, 1922/795
Sugar for use in the manufacturing of jam for export, 1922 P437, 1922/2300
Henry Jones and Company – hardwood case material for export of jam etc., 1923–24 P437, 1924/2450
Henry Jones and Company, Hobart – request to export jam in 36 pound tins, 1925 P437, 1925/795
Jam Makers Wages Board Tasmania, 1942–44 MP574/1, 419/3/211
National Archives, Sydney
Trade mark number 9854 – William Davidson Peacock and Francis William Lord, trading as WD Peacock and Company – manufacturers, Hobart, Tasmania – a rectangular label with two large panels and two small panels and the word 'Mione', 1904 SP1006/14, 20
National Archives, Canberra
Tasmanian letters patent – invention for new machinery and apparatus for the manufacture and mode of preparing tin jam preserving pots – specification by Thomas Joseph Wimbush, 1862 A1565, 22
Tasmanian letters patent – improved jam and preserve tins – specification by George Peacock, 1874 A1565, 98
Tasmanian letters patent – the better and more economically covering closing and hermetically sealing jam tins used in the manufacture and preservation of jams – specification by Alfred Sawyer, 1884 A1565, 336
Application for trade mark titled IXL – in respect of jams, preserves, fruits and sauces by H Jones and Company, 1893 A11802, 519
Application for trade mark titled H Jones and Company IXL in respect of substances used as food or as ingredients for food – by H Jones and Company, 1900–01 A11708, 3042
Application for trade mark titled International Exhibition, NSW, MDCCLXXIX, First Degree of Merit – Tasmanian Coat of Arms in respect of jam by Sarah Hickman, 1896 A1565, 1379


Image 20: John Elliott and Premier Eric Reese on board the <em>May Queen</em>, 1974

Image 20: John Elliott and Premier Eric Reese on board the May Queen, 1974
NAA: 11776812, A6180
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The ketch, a particular type of two-masted sailing vessel, is emblematic of the small craft which traded along Tasmania's river systems and coasts between the 1830s and mid-20th century. Many were in fact auxiliary ketches, meaning they had engines to complement their sail and often weighed more than 30 tons. The oldest surviving of these is the May Queen. According to The Companion to Tasmanian History, it was built in 1867 at Franklin on the Huon River by Alexander Lawson for William Thorpe. Then in 1873, it was purchased by Hobart timber merchant Henry Chesterman, and remained in the hands of his firm and business partners for more than a century. In 1975, the vessel was donated to the Tasmanian Government by H Jones and Company and subsequently by Premier Eric Reece to the Marine Board of Hobart for preservation. Today, it is managed by the May Queen Trust.

Selected items relating to the ketch May Queen
National Archives, Hobart
May Queen – certificate of survey, 1915 P1087, 1915 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – declaration by representative of deceased owner, 1915 P1087, 1915 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – bill of sale, 1873 P1087, 1915 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – mortgage, 1879 P1087, 1915 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – declaration of ownership on behalf of a body corporate, 1920 P1087, 1920 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – declaration of ownership by individual, 1924 P1087, 1924 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
May Queen – declaration of ownership on behalf of a body corporate, 1940 P1087, 1940 BUNDLE/MAY QUEEN
National Archives, Canberra
May Queen, Hobart, 1971 A1200, L95360
T Tuttle, skipper, in wheelhouse of ketch, May Queen, which is 106 years old, 1973 A6180, 6/2/73/5
106-year-old ketch still trading – May Queen, Tasmania, 1973 A6180, 6/2/73/6
Old timber ketch May Queen to be restored in Tasmania, 1974 A6180, 24/5/74/28
Australian ketch, 106 years old and still trading, 1973 A6135, K6/2/73/6 & K6/2/73/7
Selected items concerning Tasmanian ketches other than the May Queen
National Archives, Canberra
Small sailing vessels carry timber to Hobart – trading ketch Speedwell unloading on the Hobart waterfront, 1948 A1200, L11266
National Archives, Hobart
Application to purchase ketch Tasman, 1920 P437, 1920/829
Tasmanian Lighthouse Service – jettison of cargo in bad weather by ketch Mariner, 1920–21 P1130, 20/0020
Ketch Doris – certificate of registry cancelled, 1913 P437, 1913/2305
Explosives shipped on the ketch Southern Cross, 1913 P437, 1913/2011



From humble beginnings at Lilydale in 1921, Tasmania's Bridestowe Estate, Nabowla, is today one of the world's largest producers of lavender oil. The Denny family recognised the conditions were suitable – specifically there was an absence of any other lavender which could have cross pollinated and corrupted their pure imported seed – and the 1920s opportune. They prospered spectacularly, and though their story has a Canberra parallel concerning tariffs, their successors now also produce oil-based products and attract considerable tourist interest.

Selected record items relating to Tasmanian lavender
National Archives, Hobart
Stills – permission to operate oil distillation plant given to Australian Shale Oil Corporation, Lilydale and to Mr CK Denny for perfume distillation, 1925 P437, 1925/67
National Archives, Canberra
Oils – miscellaneous – lavender Bridestowe, Lilydale, Tasmania – commercial venture and hydrogenation of shale or coal – patent Hill and Eastaugh, 1917–27 A8510, 68/46/5
Lavender oil, 1933–34 B8, 644
Tariff Board inquiry and report file concerning lavender oil, 1934 B1, 644
Lavender oil industry, Tasmania – representations for tariff protection and assistance, 1948–50 A462, 568/11
Lavender oil, 1949 A1732, 1097
Tariff Board inquiry and report file concerning lavender oil, 1949–50 B1, 1097
Lavender oil, 1949 B8, 1097
Tariff Board inquiry and report file concerning lavender oil, 1950 B1, 1141
Bridestowe lavender farm near Lilydale in northern Tasmania, 1980 A6135, K25/2/80/75
Lavender farm, Tasmania, 1980 A8746, KN25/2/80/77
National Archives, Melbourne
Lavender farm – harvesting, 1945–86 B4498, 7G6
Largest commercial lavender farm outside Europe, Nabowla in the north-east of Tasmania, 1945–86 B4498, 7G7


Macquarie Island

Macquarie Island is located in the sub-Antarctic waters half-way between Hobart and Antarctica. From Federation in 1901, it has been part of the state of Tasmania. It was leased to Joseph Hatch (1837–1928) between 1902 and 1920 for his oil industry based on harvesting penguins. Everything changed in 1911, when Douglas (later Sir Douglas) Mawson established a base on Macquarie Island to undertake geomagnetic observations, map the island, and use it as a stepping-off point for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition. A radio relay station on Wireless Hill was also built that could communicate with both Mawson's main expedition group at Commonwealth Bay and Australia. Between 1911 and 1914, George Ainsworth, Harold Power and Arthur Tulloch recorded the meteorological observations begun by Mawson's group for the Commonwealth Meteorological Service. Their role ceased when the relief ship Endeavour and all crew and passengers were lost in 1914. A further Antarctic link occurred when the Ross Sea Party of Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition on Aurora visited the island in 1915.

Selected series relating to the Australasian Antarctica Expedition base, Macquarie Island
National Archives, Canberra
Territories – Macquarie Island, 1914–47 A461, B412/1/1 PART 1
Mawson Antarctic Expedition – George F Ainsworth, leader of the Macquarie Island party and geologist on Macquarie Island; coloured lantern slide, 1912 M584, 8
Mawson Antarctic Expedition – Harold Hamilton, biologist, Macquarie Island party; coloured lantern slide, 1912 M584, 9
Mawson Antarctic Expedition – stone sealer's hut, Macquarie Island, 1911 M584, 16
National Archives, Hobart
Transit outwards; shipping and migration return; A A certificate [crew list on back]; exports for drawback – Toroa to Antarctic regions [Macquarie Island] departed Hobart 7 December 1911, 1911 P2004, TOROA 7 DEC 1911


National Theatre and Fine Arts Society

The National Theatre and Fine Arts Society was formed in Hobart in 1950. It planned to offer a venue for theatre, ballet and music, and more generally to foster the fine arts by making them accessible beyond Hobart. It quickly formed an agreement with Yvonne Banvard, an actress who had moved to Hobart from Sydney that year. For a time, her company, Fifi Banvard Productions, was based at the theatre and built on a growing public interest in live theatre. Both the society and Banvard interacted with the ABC.

Selected items relating to the National Theatre and Fine Arts Society
National Archives, Sydney
National Theatre and Fine Arts Society – Tasmania, 1950–56 SP724/1, 9/10/3 PART 1
National Theatre and Fine Arts Society – Tasmania, 1957–61 SP724/1, 9/10/3 PART 2
National Theatre and Fine Arts Society, Tasmania, 1951–66 SP1687/1, R27/7/5 PART 1
Yvonne Banvard, 1956 SP613/1, 7/5/38
Yvonne Banvard (Fifi) – actress, 1953–57 SP1011/2, 148
National Archives, Canberra
Inquiry into the National Estate – National Theatre and Fine Arts Society of Tasmania – request for funds, 1973 A3956, 1973/376


Optical Annexe, University of Tasmania

During World War II, the Ministry of Munitions established Annexe 9/101 within the University of Tasmania's Physics Laboratory led by Eric Waterworth (1905–90). The annexe was best known for the production of optical instruments associated with weapons such as gun sights and telescopes.

Selected items relating to the Waterworth Optical Annexe, University of Tasmania
National Archives, Melbourne
Waterworth Optical Annexe, Hobart – employment of females and Women's Employment Board decisions, 1942–43 MP1007/7, 249/301/3
Meeting to discuss the future of the Hobart Optical Annexe, 1947 MP150/1, 437/201/1044
Technical Advisory Committee on Optical Munitions – technical reports etc.; contains Report on the Manufacture of Graticules at the Works of EN Waterworth; Installation, Modification and Operation of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Vacuum Plant for 'Blooming' Optical Surfaces; aerial photographs taken with a 48-inch lens designed and produced by the University of Tasmania; and other reports, graphs and slides, 1935–56 MP1472/4, BOX 5/4
National Archives, Hobart
Optical Annexe – Hobart – inspection of RAAF camera prisms, 1940–45 Additional files at 13F– to 13F–22, 13F–25 and 13F–26 P2571, 13F–18
Minutes of Board of Area Management Tasmania for the Manufacture of Munitions, 1941–45 P2571, 17
National Archives, Canberra
Optical munition workers at the University of Tasmania, 1944 A663, O130/3/1005

Sydney Sparkes Orr

Orr, wrote Henry Reynolds, 'was an unlikely figure to be swept up in a political and legal maelstrom of international significance'. Then again, the Orr case, wrote Michael Roe, 'was hideous'. While Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania in the 1950s, Orr was directly embroiled in a series of controversies concerning university administration and his conduct towards a female student. While unemployed following dismissal in the 1960s, he was also embroiled in many ensuing civil, religious and academic inquiries and appeals.

Selected items relating to Sydney Sparkes Orr
National Archives, Sydney
Sydney Sparks Orr: 1960, 1959–60 J2729, S1298
National Archives, Canberra
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus Kemp, Reginald Edward Garrington, 1931–72 A10145, 1962/3
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus Isles, Keith Sidney, 1965 A10071, 1965/55
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus Isles, Keith Sidney – appeal book, 1965 A10071, 1965/55 APPEAL BOOK
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 1
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 2
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania – TRANSCRIPT Volumes 1 to 10, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 3
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania – TRANSCRIPT Volumes 1 to 10, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 4
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania – TRANSCRIPT Volumes 1 to 10, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 5
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania – TRANSCRIPT Volumes 1 to 10, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 6
Orr, Sydney Sparkes versus the University of Tasmania – TRANSCRIPT Volumes 1 to 10, 1956 A10145, 1956/7 PART 7
Orr, Sydney Sparkes, 1956–57 A1533, 1956/3736
Personal papers of Prime Minister Menzies – correspondence, statements and other papers re defence, economy, Sydney Sparkes Orr case, Walton-Sears Ltd, Rt Hon RA Butler, HM Loveday, 1950–57 M2576, 120
University of Tasmania – provision of finance for ex-gratia payment to SS Orr, 1964 A463, 1964/451


Post offices

The Commonwealth took over an existing postal organisation in 1901. We know from Classification of the Commonwealth Public Service (1904) that there were more than 50 post offices in Tasmania at the time, most run by postmistresses. The number quickly expanded with new technology and settlements stimulated by mining; by the mid-1920s, there were several hundred. Like the general store and local pub, the post office measured the rise and fall of a community's economic health. As the 20th century closed, most had been privatised, evolving into a new version of the general store. In 1997, Tasmania had 34 post offices and just over 150 licensed offices.

Because the Commonwealth inherited records of the state postal and telegraph system and itself built new post offices, a substantial collection has accumulated, with strengths in visual, architectural and 19th-century material.

Selected series which include coverage of Tasmanian Post Offices
National Archives, Hobart
Drawings – Commonwealth buildings, Tasmania, 1903–32 P1715
Postmaster-General's Department – Tasmania – correspondence files, 1883–1956 P234
National Archives, Sydney
Plans and drawings, 1911–59 P244
Large format plans, 1974–97 P2699
Photographs of Commonwealth buildings and sites in Tasmania, 1945–96 P2813
National Archives, Melbourne
Photographs and negatives of Commonwealth building sites and Works departmental activities, 1957–84 B6295
Master set of post office photographs, 1901– B5919
National Archives, Canberra
Correspondence files, 1927–56 A6074
Applications for literary and dramatic copyright (with exhibits), 1907–69 A1336


Queenstown Post Office

By the time Australia federated in 1901, 20 years of intense mining for gold and copper had made the remote west coast settlement of Queenstown the third largest city in Tasmania, the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company rich, and the surrounding landscape ugly. Over the following century, development of the city and district fluctuated, hydro power and improved road access contributing until tourism, in recent decades, and a revival of the Abt railway ensured Queenstown's survival and continued prosperity.

The extant Commonwealth record as it relates to Queenstown concentrates on the post office. The National Archives holds almost 50 relevant files, dating from its time as part of the Tasmanian Posts and Telegraphs. Like the larger series P234, the files are full of riches.

Queenstown was rebuilt when fire wiped out the initial mining settlement (called Penghana) in 1896. Its new timber post office, however, was quickly replaced with an imposing two-storey brick masonry structure by Commonwealth authorities in 1902. No sooner had it opened, than the postmaster was arrested. Why was neatly summarised by the Hobart Mercury of 1 March 1902. Under the heading 'Queenstown bank robbery. Two arrests', the article began: 'An immense sensation was caused at Queenstown this evening when it became known that Charles W. Leeming, postmaster, and Norman Brownrigg, teller at the local branch of the Bank of Australasia, had been arrested on a charge of stealing the sum of £5,448 from the above-named bank on January 21'. They confessed, explaining they had lost heavily on share speculation. Leeming was sentenced to five years in prison and Brownrigg four.

Selected items and series relating to Queenstown Post Office
National Archives, Hobart
Architectural drawing – Post and Telegraph Office, Queenstown, Tasmania – alterations and additions, showing plans and elevations, 1898 P1715, 4345 1
Correspondence re robbery of Queenstown Post Office, 1902–19 P234, 1902/3/50 PART 1 to PART 7
Correspondence re repairs to the post office at Queenstown, 1902–03 P234, 1902/3/20
Queenstown Post Office – staffing changes and proposed new mail room, 1909–10 P234, 1909/2763
Architectural drawing – Post Office, Hobart, Tasmania – block plan of portion of GPO property, 1932 P1715, 8697
Queenstown Post and Telegraph Office site plan, 1948 P1715, BBT 13 A
National Archives, Sydney
Queenstown Post Office, 1983 P2813, 14
Selected items and series relating to Queenstown
National Archives, Canberra
Photographic colour transparencies positives, 1971– Includes many photos of Queenstown and surrounding area, smelting works etc. A6135
Report on the Tasmanian Government's proposals for maintaining employment or income stability in Queenstown – Decision 1878 (EC), 1976 A12909, 850



Both the operating and higher-level corporate history of Tasmanian railways is convoluted, and the related custodial and legal story of the records no less so. Up to the end of the 20th century, if we ignore its initial private-sector origins, there were in essence four main entities. These were Tasmanian Government Railways 1872–1939; Railways Branch of the Transport Commission, Tasmania 1939–78; Australian National Railways Commission, Tasmanian Region 1978–92; and Tasrail Pty Ltd 1997–.

In October 2009, the Tasmanian Government resumed control of the railway system. Accordingly in October 2010, the National Archives issued a records authority approving the transfer of significant Tasmanian railway records from the Commonwealth to Tasmania. These records included maps and plans relating to the earliest times of Tasmanian railways, as well as records necessary for the continued running of the system. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources worked with archivists from both jurisdictions to develop a records authority and arrange physical transfer of the records to TAHO.

This transfer of former Commonwealth records to Tasmania was based on the 'records follow function' principle. This is rarely applied blindly or with 100 per cent rigour, and in negotiations the need to protect continuing interests and liabilities is a standard ground for retention of some records by the transferring party. The series retained by the Commonwealth, held in the National Archives' Sydney and Adelaide offices, are as follows.

Record series relating to Tasmanian railways, or which include relevant items, in the custody of the National Archives
National Archives, Sydney
Recorded by: Tasmanian Government Railways, 1920–39 (CA 4941); Transport Commission, Tasmania, Railway Branch, 1967–78 (CA 4942); Australian National Railways Commission, Tasmanian Region (known as AN Tasrail), 1978–90 (CA 3933)
Staff history cards, Tasmanian Government Railways/AN Tasrail, 1946–90
(TC, AN)
Records relating to Tasmanian railways collected from the past General Manager's Office, Invermay, January 1991, 1948–c.1976
Launceston to Deloraine railway specifications and other miscellaneous documents, 1859–64
Correspondence and other papers of AF Maddock, Assistant General Manager AN Tasrail, 1976–84
(TC, AN)
Survey books [field, level and stadia], including field and track clearance notebooks, 1930–97
Register and index to survey books [field, level and stadia], 1950–80
(TC, AN)
Civil engineering reports, tender documentation, specifications and surveys relating to Tasmanian railways, 1965–97 P2378
National Archives, Adelaide
Recorded by: Engineer-in-Chief and from April 1915, Acting Commissioner, Commonwealth Railways, 1913–17 (CA 2106); Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, 1917–75 (CA 265); Australian National Railways Commission Head Office (also known as Australian National), South Australia, 1978 (CA 2105)
Correspondence files, single number series and drawings, 1911–83 B300
Recorded by: South Australian Railway Workshops, Islington [South Australia], 1901–78 (CA 6558); Australian National Railways Commission, Islington Workshops [South Australia], 1978– (CA 5926)
Correspondence files (Chief Mechanical Engineer), South Australian Railways, annual single number series, 1901– D1743
Recorded by: South Australian Railways Commissioner, 1898–75 (CA 3970); Australian National Railways Commission Head Office (also known as Australian National), South Australia, 1978 (CA 2105)
Proceedings – Railways Commissioners' conferences, officers' conferences and special conferences, chronological series, 1898–93 D1730

Following the transfer of the railway function from the Commonwealth to the Tasmanian Government in 2010, some 3257 shelf metres of Tasmanian railway records were transferred from the National Archives to TAHO. Approximately 90 series, which are now owned by the Tasmanian Government and held by TAHO, are listed in Appendix C. Series about railway matters for which some consignments are held by the Commonwealth and some by Tasmania are as follows.

Record series with consignments with National Archives (Sydney or Hobart) and with TAHO
Recorded by: Tasmanian Government Railways, 1920–39 [TGR] (CA 4941); Transport Commission, Tasmania, Railway Branch, 1967–78 [TC] (CA 4942); Australian National Railways Commission, Tasmanian Region (known as AN Tasrail), 1978–90 [AN] (CA 3933)
Correspondence files, Operations Branch, 1967–91
(TC, AN)
Papers relating to Tasmanian railways collected from the Civil Engineer's Office, Invermay, 1920–90
Train control records for single line working – including staff and ticket system, Tasmania, 1901–83
Correspondence files, 1892–97
(TC, AN)
Correspondence files, – Resident Engineer until c.1939 then Chief Civil Engineer's Office, 1873–c.1969
Correspondence files, Civil Engineering Branch, 1936–90
Correspondence files, Mechanical Engineering Branch, 1944–86
Miscellaneous Tasmanian railway instructions/publications, 1929–90
Correspondence files, Hobart Railway Station, 1946–85
(TC, AN)
Correspondence files, Hobart Railway Station, 1952–85
(TC, AN)
Train control graphs, 1965–97
(TC, AN)
Civil engineering reports, tender documentation, specifications and surveys relating to Tasmanian railways, 1965–97
(TC, AN)
Papers relating to Tasmanian railway bridges collected from the Bridge Inspector's Office, Invermay workshops, 1962–92
(TC, AN)
Chief Mechanical Engineer's Standard Instructions, 1947–97
(TC, AN)
Rolling stock reports and asset management records for Tasmanian Government Railways and Australian National Railways Commission, 1873–1992

Record Library, ABC Tasmania

Writing of the 1960s, Lloyd Robson observed that Tasmania 'retained its British character more than most areas of Australia', while Alison Alexander, commenting on the influence of post-war immigrants, described Tasmania at the time as having a 'somewhat inward-looking culture'. Typically in such commentary, the usual suspects of food, customs and coffee are mentioned. How would one proceed to comprehensively investigate this host culture? There are memoirs and newspapers, of course, but what else? A part of the answer is radio. The 1940s and 1950s in Alexander's view were 'the golden years of radio'. By 1952, there were two ABC and nine commercial stations. What music did they play? Some 150 recordings, all 78 rpm, have survived from the ABC Radio Library, and potentially can tell us a great deal.

Selected sound recordings (78rpm) from the ABC Tasmanian record library
National Archives, Sydney
Audiovisual preservation copies of commercial and ABC processed 78rpm recordings from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1936–50 C5670
Commercial and ABC processed 78rpm recordings from the ABC Tasmanian Record Library, 1936–50 C1967
'A reiver's neck verse' (P Grainger); 'The jolly sailor' (P Grainger); Max Worthley, accompanied by Jessica Dix; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1950 C1967, R1311
'Sweet Georgia Brown'; 'Freight train'; Graeme Bell and Skiffle Gang, Vic Sabrino; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1950 C1967, O6299
'Three old Australian ballads' (Margaret Sutherland and Lloyd Vick) (words collected by Vance Palmer); 'The ballad of Jack Lefroy', 'The banks of the Condamine', 'The overlander'; Max Worthley, accompanied by Jessica Dix; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1955 C1967, RR251
Searchlight Tattoo 1956, White City Stadium – Lady Madeline Sinclair, Aspen Bank, Ada Crawford, Dovecote Park, Leaving Port Askaig, Scotland The Brave (all traditional); massed pipe and drum band, Pipe Major JS Roe and massed bands under direction of Wing Commander AE Simms; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1950 C1967, A431
Old Panama (Alford); Voice of the Guns (Alford); RAAF Central Band, Sq Leader LH Hicks; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1950 C1967, A421
Thekla's Song (Alfred Hill); Rest You Now and Sleep (Alfred Hill); ABC Adelaide Chorus and Singers, conductor Norman Chinner, accompanied by Gwen Paul; sound recording from the ABC Tasmanian record library, 1955–56 C1967, BB242


Ship wrecks

Tasmania is unusual among the Australian states in that it is an island (itself with subsidiary islands, some quite large). This separateness has had significant consequences. Beginning with the process of the state's isolation via rising sea levels 10,000 years ago, the impact on the survival and development of Tasmania's Indigenous people, flora and fauna is remarkable. When combined with Tasmania's location vis-a-vis natural shipping routes and the Antarctic, one might argue its geographical destiny has shaped its traditions, society, culture and industries to a marked degree. Accordingly, shipping and associated activities and their infrastructure frameworks have impacted on navigation, lighthouses, provisioning, regulation, ship building, chandlery and harbour administration. Also related are the functions of customs, transport and communications.

One dramatic, and at times tragic, element of maritime Tasmania is ship wrecks. These disasters have involved an entire arm of Commonwealth officialdom investigations by courts of marine inquiry into mishaps at sea. Today's notions of historical accountability aside, the researcher is the beneficiary in having available not only the court proceedings, but details such as the lost or damaged vessel's name, its port of registry, official number, description, tonnage, master's name, name and address of the owner, port sailed from, port bound, cargo, number if any of lives lost, nature of the disaster and particulars/ place of mishap.

Selected series and items relating to wrecks in Tasmanian waters and related inquiries
National Archives, Hobart
Wrecks – return for vessels wrecked off the Tasmanian coast 1914, 1914–15 P437, 1915/18
Wrecks – ketch Gladys, information requested on vessel Reindeer, 1922–23 P437, 1922/18
Wrecks, records and returns, 1916 P437, 1916/18
Notice of Executive approval for appointment of A Stuart, Examining Officer, Launceston, to act as Registrar, Court of Marine Inquiry at Port of Launceston, 1924 P437, 1924/830
Minute book, Court of Marine Inquiry, 1927–75 P1599
Register of shipping wrecks and disasters, state of Tasmania, chronological series, 1894–25 P2339
Transcripts – Courts of Marine Enquiry, 1969– P769


'Just a story', Marilyn reassures Anderson in one of the most compelling scenes of Stephen Poliakoff's brilliant television drama Shooting the Past (TalkBack Productions, 1999). Then, step by step, she reveals a spellbinding tale using photographs she and her staff – led by Oswald – located during weeks of searching, using intuition and vast collection knowledge.

Between 2005 and 2010, the National Archives did something similar; it gave life to names in documents through a series of stories called 'Find of the month' published on its website. One was titled 'Dear Joe: letters to a prime minister'. It concerned a Tasmanian named George Lobban, a returned soldier down on his luck, looking for help from an old friend who just happened to be Prime Minister Joe Lyons. Lobban had been in a car accident and his war pension had been replaced by a smaller invalid pension. Unable to work, he had fallen into arrears on his war service home payments. As well as the letters, he is mentioned in other Commonwealth records which evidence Lobban's efforts as a composer, writer and newspaper manager.

Stories can start in the most unlikely way, in the most unlikely of places. Nicholas Shakespeare opened In Tasmania (Vintage Books, 2007) with a friend telephoning him from England saying 'Did you know you had a double in Tasmania?'. The story ended 400 pages later. Another story might begin with the cold words:

In acknowledging receipt of your letter of 20th March, wherein you request assistance from this Department on account of desertion of your husband, I regret having to inform you that whilst your position is viewed with utmost sympathy, yet the functions and regulations of the Department are such that assistance under such circumstances cannot be provided.

So wrote the Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation, Hobart in March 1922 to a mother with three children, Mrs Emily Spurr of East Wynyard. The official copy of that letter, secure on the official file (NAA: P130, R1035) with another 42 folios, records 'just a story'. But a story as affecting as Marilyn's mentioned above. There are thousands and thousands more in the National Archives' collection. With some, just the file title can set you wondering ... and they are your files.

Selected items to illustrate 'Your story, our history'
National Archives, Canberra
Visit of overseas archivist – Tasmania arrangements, 1953–54 A783, RG2/2/6 TAS
False passports former SS officers – Tasmania, 1957 A1533, 1957/1005
Little girl walking towards camera against rural background – central Tasmania, 1968 A1200, L71047
Cricket match, Australian 11 versus Tasmania at Hobart – leave to attend, 1926 A1, 1926/4593
National Archives, Hobart
1970–71 Voyage 4 – Nella Dan – Rescue of I Holmes from Gotley Glacier, Heard Island 21 February 1971 – report by EL Macklin Expedition Leader, 1971 P1557, 172/2
Request – samples of adulterated tanning extract imported into Launceston, 1910 P437, 1910/149
Appeal for free duty on import of new camera replacing secondhand camera sent for repairs, JW Beattie, 1915 P437, 1915/851
Tasmanian lighthouses – personnel matters including the wreck of the ketch Alice, 1926–41 P1130, 27/0039
Launceston – payment for stabling and feeding departmental horse, 1927–37 P234, 1934/1682
Social Club 40th Battalion – proceedings of Regimental Court of Inquiry into theft of money and stores, 1931–32 P617, 420/2/120
Bring Out a Briton – Hobart Rangers Soccer Club, 1959–60 P3, T1959/1589
Drift bottle from Heard Island found on west coast of Tasmania, 1949 P1556, HEARD ISLAND 1949
National Archives, Melbourne
Forwarding a nominal list of recovered deserters and volunteers who will take passage in SS Loongana to join HMS Minotaur at Hobart, 1914 MP472/1, 5/14/7353
National Archives, Sydney
Spurr, Thomas Henry [WWI repatriation case file], 1917–53 P130, R1035



The thylacine was a carnivorous mammal with a distinctive striped back. It was also known as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf. It once flourished on the mainland and Papua New Guinea, and in Tasmania until considered a pest by European Tasmanians. Because of private and state bounties, feral dogs, humans, disease and other factors, thylacines had all but disappeared by the 1920s. The last wild tiger was captured and held in the Beaumaris Zoo, 'a decrepit creature with fierce, sad eyes', Moira Watson recalled (Razzle Dazzle, 1990), until it died on 7 September 1936. The date became National Threatened Species Day, while the zoo closed a year later due to financial problems. Today the thylacine's name or image, seemingly without embarrassment or irony, is featured on coats of arms, postage stamps, beer labels, cricket team logos, submarine badges and number plates. It enters the Commonwealth record primarily due to the work of Customs and official photographers.

Selected items relating to the thylacine
National Archives, Canberra
Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) in captivity in Tasmania, 1922 A1861, 7750 PHOTO
Photograph of a Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) in captivity, 1930 A6180, 21/8/78/15
Tasmanian tiger – trappers' hut in thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) country, in grim and mountainous part of south-west of Tasmania, 1935 A1200, L35619
National Archives, Hobart
Export permits, Tasmania – rabbit skins, native birds and animals (including Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart), possum skins (including ringtails), blue winged parakeets, platypus skins, Tasmanian [wolf] tiger [thylacine] and cat skins, 1925–26 P437, 1925/252
Export of native Australian animals and birds – including thylacine [Tasmanian tiger], 1925 P437, 1925/2689
Export of Tasmanian fauna – includes Tasmanian tiger [thylacine], Beaumaris Zoo, possum and wallaby skins etc., 1926 P437, 1926/252
Valuation field books [Tasmania rural]: county; Somerset, Glamorgan, Pembroke, Parish; Sligo etc.: holding – Swanston: name of owner – Sawford Brothers: area – 8758 acres: date of valuation – 1929: registered number; 1555 [Reference to past thylacine stock losses], 1929–31 P2134, SWANSTON
National Archives, Sydney
New stamp issue – Australian animals (thylacine), 1981 C3960, 282


Summarising her 2006 short essay on Tasmanian tourism, Marian Walker wrote, 'Over one hundred years after the establishment of the Tasmanian Tourist Association [in 1893], Tourism Tasmania is still selling a refracted version of images developed in the nineteenth century: Tasmania's scenic wonders (wilderness), fertility (food and wine) and English appeal (history)'. Now, thinking of David Walsh's Museum of Old and New Art, we might add culture. Whatever the complete list, it is the result of combined private and colonial then state government initiative.

By contrast, the Commonwealth's encouragement of, and assistance to, Tasmanian tourism has been indirect, beginning in 1929 with an annual grant to the Australian National Travel Association. Nearly four decades passed before an official national agency was established with explicit responsibility to encourage people overseas to visit Australia, including Tasmania. From the 1930s too, there was a growing awareness within the Commonwealth that many government policies shaping things like transport, the environment and economic development also affected tourism. Even so, most of the extant record is visual, primarily promotional posters and photographs.

Selected items relating to tourism in tasmania
National Archives, Sydney
Australian travel posters – the River Derwent, Tasmania, designed by James Northfield, 1932 M948, 12
Tasmania Tourists Segment; format: motion picture film; quantity: 1 of 1 reels; duration: 4 min 18 sec; type: b&w 16mm positive print, mute; status: preservation material, 1966 C475, ARCH 09F/2581
Australian travel posters – Tasmania, designed by John Vickery, 1933 M948, 26
Tasmania, grave stones and church at Richmond, 1969 C2359, 943
National Archives, Canberra
Tourism – Penny Royal Mill tourist complex, Tasmania, 1980 A6180, 20/3/80/5
Tourism – Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania, 1991 A6135, K11/2/91/1
National Archives, Melbourne
Australia's first casino at Wrest Point Hotel in Hobart; a 19th-century coastal gun in an old fort stands on the opposite bank of the River Derwent, 1945–86 B4498, 151F4
Farmlands near Deloraine, 1950 M914, TASMANIA 5950
Derwent River estuary and Storm Bay from Mount Nelson lookout, 1958 M914, TASMANIA 6818
Image 21: Olegas Truchanas, 1949

Image 21: Olegas Truchanas, 1949
NAA: A11925, 1105
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Olegas Truchanas

Olegas Truchanas was a Lithuanian post-war immigrant who arrived in Tasmania in the late 1940s. His parents, Eduard and Tatjana Truchanas, also immigrated to Australia. Various day jobs (including working for 'the Hydro') belied his hobby interests, photography and bushwalking. These deepened during the following decades. He became actively involved in the environmental campaigns against Huon pine logging and the flooding of Lake Pedder, and gradually produced breathtaking wilderness photos. He was a founding member (from 1968) of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust and in 1971 was elected a councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Selected items relating to Olegas Truchanas
National Archives, Canberra
Migrant selection documents for displaced persons who travelled to Australia per Nea Hellas departing Naples 24 January 1949 – Truchanas, Olegas born 22 September 1923, 1948–49 A11925, 1105
National Archives, Hobart
Truchanas, Olegas, 1953–79 P3, T1970/1767
National Archives, Sydney
A Big Country – Spirit of Olegas, 1978 C5279, NAA10373
Selected items relating to Olegas Truchanas' parents
National Archives, Sydney
Truchaniene, Tatjana (Lithuanian), arrived Adelaide per Oxfordshire, 25 May 1949, 1949 P1185, TRUCHANIENE
Truchanas, Eduardas (Lithuanian), arrived Adelaide per Oxfordshire, 25 May 1949, 1949 P1185, TRUCHANAS
Truchanas, Eduardas, born 1 September 1887 – nationality Lithuanian, 1949–59 P1183,12/219 TRUCHANAS
Truchanas, Eduardas and Tatjana – application for naturalisation, arrived Adelaide per SS Oxfordshire, 25 May 1949, 1956–57 P2836, TRUCHANAS E
National Archives, Canberra
Kantvilas, Aleksandras, born 9 January 1920; Kantviliene, Nina, born 24 February 1921; Truchanas, Eduardas, born 1 September 1887; Truchaniene, Tatjana, born 23 January 1900, 1949 A11956, 77–80
Application for naturalisation – Truchanas, Tatjana, born 23 January 1900, 1956 A446, 1956/55644
Bonegilla name index cards, migrants registration – Troia, Nunzio to Tudroszen, Jan, 1947–66 A2571, 283
National Archives, Adelaide
Truchaniene, Tatjana – nationality: Lithuanian; arrived: Adelaide per Oxfordshire 25 May 1949, 1949–51 D4881, TRUCHANIENE TATJANA
Truchanas, Eduardas – nationality: Lithuanian; arrived Adelaide per Oxfordshire 25 May 1949, 1948–51 D4881, TRUCHANAS EDUARDAS


University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania self-describes as 'an international university working out of Tasmania'. Although it was established by an Act of the Tasmanian Parliament in 1890 and has always been a state concern, from the 1940s it – and every other Australian higher education institution – has been on the Commonwealth's radar. Many other factors also place the university in scope. Significantly, it has already been mentioned in this chapter.

The university first appears in the National Archives' holdings via those remarkable omnibus series P234 (PMG, Tasmania) and P437, but its sources begin to concentrate with the creation of the Universities Commission (CA 274), which operated between 1942 and 1946. Initially intended to support manpower needs of the war effort by providing financial assistance to students in tertiary institutions, the Commission was broadened in 1945. A network of offices was established within the five main universities, and a branch officer was located in Hobart to handle applications for assistance under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, working in close cooperation with the universities. Because beginnings are always important, the sampling below is restricted to the Universities Commission between 1942 and 1946 (specifically its main correspondence files series A1875) and its successor established in 1945, the Commonwealth Office of Education, Central Office (specifically one of its main correspondence files series A1361).

Selected items relating to the University of Tasmania
National Archives, Hobart
Slot telephone at University of Tasmania (Hobart), 1917–18 P234, 3902
Scientific equipment for Physics Department, University of Tasmania – request by Professor Alexander Leicester McAulay for tariff exemption, 1923–25 P437, 1924/2515
Distillation Act 1901 – applications for test still licence, Electrolytic Zinc Company, University of Tasmania, 1926 P437, 1926/67
National Archives, Canberra
University of Tasmania reservation – numbers, 1942–45 A1875, 6/02(2)
Undergraduates' correspondence courses, Tasmania, 1944–45 A1875, 18/14C(3)6
National Union of Australian University Students, Tasmania, 1943–45 A1875, 16/02
University selections for Tasmania, 1943–44 A1875, 6/02(5)
Manpower – service releases – University of Tasmania, 1943–46 A1875, 6/06(3)
Facilities – buildings University of Tasmania – physics – biology and chemistry buildings, 1944–45 A1361, 19/7/2 PART 1
Facilities – running costs – University of Tasmania – policy, 1946–50 A1361, 19/37/2 PART 1
Professions – engineering – Tasmania, 1946–50 A1361, 11/7/7 PART 1
Facilities – research grants – University of Tasmania, 1950–51 A1361, 19/27/7 PART 1



To an outsider, two of the most striking features of the Tasmanian historical and cultural landscape are the attention noteworthy visitors are accorded, and the attention Tasmanian commentators pay, to literary references to their home state. Peter Conrad's observation that physical separateness means that Tasmania has always been self-aware partially explains this. There is no definitive list of renowned visitors, any more than there is of famous ex-Tasmanians, but visiting royalty inevitably self-selects and is bound to generate official documentation. Below is a sample of relevant files and other items on royal visits, as well as Noël Coward and actress Merle Oberon, who famously visited Hobart in 1978 and was herself, some have argued, a Tasmanian.

Selected series and items relating to Royal visits to Tasmania
National Archives, Canberra
Royal visit to Tasmania – Deputy Commonwealth Organiser's file, 1920 A165, T20/78
Royal visit of HRH, Edward, Prince of Wales to Australia – set number 1 – Tasmania, 1920 A9291, 8
Governor-General, His Royal Highness – The Duke of Kent program – day of arrival – Tasmania, 1939 A461, Z7/1/7
Royal visit 1970 – The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh – visit to Tasmania – program, 1969–70 A1209, 1975/3095
Royal visit 1949 – Tasmanian accommodation at Connorville Cressy, 1948–49 A461, C396/2/4
Royal visit 1949 – Tasmania – arrangements in Tasmania, 1948–49 A461, A396/2/4
Royal visit 1949 – Tasmania press committee, 1948 A461, P396/4/1
Royal visit 1952 – Tasmania program, 1951–52 A5525, RV/1/7/A
Royal visit 1952 – public relations Tasmania press committee, 1951–52 A5525, RV/2/G
National Archives, Melbourne
Royal visit Tasmania, 1934 MP124/6, 462/204/446
National Archives, Sydney
Royal visit files, 1945–58 P186
Selected items relating to Merle Oberon
National Archives, Sydney
Of Love and Desire – theatrical film cuts – censored excerpts, c.1964 C40, [1124]
National Archives, Melbourne
Personalities – theatre – Merle Oberon – scenes from some of her movies including Wuthering Heights, 1963–70 B950, PERSONALITIES THEATRE
Selected items relating to Noël Coward's visit to Australia, including Tasmania, 1940
National Archives, Sydney
Noel Coward – All Australia Session broadcast numbers 1–8, 1940–41 SP300/2, COWARD/1
National Archives, Canberra
Visit to Australia by Mr Noel Coward – Hobart and Tasmania, 1940 SP112/1, 353/2/31I
Visit of Noel Coward, 1940 SP112/1, 353/2/31J
Visit to Australia by Mr Noel Coward, 1940 SP112/1, 353/2/31B
Visit of Mr Noel Coward – original files to Mr McKenna, 1940–41 SP112/1, 353/2/31


War service homes

When World War I began, many thought it would be over by Christmas 1914. The Commonwealth Government planned for its eventual end by establishing a Repatriation Commission in 1917 and a year later, passed the War Service Homes Act 1918 to provide mortgages and rent assistance to returned servicemen. The Act was proclaimed on 6 March 1919, state offices such as the War Service Homes Commission, Tasmania (CA 1591) were set up, and arrangements with banks established. In 1920, the State Agricultural Bank, Macquarie Street, Hobart was appointed as the lending institution in Tasmania. The scheme ran into difficulties almost immediately, leading to a parliamentary inquiry, and to investigate joinery being supplied to the War Service Homes Commission, a Royal Commission. In 1924, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (CA 707) also investigated claims by the Hobartbased Co-operative Estates Ltd against the commission, that it had been crippled financially because agreements to build houses in New South Wales had not been honoured.

Selected series and items relating to the War Service Homes Commission, Tasmania (CA 1591)
National Archives, Hobart
War/Defence Service Homes application files, 1919–87 P149
Correspondence policy files, 1933–63 P139
Name index cards for correspondence files, 1933–c.1959 P2824
National Archives, Sydney
Selected items relating to the Joint Committee on Public Accounts War Service Homes Inquiry (CA 3200) P153
Name index cards ('old war cards') for War/Defence Service Homes application files, J series, 1919–46 P155
National Archives, Canberra
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – Committee's arrangements, 1921 CP253/20, 41
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – complaints re homes, 1921 CP253/20, 42
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – miscellaneous correspondence, 1921 CP253/20, 43
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – Commonwealth Bank, 1921 CP253/20, 44
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – land purchases, 1921 CP253/20, 45
War Service Homes Inquiry – Tasmania – returns supplied, 1921 CP253/20, 46
War Service Homes Inquiry – public Hobart 11, 12 and 14 July 1921, 1921 CP253/20, 63
War Service Homes Inquiry – public Launceston 18 July 1921, 1921 CP253/20, 64
Selected items and series relating to Co-operative Estates Ltd, Hobart
National Archives, Canberra
Repatriation – War Service Homes – Cooperative Estates Company, 1919–24 A458, E394/4
Proposal of Cooperative Estates Ltd relating to War Service Homes, 1920 A2487, 1920/1458
Cooperative Estates Ltd Hobart – inquiry into transactions of War Service Homes Department and Cooperative Estates Ltd Hobart – re concrete houses, 1923–24 A11960, 1924/23
Proceedings in relation to transactions between Cooperative Estates Ltd of Hobart and War Service Homes Commissioner, 1924–30 A12832



None of the three indispensable references for this guide – Henry Reynolds' A History of Tasmania, the second volume of Lloyd Robson's A History of Tasmania and the University of Tasmania's Companion to Tasmanian History – has an index entry for the letter 'X'. A fourth, by Robson and updated by Michael Roe (A Short History of Tasmania), states that, 'Wood-chopping was the sport that reflected Tasmania more than anything else'. So my compromise, 'xemen' (axemen), allows coverage of one of the few things – in world terms – for which Tasmania is truly distinctive, that is, its axemen. Appropriately too, noone has identified conclusively the 'x' factor which explains this phenomenon.

The sport is one of the few which developed from a work skill, and in Tasmania's case, one that links to the very beginnings of forestry industries. The competitive sport began in Tasmania's Mountain Ash forests with rules developed in the 1880s. The state has the world's greatest axeman, David Foster, and the Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame. Most of the relevant National Archives' materials are photographs commissioned by the Australian News and Information Bureau.

As an aside, it is worth noting that an xylarium is a collection of wood specimens. Tasmanian wood samples are held in major Australian collections. From forests to railways – records documenting Tasmania's rich biodiversity and the identification of different species may add to future research.

Selected items relating to wood chopping and axemen
National Archives, Canberra
Tasmanian letters patent – an improved axe head and handle therefor and for other analogous implements – Robert Henry Carter, 1901 A1565, 3149
Requests for Royal favours – Southern Tasmanian Axemen's Association, 1903–04 A2880, 27/7/10
Australian tree felling champion for two years, Ray Youd, 24, of Deloraine, Tasmania, in action during the Royal Agricultural Show in Melbourne, 1956 A1200, L22045
Champion Tasmanian axemen, Doug Youd and Ron Sherriff proudly wear their Australian blazers on their return from New Zealand, where they won all events during a five-day tour, 1966 A1200, L53781
Two of Australia's champion axemen, Doug Youd and Clayton Stewart, both from Tasmania, enter Place des Nations, during Expo '67, Montreal, 1967 AA1982/206, 21
Memorials – monument to axemen of the last century, Ulverstone, Tasmania, 1971 A1200, L53781



The historic standing of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race alone guarantees Tasmania's place in the annals of Australian yachting. The site of its finish, Constitution Dock, was an irresistible location and moment for photographers from the Department of Information (CA 34) and its successor, the Australian News and Information Bureau (CA 219). Though the Sydney to Hobart has been held since 1945, the state has long enjoyed a strong sailing culture. If we include its predecessor, there has been a Royal Hobart Regatta since 1838 and a Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania since 1880. Their activities and other recreational sailing have been recorded by official cameramen, and for a variety of administrative reasons, noted by the Commonwealth's Tasmanian bureaucracy more generally.

Select photographs relating to Tasmanian yachting themes
National Archives, Canberra
Some of the fleet that competed in the 1959 Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race at Constitution Dock in Hobart, 1960 A1200, L33960
The 42-foot Sydney sloop Janzoon and the 52-foot Sydney ketch Archina sailing up the Derwent River near the finish of the Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race, 1961 A1200, L33961
Yachts tied up at Constitution Dock after the finish of the Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race, won by the 38-foot cutter Anitra on handicap (corrected time, 3 days, 55 minutes and 37 seconds), 1958 A1200, L24878
Yacht racing on the Derwent Estuary at Hobart, 1959 A1200, L30046
Regatta Day on the Derwent featuring trading ketches in the role of racing craft – on the right spectators board a small river steamer, 1957 A1200, L22012
Select Commonwealth documentation relating to Tasmanian yachting themes
Tasmanian letters patent – an invention for swinging centre boards for sailing vessels, ships, yachts, boats etc. – specification by John Drysdale, 1898 A1565, 2296
Requests for Royal favours – Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, 1907–20 A2880, 27/7/1
The Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania – shortage of beer, 1945 A1539, 1945/W/3997
Control of Liquor Order – provision of liquor supplies at function to be organised by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania at Hobart, 1943 A1539, 1943/W/469


Zeehan/Mount Zeehan

There are many hundreds of files and other items about Zeehan in the National Archives' collection. They include its mining and railway history, source of enlistments from World War I onwards, disasters, and Australian News and Information Bureau photographs.

Selected items relating to Zeehan/Mount Zeehan
National Archives, Hobart
Sunday opening of Zeehan Post Office, 1918–19 P234, 5689
Architectural drawing – Post Office, Zeehan, Tasmania – site plan, 1950 P1715, BBT 1110 A
Zeehan Strahan Line – schedule for sale of buildings at Zeehan – location drawing, 1961 P2213, J/29
National Archives, Melbourne
Protest from Women's Political League, Zeehan, against present system of promotion in Defence forces, 1911 MP84/1, 1952/1/33
Beven, William Francis; age – 21; born – Zeehan, 1916 M1486/1, BEVEN/ WILLIAM FRANCIS
Ronald J Howard, Zeehan – Tasmania – request for release of tractor and winch, 1945 B6588, M2541
Zeehan – Gaiety theatre, 1975 B583, 99/1975
National Archives, Canberra
Lindsay Cyril: service number – QX27091: date of birth – 12 October 1910: place of birth – Zeehan, Tasmania: place of enlistment – Ayr, Queensland: next of kin – Lindsay Lillian, 1940–47 B883, QX27091
A locomotive on the Emu Bay railway, one of the two privately owned railways in Tasmania. The service on this line operates from Burnie to Zeehan, a distance of 88 miles, 1960 A1200, L34584
Walford, Charles William: service number – 061413: date of birth – 18 January 1946: place of birth – Zeehan, Tasmania: conflict – Vietnam, 1963–92 A12372, R/61413/P
Mount Zeehan on Tasmania's west coast, 1980 A6135, K4/1/80/23
Zeehan bushfire relief – Decision without submission, 1981 A13078, 15824


100 Years of Australian Antarctic Expeditions website,

Alcorso, Claudio, The Wind You Say, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1993.

Angus, Max, The World of Olegas Truchanas, Olegas Truchanas Publications Committee, Hobart, 1975.

Australian War Memorial, '40th Battalion', Australian War Memorial, Canberra,

Coleman, William, Cornish, Selwyn and Hagger, Alfred, Giblin's Platoon: the trials and triumph of the economist in Australian public life, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2006.

Davis, Richard, Open to Talent: the centenary history of the University of Tasmania, 1890–1990, University of Tasmania, Hobart, 1990.

Dutch Australia Society website,

Find and Connect Tasmania website,

Hunt, Rod, 'Hursey, Francis John Bertram (Frank) (1912–90)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, Canberra,

Jenkinson, Hilary, A Manual of Archive Administration, Percy Lund, Humphries & Co. Ltd, London, 1966.

Kennedy, BE, 'Gepp, Sir Herbert William (Bert) (1877–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, Canberra,

Maritime Museum of Tasmania, 'May Queen's working life', Maritime Museum of Tasmania, Hobart,

National Archives of Australia, 'Dear Joe: letters to a prime minister', National Archives of Australia, Canberra,

Pybus, Cassandra, Gross Moral Turpitude: the Orr case reconsidered, William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne, 1993.

Reynolds, Henry, A History of Tasmania, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2012.

Robson, Lloyd and Roe, Michael, A Short History of Tasmania, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1997.

Senate Community Affairs References Committee, Lost Innocents: righting the record – report on child migration, August 2001,

The Companion to Tasmanian History, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart,

  • Alexander, Alison, 'Radio' and 'Electrolytic Zinc Works'
  • Cassidy, Jill, 'Migration'
  • Clements, Graham, 'Lavender'
  • Hibberd, Rachel, 'Thylacine'
  • Julian, Roberta, 'Dutch community'
  • McCulloch, Marie, 'Woodchopping'
  • Walker, Marian, 'Tourism'

Turney, Chris, 1912: the year the world discovered Antarctica, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2012.

'Waterworth, Eric Newham (1905– )', Encyclopaedia of Australian Science,

Watson, Moira, Razzle Dazzle, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1990.

Williams, Laura, '"Good British stock": British child migration to Tasmania after 1945', Tasmanian Historical Studies, vol. 5, no. 1, 1996.

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