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Tasmania and Van Diemens Land

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  • Port Arthur Railway Across Tasman Peninsula – Australia’s First Railway – Bayley

    Port Arthur Railway Across Tasman Peninsula – Australia’s First Railway – Bayley

    Published in the early 1970’s this is an interesting historical account of what was the first railway in Australia, albeit convict powered.

    The author William Bayley self published a number of well researched historical documents. Octavo, 64 pages, illustrated heavily and well throughout. Fine copy.

    Much about Booth and his plans, the Port Arthur settlement and discovery of coal on the other side of the peninsula. The need for the railway, its construction and the manpower. The visit of Trollope and other incidentals.

    The first railway – no mean feat for anyone.


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  • The Shot Tower [Hobart] and its Builder Joseph Moir – Richard Lord

    The Shot Tower [Hobart] and its Builder Joseph Moir – Richard Lord

    A special local history item by Richard Lord who also authored the respected book on St David’s graveyard and the Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur.

    More than a local history is the shot tower is the only stone and brick built circular shot tower in the Southern hemisphere.

    Anyone coming to Hobart may not have a visit here on the agenda … after reading this thorough account I doubt you will neglect the tower.

    First Printing 1980, self published, printed by Specialty Press, Hobart. Perfect bound, ninety-one pages, nicely illustrated mainly from historical photographs.

    The builder of the shot tower Joseph Moir was an incredibly enterprising individual. Already successful in business. He went to England and came back with a shipload of hardware and set up the Economy House at 49 Murray Street. It did very well.

    In the 1860’s his mind turned to making shot … a quite complex process fundamental to which is the action of gravity hence the tower. His careful planning led him to select the perfect site some seven miles form the centre of Hobart. The author goes through the considerations regarding the location, the structure, the outhouses for arsenic, powder etc and the incredible feat in erecting the tower in eight months with the help of only two stonemasons. The process for making shot was designed by William watts of Bristol in the 1700’s. A bit of experimentation was required at Hobart, but Moir eventually cracked the technique … which he guarded for year to come.

    The Shot Tower – Tasmania’s finest industrial structure.


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  • They Reigned Supreme [Steam Ships in Tasmania] – Thomas W. Fox

    They Reigned Supreme [Steam Ships in Tasmania] – Thomas W. Fox

    Self published second printing, scarce as hen’s teeth.

    Red card wrappers, 50 pages plus advertisements, including one for Purdon & Featherstone Shipyard! Illustrated with a few images of steam boats.

    Excellent account of the steam ships that used to ply the Derwent, Tamar and coastal routes in Tasmania. From the very beginning to the very end.

    Lengthy list of vessels in alphabetic order with details regarding their construction, when and where they were put to use and by whom. Often ending in a mishap.

    After the boats comes a chapter on the famous O’May family who for three generations were at the heart of the Derwent ferry services. Then a brief section on boat builder and a most interesting account of River Steamer racing.

    Super primary reference for anyone interested in the now gone steamer activity in Tasmania.


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  • Bruny Island and Adventure Bay  – John McLean – 1950′s

    Bruny Island and Adventure Bay – John McLean – 1950′s

    Extremely scarce historical booklet concerning Bruny Island. Self-published likely with the help of the Tasmanian Government circa 1950.

    18.5cm by 12cm, 783 pages. Attractive decorative soft cover (a fold line down the front). Tow full page maps of Bruny Island and Adventure Bay … both with references.

    Potted histories including Tasman; Dufresne; Furneaux and Cook; Bligh; Cox; D’Éntrecastaux; Hayes; Baudin and Bass … and Captain Kelly. Other content includes … Adventure Bay Historical Sites; Bruny Island Aborigines; Triganini and “Bruny Island Nomenclature”

    A scarce little history from a devoted local with some little treasure that only a local and an enthusiast could properly articulate.


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  • Cruising the Coral Sea – Alan Lucas

    Cruising the Coral Sea – Alan Lucas

    This is the third edition nicely updated with aerial images and some extra anchorages. A really super book about the tropical coast of Queensland and the Ocean and Islands. The kind of book that is probably difficult to continue to produce spoilt by the accessibility of the internet. But nowhere is so much useful and interesting information presented in an orderly and balanced fashion.

    Published by Horwitz in 1976, large octavo, 336 pages with a multitude of maps, sketches, the aforesaid photographic images etc.

    After a useful introduction we have a description of the reefs , the islands past present and notes on conservation. Then a handy chapter on catching and cooking your own food .. and the number of poisonous creatures encountered. Safety in the waster … not just sharks but the stingers even the small ones that can kill. Then into the detail of the approaches and anchorages and what a good anchorage looks like …

    A special book on Queensland and only dated where it is interesting …


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  • Gold – The Romance of its Discovery in Australia – Barrett – 1944

    Gold – The Romance of its Discovery in Australia – Barrett – 1944

    An unusual and scarce piece of “Gold” ephemera by Charles Barrett who was editor of The Swagman’s Notebook.

    Published by United Press, Melbourne in 1944. Softcover, ninety-six pages, small format, decorative covers, illustrated with images from Gill the 19thC goldfields artist. The odd bit of age but still a good worthwhile copy.

    A potpourri of bits about the history of gold … the odd relevant poem, and chapters on Early Discoveries [including slightly strangely California]; Hargraves Story; Discovery at Ballarat; Gold Mania in Melbourne; The Bendigo Diggings; Lucky Diggers; Canvastown on the Yarra; the Turon Diggings; Gold Brokers; the Great Escort robbery; Chinese in the Diggings; Famous Nuggets; etc etc

    Postage in Australia will be reduced a tad on final billing.

    Gold and the Mania it brought a nice readable summary by Barrett



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