A nondescript little notebook, hidden in plain sight in the state archives, has opened a window onto two extraordinary lives and yielded some startling insights into the popular beliefs and practice of traditional medicine in colonial Tasmania. William Allison (ca.1789-1856) and Benjamin Nokes (ca.1780?-1843) were ‘cunning men’, skilled in the use of herbal remedies, lacking formal qualifications but widely respected, operating somewhere on the spectrum between magic and science.
A stop at The Steppes was once essential for every traveller in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. On our list of recently digitised materials is a sketchbook of birds and plants by Marjorie (Madge) Wilson, who was the last resident of the house at The Steppes.
Starting as just a small cabin in the bush, the Wilson family transformed their home into a way-station for travelers and a hub for the highlands community.
Tasmania has hosted many of the most important ships that have ventured to Antarctica. In December 1987 one of these ships, the Nella Dan, ended its journey when it ran aground at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island.
When you hear the words ‘heritage’ and ‘archive’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? …. paper? books? photographs? buildings? physical objects? … What about ‘digital heritage’ that is created via websites, word documents, emails, texts, and on social media?
Where theatrical performances were enjoyed by the light of sperm whale oil lamps and theatre goers could enjoy a tipple in the tavern underneath. Through name changes, alterations, additions and a fire, Hobart’s Theatre Royal has survived the ravages of time.
If you’ve been through the Allport gallery recently, you will have noticed the birds. They are familiar birds, with all of the endemic Tasmanian species represented – many visitors will recognise them from their own backyard. And they are lovely. But the thing that convinced us that it was worth getting these prints out for display is the controversy – whose hand created them?
Morton Allport (1830-1878) was an avid naturalist. You may have seen his collection of bird’s eggs on display as part of our exhibition Bird Woman. The eggs are on loan from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where they form part of their natural history specimen collection.