THE WAY IT WAS


The parson’s Prospects - November 1891, HOBART We arrived in Hobart and were met on board by the Bishop of Tasmania, The Dean of Hobart, the Archdeacon and several of the local clergy. We began by a round of invitations to dinners, luncheons and picnics, and this continued more-or-less for the whole time I was in Hobart. Ringing the bell, he asked for the Hobart newspaper, The Mercury. ‘There is a boat tomorrow,’ he said and so the matter was settled.


Face to face with the Wild West - There are few parts of the world where such difficult country and such impenetrable bush are combined. Elsewhere you stand the chance of having to work a way round lakes or swim rivers, but here it is a matter of penetrating the dense forest which covers the face of the country. There are huge trees with trunks anything from a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet high before they throw out a branch, with branches stretching from fifty to a hundred feet in every direction, eucalyptus and gum trees of various kinds.


The way it was - In the early days there were few tracks and no roads. Before the roads came through many railways were built. They were linked up with a number of steamers from Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, and the North West Coast. There were one or two exceptions, such as the track or road from Trial Harbour over a spur of Mount Heemskirk into Zeehan, and though in a shocking condition, served to connect the Silver City with the outer world. This was until the Government built the Zeehan and Dundas Railway which ran to the Port of Strahan on Macquarie Harbour from the Silver City (Zeehan). The hire of a horse was nevertheless than a £1 a day, there was no feed for him, not a blade of English grass on the West Coast in those days, and would cost from 10/- to 15/- a day. When a man had ridden up from Trial Harbour or from Strahan his desire was to get his horse taken by some returning traveller and so rid himself of the expense of its keep.The West Coast of Tasmania has a climate peculiarly its own. The rainfall is anywhere from 101 to 144 inches each year.





WILD, WET, WEST COAST YARNS 1894 -1901

From the Rev F G Copeland (edited) stories


Bushfires on the West Coast - It is futile to try to escape, as the pygmy man stands beneath trees which are over 200 feet high, whose topmost branches suddenly explode as hot embers are carried on to them from a distance, the oil of the trees and leaves being made volatile by the heat! What can you do, and where can you go?


The Surveyor disappears - Dick Webster, a young surveyor belonged to a well-known family in Hobart, was out surveying blocks in the bush with a chainman to assist him. They had been out for some days without returning to their quarters in Strahan, and friends began to become anxious. An unsuccessful search was made. They had simply disappeared.


The Parson on the King River Bridge - There is a big rail bridge that crosses the King River. As you approach it, you see a large sign on an out jutting rock, "Whistle once." Soon after this you come to another out-jutting rock with a "Whistle twice," sign on it. Just before the bridge opens to view another sign, says, "Whistle three times."


Catch them if you can! – I borrowed a boat from my friend, Mr Hales, the Government Engineer of Railways on the West Coast and began my journey to the Point. The day was bright and the sky cloudless whilst there was a gentle ripple on the water. "Well," she said, "you can baptise them if you can catch them."


Saving Michael Mulengar - A pact in the sand at Pieman Heads about 1895. I picked up a piece of driftwood and wrote on the sand; 'I, Michael Mulengar hereby declare that I will abstain from all intoxicating drink, God being my helper. Signed: Michael Mulengar. F G Copeland, Witness.'


The Trial Harbour Hotel - Historian Wilberton Tilley said in 1891, that it did, "remarkably well, though one could not honestly go into the region of poetry in regard to the accommodation supplied."


















Mr Gamaliel Webster was born at Kingston, Tasmania and in his early 20s bought a tin mining claim on the west coast. He later owned and operated hotels at Trial Harbour and at Corinna in the 1880s and 1890s. He died at 46 years of age and his headstone was made of the local Huon pine. The Rev F G Copeland was called from Queenstown where he travelled by train, launch, another train and a horse to arrive at Corinna to officiate at Gam’s funeral. Copeland closed the hotel to an uproar from the drunken miners




OTHER FASCINATING YARNS:


Into oblivion in the wild west.

The gorges, rivers and bridges.

Zeehan to Strahan and Teepookana.

Rosebery – along the Ringville Track.

Queenstown, Mt Owen and children of the bush.

A bush service at Steyney’s Pub.

Did the Parson and the Bishop discover the Montezuma Falls?

‘Gam won’t rest till you come!’ - Gam Webster’s funeral.

Women and some bush humour.

How Trial Harbour got its name.

Did the Salvation Army save the Anglican hut at Penghana?

From two-up to prayers.

The Brotherhood of the bush.