Cambria

13/9//2018

What type of tourism should Tasmania have?

True tourism is when the visitor experiences the life and the environment of the locals.  In essence they blend in and absorb.  There is another type of tourism which has become very prevalent and could be called “manufactured” tourism. This is when visitors in large numbers arrive only briefly and then leave our shores really not experiencing the real Tasmania.

Tourists of this manufactured kind can over stay their welcome.  This is currently being seen in Europe where places like Venice (Italy) reveal that the residents have had enough because of their lives being dramatically altered. This type of ugly tourism can make the natives feel like living in a zoo.

The proposed Cambria Green resort project is one of these manufactured tourist schemes, which do not entirely benefit the locals changing their lifestyle. It certainly will benefit the big end of town and for governments, State and local who then can boast of growth figures, even though the economic positiveness is not passed down to the general population.

The original Cambria is of great historic significance to Tasmania and perhaps more can be made of this for Tasmanians and visitors alike. It was the home of George Meredith with Cambria being the ancient name for Wales.  It was known as “Government House” with a procession of Governors and their wives staying there. At one time son Charles (who was to come a politician and there is a memorial to him on the Queen’s Domain) and wife Louisa Anne lived on the property.  Louisa was an outstanding observer of colonial life and society.  Described by historian Douglas Pike as a “poet in feeling” she was much more than a writer, but also an artist, naturalist and botanist who achieved international fame. She wrote of Cambria: “commands an extensive view of large tracts of bush and cultivated land and across from Head of Oyster Bay of the Schoutens.”

Now it is to be a golf course, 100 room five star hotel (where locals cannot afford to stay), 300 units and an airstrip.  While the developer said the historical aspects of the property will be maintained, one wonders how will this be achieved. 

To be truthful it will only be a playground for those overseas visitors who can afford it.  They will fly in (own airstrip) enjoy the manufactured surroundings, then fly out….what have they really seen or experienced of the true Tasmania?  Little.

I have said it before and I will say it again, Tasmania’s attraction is being Tasmania; in other words, being unique.  Our lifestyle, our small population, our history, the scenery, quality of product, our distinctiveness is what attracts people to our beautiful island.  We can boom with proper visitations, but these “playgrounds” will only destroy our lifestyle.

I repeat, the true experience of tourists should be to experience the REAL Tasmania.  As an example of this, some years ago I was employed to take a day trip of visitors from New Jersey in a mini bus.  The itinerary was ridiculous.  Picking them up from the boat, I first took them up Mount Wellington, then to Salmon Ponds, then to National Park, then to Richmond and the finally back to the departing vessel. All within a few hours.  They were totally exhausted and some of the elderly ones complained – and quite frankly I did not blame them.  I thought the whole thing embarrassing. Did they see the real Tasmania? No.

It is pleasing that many community groups have taken the time to protest against the Cambria development with similar developments going on throughout Tasmania.  The problem is of course in such circumstances, whole areas are changed dramatically and forever and after the damage, the developer moves on to another project and does likewise.

Do we need development?  Of course, we can’t stay in a time warp – but we can have good and controlled development.  Can we have a successful tourist industry which is welcomed by the locals and not abhorred?  Of course, but not this ugly and stressful input.

On many occasions the local are treated like second class citizens because of the perceived need to attract huge numbers of visitors.  As another example, when booking into a Tamar resort I also booked a seat for dinner in the dining room.  In the meantime, two large tourist buses arrived and because so, I was delegated to the bar.  In the morning hoping for a fine breakfast I found that the tourists had already come and gone, leaving little left; it was like a horde of locusts had descended on everything.  Leaving the premises to return home, I, stopping at a dining premises down the Mainland, was refused entry because a tourist bus had come and there was no room. This type of thing can only build resentment from locals.

The developer has stated that those who will be staying at Cambria will be people from China and finance will be coming from both China and the USA.  To be quite frank I am tired of our politicians who are prepared to sell our real estate out to the highest and short term buyer.  To those who may charge me with “racism” let me say, the Cambria development in its present form from any nationality would be opposed by me.

The fact is that such a massive development with change the attractiveness of the area.  It is true I do not live in Glamorgan, although I am a member of the local history society and and my family, the Watsons, were colonial settlers.  However, the east coast is also the playground of all Tasmanians and quite frankly, we do not like our State exploited.

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Religious Freedom

23/8//2018

It is strange that Australia has an inquiry into the need to protect religious freedom and religious expression.  We will see what the report is like when it is handed down by Philip Ruddock.

I say “strange” because I thought there would never be a need for it in Australia. This freedom has existed for many years as it is part of our inheritance from Great Britain and guaranteed in our laws.

This is obviously no longer the case, otherwise it would not be necessary.  Things socially are ever so different to the 50s and 60s, even the 70s.  The younger generation, say from the 80s, have little understanding how it has changed.

When we say “religious freedom” we are in reality meaning Christian freedoms.  Christianity was brought to our national shores in 1788 and to Tasmania in 1803. Britain of course, has been home to Christianity for 1300 years, longer elsewhere in Europe. It has been a part of our culture and heritage.

It was Alfred the Great who codified much from the Old Testament into English law and down the ages we have inherited The Magna Carter, the 1689 Bill of Rights, English Common Law, trial by Jury and Habeas Corpus all resulting from a country with a Christian background.  In Australia we have our own Constitution, which states in its beginning paragraph “relying on the blessings of Almighty God”.  This part was added by the insistence of the Churches of the day, excluding the Seventh Day Adventist Church which took the view that if such a wording was added it would force Sunday worship upon them rather than Saturday.  This obviously did not happened

Whereas “almighty…God” was neutral in its emphasis it was clearly to mean at the time, the God of Christians.

Down through the centuries it has influence dramatically our ethics, morality, modesty, principles,art and consciousness.  There is no denying there are faults; any Institutions developed by imperfect man will fail to some degree.  Over all it worked very well with many leading charitable organisations and acts emanating from Christian belief, not just here in Australia, but world-wide and many examples can be cited.

Australia since settlement has not been a strong church-going community, unlike say the United States. Even in the hey-day attendance percentage-wise would not have been more than fifty percent of the population.  Yet, the influence was there and people though nominally Christian did respect its Institutions and certainly used it for Sunday School, Christenings, Confirmations, Weddings and funerals.  During WWI ninety per cent of our soldiers declared themselves Christian.

Today by recent statistics only about fifty per cent of the population now give the title “Christian”.

In the 50s it was all so different and it was just taken as the norm that what was will continue.  I remember all too clearly when on Christmas Day, all radio stations (and later in the early days of television) played religious music as they did at Easter.  Sundays was indeed a day of rest, with most businesses, sports and entertainment taking a break.  It was a day for church, going on picnics, visiting or being visited. Today of course Sunday is very different, our roads are full of traffic, sport is the new religion, shops are open and while our communication has expanded technologically, we communicate less with each other including families.

All what was has gone and I really do not think for the better.  Society must believe in something and that “something” will determine how we view things and our attitude to situations. It appears that we are still searching for Christianity’s replacement.  There is no such thing as a vacuum as people crave for something.  To some it appears to be socialism, environmentalism, militant atheism, science and even hedonism – whatever.

To some extent the fault does lie with the Churches themselves.  It is apparent such institutions have not fulfilled many people’s spiritual requirements. One naturally has to refer to the appalling publicity which many, particularly of the established mainstream churches, have been subject to.  This has disillusioned many of faith.  Herein lays the problem, because people have placed their faith on man-made institutions and church leaders, rather than the faith itself. Yet that is an easy statement to make. It must be very difficult for those ‘good’ and ‘sincere’ members of the cloth who are now under unfair suspicion.

We do live in a post Christian where the religion and Christians can be subject to criticism, attacks, mockery and even abuse which would not be allowed if the target was another religion or of a particular ethnic group.

I am yet to be convinced we are a better and happier society without Christianity.  We seem to have more problems than a one armed fan dancer.  Australia now is divided sometimes aggressively and it seems permanently on race, religion, culture, gender and sexuality.  We are beset with numerous and it seems unsolvable social problems.  All this has developed and co-incided with the demise of the Church’s influnence.

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American Independence Day - Tasmania Australia

23/8//2018

July 4th is American Independence Day or as it is termed over there, The fourth of July.  It is the day in 1776 when the thirteen America colonies declared their independence from the mother country, Great Britain.

Over the time, the connection between America and Australia/Tasmania has been strong, often friendly and certainly those who settled here from the USA have been fascinating and purposeful. Yet initially it was not so.  Indeed the Americans had plans to invade the British colony of Sydney.

The idea was formulated in 1801 with the help of the French, the arch enemy of Great Britain.  Sydney, settled in 1788 was an easy target for invasion from anyone.  At that time, it was a struggling, small colony.  Hints of invading Sydney was formulated after the exhibition to the colony by Frenchman Nicolas Baudin.

It was to take several years before anything substantial occurred.  In 1812, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, an able and humane man, was Governor of NSW and also of Van Diemen’s Land. We were then administered directly from Sydney with local Commanders in charge while a new Lieutenant Governor arrived which was to be Colonel Thomas Davey.

The planned invasion of Sydney was discovered by adventurer, Jorgen Jorgenson who learnt it from a French prisoner held in Tothill Fields Prison in England.  Jorgenson informed the British authorities, who thought it was rather “amusing” and did not take it seriously, judging it to be wild and unlikely.

However, the French with their American allies were quite serious and indeed two French warships were to be sent to the new nation of America to tee up with two American vessels to invade Sydney.  The French part of the invading plan was not successful.  Their two ships were wrecked off the coast of Spain near Cadiz as the result of a violent storm.

The Americans continued their plan to invade, sailing for Sydney.  While doing so they attacked British non-naval vessels, primarily whaling ships and by all accounts destroyed a considerable number of them.

Even so, without the French warships not accompany them, the desire of the two American ships started to wane especially when a British man-of-war was seen by them. The experience sent them scampering thus ending the planned invasion of Australia by America.

Jorgenson eventually came to Van Diemen’s Land as an explorer, editor, navigator and colonial constable.

Fortunately since the debacle of the invasion most visitations were generally peaceful and helpful, although it does depend which side you were on.  Colonial Americans were one of the main agitators during the Eureka Stockade incident and in 1840 a number of Americans were sent to our island as political convicts after the disastrous Canadian revolt in which many south of the border participated.

Whilst here their treatment was brutal, but fortunately for them they received a pardon by Queen Victoria and left our shores for good, happy to go.

A few years later there were further political prisoners, this time Irish. One, Thomas Francis Meagher, fought in the American Civil War with the Unionists as Brigadier-General, after escaping from Tasmania.  His colleague, John Mitchel also was involved in the war, by supporting the Southern States, becoming the editor of the Richmond newspaper in Virginia,

Mitchel like Meagher spent some time in Tasmania with Mitchel enjoying the company of his family.  A son of his with whom he lived in Bothwell, followed his father to America after he had escaped from his prisoner home.  Interestingly enough this young man, John Jnr, who once lived amongst us was the person to fire the first shot heralding the start of the American Civil War.  He was a Commander of a regiment who fired a canon volley on Fort Sumpter thereby opening the war.

In reference to the American Civil War, three American war veterans are buried here, they being Francis Waters (Cornelian Bay), Henry Wells (Somerset) and Charles Baker (Beaconsfield).

As a matter of interest actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Booth who assassinated President Abe Lincoln, played at one time at the Theatre Royal in Hobart while Hobart also enjoyed a visit from author Mark Twain who spent a very brief spell of only several weeks with the Confederate Army, arriving in Tasmania 2nd November 1895.  Twain described Hobart as “one of the tidiest cities in the world”.

Another connection is with John P. Mikesell who superintended the construction of Tasmania’s original telegraph line in the 1870s.  Mikesell was born in Virginia in the 1830s and participated in the Californian gold rush in the late 1840s and 50s.  He enlisted in the Union Army in November 1861 and resigned as Captain in 1863.  When gold was found in Australia shortly afterwards, he sailed for our shores.  After completing his services as a superintendent to our telegraph construction, he left Australia and returned permanently to America.

The connection between our country, state and America goes back many years and is quite substantial.

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Name Change for Hobart

20/6//2018

The proposed aboriginal name for Hobart which, as testified by the Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie, will replace the existing name may not be a simplistic as envisaged.  There are not only historic matters to consider, but legal and public acceptance. Consultation must be taken with all Tasmanians, not just those within the Hobart City Council’s jurisdiction.  After all, Hobart being the capital of our State belongs to everyone, whether they reside in Glenorchy, Ringarooma, Launceston, Queenstown, where-ever.

The city of Hobart was named after Lord Hobart, the Secretary of War and Colonies, yet the first Hobart was at Risdon Cove (1803) and letters between Lt John Bowen and Governor Philip Gidley King in Sydney shows this. When David Collins arrived in February 1804 and moved the settlement to Sullivan’s Cove, which was first termed “the camp” Collins continued with the name Hobart in his honour.

The present Lord Hobart, Earl of Buckingham is patron of the Hobart Town (1804) First Settlers Association.

Clearly neither Hobart nor any city of any kind existed before 1804.  To say that conditions of the early settlement were difficult would be an understatement.  I have written about the struggles of this period previously, but it is suffice to say that from those foundations arose the modern, high standard of living city of Hobart.  The current city just did not happen, it was built on the backs of those who came before us.  Intentionally or not their sacrifice and endurance, their fortitude and courage is the reason why we have our city.  If these pioneers had not arrived, Hobart as we know and love, would not exist….I would not be here, the Hobart City Council would not be here, the Tasmania Government would not be here and so on.  I believe I have made my point.

We should, therefore, be eternally grateful for those who came before us. To change the name of their city shows a huge sense of ingratitude and like the closure of the many churches which is currently a topic, I wonder what the founders would think of we modern folk undoing their efforts.

The problem with the proposed name is there is no agreement on its historical roots or accuracy.  By consulting my aboriginal friend, whose group is not connected to the TAC whatsoever, I understand that the Tasmanian aboriginals did not name specific places as European do, such as after indivuduals like Lord Hobart.  Rather it was a reference to a place or locality where good shell fish were found, or a good area for wallabies.  Aboriginal reference to where Hobart now stands could not possibly embrace the concept of a city let alone the modern capital of Tasmania.

Any name change, however, would entail great financial costs and I would suggest great confusion, known now for 214 years as Hobart world-wide with all its traditions and history and suddenly there is to be a new name?  New names for cities usually come with a substantial change of government such as the fall of Communism in Russia or the new South African Republic, although the latter has retained such names as Dundee, Johannesburg, Cape Town, etc.  It seems to me the proposed name change is simply a whim of politicians and lobby groups, without any consultation with the people of Tasmania.

One thing which irks people, the masses of which I am one, is the belief that governments and many politicians do not truly represent the electorate – after all they are called our “representatives” and we employ them.  Too often they represent themselves, their Party, lobby groups and even foreign bodies, seemingly the electorate last.  Like the scriptures state, the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath, so the government was created for the people, not the people for the government.

Too many individual politicians in a position of influence believe they have a mandate to push their personal political or social point of view upon the rest of us. Often this is without the consent of the people or to our benefit.  In essence they have a pet project and without following proper procedure go ahead and implement their desire on us all.

With the proposed name change by our Lord Mayor I understand the proper procedure has not been followed.  He has taken upon himself to promote the concept without any reference to the Hobart City Aldermen and one wonders why he has done this.  However, the name change of our capital cannot be the responsibility alone of the HCC.  As our capital it has to be the responsibilty of Parliament and the State Government or more pointedly, the people.  This can be determined through a State-wide referendum.  The latter will be a true public representation rather than a hand full of self-interested people deciding for us. In reality even a referendum is not warranted here. I have no doubt that in honour of the heritage of this fine city, the majority of Tasmania do not agree with the Lord Mayor and if this being the case, then why is it even being seriously considered?

Hobart is a fine, beautiful medium sized city, which we love.  It is a progressive city, an innovative one, but one which prides and appreciates our founding pioneers and history, which includes Hobart as its name.  Leave it alone. If this did go head what is next? The name Tasmania?

Already there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of towns, districts and streets that have Tasmanian aboriginal names, so the original inhabitants have not been forgotten in this regard. It is true that the origin Tasmanians were the first, but we should embrace the wonderful contribution of the British so both can be justifiably recognised. We are all ‘natives’ of Tasmania.

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Church closures - what does it mean

Part 2 | 26/5//2018
My first book published in 1975 was entitled, “Churches of Van Diemen’s Land” – (a history).  In the book I dealt with the history of forty two historic churches, beside the oldest continuous synagogue in Australia situated in Hobart.

The book contained churches from the main denominations such as Anglican, Catholic, Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist, the latter three amalgamating in to the Uniting Church some years ago.

1975 was a long time ago now and since then, many of those churches contained in the book have been closed with more to come. Those already closed included the Anglican and Congregational Churches in Broadmarsh, the most historic Back River Chapel, the Hestercombe Chapel at Granton and to be closed the most beautiful and quaint, St Mary’s Church, Gretna.

Church closers, particularly of the Anglican and Uniting denominations are not a new phenomenon.  It’s been going on for years with a number of these churches being closed much to the chagrin of their parishioners.  I have been involved in a number of churches in an effort to preserve them, such as St Maraget’s Church, Risdon, The old Congregational Church, Old Beach, churches in Launceston and Trinity Church North Hobart, which fortunately is now being used as Greek Orthodox. I say “fortunately” because it is still being used as a place or worship.  I have recently been contacted regarding the future closure of St Matthias, Windermere East Tamar built in 1843 and is unique- as many are – in its architecture.  A number of churches were designed by convict architect, James Blackburn.

The recent publication in The Mercury shocked me with the number of churches to be closed, such as the magnificent St Michael All Angels Church, Bothwell and St Andrews Church, Evandale (both of which are covered in my book), and St Stephens Church Sandy Bay, beside so many others.  It is all so sad. Many of these historic and beautiful churches contain cemeteries in which numerous pioneers are buried.

I am aware church attendances are down and that many of these churches and halls, built by our settlers were in rural areas when transportation and communication was primitive.  Modern transport allows parishioners to attend churches in other communities without a great deal of inconvenience. It has been reported that the selling by the Anglicans of many, of their churches and properties is to pay compensation to those ‘abused’ by members of the church.  However, I also understand that amounts to 25 per cent of the revenue raised, so where does the rest go?

What does all this actually mean?  It means a huge loss of heritage and the passing of an era.  When our pioneers settled in an area, they did two things.  They erected (not in order) the church for worship and the hotel….one, as I often have said, to sin in and the other to repent in.  Joking aside, it does state quite dramatically the intention and desires of our early society.  There was obviously a conflict in values, but both equally and important as each other. There were thousands of taverns and hotels in olden days, many more than now as there were churches.  Many of the former still survive, seemingly in a much healthier way than our churches. This does reflect upon modern values and wants in comparison to previous generations.

Many of the churches now are homes, craft shops, retail outlets and cafes/restaurants and some are simply derelict.  A number have been allowed to crumble beyond repair, such as St Mary’s Bridgewater.  When I did my book that particular church was full of wood carvings, performed by artist Ernest Osborne whom I interviewed.  What has happened to these pieces of work?  What happens to the pews, plaques, wall tablets, fonts, war memorials, etc, etc. of these churches when they close and are purchased?  This is a major concern.

I often wonder what those pioneers would think of what is happening today.  Would they approve or understand or would they shake their heads in bewilderment?  I believe the latter.

I am not a church goer, but I have a respect for religion, particularly the Christian religion which has given so much to us. As I was growing up we were not a church family, but the church was always there, particularly for christenings, confirmations and weddings.  It shaped our consciousness and sense of what was right and wrong.  Since the demise of that influence, society in my opinion has lost its way.

I cannot help to be critical of those who make the decisions to sell and close down such edifices.  I am aware of the effect it has on existing congregations and very aware of even the anger it produces.  Such as was the case with the selling of Trinity which went against the wishes of the parishioners as is the current case with St Mathias.

Christianity came to Tasmania with Lt John Bowen who settled at Risdon Cove in 1803.  The first Christmas service was held there in December, by the order of Governor Philip Gidley King of Sydney. The first church was erected in Hobart with David Collins.  This shows the importance on the inherited religion placed by our early settlers. Yet today even by our church leaders, it appears such emphasises are missing.

When my book was published way back then, Tasmanian historian and author, G. Hawley Stancombe wrote the foreword.  He finished off by writing, “This book will hope to remind us of this (why our ancestors built and believed as they did) and perhaps point a way to the future”.

Hopefully it will remind us of what was, but unfortunately it has not pointed a way to the future.

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Has Australia become politically Intolerant

26/5//2018

The subject of freedom of expression has has come to the fore of late.  There are calls to, if not abolish 18c of the Federal Racial Discrimination Act, then at least  amend it. On a State level there has been moves by Legislative Councillor Tania Rattray to remove the terms, “offence” and “insult” from the Anti-Discrimination Act Section 17.

In defending to retain the legislation as it stands, proponents state any such change will harm many and that the laws are really there to prevent ‘hate’ being espoused.

Yet, are these laws actually doing what they claim to prevent?  Are they actually being used to intimidate and threaten individuals and groups?  Are those who advocate, “inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity” consistent when they also advocate with those with whom they have a differing opinion should be not only persecuted but also prosecuted?  This is the dilemma;  in endeavouring to protect sections of the community , it can be used to victimise others.

What is freedom of speech and expression?  It is to be able to express one’s social, political and/or religious views without hindrance, especially if put in a civilised manner.  Obviously if violent, then the current laws will deal with that.  If libellous or defamatory, existing laws will handle that.  An opinion given in a debate and stated in a peaceful manner which has been sincerely uttered must be tolerated.  The supporters of Section 17 and 18C state the legislation is there to prevent “hate” speech.  Yet, the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart’s pamphlet on traditional marriage was in no way a hateful document.  It was interpreted as such by a political candidate.  Although the charge was dropped, the Archbishop was subject to not only persecution, but possible prosecution.  For simply voicing his Church’s policy on marriage? This had nothing to do with ‘hate’ but somebody taking an issue with his opinion.  Well how many times in life are we offended?  Personally I am offended many times a day.  Being offended, however, can be a lesson in life;  how to deal with it, how to meet its challenge and how to counter it with adult argument.  Free speech can only exist if one has the right to offend.

On the Federal level with 18c we have seen unfair prosecutions regarding the late cartoonist, Bill Leak. Then there was journalist Andrew Bolt and the three young university students from Queensland. The latter had written inoffensive and true statements on their Facebook page, when they were subject to reverse discrimination (which is simply discrimination) because they were not aborigine. There would many more cases not making the news, because the person or person involved, just comply, not wanting to handle the stress and strain of the whole affair.

We have become despite the claims, an intolerant society.  Even though we can watch the most offensive material when it comes to the entertainment industry, including filthy language (and that is what it is) on a political level, we are greatly censored. We have moved from being a debatable society to a society which promptly bans an opposing point of view.

Examples of this is the attacks on Coopers Brewery for organising a civilised debate on same sex marriage (Coopers collapsed like a pack of cards over the matter) to a Christian Lobby group on the mainland who had to cancel their conference on traditional marriage because of threats.  Now we have seen the film “The Red Pill” about a Men’s Right Movement banned in Melbourne and Sydney because again, of threats.  The young American female producer of the film stated on Sky News recently that Australia has far more political censorship than the USA.  Organiser for the screening of the film (again a young lady) has been told by the Student Union from Sydney University they will not tolerate the showing of the film.

Then we have the young Somalian woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who now lives in the USA  cannot come into Australia for lecturing as her security cannot be guaranteed.  Her subject, of which she has had first hand experience, is female religious genital mutilation. Incidentally (19th April 2017) a doctor who undertook such a procedure in America has just been arrested.The first case ever in that country.

Overseas, the film “Vaxxed” produced by Robert de Niro was removed from the Cannes Film Festival because of outside pressure from big corporations. The public must not make up its own mind on a particular subject.

Senator Cory Barnardi’s office was recently trashed by a militant left wing group who did not agree with his views and saw it was their right to threaten his staff and destroy his place of work.

Just being offended because of the subject matter does not give anyone the right to prevent the opposing view being aired or the right to use legislation to ban it.  This word “offended” can be used to stifle debate and freedom of expression.

The problem is that there is a complete lack of leadership on this issue from the Prime Minister downwards.  Our governments and Parliamentarians (excluding the few) shy away from the subject.  Our universities which should be in the forefront of defending differing points of view do nothing to counter this intolerance. Incidentally English comedian, John Cleese said recently he will no longer perform at universities because of their sensitivity and political correctness.

Is ANZAC Day on the attack list?  I wonder what our diggers would think of the current repressive situation?  To give their life so one cannot espouse an opinion because someone may be “offended”?

As one who has been involved with the media now for 49 years and has made much of my living from my interaction with it, I have seen the gradual erosion of freedom with speech and freedom of movement in Australia.  This is a very dangerous trend.

The twentieth century saw freedom of speech advance in various Western democracies.  Are we now in retreat?  What makes a country a free country as opposed to an oppressive dictatorship is a free media and the guarantee of individual freedom together with the ability to be able to tolerate another’s point of view.

What has happened to Voltaire’s “I disagree with every word you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”  On his death a banner proclaimed, “He gave wings to the human mind.  He prepared us to be free.”

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Tasmanian Church Closures

1/5//2018

The closure of old historic churches and sell offs has been a concern for a long time. My first book “Churches of Van Diemen’s Land” – a history  was published in1975.  I wrote the history of forty two churches and of the Jewish Synagogue.  Many of those churches, which were operating in the 1970s, have now closed.

Some remain derelict; others are now private homes, restaurants, retail outlets and craft shops.  To a degree one can say, well at least they are preserved as a building.  The other concern, however, are the numerous plaques, tablets, glass stained windows and memorials contained in these churches heralding those past ministers, congrationalists, pioneers and those who are honoured for their war time effort usually from WWI.  Perhaps it is time for these to be recorded including photographically. For instance, the old Congregational church at Pontville (now a restaurant) has a wall tablet honouring Harry Hodgman, possibly the first Australian who was killed at Gallipoli

The continuing Congregational Church at Richmond, a fine sandstone building, has just recently closed.  It is now a retail outlet.

I often wonder what the early pioneers, so dedicated to their faith who built these churches, would think of how we now treat them.  I believe they would be aghast.

I can fully understand why some churches have to be closed…..low attendance and with modern transport people can now travel a distance to a church in the next town. In colonial days of course, when a town developed first (or vice versa) came the church then the tavern/hotel.  One to sin in and the other to repent in.

Close communities geographically had their own churches, such as Ross and Campbell Town, Carrick and Westbury, Colebrook and Campania, Moonah and Glenorchy, to provide some examples.

Some of these old churches are architectural gems and I have been involved in endeavouring to preserve some of them from out right destruction, such as St Mary’s Anglican, Bridgewater. This church had some marvellous wooden carvings and I am not too sure what has happened to them. And what happens to the pews?  The old and very historical Primitive Methodist chapel, with windows only on one side, at Tunbridge is now just a shell.

Churches that have closed and to be closed primarily belong to the Anglican faith, the Catholic and the Uniting, which previously was the old Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist.

Anglican churches that have also closed are St Lukes Judbury, St Peters Blackmans Bay and to be closed, St John the Baptist in Branxholm

The very historical church with its remarkable stain-glass window is St John the Baptist Buckland.  There is the belief that the stain-glass window is many hundreds of years old.  The window was preserved from destruction from Oliver Cromwell’s puritan troops by hiding and storing it.  Later it was sent to St Johns and mounted. Whether the story is true or not, what will happen to this window?

Numerous churches throughout the State have ceased to exist and we see them as we drive around.  One is St Johns, Ross and both Anglican and Congrational churches at Broadmarsh are now just a memory.  The Uniting church at Old Beach and the chapel at Dysart have joined the ranks as has the oldest Congrational church in Australia, Hestercombe at Granton.  By memory I believe the church at Kempton is closed and there had been threats to close St Johns at New Town, St George’s at Battery Point and St Mary’s at Moonah.  Fortunately these still remain open. Attention has been centred on the Cathedral St David’s to ensure its viable future. Driving through Campbell Town recently I noticed another old church had been sold, either the Anglican or what was the Presbyterian, a wonderful structure. A blue stone chapel in main street of that town is now a private dwelling.  And I am not too sure about St Michaels and All Angles at Bothwell.

A number of these churches have cemeteries attached such as in St Johns Franklin (to be sold) and the old Congregational at Bagdad which is now a private home. One wonders what happens to these.  After all, the old cemeteries gave a social history of the local town, with the tombstone inscription often telling the deceased’s life story.

Sadly, the very historical Bobby Knopwood church at Rokeby has now closed as has the equally historical church which served the First Fleeters in its day, the Back River Chapel near New Norfolk.  The greatest sadness was when the second cathedral in Hobart, Trinity closed much to the chagrin of its parishioners.  Fortunately the Greek Orthodox people have now taken over, but it is still in need of repair.

St Margaret’s church was under threat, an old wooden structure at Risdon, which I helped to be preserve with the assistance of the media by drawing attention to its historic value. I can’t help but think that some of these building are deliberately let go, so that the consensus is, it is now too dangerous and too expensive to keep open; this also equates to old houses, such as Chigwell House, which again with the help of the media was eventually repaired and saved.

So when a church closes down what happens to the records? Hopefully they are given to either to the archives at St David’s or to the State Archives.  What happens to the traditions?  Memories of church fairs, bazaars, social evenings, Sunday school presentations, after church picnic luncheons, christenings, weddings, fade. What happens to the elderly congrationalists who attend?  Where do they go now and how do they get there?

Many of the smaller more remote churches are a memory.  Gone are the hymns sung, the sermons preached and the well known and often colourful characters who attended.  True, things have changed dramatically in society.  Christianity was important to our pioneers, but we have become rapidly a secular society.  The passing of churches must amount to dozens and dozens in Tasmania with many more under threat.  Once these goes, much of the local history goes.  Does it matter?  In a worldly sense perhaps no….but in a spiritual, historic and social sense, very much so.

On April 24th 2018 the Anglican Church announced that 120 church properties in Tasmania will be sold to pay compensation to sex abuse claimants.  The selling of this number of assets really puts paid to the Anglican Church in Tasmania being the dominant denomination.  From hereon it is just one of the many denominations within the State.

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Heritage Site vanalised twenty three years ago.

29/3//2018

Vandalism and desecration of heritage monuments, memorials and statues appears to the latest fashion of the screaming Left. The whole concept however is not original; it’s just been adopted from the United States and advocates are simply jumping on the bandwagon.  Commentators like Stan Grant aren’t very original in their thoughts. Simply put, he could see public mileage running with the issue, so away he went.  What he and his like-minded comrades espouse is just a copy-cat action of their colleagues in the USA.

Sadly in Tasmania heritage monument vandalism began twenty three years ago since 1995. The Tasmanian Government either Liberal or Labor appear unwilling or simply are not interested in tackling the situation. They are, in my opinion, either politically attuned to what has gone on or are - as in the words of a headmaster of mine many years ago - “spineless jellyfish”.

To highlight my point we have to go back in history to fully understand what is meant.

In September 1803 a twenty three old man, Lieutenant John Bowen Royal Navy with 48 other souls, made up of administrators, military personnel, free settlers and convicts landed at a spot called Risdon Cove on the River Derwent four miles north of modern Hobart city. Bowen and his settlers laid the foundations of Tasmania, it being the first British settlement in the State.  For many years until 1995 it was an historic park where all could visit and enjoy themselves perhaps with a barbecue.

The settlement at Risdon Cove was not a success for various reasons.  Bowen, however, was not at fault.  He settled at the spot on the orders of Governor Gidley Philip King who was in turn advised by George Bass who was impressed by the description given by another explorer, Captain John Hayes.

As a consequent, with further orders from Governor King, Lt-Colonel David Collins Royal Marines arrived with more settlers in February 1804 and abandoned the Risdon Cove settlement in favour of Sullivans Cove, now the site of Hobart city.  Bowen returned to Sydney and subsequently to England.

The original historic site at Risdon was farmed for a hundred years and in February 1904 it was made into a public area being called Bowen Park for the next 90 odd years. A wonderful monument was unveiled by the Governor and Premier in memory of Bowen and the early settlers. The park - although not all times very successfully - was owned by the Tasmanian State Government and managed by what was then known as the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Then in December 1995 all that changed.  The Liberal Government under Premier Ray Groom gave this most significant historic site in Tasmania and certainly one of the most significant in Australia, over to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Land Council (TALC) headed by radical aboriginal activist, Michael Mansell.  It was one of 12 sites handed to the TALC with very favourable conditions. For instance the TALC does not pay any land rates to the local Clarence Council, unlike house holders and other land owners.

On the very date of hand over, the Bowen Monument was vandalised because it was a symbol of ‘”invasion”.  The most shameful aspect of it all was that all Tasmanian Parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament were there at the time celebrating the hand over.  All must have seen the desecration of the monument, but NOT ONE made a complaint.  It was only when a nearby resident alerted me that it publicly became aware.  No-one, however, was held responsible; there was no inquiry nor were there any concern expressed by our community and heritage leaders.

The once public park is now owned by the TALC and no one goes there, except members of the very well publicly funded TALC and the TAC (Tasmanian Aboriginal Council). The whole historic settlement has been neglected and is now in complete disrepair, this the most historic site in Tasmania. Fortunately we do have a record of the archaeological digs at Risdon Cove Historic site which was undertaken in 1978-1980 published in a rather large report, which is now as rare as hen’s teeth.

In 2003 at the 200th anniversary of Bowen’s landing the Tasmanian Government, under ex BLF Union man, Labor Premier Jim Bacon ignored completely that the historic event as though it never happened. . Even the sailing of a replica of one of the first vessels at Risdon Cove, “The Lady Nelson” was ordered not to sail near the area as it might ‘offend’ members of the TAC. Except for a private function, which I arranged, there was no heralding the first settlement nor any recognition of the 1803 settlement, which now is termed the site of the “European invasion”  This is being rigorously and vigorously taught in Tasmanian schools including private under the anti British and racist curriculum called Gumnuts. This programme is where aboriginal activists are brought in from outside the education system lampoon our culture.  All this under the eye of Liberal Education Minister, Jeremy Rockliff.

Over the years the Bowen monument has been repeatedly vandalised and this most important historic memorial is now in a dreadful state. Despite calls for its repair the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian Heritage Commission does nothing.  After all, we must not offend the tiny minority.

 The whole situation deteriorated when the then Secretary of the Department of Tourism, Parks and Heritage Mr Scott Gadd ordered his man, Mr Vin Gerasimenok to declare (and to quote from the letter held in my files) “Risdon Cove is no longer an Historic Site”. This is madness. All road signs indicating where the Bowen Memorial was located were removed.

Unfortunately the vandalism towards our historic site continues. It began twenty two years ago in Tasmania with the seemingly consent of the Tasmanian Government, be they Liberal or Labor.

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The demise of the leadership of men

29/3//2018

With the revelation that after the 2018 Tasmanian election results more women than men make up the majority of parliamentarians, poses a question.  Where is the leadership of men?  Or is it now just a case of the continuing demise of men’s leadership?

It is just not in politics women now dominate, but major roles in sport administration (even men’s football), entertainment, business, public service, police, transport, defence, emergency services, banking, education, etc., etc., women taking over from men.  This may seem marvellous, but where do men go?  Clearly they are taking secondary roles with females now graduating more than males from universities and colleges particularly in such courses as medical and legal.  So are they proving to be more talented and of greater i.q.?  The feminists would have us think so, but let’s look at the real reasons.

The women’s movement has a political agenda and over the past number of decades have not only had laws promoted in their favour, but have had quota systems applied, affirmative action, massive promotion in the media and the entertainment industry, preferential emphasis in educational curriculum, and massive and massive of public money spent in their favour.  Whole Government departments, both state and federal have been constructed for the promotion on the ‘status of women’ where only women are allowed to apply.

The result is enviable; men are taking second best, pushed out by a political correct agenda with many conservative women taking advantage of its unfair bias, probably not being really aware of this globalist’s agenda.

Boys in schools are suffering from female teaching bias and are being treated as oppressive of the female and potential wife beaters. If boys endeavour to be ‘boys’ then immediately (usually be a female administrative staff) there is intervention.  Boys do not know how to be boys…there is confusion.  Men are unsure of their roles. The effect upon the family is enormous.

Men are natural to leadership roles.  How often women are portrayed even in dangerous and war-like environment as leaders, leading the men on a mission or out of trouble? All this is of course is utter rubbish, but to the growing mind of the juvenile it looks as though it is reality. Even in the scouting movement and boy’s early sport, the role of coaching is now taken over in many incidences by female leadership. In advertising of course, the man is portrayed as a fool with the woman, as the superior wise one making the sensible decisions.

Men not fulfilling their roles of leadership, of protector and of family provider are producing males of a snowflake generation who are prepared to sit back and take second best resorting to drinking and sport.

What can be done about it?  Well certainly we cannot expect our spineless jelly fish parliamentarians to do anything about it; after all they are a product of mass political party thinking and survive in their roles by not thinking for themselves.

It comes back to the people.  Parents must respect and the honour the roles nature has deemed the male to follow and allow their male family member to not only fulfil his role but to promote and honour it. A strong father figure must influence this and direct the young mind on to the right course, but the mature male figure within the family must first of all assume his responsibility as the head of the family.

The problem is of course; while our society is being feminised most of the real world is not.  The growing continent of Asia is still masculine and does look upon the West and rightly so, as decadent and rotting. We will be taken advantage of.  The Muslim religion is a masculine religion thereby attracting males, while the Christian religion is looked upon as feminine with males leaving the traditional religion in droves while most of those who remain are over whelmingly female. Now many pastors, priests and even bishops are female usually espousing liberation, socialist theology.

The call of “equality” is the latest mantra.  Equal before the law yes, but we are not equal as individuals…we are incredibly different to each other.  There is no such thing as a level playing field.  And so it is with the sexes….we are different and what is wrong with that?  We complement each other.  We have different roles to play.

We are in crisis mode and we are seeing society escalating with a myriad of social problems, yet we have no solution, only to promote the same insane policies.  Men not welcomed here! It is all quite unnatural.

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Australia Day...Why January 26th?

15/3//2018

I would like to answer the question why January 26th?

Many people may think that January 26th was the exact day the British arrived in New South Wales for the first time. Well, actually the British arrived at Botany Bay on the 18th January, after the eleven vessels sailed from England, 13th May 1787.  We can only imagine the difficulties and challenges which faced all on that eight month voyage and admire the fortitude and endurance of our early settlers.

Upon arrival at Botany Bay, Governor Arthur Phillip was disappointed in what he saw. He had been instructed to go there on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks of the Royal Society, when he had accompanied Captain James Cook to the area. Convinced that Botany Bay was unsuitable, after the rest of the fleet arrived, Phillip set off to explore together with David Collins, who was to play a major role in Tasmania’s history and John Hunter, later to take over from Phillip as Governor, a spot just north of Botany Bay. There he discovered Port Jackson which he described: “the finest harbour in the world in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security.”

Well satisfied with the choice he immediately returned to Botany Bay and transferred all to the new site. At sundown on January 26th, 1788 a simple ceremony took place at Sydney Cove.  The English flag was raised, toasts were drunk and volleys were fired.  The other ships came in soon afterwards and next morning the transfer began of men and tents, equipment and stores.

Thus was the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia.  From this settlement of New South Wales, came firstly the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (1803) then all the others.  As time progressed they became fully separated colonies from New South Wales, Tasmania in 1825, South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1850, and Queensland in 1859. The colony of Western Australia – independent from New South Wales - was formed in 1829. From the 1880s there was a concerted effort to bring all the colonies into one new nation and on the 1st January 1901, the colonies became States of the new nation of Australia.

So why not the 1st January 1901 for Australia Day?  It is not unusual for a State or nation to celebrate its birthday on the date of settlement, so January 26th is apt indeed and from those very humble and harsh beginnings came Australia!

So how long has January 26th been celebrated as our birthday?

By 1808, January 26 was being celebrated as “First Landing Day” or “Foundation Day” with drinking and merriment. Thirty years after the arrival of the First Fleet, in 1818, the Governor of Australia, Lachlan Macquarie, ordered a 30-gun salute, hosted a dinner ball at Government House and gave government employees a holiday. In the following years, employees of banks and other organizations were also given holidays. In the following decades, horse racing and regattas were popular activities on January 26.

In 1838, Foundation Day was Australia's first public holiday. It was also the occasion of the first public celebrations of the founding of Australia. The shores of Sydney Harbour were crowded and there was a firework display. By 1888, January 26 had become known as 'Anniversary Day' and was celebrated in all colonies except Adelaide. In 1888, the centenary of the arrival of the First Fleet was celebrated with ceremonies, exhibitions, banquets, regattas, fireworks and the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria.

By 1935, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states except New South Wales, where it was still called Anniversary Day. In 1938, large scale celebrations were held. These included a re-enactment of the landing of the First Fleet.

From 1946, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states. However, the public holiday was moved to the Monday nearest to January 26 to create a long weekend.  Since 1994, the Australia Day public holiday has been on January 26 in all states and territories.

We should be proud of the accomplishments of our people and of the nation.  This why we celebrate our nation’s birthday on January 26th....

 

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