Tasmania's journal of discovery

Half century for Beatle killers


Bands come and bands go — and a few keep on keeping on. The Kravats have been entertaining Tasmanians for 50 years, a longer career than the grandads of rock, the Rolling Stones. In the early days they supported legendary Australian and international stars in Hobart, including Col Joye, Conway Twitty, Lloyd Price and Johnny O’Keefe.

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Letter from Scamander


Bob and Virginia Dickason, readers and friends who run a small store and the post office in the fire-ravaged community at Scamander finally managed to get online last night:

We’re fine. The power and the mobile phone and radio and TV relay was up on a hill where the fire started and has been off since Monday, about 5pm, until this afternoon so life has been somewhat different, and, as one of the locals said “We’ll all smell the same!”

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Rivers of fire


RIVERS OF FIRE | Hobart photographer Ian Stewart captured an amazing panoramic photograph of the fires that ravaged the Eastern Shore this week. The image above is just a small portion of the whole scene. Click here to see the full panorama. Ian has a gallery of his creative images on his web site.

Cornerstone of history

By PATSY HOLLIS | Slicing like an arrowhead where Forest Road splits left from Goulburn Street in West Hobart, Pendragon Hall is outwardly a church, with mind-blowing leaded windows, a steeple and tall lancet-shaped heavy wooden doors. Inside it has been adapted for private living, though still retaining charming ecclesiastical detail. This 150-year-old landmark is now on the market again. Read more here …

Revolving sheep success

revolving sheep bank

Tasmania’s only homegrown international charity has succeeded with an experimental project to help poverty-stricken nomads in Tibet.

The Benevolent Organisation for Development, Health & Insight (BODHI) launched the Revolving Sheep Bank, a 5-year micro-credit project, in 2000 with the purchase of ewes and nanny goats from wealthier nomads to lend to poor nomad households in the community. 

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Dances with dogs


On the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June one of Australia’s top stockwomen and Kelpie breeders, Nancy Withers, held up her bidders’ card until the selling price of a Kelpie reached a world-record, crowd-gasping price of $5,400 at the Casterton Dog Auction in Victoria. Get the inside story from bestselling Tasmanian author Rachael Treasure, who happens to own the expensive Kelpie’s sister.



Only in Tasmania. Regular contributor Maria Fletcher sent us her delightful photograph of ‘Strawhenge’ taken recently along the Midlands Highway. Who needs crop circles?

Leatherwood Online welcomes readers’ photographs of Tasmanian subjects. Email them to us at .

The Mary Phenomenon


By Lia Vaughn | A strange thing happened when Tasmanian-born and bred Mary Donaldson met her prince in a Sydney pub and, after a courtship of three years, married him with pomp and ceremony to become the Crown Princess of Denmark.

Most of us think she’s doing a cracker job under difficult conditions. Sure, the conditions include several castles, a fleet of cars, knockout jewellery and fab outfits that make grown women weak at the knees from sheer envy.

The downside is she no longer has freedom to do, and certainly not say, what she likes and to have her every public utterance and gesture dissected by the media.

In addition, for all that the well-loved Danish monarchy is one of the more relaxed in the world, and the amiable Frederik, heir to the throne, is known for his informal manners and ability to knock back a beer, his marriage to Taroona Mary has thrust her into a world that could also be called a nightmare.

Crowds that just might be cover for a gunman, security men at every turn, and the threat of terrorists, make those public meet-and-greets daunting. Our Mary has coped with this admirably.  

The strange thing is the polarisation of Australians over the Mary phenomenon. While she is admired by the majority of her homegrown audience for her charm and poise, some people go positively apoplectic if her name is mentioned.

But mentioned it is, whether one likes it or not. The facts: the Mary Donaldson that was is today a princess, should all things being equal will become a queen, and has already produced an heir as is required by successful female royal consorts.

Which also makes her prime material for a book. Two such have just been released.

Read the reviews on Tasmanian Times and in Creative Tasmania

History in the making


When Professor Wong Shiu Hon and his wife Nancy made a second donation of Chinese antiquities to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery they gave us more than art. Beautiful though they are in themselves, these objects have an even greater significance. More here

Giant squid captured — on film


Giant squid, like something straight out of Jules Verne’s novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, have been washed ashore on Tasmania’s coast many times. In fact, Tasmania is something of a hot spot for giant squid, according to David Pemberton, senior curator of zoology at The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

But to date, all the specimens seen here in Tasmania, in New Zealand and a few other places around the world, have been dead.

Until now. The giant squid above was captured on film by Japanese scientists. The carcass below was found on a Tasmanian beach.


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Southern Aurora alert


The giant sunspots that brought on the dramatic Southern Aurora displays a few weeks ago are back and look like entertaining Tasmanians again. According to Shevill Mathers, our resident planetary expert, “the giant sunspots that caused the wonderful ‘light show’ a couple of weeks ago, have survived their journey around the sun and are now facing earth again. The spot group will soon vanish around the western limb of the sun’s disc, and it is near the same position when it caused the last brilliant aurora. Read more here

Celestial alignment


By SHEVILL MATHERS | There has been a lot of interest from the general community about the bright objects low in the western evening sky. These close gatherings of celestial objects in the night sky are not common sights and to have two clear nights in succession to record their changing positions is a real treat. The photograph above was taken about 6.30pm on September 6.

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A special night


By SHEVILL MATHERS | Our nearest star, the Sun, from a distance of 150,000,000 kilometres, provides us with light and warmth and from time to time a magnificent nighttime ‘laser light’ show. Well, not quite a laser light show, but something on a much grander scale. The Southern Aurora, Southern Lights or Aurora Australis are term used to describe the displays we see in out southern skies when the sun has had a particularly bad day! 

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Tribute to a Tasmanian Tiger

imageMargaret Scott, literary icon of Tasmania, human rights activist, ABC television panellist with gently understated but devastating humour, died at the age of 71 on Monday, August 29.

Born in Bristol, England in 1934, she emigrated to Tasmania in 1959 and subsequently took up the position of head of the University of Tasmania’s English Department.

She retired in 1987 to pursue her writing of novels, magazine articles and, most notably, poetry.

Margaret Scott was particularly asscociated with the Port Arthur community and the arts community.

We will miss her.

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Living by the sword

It would be difficult to imagine a more unlikely occupation at the beginning of the 21st century than professional swordsman, but Tasmanian Stephen Hand has made a sucessful career as a internationally recognised teacher, scholar, author, fight choreographer and practitioner of Medieval and Elizabethan sword fighting.

Get dressed for battle here

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The magnificent convict-built country manor, Stanton, was built in 1817, and is situated on one of Tasmania's first land grant sites — 16 acres of pasture and orchards at Magra, in the heart of the historical and beautiful Derwent Valley.

Red Tag Trout Tours
Roger Butler leads this one-man Tasmanian guiding operation which caters to flyfishers, from all over the world, who share a common goal: getting a wild brown trout to hand.

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