Tasmania's journal of discovery

The Founding of Hobart

The Founding of Hobart 1803-1804
By Frank Bolt
Published by Peregrine
ISBN 0 975 71660 3

If, like me, you were informed, sometimes entertained and occasionally surprised by Frank Bolt’s diary of the foundation of Hobart which appeared in The Mercury from September 2003 to August 2004, you probably wish you were one of those assiduous souls with an old-fashioned scrapbook habit.

I did indeed clip a few of the earlier entries, but when I came across them during a library clean-up they were dog-eared and already yellowing; newsprint ages just as quickly as it ever did.

But all that diligent work with scissors and Clag (remember Clag?) wasn’t necessary: Frank Bolt has now gathered the entire series into a substantial book.

An established author with some half-dozen works to his credit, Bolt used a wide range of primary and near-primary sources to compile a day-by-day account of the haphazard and often precarious progress of the infant colony.

Constraints on space in the newspaper made his account necessarily terse in places, and he has expanded it in this book with sketches of the most important personalities and locations, linking the Hobart of today with the remaining vestiges of its foundation.

He adds a revealing map which overlays the modern waterfront over the original topography to show the astonishing changes which today conceal the colony’s original appearance.

Bolt’s plain but workmanlike style helps to build a narrative which many of Tasmania’s amateur historians could emulate to everyone’s advantage, and the book will be both useful to the serious student and absorbing for the general reader.

Anyone interested in Tasmanian history should act quickly to secure a copy — it seems that only a limited number were printed. Fred Baker

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