Surrey Hills

A lost opportunity or a wise decision – the plans for a smelter on Surrey (or Hampshire) Hills

After European settlement, Surrey and Hampshire Hills were utilised for grazing and farming under the ownership of the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co.). The only significant industrial development on those estates was the construction of the Emu Bay Railway. After ownership changed hands to companies associated with Associated Pulp and Paper Mills (APPM), the focus turned to forestry and major infrastructure works, including the construction of roads and the harvesting of timber.… Read more

The unsung and all-but-forgotten exploits of stockman Donald Campbell Atkinson

Donald Campbell Atkinson was a brilliant and expert horseman who learnt his craft on Surrey Hills during the twentieth century while grazing 2,000 head of cattle. Fortunately, his son, Lindsay, wrote a couple of unpublished memoirs which beautifully capture some of Donald’s accomplishments and amazing adventures. The first, written in 1994, was titled “A few notes about my father’s family”.… Read more

Picking the eyes out of Surrey Hills

This blog has involved many hours researching historical deeds and has taken a long time to put together. It has been challenging to access information while travelling full-time, well away from Tasmania.

I have called upon others to assist me in completing this story. Thank you to Brian Rollins for his patience and kindly sharing information on how to work through the historical Tasmanian title index cards and historical deeds, all found online.… Read more

Lines in the sand

I recall reading an article by demographer Bernard Salt a few years ago about Australia being a continent divided by borders, lines, fences and boundaries. As I travelled around Australia I am reminded of his reference to ‘lines and boundaries’. Being a demographer, Salt referred to imaginary concepts based on social or physical elements, such as Sydney’s ‘Latte’ line, the ‘Barassi’ line, and Tasmania’s ‘Beer’ line.… Read more

Unique partnerships for conservation

I invited Phil Collier to share a story about his experiences with Surrey Hills. My involvement with Phil started when my colleague, James Dick, first told me about a plan to have volunteers do conservation work on Surrey Hills. I was immediately cautious and a little wary. But, as Phil points out below, so were the volunteers! … Read more

Sod seeding on Surrey Hills in 1960

Bob Hardy was born and grew up in Burnie. His mother, a Jones, came from a mixed farm at Cuprona, with her Jones line going back to Britton Jones, the ex-convict who built Franklin House. As a twenty-year-old graduate from Hawkesbury Agricultural College, Bob first started working on Surrey Hills in 1960.… Read more

Heading for “The Gates”: memories of the old Hampshire gatehouse

I didn’t provide any coverage of the gatekeepers in the book “Fires, Farms and Forests”, as I had limited information at the time. And yet, you couldn’t tell a story about Surrey Hills and AFH without mentioning the gatekeepers. 

Back in the 1950s, the Ridgley Highway didn’t exist. You could only get to Waratah via the Murchison Highway through the Hellyer Gorge and then onto Guildford Junction.… Read more

Memorable faunal encounters in the forest

Foresters who have spent most of the working career in the bush will have numerous stories about encounters with our native fauna. The most dramatic and scary usually involve snakes. Despite spending a lot of time walking in the bush, I still have a fear of snakes. If I see one early in the morning, I can be edgy for the rest of the day, particularly if it is a close encounter.… Read more

The radio electronics maestro

This is a story about a quietly spoken Dutchman who had responsibility for setting up and maintaining a radio communication system in the early days of AFH when access to Surrey Hills was much more limited than today.

The radio system was the only form of communication between the administrative office in Burnie and the workers in Surrey Hills.… Read more

The life of a young timber cutter on Surrey Hills

In this month’s blog, Noel Mather revisits his younger years working as a tree faller on Surrey Hills. Noel virtually grew up with an axe in his hand. He commenced work on Surrey Hills in 1955 when systematic logging first started under APPM stewardship. He got to work in the pick of the timber stands.… Read more