Colonialism and its Aftermath

Heritage Tasmania

The Social Value of Historic Heritage

Tasmania's historic heritage places are a very notable and striking feature of the state's landscape and many of its distinct local communities.  Heritage is said to be important for social, economic and environmental reasons, but its social value and importance to the Tasmanian community is not well understood nor is it clearly articulated. A private owner's pride in their heritage business premises, home or garden is understandable, but how well does this pride collectively translate into a broader social good? Some suggest that heritage can help to ground or connect people to a community, and give a strong sense of place and identity. Noble concepts, but what do these concepts mean in reality, and can we define the social value of our heritage?

This project aims to better understand the social meaning and importance of historic heritage for individual heritage owners and for the wider community, as a means of better understanding the importance of our heritage places to Tasmania, Tasmanians and visitors.  It is proposed that the project should focus on a defined geographical area, such as suburban New Town which is one of the earliest areas settled in Tasmania that retains a notable collection of early homes or an historic town in southern Tasmania that has a notable collection of heritage places.

Tasmanian Probation Stations

Within the convict transportation system in Australia, the probation system is a theme unique to Tasmania, and one which is considered so important that it is specifically represented in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage nomination. There are only 83 known sites related to the probation system and of these only 56 are known to have any surviving physical remains. There were three basic types of probation station: the fixed plan, contiguous quadrangles or separate structures. In addition the system included various types of outstations and other associated sites. Heritage Tasmania’s files includes a range of primary and secondary sources relevant to the probation system, including archaeological excavation reports and archaeological assessments undertaken to satisfy Heritage Council conditions of approval of works applications, surveys of extant probation system sites and entries/nominations for individual probation system sites in the Heritage Register.

The project would be expected to utilise these sources, combined with historical sources and possibly with original fieldwork where landowners are supportive. The Tasmanian probation system is a hugely under-studied topic and there are a number of possible topics which may have an archaeological or historical emphasis. Indicative projects include: a comparative study of one of the three principal probation station types, a site specific study of one or more individual sites involving field recording and historical research, a study of the differences in the functioning of probation stations with different layouts.

Bay Whaling Stations

The early 19th century bay whaling industry is one of the major research themes in contemporary Tasmanian archaeology, with two major publications in the last five years. After the lifting of tariff restrictions in 1823, the bay-whaling industry became prominent, with oil and whalebone the second largest export item after wool in the mid-late1830s and the whaling industry a significant source of employment for free men.

Most Tasmanian bay whaling stations were established from the 1820s onwards and had ceased operating by 1850 with the collapse of the whale fishery. In addition to their unique infrastructure and equipment bay-whaling stations are also exemplar sites of a pioneer and multi-racial frontier society, often associated with related farming enterprises and remote police stations. There are 59 known bay-whaling stations in Tasmania, identified from documentary and/or field-work sources, 46 of which have surviving physical remains. In addition to the published sources (Nash 2003, Lawrence 2006) Heritage Tasmania has survey information, site records in the Tasmanian Historic Places Index and Heritage Register entries.

The project would utilise these sources, possibly combined with original fieldwork where landowners are supportive. A number of possible projects exist, including for example: a comparative study of the suite of accessible whaling stations or a site specific study of one or more individual sites involving field recording and historical research; a historical study of an aspect the industry.

(Heritage) listing is not a dirty word

Tasmania has a strong sense of identity and a strong attachment to our past. As a society we no longer cringe at our convict beginnings, but rather celebrate the pioneers whose hardship exploited the island’s natural resources resulting in a combination of grand homesteads alongside remote and rugged huts and shacks.

Today the stories and remains of our colonial past are celebrated throughout the media. Protecting those values through national or world heritage listing is also celebrated in the media. However coverage surrounding the protection of those values through state heritage listing is significantly different – highlighted as a problem, an extra burden and at its worse “bureaucracy gone mad”. If our past is celebrated, why is state heritage listing considered a thorn?

This study will examine media coverage of general heritage-based stories and compare them with coverage surrounding key listings in the past year including the Main Street Penguin listing (Penguin), Cascades Female Factory (South Hobart) and Portside (Burnie) from clippings collected by Heritage Tasmania.

Shared heritage values

The Burra Charter states that the "conservation of a place should identify and take into consideration all aspects of culturalandnaturalsignificance without unwarranted emphasis on any one value at the expense of others".

In Tasmania, the pattern of exploration and colonisation has resulted in the interlinking of Indigenous and European values at a number of significant sites including Recherche Bay, Risdon Cove, Wybaleena and others.

These sites highlight the multiplicity of unresolved matters that impact on the effective management of sites with shared heritage values: between traditional owners and settlers; between collective belonging and individual control; between the tangible and the intangible. Heritage Tasmania's files on Recherche Bay and Risdon Cove include an extensive collection of documents that reflect differing opinions with regards shared heritage values at these places. It is expected that these files would be used alongside other historical documents and texts to explore the interrelationship of Indigenous and European values at these sites and outline options for the future interpretation and management of sites with shared values.