Michael Sharland

Michael Sharland and friends campingat Lake Dobson, 1921 (AOT, PH30/1/1052I)

Michael Stanley Reid Sharland (18991987), journalist, ornithologist, historian and author, was born in Bellerive. He was educated in Campbell Town and Hobart where, at age seventeen, he became a copyholder at the Mercury. This association continued for more than sixty years, although his career in journalism also took him to Sydney (Sydney Morning Herald), Melbourne (Argus) and briefly London (Reuters).

This energetic man was a leader among Tasmanian field naturalists as well as true conservationists. He was instrumental in maintaining Port Arthur as a historic site and in setting up Entally House, wrote eleven books and contributed articles to many magazines. He served as Superintendent of Scenic Reserves (194761), on the Animals and Birds Protection Board and as Honorary Ornithologist to the Tasmanian Museum. In addition, he was an exceptional photographer, winning two international awards for his bird photographs, and during the Second World War he served as official photographer for the Australian Paratroop Battalion on secondment from the RAAF.

Among Sharland's books were: about nature, Tasmanian Birds (1945, 1958, 198), Tasmanian Wildlife (1961), A Territory of Birds (1964); and about history and archaeology, Stones of a Century (1952) and Oddity & Elegance (1966). However, it is as a writer of nature notes for the Mercury as 'Peregrine' that two generations of Tasmanians best remember him. These simply written weekly articles on his observations of fauna and flora always caught one's interest and the expression never failed to charm.

Further reading: L Wall, obituary, The Tasmanian naturalist 91, 1987; Mercury, 14 February 1987, 19 February 1987, 28 February 1987; Who's who in Australia, 1968; D Young, Making crime pay, Hobart, 1996.

Jeff Ransley