Frederick Smithies

Bushwalking in the Cradle MountainLake St Clair National Park (Tasmaniana Libary, SLT)

Frederick Smithies OBE (1885–1979), adventurous bushwalker and skier, a fearless climber and fine amateur photographer, whose passion for the bush was also expressed through administration. He was one of several prominent, middle-class Launcestonians whom the internal combustion engine introduced to the bush by 1920. Born in Ulverstone, Smithies possessed extraordinary energy and public spirit. He campaigned to popularise and preserve the Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair highlands, and as Scenery Preservation Board chairman for thirty years fostered Tasmania's national parks. His black-and-white images of Cradle Mountain, including those of his 1936 Skyline climb, are among the most striking of Tasmanian 'wilderness'. Smithies' community leadership, and his efforts as a conservationist and tourism promoter, were recognised in 1946 by his receipt of an OBE.

Further reading: J Branagan, A great Tasmanian, Launceston, 1984.

Nic Haygarth