Jack Thwaites


The tradition Jack Thwaites inherited camping in the bush (AOT, PH30/1/6044)

Jack Barrass Thwaites OAM (190286), tall, personable and self-effacing bushman, was born at Kendal in Britain's Lake District, and emigrated to Hobart with his family at the age of eleven. An energetic co-founder of the Hobart Walking Club, his sound administrative skills and passion for the outdoors equipped him well for what would become a lifelong pursuit. For three decades Thwaites pioneered bushwalking and mountaineering journeys into remote regions such as the Central Highlands, Frenchmans Cap and south-west Tasmania. From 1948 he made a number of memorable trips to Federation Peak, though final success eluded him until 1977 when he climbed to the summit at the age of 75. Thwaites Plateau in that region is named after him. He was also a foundation member of the Ski Club of Tasmania.

Thwaites developed a keen interest in the history of all the areas he visited and was responsible for naming many features. A prolific writer on all things Tasmanian, Thwaites was also an excellent photographer and a skilled raconteur. 'Gentleman Jack's' billy tea and campfire yarns were legendary. Thwaites's wider community service included tireless work with the National Fitness Council and Youth Hostels Association of Tasmania, and for many years he served on National Parks Boards. He presented papers to the Tasmanian Historical Research Association and the Royal Society of Tasmania and gave valuable service to many other bodies. In employment, Thwaites worked in the Government Printing Office and the Lands and Surveys Department, retiring as Superintendent of Scenic Reserves.

Further reading: Tasmanian Tramp 23, 26.

Simon Kleinig