Take a walk on the wild side

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - Bill Roe

NOT only does Simon Kleinig cap­ture the re­cent Euro­pean his­tory of French­mans Cap, and its sur­round­ing wilder­ness, but also the an­cient his­tory of the area and its im­por­tance to the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple who passed through the land.

For any­one with an in­ter­est in Tas­ma­nia’s his­tory or wild places, this book weaves a de­tailed, chrono­log­i­cal ac­count trac­ing many of the sig­nif­i­cant ( recorded) for­ays, in this re­gion.

The ma­jor­ity of the book traces the Euro­pean his­tory of ex­plo­ration into the wilder­ness sur­round­ing French­mans Cap.

Fo­cus­ing on the pur­suit by a suc­ces­sion of ex­plor­ers and ad­ven­tur­ers to dis­cover some­thing that would bring them wealth.

This de­sire to ‘‘ strike it rich’’ is the mo­ti­va­tion that fu­elled con­tin­ued ex­plo­ration of the re­gion, de­spite many re­ports mak­ing it clear that farm­ing or min­eral as­sets did not ex­ist in the area.

The au­thor’s pas­sion for French­mans is pal­pa­ble.

Through­out the book there are chap­ters re­count­ing the bat­tles to save and pro­tect this piece of wilder­ness.

Kleinig re­counts the flood­ing of Lake Ped­der and his de­spair at its even­tual loss and the fight to save the Franklin River and his eu­pho­ria when it is saved.

It also cel­e­brates the some­times ec­cen­tric characters who have ven­tured into Tas­ma­nia over the past 200 years.

On many oc­ca­sions th­ese ad­ven­tur­ers put them­selves in dif­fi­cult and life- threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions just to be able to say ‘‘ I’ve done that’’.

For any­one who has made the trip into French­mans Cap, or has viewed the white quartzite peak as they drive the Lyell High­way to Queen­stown, and won­dered about the land sur­round­ing one of Tas­ma­nia’s most im­pres­sive moun­tains, Kleinig’s book pro­vides rich and vivid de­tails of the val­leys, plains and rivers that lie in the shad­ows of French­mans Cap.

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