FOOTPRINT OF CONSEQUENCE: THE MEMORIES OF A YOUNG ENGLISHWOMAN AT CAPE GRIM, TASMANIA By Brigit Fleming Smith ( Forty South Publishing, RRP $ 24.95)
FOOTPRINT of Consequence is an interesting and very personal account of a woman who lived on the extreme North- West Coast of Tasmania.
Author Brigit Fleming Smith, together with her husband of the time, Blyth, farmed the Chartered Landed Company of Van Diemen’s Land at Woolnorth, Cape Grim. Blyth had enough shares in the old company to give him overall control in farming the 60,000 acre property.
The years are primarily set between 1966- 1968, when the time was spent on the amazing property. There were many adventures and anecdotes. In many ways, it is a very revealing read.
Brigit arrived in Australia with her twin sister, Jane, in 1946 from England and spent some time exploring Australia, including its Outback.
In August 1966, she married her husband at 21 and confessed, “the Van Diemen’s Land Company meant very little to me”.
The history of the company is more than fascinating. It goes back to 1825. Brigit devotes much of chapter four to its history which deals with the well- known Highfield House above Stanley which was the home of the then agent, Edward Curr, and designed by Henry Hellyer.
It was hard, pioneering work. Fortunately, Blyth had a pilot’s licence and flew their Cessna frequently, not only to Burnie, but to Victoria to visit his parents ( Brigit’s were still in England) and to undertake business.
When crossing Bass Strait they were to have more than one anxious moment for their safety but flying also “was a magical experience”.
In time, Brigit fell in love with this wild paradise. However, all was not all well within the marriage, something of which she describes as a “lottery”.
Blyth did not want to have children until after two years of marriage and quite revealingly within that two years she became pregnant twice, on both occasions terminating the pregnancy.
There were good times, however, visiting England, South America and mainland Australia. The author talks of her good relationship with the Allison family, another English couple who had taken to farming on nearby Hunter Island.
There were other friends and farm workers who helped enjoy her time, not to mention her horses. She even had her own Tasmanian tiger sighting.
It was whilst she was visiting her parents in England that a letter was received from Blyth saying he wanted an end to the marriage. “I didn’t want to believe it,” she states and adds later that she was “naive”. Her marriage was over as was her time at Woolnorth.
If you are looking for a personal read on an unusual episode in Tasmania’s history, then seek out Footprint of Consequence.