Iso­lated par­adise


Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - REG. A. WAT­SON

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.

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