Make this a first port of call
THE READ SHIPS OF HOBART HARBOUR By Rex Cox and G. W. Cox ( Published by Ron Withington)
TO see the Derwent estuary crowded with craft of all types and dimensions on a summer Sunday would leave observers in no doubt that the sea is an integral part of Tasmania’s unique island culture.
Ships have irrevocably shaped our history, pervaded our lifestyle, diminished our remoteness and are critical to the operation of most of our major industries.
The symbolism of freedom, adventure and courage associated with ships, filters through the island and more widely into its community.
Famous yacht races are hosted here and attract worldwide attention.
Locally, it is no coincidence that schools, associations and sporting teams proudly choose ships to feature on their logos.
We should not be surprised that the energy and commitment of Tasmania’s Cox family to the completion of this monumental work has endured for most of their lifetimes and in gestation has succeeded handsomely.
The pride and passion invested in this work is palpable.
Because of its capacious deep- water harbour, geographical location, excellent facilities and proximity to the city centre, thousands of ships have made Hobart a preferred port of call over the centuries.
Chapters such as “Liners and cruise ships”, “Ships of War”, “London Traders” and “Royal Yachts” describe these types of visiting ships in great detail.
Similarly, ships directly linked to our industries received lengthy attention, such as those concerned with the Zinc works, Jones and Co, the Boyer paper mill, the Electrona carbide works and Cadbury’s chocolate factory. Some of these links have now been severed. Technology has changed the operational nature of others, however, and some have survived and thrived.
Notable among these are the ships servicing our connection with the Antarctic.
The impressive sailing ships of the early Antarctic expeditioners such as Dumont d’Urville, James Ross, Douglas Mawson, Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen have brought worldwide attention to Tasmania and in particular, the port of Hobart.
Among the abundant photographs, these will create special interest.
More recently, the Antarctic ships with an association with Hobart are the four heroic “Dans”. The Kista, the Magga, the Thala and the ill- fated Nella Dan collectively provided a lifeline service to the Australian bases in Antarctica through some of the wildest waters imaginable for more than half a century.
They are given appropriate prominence here.
As the authors predicted, there is a bright future for shipping services that ply the great Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters.
Of special interest are the chapters that have observed the great transitions in sea transportation such as “The Sunset of sail”, “Cargo ships of the seven seas” and “The container revolution”. The latter in particular has changed the configuration of ship design, navigation and the scale and nature of port facilities.
However, relatively new sea creatures have emerged. They are the magnificent monster cruise ships frequently making Hobart a port of call and providing a pleasant visage for the harbour front as well as a boost for the local economy.
This is a beautifully produced book, however, the voluminous amount of detail provided is overwhelming and would make sustained reading a daunting task.
It is primarily suited to those seeking more precise information or merely casual browsing for enthusiasts.
Whatever your interest, this is certainly an important book that makes a vital contribution to collections on Hobart’s maritime history.