Make this a first port of call

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - WAR­REN BREWER

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.

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