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Wrestler wrangled Tasmanian tigers: the fact or fiction of George Randall

In 1945 one-time wrestler George Randall (1884–1963) recalled catching fifteen thylacines in the space of a month within 25 miles (40 km) of Burnie. He didn’t smother them in a bear hug. Randall reminisced that, upon finding tiger scats, he would lay a scent for half a mile from that point to his snares. The cologne no tiger could resist was actually the smell of bacon rubbed onto the soles of his boots.[1]

Champion wrestler George Randall, from the Weekly Courier, 18 February 1909, p.18.
George Randall in the Mercury, 12 December 1945, p.3.

Fifteen tigers—a big boast indeed. I was suspicious of those numbers. Who was Randall, and if he was such an ace tiger killer why had he never claimed a government thylacine bounty? Government bounties of £1 for an adult tiger and 10 shillings for a juvenile were paid in the years 1888 to 1909, after all, plenty of time in which he could leave his mark. The production of a carcass at a police station was the basis for a bounty application.

Randall was born at Burnie to George Ely Randall (1857–1907) and Emily Randall, née Charles (1871–1938).[2] By 1891 his father George Randall senior was a ganger maintaining the Emu Bay Railway (EBR) at Ridgley, south of Burnie. There were some tigers about, and it didn’t take much effort to find some Randalls killing one. In May 1892 Tom Whitton, who was aware of tigers coming about the gangers’ camp at night, set some snares and caught a large male.  Two Randalls, George senior and his brother Charles, plus a fettler named Ted Powell, were at hand to help throttle the beast.

Wellington Times editor Harris added: ‘The tiger’s head was inspected by a large number of persons up to yesterday, many of whom remarked that they had never seen larger from a native animal; but yesterday the head had to be thrown away as it was manifesting signs of decay.’[3]

Thrown away?! So much for the £1 bounty. Perhaps the killers were too bloated on public admission fees to care about the bounty payment.

Another Randall killing came only two months later, when Powell and Charles Randall’s dogs flushed a tiger out of the bush at the 23-Mile on the EBR. Again the body was hauled into Burnie as a trophy.[4] Was a £1 government reward paid?

The government bounty records for the period May–July 1892 show the difficulty of reconciling newspaper reports with official records. There is no evidence of a bounty application having been made for the tiger killed on the EBR on 13 May 1892, but the one destroyed there in the week preceding 12 July 1892 is problematical. Was James Powell, who submitted a bounty application on 8 July, a relation of Ted Powell, the fettler involved in the two killings on the EBR? I could find no record of a James Powell working or residing in the Burnie area at that time, whereas two James Powells in pretty likely tiger-killing professions—manager of a highland grazing run, and bush farmer under the Great Western Tiers—were easily identified through digitised newspaper and genealogical records (see Table 1):

Table 1: Government thylacine bounty payments, May–July 1892, from Register of general accounts passed to the Treasury for payment, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

Name Identification Application date Number
G Atkinson Probably farmer George Elisha Atkinson of Rosevears, West Tamar 13 June 1892 2 adults[5]
A Berry Probably shepherd Alfred James Berry, Great Lake, Central Plateau 21 July 1892 1 adult[6]
John Cahill Farmer/prospector, Stonehurst, Buckland, east coast 8 July 1892 1 adult[7]
WF Calvert Wool-grower/orchardist William Frederick Crace Calvert, Gala, Cranbrook, east coast 21 July 1892 4 adults[8]
J Clifford Probably bush farmer/hunter Joseph Clifford of Ansons Marsh, north-east 12 May 1892 1 adult[9]
Harry Davis Mine manager, Ben Lomond, eastern interior 31 May 1892 2 adults & 1 juvenile[10]
CT Ford Mixed farmer Charles Tasman Ford, Stanley, north-west coast 21 July 1892 1 adult[11]
Thomas Freeman Shepherd at Benham, Avoca, northern Midlands 12 May 1892 1 adult[12]
E Hawkins Shepherd William Edward Hawkins, Cranbrook, east coast 9 July 1892 1 adult[13]
E Hawkins Shepherd William Edward Hawkins, Cranbrook, east coast 21 July 1892 1 adult[14]
Thomas Kaye Labourer at Deddington, northern Midlands 31 May 1892 1 adult[15]
John Marsh John Richard James Marsh of Dee Bridge, Derwent Valley 27 June 1892 1 adult & 1 juvenile[16]
W Moore junior Bush farmer William Moore junior, Sprent, north-western interior 13 June 1892 1 adult[17]
E Parker Probably grazier Erskine James Rainy Parker of Parknook south of Cressy, northern Midlands 27 June 1892 2 adults[18]
James Powell Probably manager, Nags Head Estate, Lake Sorell, Central Plateau, or bush farmer, Blackwood Creek, northern Midlands 8 July 1892 1 adult[19]
Charles Pyke Mail contractor, Spring Vale, Cranbrook, east coast 27 June 1892 1 adult[20]
A Stannard Probably shepherd Alfred Thomas David Stannard, native of Mint Moor, Dee, Derwent Valley but thought to have been in the northern Midlands at this time 21 July 1892 1 adult[21]
D Temple Shepherd David Temple senior, Rocky Marsh, Ouse, Derwent Valley 21 July 1892 1 adult[22]
R Thornbury Farmer Roger Ernest Thornbury, Bicheno, east coast 12 May 1892 1 adult[23]
H Towns Farmer Henry Towns, Auburn, near Oatlands, southern Midlands 20 June 1892 1 adult[24]

The two EBR slayings are not the only known tiger killings missing from the bounty payment record: two young men reportedly snared a live tiger near Waratah at the beginning of May 1892, but the detained animal accidentally hanged itself on its chain in a blacksmith’s shop; while on 22 July 1892 well-known prospector/sometime postman and seaman Axel Tengdahl shot a tiger that broke a springer snare on the Mount Housetop tinfield.[25] (Another July 1892 killing by ‘Bill the Sailor’ Casey at Boomers Bottom, Connorville, Great Western Tiers, was not rewarded until 5 August 1892, a lag of almost a month.[26]) The reasons for the Waratah and Housetop killings going unrewarded are not clear. While Tengdahl was in an inconvenient place to submit a tiger carcass to a police station, he was probably also snaring for cash as well as meat, so would have needed to leave the bush anyway in order to sell his skins to a registered buyer.

Anyway, back to Randall the tiger tamer. We know that young George Randall junior, eight years old in 1892, grew up with his elders hunting and chasing tigers. Then he went out on his own. He claimed that he trapped within a 40-km radius of Burnie for thirteen years, and that sometime during that period, in the space of a month, he killed fifteen tigers. It should be easy enough to figure out when this was. The ten-year-old would have been still living along the EBR with his family and presumably at school in 1894 when his mother was judged to be of unsound mind and committed to the New Norfolk Asylum.[27] In the years 1897–1901 (from the age of thirteen to seventeen) he was an apprentice blacksmith while living with his father at the 14-Mile (Oonah).[28] [29] He was still in the Burnie area in 1902 when he was cutting wood for James Smillie and driving a float for JW Smithies, but in 1903, as a nineteen-year-old, he was an insolvent fettler at Rouses Camp near Waratah.[30]

Emu Bay Railway south of Burnie, showing sites that George Randall may have hunted from. Base map courtesy of DPIPWE/

By 1907 Randall was a married man working at Dundas.[31] He did not return to the Burnie region after that, doing the rounds of Tasmania’s mining fields and rural districts for two decades with intermissions at Devonport, Hobart and Hokitika, the little mining port on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.[32] At Zeehan he was described as ‘the champion [wrestler] of Tasmania’, and he was noted not as a hunter but as a weightlifter and athlete.[33] More importantly, the blacksmith qualified as an engine driver and a winding engine driver, making him eminently employable in resource industries.[34] Randall finally settled at Hobart in 1929 at the age of 45.[35]

If we consider his Rouses Camp fettling a short aberration, the thirteen-year period in which Randall hunted around Burnie could have been approximately 1894 to 1906, that is, between the ages of ten and 22. The government bounty was available for the whole of this time, so why is there no record of George Randall’s prowess as a tiger tamer?

There are two possibilities. One is that Randall, a born showman, simply lied. The other possibility is that he killed or captured (he doesn’t say which) a lot of tigers but the evidence of same is hard to find.[36] There are few surviving records of the sale of live thylacines to zoos or animal dealers, or of bounty applications made through an intermediary like a hawker or shopkeeper. In some cases suspicion of acting as an intermediary even attaches to farmers—such as Charles Tasman (CT) Ford.

William Bennett (WB) Collins (standing at back) in a family photo. Courtesy of Judy Hick.

For a time I believed that Ford was a shopkeeper, because his large tally of bounty payments seemed to dovetail with that of Stanley shopkeeper William Bennett (WB) Collins. In the years 1891–99 Ford, a mixed farmer (sheep cattle, pigs, poultry, potatoes, corn, barley, oats) based at Forest near Stanley, claimed 25 bounties (23 adults and two juveniles),[37] placing him at number seven on the tiger killer top 40. He died in September 1899. Collins claimed bounties for 40 adults and four juveniles 1900–06,[38] possibly without ever seeing a live thylacine. Were they buying thylacine carcasses from the same source and collecting the bounties at the Stanley Police Station?

The biggest source of dead thylacines in the far north-west at this time was Woolnorth. Twenty-six adult tigers were taken at Woolnorth in the years 1891–99, and 43 adults in the years 1900–06, suggesting that Ford and Collins were go-betweens for Woolnorth carcasses.[39] Ford had grazing land at Marrawah and the South Downs, south of Woolnorth, and probably travelled via Woolnorth to get there. It would have been a simple thing for him on his way home to collect native animal skins and tiger carcasses/heads from the homestead at Woolnorth, presumably taking a commission for himself in his role as intermediary. After Ford shot himself in September 1899, Collins established an on-going relationship with Woolnorth, being paid for three bounties in February 1900 before his store even opened for business.

In later life Guildford’s Edward Brown assumed respectability as a breeder of race horses and hotelier. From the Examiner, 1 March 1932, p.6.

Randall may have been rewarded for fifteen thylacine carcasses through intermediaries such as shopkeepers, hawkers, skin buyers or some regular traveller to Burnie. Hunter/skin buyers such as Thomas Allen (15 adults and a juvenile, 1899–03)[40] and Edward Brown (7 adults, 1904–05)[41] operated in the Ridgley-Guildford area along the railway line, possibly accounting for some bounty payments for the likes of Randall, ‘Black Harry’ Williams, ‘Five-fingered Tom’ Jeffries and Bill Todd.

However, it does seem extraordinary that fifteen tiger captures or kills within the space of a month escaped public attention. We can assume that Randall never anticipated the scrutiny of his life that digitisation of records now allows us, let alone that someone who read his 1945 letter in the next century would try to dissect his life in order to verify his words. It is likely that Randall guessed that he had hunted in the Burnie region for thirteen years. Perhaps it was ten years, and perhaps his tigers took a lot longer to secure. Perhaps in a trunk in an attic somewhere is a mouldering trophy photo of the wrestler who wrangled tigers—dead or alive.

[1] GE Randall, ‘Native tigers’, Mercury, 12 December 1945, p.3.

[2] Born 1 July 1884, birth record no.1298/1884, registered at Emu Bay; died 14 July 1963, will no.44135, AD960/1/95, p.911 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=george&qu=edward&qu=randall#, accessed 28 March 2020.

[3] ‘Capture of a native tiger’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 12 May 1892, p.2.

[4] ‘A big tiger’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 12 July 1892, p.2.

[5] Bounty no.147, 13 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[6] Bounty no.207, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[7] Bounty no.190, 8 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[8] Bounty no.203, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[9] Bounty no.118, 12 May 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[10] Bounty no.136, 31 May 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[11] Bounty no.204, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[12] Bounty no.119, 12 May 1892; LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[13] Bounty no.188, 9 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[14] Bounty no.210, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[15] Bounty no.135, 31 May 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[16] Bounty no.173, 27 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[17] Bounty no.148, 13 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[18] Bounty no.172, 27 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[19] Bounty no.189, 8 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[20] Bounty no.171, 27 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[21] Bounty no.206, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[22] Bounty no.208, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[23] Bounty no.117, 12 May 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[24] Bounty no.151, 20 June 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[25] ‘Waratah notes’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 10 May 1892, p.3; ‘Housetop notes’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 28 July 1892, p.2.

[26] ‘Longford notes’, Launceston Examiner, 14 July 1892, p.2; bounty no.236, 5 August 1892, LSD247/1/1 (TAHO).

[27] ‘Burnie: Police Court’, Daily Telegraph, 7 February 1894, p.1.

[28] ‘Wanted’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 11 July 1901, p.3.

[29] ‘For sale’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 31 January 1902, p.3.

[30] ‘Arson: case at Burnie’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 20 March 1902, p.3; ‘New insolvent’, Examiner, 29 April 1903, p.4.

[31] He married Ethel May Jones on 22 May 1907 at North Hobart (‘Silver wedding’, Mercury, 23 May 1932, p.1). Dundas: ‘To-night at the Gaiety’, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 7 September 1907, p.3.

[32] Zeehan: Editorial, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 31 August 1908, p.2; ‘Macquarie district’, Police Gazette Tasmania, vol.48, no.2595, 16 April 1909, p.81; Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Darwin, Subdivision of Zeehan, 1914, p.2. Devonport: Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Wilmot, Subdivision of Devonport, 1914, p.36. Waratah: ‘Waratah’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 17 October 1918, p.2; Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Darwin, Subdivision of Waratah, 1919, p.14. Hobart: Commonwealth Electoral Roll, Division of Denison, Subdivision of Hobart East, 1922, p.30. Mathinna: ‘Personal’, Daily Telegraph, 30 September 1924, p.5. Cygnet: ‘Shooting at electric lines’, Mercury, 28 June 1926, p.4. Taranna: ‘Centralisation of school teaching’, Mercury, 12 May 1927, p.6. Hokitika: ‘Macquarie district’.

[33] Editorial, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 31 August 1908, p.2; ‘Macquarie district’.

[34] Certificate of competency as second class engine drive, 1916, AA80/1/1, p.424, image 63 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=george&qu=edward&qu=randall; Certificate of competency as mining engine driver, 1926, LID24/1/4, pp.109 and 109b (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=george&qu=edward&qu=randall#, accessed 28 March 2020.

[35] ‘Motor cycle registrations’, Police Gazette Tasmania, vol.68, no.3629, 8 February 1929, p.33.

[36] Randall mentioned using springers, the supple saplings used to ‘spring’ the snare, generally employed in footer snares, which caught the animal by the paw, not being designed to kill it. Many thylacines sent to zoos were captured in footer snares.

[37] Bounties no.365, 31 July 1891 (2 adults); no.204, 21 July 1892, LSD247/1/1; no.402, 9 January 1893; no.71, 27 April 1893 (2 adults); no.91, 5 May 1893; no.125, 19 June 1893; no.183, 24 July 1893, no.4, 23 January 1894 (2 adults); no.239, 22 September 1897 (3 adults, ‘August 2’); no.276, 4 November 1897 (2 adults, ’27 October’); no.379, 1 February 1898 (‘4 December’); no.191, 2 August 1898 (2 adults, ‘7 July’); no.158, 30 May 1899 (’26 May’); no.253, 30 August 1899 (3 adults, ’24 August’); no.254, 30 August 1899 (2 juveniles, ‘24 August’), LSD247/1/2 (TAHO).

[38] Bounties no.43, 27 February 1900 (3 adults, ’22 February’); no.250, 16 August 1900 (5 adults, ’26 July’); no.316, 3 October 1900 (4 adults, ’27 September’); no.398, 15 November 1900 (4 adults and 4 juveniles, ’28 October’); no.79, 13 March 1901 (2 adults, ’28 February’); no.340, 31 July 1901 (7 adults, ’25 July’); no.393, 28 August 1901 (6 adults, ‘2/3 August’); no.448, 3 October 1901 (’26 September’); no.509, 5 November 1901 (’24 October 1901’); no.218, 7 May 1903 (2 adults, ’24 April’); no.724, 17 November 1903 (4 adults); no.581, 21 June 1906, LSD247/1/2 (TAHO).

[39] Woolnorth farm journals, VDL277/1/1–33 (TAHO). The Woolnorth figure for 1900–06 excludes one adult and one juvenile killed by Ernest Warde and for which he claimed the government bounty payment himself (bounty no.190, 20 October 1904, LSD247/1/2 [TAHO]).

[40] Bounty no.374, 12 January 1899 (3 adults, ‘3 December’); no.401, 15 November 1900 (3 adults, ’15 June’); no.482, 21 January 1901 (3 adults, ’17 December’); no.22, 4 February 1901 (3 adults, ‘4 January’); no.985, 25 July 1902 (‘July’); no.1057, 27 August 1902 (’15 August’); no.1091, 17 September 1902 (‘4 September 1902’); no.462, 6 August 1903, (1 juvenile, ’24 July’), LSD247/1/ 2 (TAHO). See ‘Burnie’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 15 December 1900, p.2.

[41] Bounty no.233, 16 June 1904 (5 adults); no.125, 28 September 1905 (2 adults, ’31 August and 8 September’), LSD247/1/2 (TAHO).

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Ernest Warde (1870?-1954), last of the Woolnorth ‘tigermen’

A photo of two thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) carcasses suspended from a hut in Waratah, Tasmania, has intrigued students of the animal’s demise. Who killed these tigers? Eric Guiler speculated that they might have been taken by a Waratah hunter John Cooney who collected two government thylacine bounties in 1901.[1]

 

In fact the photographer, Arthur Ernest Warde, was himself a hunter and future Woolnorth ‘tigerman’, and the photo probably depicts his own kills. The man in question was a wheeler and dealer who spent three decades in Tasmania, turning his hand to any useful practical skill—including photography and exploiting the fur trade. The terms of Warde’s stint at the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s (VDL Co’s) Woolnorth property in the years 1903–05 confirm that, far from being specialist thylacine killers, the so-called Woolnorth tigermen were simply regular hunter-stockmen who also took responsibility for managing snares set for thylacines at Green Point near latter-day Marrawah. Given this collision of photographer and tiger snarer, it is tantalising to wonder what tiger-related photos Warde took while working at Woolnorth that may still remain undiscovered in a family scrapbook, or which may have long since mouldered away in someone’s back shed, lost for all time.

Ernest Warde photo of Maori chiefs, 1998:P:0383, QVMAG
Ernest Warde photo of Maori chiefs, 1998:P:0383, QVMAG

Warde’s early life remains as mysterious as his tiger photo. In Wellington, New Zealand in 1890 he married renowned whistler and music teacher Catherine Elizabeth Walker, née Dooley, the daughter of Zeehan shopkeeper Joseph Benjamin Dooley and his wife Annie Dooley.[2] The Wardes, both of whom were known by their middle name, appear to have been in Bendigo in 1891 and by 1893 had relocated to Inveresk, Launceston, where the photographer, ‘late of New Zealand’, presented images of Maori chiefs to the Queen Victoria Museum.[3] The couple’s first child, Winifred Warde, was born at Launceston in 1893.[4]

The Warde photo of the two thylacine carcasses, from Eric Guiler and Philippe Godard, Tasmanian tiger: a lesson to be learnt, p.129.
The Warde photo of the two thylacine carcasses, from Eric Guiler and Philippe Godard, Tasmanian tiger: a lesson to be learnt, p.129.

In 1896 the Wardes were in Devonport, in 1897 in Waratah, where second daughter Mabel was born.[5] Elizabeth taught music in both towns.[6] It was supposedly at Waratah that Warde took the intriguing photo, which shows two thylacine and eight wallaby carcasses hanging from the front of a building more closely resembling a woodshed than a hunting hut. The photo slightly pre-dates the era of the skinshed, the unique Tasmanian invention which revolutionised high country hunting by enabling hunters to dry large numbers of skins without leaving the high country. In fact, the photo does not show drying skins, but carcasses which are yet to be skinned. What is the purpose of the image? It is not the conventional trophy photo, which would pose the hunter with his trophy kill. Warde himself collected two thylacine bounties, ten months apart, in September 1900 and July 1901, while living at Waratah, where he probably learned to hunt.[7] Just as the bushman Thomas Bather Moore celebrated in verse the incident in which one of his dogs killed a ‘striped gentleman’, perhaps for Ernest Warde the novelty of killing a thylacine or two justified commemoration or memorialisation of the event with a photo. It is likely that he killed at least one of the thylacines in the photo, and afterwards submitted it for the government bounty.

Warde’s Osborne Studio photo of the fire at ER Evans boot shop and house, Burnie. From the Weekly Courier, 1 March 1902, p.17.
Warde’s Osborne Studio photo of the fire at ER Evans boot shop and house, Burnie.
From the Weekly Courier, 1 March 1902, p.17.
Warde’s Osborne Studio photo of EJ Wilson’s children, 1986:P:0045, QVMAG.
Warde’s Osborne Studio photo of EJ Wilson’s children, 1986:P:0045, QVMAG.

Warde was one of many to have practised photography in Waratah, and with the town’s population still growing, he would not be the last. However, in December 1901 a better photographic opportunity arose in a coastal centre, Burnie, when John Bishop Osborne decided to move on. Warde took over Osborne’s Burnie studio, while also operating a farm at Boat Harbour and advertising his and Elizabeth’s services as musicians.[8] In 1902, while Elizabeth was busy producing the couple’s third child, Francis Harold Warde, photos credited to Warde and to Warde’s Osborne Studio photos appeared in the Weekly Courier and Tasmanian Mail newspapers.[9]

The tigerman job advertised, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 22 May 1903, p.3.
The tigerman job advertised, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 22 May 1903, p.3.

Warde appears to have made the acquaintance of VDL Co agent AK McGaw while supplying photos to the company. The photography business must not have been lucrative, as in May 1903 he agreed to replace the gaoled George Wainwright as the Mount Cameron West tigerman.[10] Warde’s contract as ‘Snarer’ shows him to be a general stockman and farm hand engaged for the Mount Cameron West run, with the killing of ‘vermin’ (that is, all marsupials) his primary duty:

 

‘It is hereby agreed that the Snarer shall proceed to Mount Cameron Woolnorth … and shall devote his time to the destruction of Tasmanian Tigers, Devils and other vermin and in addition thereto shall tend stock depasturing on the Mount Cameron Studland Bay, and Swan Bay runs, also effect any necessary repairs to fences and shall immediately report any serious damage to fences or any mixing of stock to the Overseer & shall assist to muster stock on any of the above runs whenever required to do so & generally to protect the Company’s interests shall also prepare meals for stockmen when engaged on the Mount Cameron Run’.

 

The pay was £20 plus rations (meat, flour, potatoes, sugar, tea, salt, with a cow given him for milk) with the snarer providing his own horse.[11] A butter churn was later provided, and farm manager James Norton Smith added that ‘when he wants a change he can catch plenty of crayfish’.[12] No rent was paid for the Mount Cameron West Hut, and the former company reward of £1 per thylacine still applied. In addition, the VDL Co agreed to supply the snarer ‘with hemp and copper wire for the manufacture of tiger snares only (the Snarer supplying such materials as he may require for Kangaroo or Wallaby snares)’.[13] That is, the necker snares used to catch thylacines were stronger than those used to catch wallabies and pademelons. It was the same deal as for his predecessors: the company supplied a small wage and rations, encouraging the stockman-hunter to protect his flock by killing thylacines and keep the grass down by killing other marsupials. In July 1904 Warde advertised in the newspaper for an ‘opossum dog’, which he was willing to exchange for a ‘splendid kangaroo dog’. He knew that the best money was in brush possum furs.[14]

 

Warde was the last stockman-hunter based at Mount Cameron West. Nearing the close of 1904 he was also trying to ‘get a good line of snares down from the Welcome [?] forest into the back of the Studland bay knolls’, which would give him ‘a splendid tiger break …’[15] However, he had probably already landed the last of his twelve thylacines for the company. In February 1905 the Mount Cameron West Hut was burnt down, Warde’s family escaping the flames late at night in the breadwinner’s absence.[16] That the hut was not replaced for years confirms that the thylacine problem, real or perceived, had abated.[17]

 

After leaving Mount Cameron West, Ward ditched the ‘e’ from the end of his surname and complemented the Boat Harbour farm with a general store. The Wardes remained there until in 1923 they sold up their store to Hamilton Brothers of Myalla and relocated to New Zealand, where A Ernest Warde reattached his ‘e’ and reinvented himself firstly as an Otago real estate agent, working for his father-in-law, then as an Auckland used car salesman.[18] Elizabeth Warde disappeared from the picture and, appropriately, Ernest wound back his personal odometer to 49 years when in 1932 he took his new 33-year-old bride Mary Winifred Tremewan to see England and America.[19] The new marriage ended when the couple was living in Sydney in the mid-1940s.[20] Warde’s death certificate, in July 1954, described him as an ‘investor’. In truth, he was a trans-Tasman jack-of-all-trades who happened to be the last of the Woolnorth tigermen.[21]

[1] Eric Guiler and Philippe Godard, Tasmanian Tiger: a lesson to be learnt, Abrolhos Publishing, Perth, 1998, p.129. Cooney’s bounty payment was no.249, 19 June 1901 (2 adults, ’11 June’), LSD247/1/ 2 (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office [hereafter TAHO]).

[2] For her prowess as a whistler, see ‘Current topics’, Launceston Examiner, 15 January 1894, p.5; ‘Burston Relief Concert’, Daily Telegraph, 16 January 1894, p.3 and ‘Entertainment at the Don’, North West Post, 21 April 1894, p.4. Elizabeth Walker is the mother’s name given on the couple’s three children’s birth certificates. On the 1903 Electoral Roll her name is given as Catherine Elizabeth Warde.

[3] ‘Australian Juvenile Industrial Exhibition’, Ballarat Star, 26 May 1891, p.4; ‘The Museum’, Launceston Examiner, 23 December 1893, p.3.

[4] She was born 31 August 1893, birth registration no.606/1893, Launceston.

[5] In 1896 E Warde of West Devonport advertised to sell a camera, lens and portrait stand (advert, Mercury, 23 May 1896, p.4). In 1897 the Wardes featured in a Waratah dance (‘Plain and Fancy Dress Dance’, Launceston Examiner, 9 October 1897, p.9). Mabel Warde’s birth was registered as no. 2760/1898, Waratah.

[6] Advert, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 30 January 1902, p.3.

[7]; Bounties no.293, 18 September 1900 (’11 September’); and no.305, 12 July 1901, LSD247/1/2 (TAHO).

[8] See advert, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 6 December 1901, p.4; ‘Table Cape’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 19 November 1901, p.2. John Bishop Osborne, the former Hobart photographer, had been on the move every few years since setting up at Zeehan in 1890. Osborne moved to Penguin, and he would end his days in Longford, where he lived 1921–34. Ernest and Elizabeth Warde advertised that they were available to supply music to parties and balls, while Elizabeth also sought piano, organ and dance students (advert, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 30 January 1902, p.3).

[9] Francis Harold Warde was born at Alexander Street, Burnie, on 17 December 1902 (registration no. 2061/1903). Catherine Elizabeth Warde and Ernest Warde were listed at Burnie on the 1903 Electoral Roll.

[10] The new operator of the Osborne Studio was Mr Touzeau of Melba Studio, Melbourne (advert, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 27 June 1903, p.1). Warde held a furniture sale at his Alexander Street, Burnie, residence in June 1903 (‘Burnie’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 13 June 1903, p.3) and advertised for a ‘strong quiet buggy Horse and good double-seated Buggy (tray-seated preferred …’ (advert, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 8 June 1903, p.3).

[11] For Warde’s proposed rations, see James Norton Smith to AK McGaw, 4 June 1903, VDL22/1/34 (TAHO).

[12] James Norton Smith to AK McGaw, 4 June 1903; Ernest Warde to AK McGaw, 7 October 1903, VDL22/1/34 (TAHO).

[13] Agreement between the VDL Co and Ernest Warde, 29 May 1903, VDL20/1/1 (TAHO).

[14] Advert, North West Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 26 July 1904, p.3.

[15] E Warde to AK McGaw, 22 December 1904, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[16] ‘Marrawah’, North West Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 11 February 1905, p.2.

[17] Woolnorth farm journal, 3 February 1905, VDL277/1/32 (TAHO).

[18] ‘Boat Harbor’, Advocate, 31 January 1923, p.4; ‘Bankruptcy’, Auckland Star, 27 September 1929, p.9.

[19] Did Elizabeth Warde die or did the couple divorce? No record of her was found. According to their marriage certificate (registration no.8401/1929), Mary Winifred Tremewan was born in New Zealand in October 1898. For their ten-month English and American holiday, see ‘The social round’, Auckland Star, 6 January 1933, p.9 and UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878–1960. They sailed from Sydney to London on the Ormonde.

[20] Record no.1208/1944, Western Sydney Records Centre, Kingswood, NSW.

[21] Warde was not the last man to kill thylacines at Woolnorth, but the last in a long line of hunter-stockmen appointed specifically to Mount Cameron West to look after stock and manage the thylacine snares at Green Point.