I am both historian and nature lover. Industrial heritage is disappearing into the bush. However, old mine workings provide environments for Hickmania troglodytes, the Tasmanian cave spider; Arachnocampa tasmaniensis, the Tasmanian glow-worm; and Micropathus tasmaniensis, the Tasmanian cave cricket. Old mining access routes provide soft ground for the chimneys of the freshwater burrowing crayfish (Engaeus species). Diversion tunnels re-route red rivers with orange cascades. I love watching the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, and the giant freshwater crayfish, Astacopsis gouldi, in the tannin rivers of the north-west. Nothing beats sloshing through the pencil pines towards Lake Rodway in the spring when snowmelt is crashing down the cliffs of Cradle Mountain, tracing the labyrinthine passages of limestone in the Vale of Belvoir when the waratahs are blooming around Lake Lea, or treading the ridged humus of a spacious ancient rainforest.
Writing independently and on commission, I have written extensively about the rural, regional and remote areas of Tasmania, including the mining fields, resource industries, highland tourism and built heritage, plus landscape photography and conservation. I am fascinated by the ‘Van Diemonian’ lifestyle which Europeans, often emulating Indigenous Tasmanians, adopted in order to survive in a foreign land. The stockman-hunter culture which arose from the grazing industry, the fur trade with its peculiar highland skin shed, the vernacular bush architecture of slab, paling and shingle huts, the decline of the thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) and the osmiridium mining boom between the World Wars are among those uniquely Tasmanian stories.
I am an experienced biographer. Having written one biography as a PhD topic, then turned it into a book for general readership, I am very skilled at finding sources, evaluating evidence, finding personal insights and building a picture of the subject. I have also written two shorter biographies as family history. I love this sort of work.
Research and Writing
I bring more than 25 years' experience as an historian to any work I undertake. I am skilled at archival work, title searches and genealogical work. I am a storyteller. Although I hold a PhD in history, I always write with vigour, not academic rigor mortis, with the idea of reaching a general audience. I love finding the 'big picture' and universal themes.