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Mary Grant Roberts and the Woolnorth tiger foursome

By the 1890s farmers like Joseph Clifford and Robert Stevenson were effectively adding Tasmanian tiger farming to their portfolios of raising stock, growing crops and hunting. Since thylacines appeared on their property, they made a conscious effort to catch them alive in a footer snare or pit rather than dead in a necker snare. A tiger grew no valuable wool, but in 1890 a live wether might fetch 13 shillings, compared to £6 for an adult thylacine delivered to Sydney.[1] A dead adult thylacine, on the other hand, was worth only £1 under the government bounty scheme.

The problem with these special efforts to catch tigers alive was that hunters only had a certain amount of control over what animals ended up in their snares or pits. Twentieth-century hunters often complained about city regulators who thought it feasible to close the season on brush possum but open it for wallabies and pademelons. Inevitably, hunters caught some brush possum in their wallaby and pademelon snares during the course of the season, which could land them a hefty fine in court unless they destroyed the precious but unlawful skins.[2] John Pearce junior in the upper Derwent district claimed that he and his brothers caught seventeen tigers in ‘special neck snares’ set alongside their kangaroo snares.[3] How did the tigers recognise the ‘special neck snares’ provided for their specific use? All you could do was vary the height of the necker snare to catch the desired animal’s head as it walked. Too bad if something else stuck its head in the noose. Wombats, for example, were a hazard. Gustav Weindorfer of Cradle Valley set snares at the right height to catch Bennett’s wallabies by the neck, but also caught wombats in them.[4] Wombats were good for ‘badger’ stew and for hearth mats but the skins had no value. Robert Stevenson of Aplico, Blessington, caught wombats alive in his tiger pits—which they then set about destroying by burrowing their way out.[5]

George Wainwright senior, Matilda Wainwright and children at Mount Cameron West (Preminghana) c1900. Courtesy of Kath Medwin.

These problems aside, it seems odd that the pragmatic Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co), which later added fur hunting to its income stream, didn’t cotton on to the live tiger trade. They could have followed the example of George Wainwright senior, who sold a Woolnorth tiger to Fitzgerald’s Circus in 1896.[6] In 1900, for example, 22 thylacines were killed on Woolnorth, a potential income of more than £100 had the animals been taken alive. Even when, later, four living Woolnorth tigers were sold, the money stayed with the employees, with the VDL Co not even taking a commission. (It should be noted that four young tigers caught by Walter Pinkard on Woolnorth in 1901 were not accounted for in bounty payments.[7] It is possible that they were sold alive—but there are no records of a sale or even correspondence about the animals. Their fate is unknown.)

William Le Souef to Kruger, 22 October 1901: ‘The Tasmanian Wolves are all
right, so far’. Did he get them from Woolnorth? Postcard courtesy of Mike Simco.

The VDL Co’s failure to exploit the live trade for its perceived arch enemy can possibly be explained by the tunnel vision of its directors and departing Tasmanian agent and the inexperience of his successor. James Norton Smith resigned as local manager in 1902. His replacement, Scotsman Andrew Kidd (AK) McGaw, harnessed Norton Smith’s 33-year corporate knowledge by re-engaging him as farm manager. It would not have been easy for McGaw to learn the ropes in a new country, among business associates cultivated by his predecessor, and the re-engagement of Norton Smith as his second allowed him to transition into the manager position. As would be expected, McGaw stamped his authority on the agency by criticising some of Norton Smith’s policies and distancing himself from them.[8] Ahead of Ernest Warde’s engagement as ‘tigerman’, the VDL Co’s shepherd at Mount Cameron West, he scrapped Norton Smith’s recent bounty incentive scheme of £2 for a tiger killed by a man out hunting with dogs.

Woolnorth, showing main property features and the original boundary. Base map courtesy of DPIPWE.

After Warde’s departure in 1905, the tiger snares at Mount Cameron and Studland Bay were checked intermittently. Woolnorth overseer Thomas Lovell killed a tiger at Studland Bay in 1906, but the number of tigers and dogs reported on the property was now negligible.[9] This reflected the statewide situation, with only eighteen government thylacine bounties being paid in 1907, and only thirteen in 1908.[10]

However, the value of live tigers continued to climb as they became rarer. The first documented approach to the VDL Co for live tigers came in July 1902 from AS Le Souef of the Zoological Gardens in Melbourne, who offered £8 for a pair of adults and £5 for a pair of juveniles. He also wanted devils and tiger cats, in response to which George Wainwright junior supplied two tiger cats (spotted quolls, Dasyurus maculatus).[11] Given the tiger’s reputation as a sheep killer, native animal farming might have been a hard sell to the directors, and the company continued to use necker snares which were generally fatal to thylacines. What price would it take to change that behaviour? In July 1908 McGaw read a newspaper advertisement:

‘WANTED—Five Tasmanian tigers, handsome price for good specimens. Apply Beaumaris, Hobart.’[12]

He discovered that the proprietor of the private Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point, Mary Grant Roberts, wanted a pair of living tigers immediately to freight to the London Zoo.[13] The Orient steamer Ortona was departing for London at the end of the month. She offered McGaw £10 for a living, uninjured pair of adults. Roberts hoped to secure the tiger caught recently by George Tripp at Watery Plains, but felt that she was competing for live captures with William McGowan of the City Park Zoo, Launceston, who advertised in the same month.[14] Eroni Brothers Circus was also in the market for living tigers.[15]

A young Mary Grant Roberts, from NS823/1/69 (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office).

Almost as Roberts made her offer, George Wainwright junior tracked a tiger at Mount Cameron West, but it evaded capture.[16] In the meantime Roberts was able to secure her first thylacine from the Dee River.[17]

Almost a year passed before the chance arose for the VDL Co do business, when in May 1909 Wainwright retrieved a three-quarters-grown male tiger uninjured from a necker snare.[18] Perhaps not appreciating the tiger’s youth, Roberts offered £5 plus the rail freight from either Burnie or Launceston. She wanted the animal delivered to her in Hobart within ten days in order to ship it to the London Zoo on the Persic. It would thereby replace one which had died of heat exhaustion in transit to the same destination a few months earlier.[19]

However, the overseer of a remote stock station could not meet that deadline. The delay came with a bonus—the capture of three more members of the first tiger’s family, his sisters and mother.[20] Bob Wainwright recalled his stepfather Thomas Lovell and brother George placing the animals in a cage. There was also a familiar story of tigers refusing to eat dead game: ‘They had to catch a live wallaby and throw it in, alive, and then they [the thylacines] killed it’.[21] With McGaw continuing to act as intermediary between buyer and supplier, a price of £15 was settled on for the family of four.[22]

Roberts and McGaw communicated as social equals, but their social inferiors—hunters, stockmen and an overseer—were not named in their correspondence. This made for frustrating reading when Roberts discussed hunters (‘the man’) with whom she was dealing over live tigers. She had been expecting to receive two young tigers from a Hamilton hunter for her own zoo, but these had now died, causing her to reconsider her plans for the Woolnorth family.[23]

The mother thylacine (centre) and her three young captured at Woolnorth in 1909. W Williamson photo from the Tasmanian Mail, 25 May 1916, p.18.

It wasn’t until the first week in July 1909 that the auxiliary ketch Gladys bore the crate of thylacines to Burnie, where they began the train journey to Hobart.[24] A week later they were said to be thriving in captivity.[25] Roberts was so pleased with the animals’ progress that after eight months she sent a postal order to Lovell and Wainwright as a mark of appreciation. She was impressed with the mother’s devotion to her young, believing that the death of the two Hamilton cubs was attributable to their mother’s absence.[26] However, money was becoming a concern. Buying all the tigers’ feed from a butcher was expensive, and when she received a potentially lucrative order for a tiger from a New York Zoo, she found the cost of insuring the animal over such a long journey prohibitive. On 1 March 1910 she ‘very reluctantly’ broke up the family group by dispatching the young male to the London Zoo. ‘I am keeping on the two [other juveniles]’, she wrote, ‘in the hope that they may breed, and the mother all along has been very happy with the three young ones’.[27]

Roberts was now offering £10 per adult thylacine—but there was none to sell at Woolnorth. Seventeen months later she paid Power £12 10s for his large tiger from Tyenna, and scored £30 shipping to London the last of the three young from the 1909 family group.[28] Her tiger breeding program was over, probably defeated by economics—but what might have been the rewards for perseverance? Perhaps she would have been the greatest tiger farmer of all.

[1] See, for example, ‘Commercial’, Mercury, 5 August 1890, p.2; Sarah Mitchell diary, 9 June 1890, RS32/20, Royal Society Collection (University of Tasmania Archives).

[2] See, for example, ‘Trappers fined’, Advocate, 22 October 1943, p.4.

[3] ‘Direct communication with the west coast initiated’, Mercury, 1 September 1932, p.12.

[4] G Weindorfer and G Francis, ‘Wild life in Tasmania’, Journal of the Victorian Naturalists Society, vol.36, March 1920, p.159.

[5] Lewis Stevenson, interviewed by Bob Brown, 1 December 1972 (QVMAG).

[6] ‘Circular Head notes’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 25 June 1896, p.2.

[7] Walter Pinkard to James Norton Smith, 19 July 1901, VDL22/1/27 (TAHO).

[8] In Outward Despatch no.46, 4 January 1904, p.366, McGaw criticised Norton Smith for not doing more to arrest the encroachment of sand at Studland Bay and Mount Cameron (VDL7/1/13).

[9] Woolnorth farm diary, 30 September 1906 (VDL277/1/34). This VDL Co bounty was not paid until the following year (December 1907, p.95, VDL129/1/4). C Wilson was paid for killing two dogs found worrying sheep in 1906 (December 1906, p.58, VDL129/1/4 (TAHO).

[10] See thylacine bounty payment records in LSD247/1/3 (TAHO).

[11] AS Le Souef to James Norton Smith, 11 July 1902; Walter Pinkard to James Norton Smith, 4 August 1902, VDL22/1/28 (TAHO).

[12] ‘Wanted’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 1 July 1908, p.3.

[13] For Roberts, see Robert Paddle, ‘The most photographed of thylacines: Mary Roberts’ Tyenna male—including a response to Freeman (2005) and a farewell to Laird (1968)’, Australian Zoologist, vol.34, no.4, January 2008, pp.459–70.

[14] In ‘Wanted to buy’, Mercury, 18 July 1908, p.2, McGowan asked for tigers ‘dead or alive’. He had also advertised for ‘tigers … good, sound specimens, high price; also 2 or 3 dead or damaged specimens’ in the previous year (‘Wanted’, Mercury, 21 June 1907, p.2). George Tripp’s tiger must have died before it could be sold alive, since he claimed a government bounty for it (no.35, 25 July 1908, LSD247/1/3 [TAHO]).

[15] See, for example, ‘Wanted’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 7 March 1908, p.6.

[16] Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 17 July 1908, VDL22/1/34 (TAHO).

[17] ‘The Tasmanian tiger’, Mercury, 7 October 1908, p.4.

[18] Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 24 May 1909, VDL22/135 (TAHO). This thylacine was originally thought to be a young female, but McGaw later stated that it was a young male.

[19] Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 31 May 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[20] Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 1 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[21] Bob Wainwright, 86 years old, interviewed in Launceston, 27 October 1980.

[22] AK McGaw to Mary G Roberts, 9 June 1909, VDL52/1/29; Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 10 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[23] Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 21 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[24] AK McGaw to Mary G Roberts, 7 July 1909, VDL52/1/29 (TAHO); ‘Stanley’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 6 July 1909, p.2.

[25] W Roberts to AK McGaw, 15 July 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).

[26] In May 1912 she received two young tigers from buyer EJ Sidebottom in Launceston, paying him £20 in the belief that they were adults. They died three days later (Mary Grant Roberts diary, 6, 7 and 10 May 1912, NS823/1/8 [TAHO]).

[27] Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 14 March 1910, VDL22/1/36 (TAHO).

[28] Mary Grant Roberts diary, 12 August, 26 September and 24 December 1911, NS823/1/8 (TAHO).

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Big Jim Wilkinson leaves a lover grieving

‘Big Jim’ Wilkinson, sketched by Miss AJ Campbell at Kalgoorlie in 1898. From Critic (Adelaide), 26 March 1898, p.5

A heartbreaking dedication is inscribed on a ceramic vase on one of the four marked graves in the Balfour Cemetery:

To Jim

good night love

may the night be short

that parts we two

Alma

Big Jim Wilkinson stood almost 200 cm tall—6 foot 5 inches in the old measure. He was proof that even remote Tasmanian mining fields attracted not just local prospectors, labourers, miners, engine drivers and other skilled workers, but international adventurers, men who flitted between gold rushes and boom towns, revelling in the lifestyle, but who eventually settled into the more stable support industries that underpinned every mining field. Wilkinson, who supposedly counted Australia’s first prime minister, Edmund Barton, and the poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon, as friends, had been an imposing figure on the Kalgoorlie goldfield, being ‘a big power with the miners … He is one of the most popular men in Kalgoorlie, and deservedly so. He has a head like a Roman senator…’[1] He hadn’t quite made it into the Australian Senate, being defeated in two campaigns in Western Australia. He was also said to have made ‘a prodigious impression’ in Gormanston, ‘with his Uncle Sam beard, his diamonds, his earrings, and his accent which was very good American for a Victorian native!’[2] He had discovered gold on the Murchison field, kept livery stables and attained legendary status as a coach driver in the early days of the Silverton-Broken Hill silver field by keeping his passengers—or his horses, if he was carrying only freight—awake through the night with recitations of Gordon’s verses.[3] He had been a pearler, a guano dealer in south-east Asia, a race handicapper and a hotelier.[4]

Alma’s inscription on Jim’s grave at Balfour.
Photo by Nic Haygarth.

However, none of that counted for anything at Balfour, where Wilkinson achieved another distinction entirely—he was the first interment in the cemetery, in January 1910, after only one month in town. He had come to Balfour to run a hotel for his brother-in-law, the ubiquitous jack-of-all-trades Frank Gaffney. Wilkinson arrived as a diabetic, in a shanty town that had no resident doctor.[5] Nor was there a minister to officiate at his grave. Like typhoid victims Haywood and Tom Shepherd before him, he died when there was no tramway from Temma. His grave relics—with their emphatic tale of loss and devotion—must have been hauled in from Temma by horsepower at least a year after his death. For more than a century, Big Jim Wilkinson, bright star of the boom-time, has rested in obscurity on one of Australia’s most obscure mining fields, leaving us to ponder the levelling power of death and the burning question—who was Alma?

*With thanks to Val Fleming.

[1] ‘Language freaks’, Critic (Adelaide), 26 March 1898, p.5.

[2] ‘Gormanston notes’, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 27 October 1903, p.4.

[3] See, for example, Randolph Bedford, Naught to thirty three, Currawong Press, Sydney, 1944, pp.98–100.

[4] See, for example, ‘Death of Mr JJ Wilkinson’, Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 1 November 1910, p.15.

[5] ‘Resident doctor’, Examiner, 10 January 1910, p.5.

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A tale of two headstones: part two, Sylvia McArthur, Balfour correspondent

Sylvia McArthur’s slab in the ground litter at Balfour.
Grave of William Murray. Photo by Val Fleming.

The story of Balfour is told by two graves in a highland cemetery in north-western Tasmania. For more than a century, lying side by side, William Murray and Sylvia McArthur have been fixed silently in their interlocking roles in what historian Geoffrey Blainey called the ‘Indian summer’ of Tasmania’s first mining boom.

There is an interesting dynamic between these two people, who were interred on consecutive days in November 1912. William Murray was a 51-year-old husband and father of two, Sylvia McArthur a 15-year-old schoolgirl. He has Doric columns on his granite headstone, which is reputed to have been sent out from Scotland. She has a slab from J Dunn and Co, Launceston, and, as their graves suggest, they represented different social strata. As one of the owners of the principal mine, the Copper (Murrays’) Reward, William Murray was from the big end of town, living in what was once called ‘the mansion’. Sylvia McArthur was part of the globe-trotting fraternity of mine workers, the community that follows the speculators, grounded in the realities of remote mining towns a century ago, physical and cultural isolation, poor sanitation and health care. Sylvia would have lived in a corrugated iron hut, one of those described as looking like ‘opened out sardine cans’.[1] She is believed to have died of typhoid. William Murray died by putting a gun to his temple, reputedly because of financial and marital collapse stemming from the Copper Reward mine.[2] So, in different ways, they were both casualties of Balfour’s frenzied mining speculation.

Sylvia McArthur’s story begins with the marriage of William McArthur, one of nine children born to Scottish bounty immigrants, to Catherine Dolan, the daughter of Cygnet farmers.[3] They married in Zeehan, where he was a miner and she a housemaid.[4] Two of William’s brothers, Robert and John, likewise followed the mining profession wherever there was work.[5] At Zeehan in 1897 Catherine produced their second daughter, Sylvia Iris McArthur.[6] Emphatic endorsements of the Mount Lyell copper boom were then rising in Queenstown, Strahan and Zeehan. Built on a grand scale in 1898, Zeehan’s Gaiety Theatre and Grand Hotel had a stage larger than that of Hobart’s Theatre Royal and more seating than Hobart’s Town Hall.[7] Zeehan’s silver mines had also peaked, but the field was beset by shallow lodes and problems of ore treatment.

Catherine and William McArthur at Zeehan with their first three daughters, Florence, Sylvia and Gladys. Mora Studio, Zeehan, photo courtesy of Edie McArthur.

Tragically, in 1904 Catherine McArthur died after a short illness at the age of only 27, moving her husband to verse:

 

‘Tis hard to break the tender cord,

When love has bound the heart.

Tis hard, so hard, to speak the words:

We for a time must part.

Dearest love, we have laid thee

In the peaceful grave’s embrace,

But they memory will be cherished,

Till we see thy heavenly face’.[8]

 

By 1908, when William re-married, and with 20-year-old Marion May Delaney started adding boys to his four girls, Zeehan was in decline.[9]

The Balfour coach negotiating a sand dune. Photo by Fritz Noetling from the Tasmanian Mail, 9 March 1911, p.24.

The new boom town was Balfour. It was remote even by mining field standards, a shanty town lodged somewhere between Circular Head and the ‘true’ west coast. No road, railway or deep-water port served it. The Balfour coach could be bogged in beach sand or swamped by the Southern Ocean. Yet by the spring of 1909, investors were agog at the 1100 tons of ore, averaging about 30% copper, which the brothers William and Tom Murray had somehow dispatched to market. In October 1909 a report circulated that the Murrays had sold their Copper Reward mine for £50,000—a claim they denied.[10] The Balfour copper field was soon being hailed as a second Mount Lyell.[11]

By October 1911 William McArthur had secured the position of engine driver at the Copper Reward. It took his family a fortnight’s travel from Zeehan via Burnie and Stanley to join him at Balfour. Rough weather held up their voyage on the ketch HJH, forcing passengers ashore five kilometres from the Woolnorth stock station. Finally, a four-hour ride on the new horse-drawn Temma-Balfour tramway delivered the family to its remote new home.[12]

Balfour had already suffered the obligatory typhoid epidemic of the early life of a mining town by the time fourteen-year-old Sylvia McArthur arrived. The Circular Head Council apparently did not take much notice of this, because it afterwards suggested to the Balfour Advisory Board that it dump the town’s nightsoil in the Frankland River, presumably downstream of the local recreational area and fishing hole.[13] A sanitary inspector despatched to Balfour after the typhoid outbreak found only one unsanitary drain at the Balfour Hotel, plus the suspicion that a pig was being kept on that premises—apparently in anticipation of King George V’s coronation in June 1911, when it was patriotically sacrificed.[14]

William Murray was out of town at that time. Having taken an eighteen-year-old bride, the forty-eight-year-old was honeymooning in England.[15] In August 1911, when Hazel and baby Jean Murray saw Balfour for the first time, they took up residence in what one man called the ‘mansion’, perhaps the only house in town blueprinted by an architect.[16] Perhaps the Murrays also had acetylene lighting, which would have placed them ahead of the underground miners in the candle-lit Copper Reward.

The McArthur family and friends on the Frankland River bridge, with Sylvia at back (left) in the wide-brimmed hat. William McArthur photo from the Weekly Courier, 18 April 1912, p.17.
The same picnic party at the river. William McArthur photo from the Weekly Courier, 18 April 1912, p.17.

The McArthurs began to live their life in the social pages in January 1912, when Sylvia wrote her first letter to the Weekly Courier newspaper. It is through her words and her father’s photos that we get the story of everyday life in a remote settlement. Sylvia went from a very large school at Zeehan to a one-teacher operation of 23 students at Balfour. She stopped attending because there were no girls of her own age, and she felt as lonely at school as she was at home. Instead, she carried her father’s crib to the mine and looked after her younger siblings.[17] Her sisters became schoolteachers, and Sylvia’s own love of small children is very evident. For amusement she collected postcards and read copiously. The Christmas sports and picnic was the highlight of the social calendar. There was also a dance every few months to the tune of a piano accordion. Sylvia enjoyed the fern gullies and glades of the nearby Frankland River, a favourite picnic spot where walks were taken and the blackfishing was lively.[18]

William and Sylvia McArthur pictured with an unknown man (right) underground in the Copper Reward. Photo courtesy of Edie McArthur.

One day she ventured underground at the Copper Reward. Her permanent interment underground was six months away when she looked to a future beyond the transitory mining town, one she would never know:

 

‘It was the first time I had been down a mine. I think it is a funny feeling one has whilst going down in a cage … Whilst I was down below a gentleman took a flashlight photograph of us. We all looked like ghosts, for our faces were so white. However, I would not like to leave Balfour without being able to say I was down a mine’.[19]

 

In her final letter to ‘Dame Durden’ of the Weekly Courier in October 1912, Sylvia described a concert given by the Balfour schoolchildren, illustrated, as usual, by her father’s pictures.[20] Her fatal illness may have been brewing even as the newspaper went to press.

What was William Murray’s condition? It must have been tempting for the Murrays to start living the good life that the speculation promised, and which could easily have landed them in debt. Perhaps the brothers had missed their big chance. It has been claimed that they refused an offer of £30,000 for the mine, a decision they may have come to regret.[21] William Murray shot himself in his home at Donald Street, Balfour, on 4 November 1912, reputedly as part of an unfulfilled double suicide pact with Tom.[22] Sylvia McArthur died in great pain next day ‘from a complication of complaints’ after a three-week illness.[23] She was buried overlooking the Frankland River that she loved. Her heartbroken father described the scene in the Weekly Courier:

 

‘For she’s sleeping on the hillside,

Where the morning sun will shine,

‘Mid a scene of ferns and dogwood,

Fringed with wild clematis vine,

With its tender fibres clinging,

Drawing close to the boughs above,

As our hearts are drawn to Sylvie,

By the tender cords of love.

And the fiercest storm in winter,

As it rages on the shore,

Will not disturb you, dearest Sylvie,

Where you sleep for evermore’.[24]

 

Ferns and dogwood still guard William Murray and Sylvia McArthur’s final resting-place. In fact the scrub has grown up so much that the cemetery’s river view has been lost. The ‘lonely spot near Balfour’, as William McArthur described it, is lonelier than ever.

[1] ‘Mount Balfour’, Circular Head Chronicle, 9 February 1910, p.3.

[2] See, for example, Heather Nimmo’s play ‘Murrays’ Reward: a play in two acts’.

[3] Thanks to Edie McArthur for help with McArthur family background. For Catherine Dolan, see birth registration no.1352/1877, Cygnet, to Thomas Dolan and Agnes Dolan, née Harrison.

[4] Marriage registration no.838/1895, Zeehan. Catherine gave her age as 18 but she was only 17; William was 28.

[5] Thanks to Edie McArthur for help with McArthur family background.

[6] She was born 16 October 1897, registration no.3194/1897, Zeehan.

[7] ‘Gaiety Theatre’, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 1 November 1898, p.4.

[8] Editorial, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 23 July 1904, p.2; memorial to Catherine McArthur, held by Edie McArthur.

[9] Marriage registration no.1389/1908, Zeehan.

[10] ‘Mining’, Mercury, 26 October, p.3; and 4 November 1911, p.2.

[11] ‘The far north-west’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 7 February 1911, p.2.

[12] Sylvia McArthur; in ‘Dame Durden’, ‘Young folks’, Weekly Courier, 11 January 1912, p.3.

[13] See ‘Balfour’, Circular Head Chronicle, 21 December 1910, p.2; and 18 January 1911, p.3.

[14] For the pig suspicion and the unsanitary drain, see ‘Balfour’, Circular Head Chronicle, 21 December 1910, p.2 and Circular Head Chronicle, 29 March 1911, p.2 respectively. For the pig slaughter, see the exchange of poems by JW Lord (‘Breheny’s pig’, Circular Head Chronicle, 21 June 1911, p.2 and 26 July 1911, p.4) and ‘Daybreak’ (Clement Lewis Gray), ‘RIP’, Circular Head Chronicle, 5 July 1911, p.3.

[15] ‘Social news’, Star (Sydney), 29 January 1910, p.16.

[16] ‘Mount Balfour’, Circular Head Chronicle, 9 February 1910, p.3; TB Moore diaries, 30 April 1912, ZM5641 (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery).

[17] Sylvia McArthur; in ‘Dame Durden’, ‘Young folks’, Weekly Courier, 13 June 1912, p.3.

[18] Sylvia McArthur; in ‘Dame Durden’, ‘Young Folks’, Weekly Courier, 1 February 1912, p.3; 13 June 1912, p.3; 18 July 1912 p.3; 3 October 1912, p.3; Mavis McArthur; in ‘Dame Durden’, ‘Young Folks’, Weekly Courier,18 July 1912, p.3.

[19] Sylvia McArthur; in ‘Dame Durden’, ‘Young folks’, Weekly Courier, 13 June 1912, p.3.

[20] Sylvia McArthur; in Dame Durden, ‘Young folks’, Weekly Courier, 3 October 1912, p.3.

[21] E Payne, ‘Balfour mine’, Examiner, 19 March 1951, p.2.

[22] The Circular Head Chronicle (‘Deaths at Balfour’, 6 November 1912, p.2) reported merely that Murray had ‘died suddenly’. The coroner found that Murray died of a self-inflicted ‘gunshot wound to the head … while of unsound mind’ (see SC195-1-82-13112, [TAHO]).

[23] She died 5 November 1912, registration no.652/1912, Montagu. See also ‘Deaths at Balfour’, Circular Head Chronicle, 6 November 1912, p.2. The official record places her death 10 days later. No inquest was conducted.

[24] Poem by William McArthur published in Dame Durden, ‘Young folks’, Weekly Courier, 21 November 1912, p.3.