Two hundred and fifty visitors crowded into Premaydena’s Old CourtHouse over May 19 – 20 to view the Tasman Peninsula Historical Society’s Innovations & Inventions Exhibition, held to mark National Heritage Month and International Museum’s Day.
Fantastic weather, hand-delivered invitations to local farmers, and the little grey Fergie parked outside, undoubtedly contributed to the success of the event.
On display were innovations and inventions as diverse as the “Travelling Dairy” of the 1890s, which brought Peninsula farmers up to date with current advances in dairy hygiene; the inventions of Thomas Locke, including his stump-jump plough, contour plough, and “Locke Wire Strainer” patented in 1907, which revolutionised the fencing industry, Laurie Tatnell’s prize-winning waste-retrieval sieve for the Hydro, Wyn Westcott’s fish cage, now used by Tassal, Andrew Ponsonby’s chicken-poo spreader, and the plaster fruit models made by George Garnett which were shown Australian agricultural expos all over the world.
Knowledgeable locals presented short talks on inventions to which they have a personal connection. For example, Locke’s great-grandson, Dave MacDonald explained the science behind his own twenty-first century invention, the rubber horse-boots described by ABC’s Landline in 2001 as ‘running shoes for equine athletes’, which are now standard issue for the horses of the New York Metropolitan Police and the Royal Horseguards at Buckingham Palace.
It also celebrated some remarkable women: Mrs. Tom Jenkins, of Premaydena, whose energy made her a role model for rural women in the 1940s. According to a Hobart Mercury article of 1944, this ‘Home Industrialist’, was a ‘crack shot’, who got quail and other birds with her gun; ‘trumpeter, flathead, cod, conger eel and perch’ with her net in a ‘motorised dinghy’, and had a garden and ‘seed house’ so extensive and well thought-out that she could put ‘three vegetables on the table for 306 days in the year’.
Last, but not least, the exhibition honoured Dorothy Hallam, the first ABC camerawoman, who, with a camera recommended by Neil Davis, shot documentary films of rural life on the Peninsula.
Visitors were treated to tours of the Old Police Residence by James Parker, and talks by locals about Peninsula innovators from the 1890s to the present day, with the awarding of prizes provided by Tassal to the Peninsula’s New Inventors.
First prize in the Kinder - Y6 category was won by a 10 year-old boy who invented a roof smoke sensor, while first prize in the Secondary School-age category went to a fourteen year old boy who made and demonstrated a collapsible bow from sections of plastic pipe. First prize in the Adult section was awarded to the inventor of the CarryPallet, a light, strong, durable and hygenic plastic pallet handsome enough to grace a showroom floor, with, as runner up, the ‘Septic Rose’, a carbon filter to cap household unwanted odors.
Something of the flavour of the exhibition is captured in the following photos, and in Chris Wisbey’s interviews, which were aired in his weekend ABC program on Sundays.
Lys Ford – Secretary