File(s) under permanent embargo
Two Cross-Cultural Historians and their Recent Work
In 1908 Ernest Westlake packed a tent, a bicycle and forty tins of food and sailed to Tasmania. On mountains, beaches and in sheep paddocks he collected over 13,000 Aboriginal stone tools. Into the Heart of Tasmania explores who Westlake was and why he went to Tasmania. It is a biographical account of a journey, framed within the broader histories of science and colonisation. And there is a parallel journey in this book. I follow Westlake from the archives to Tasmania, and I meet the descendants of the Aboriginal people he met. I try to see that which Westlake could not: an enduring Indigenous people, who are the living, beating ‘heart of Tasmania’ of the book’s title. So many historians’ journeys begin in an archive . The archive is, as Tom Griffiths puts it, the ‘launching pad’ into ‘time travel’. I remember that cold January morning in 2000 in the archives of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford facing the boxes that contain Westlake’s Tasmanian papers for the first time, and which did launch into another place, time and life.