Island Story by Ralph Crane and Danielle Wood

‘Objects, whatever form they take, invite us to think about their history, the stories they contain and the stories they can tell.’

I was alerted to the existence of this beautiful book by Lisa ( and put in a request for my library to buy a copy.  I borrowed it, opened the cover and was immediately transported home.  There are connections everywhere for me in this book.  Sometimes it is one of the 57 objects itself (some of which I’ve seen) or the accompanying text.  Sometimes it is the writer.  One of the contributors, Tim Thorne, was once a teacher of mine at high school in Launceston. He also spoke about my great uncle, Max Bound, after Max’s death in 2012.

There are poems about places, there are landscapes.  There are authors I have read, including Carmel Bird, Heather Rose, Danielle Wood, James McQueen, Matthew Kneale and Jennifer Livett and others I know of.  I want to reread ‘Hook’s Mountain’. And there are paintings by Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and others.  Mention of the zinc works takes me back to the 1960s, and any mention of thylacines takes me to the death of the last known Tasmanian Tiger at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart in 1936, when my parents were young children.

I have to keep bringing my attention back to the objects and their accompanying text.  The protests to save the Franklin River.  The bushfires of 1967: the tragedy and devastation, being repeated again and again.  I recognise the 1920s washing machine, surely never as good as my Da’s copper and mangle (which he used until 1969).  A poem about roadkill takes me off on another tangent: memories of stories about cooking native hens.  Muttonbirds on Big Dog Island reminds me of food I’ve not tasted for over forty years, and (much more uncomfortably) of colonial impact on Indigenous peoples.

I love the way in which items are paired with text: not all connections are immediately obvious, but with a little reflection I could see them.

I am home for a while, longing to revisit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

I close the book, wanting more.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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