All of Harrison's thylacines were procured in North West Tasmania, many
by well known bushmen. The likes of A. R. "Dick" Rowe, Almer Saward,
Alf Forward, Frank Upston, Dick "Boy" Evans, Harry Wainwright, Ray "Turk"
Porteus, Roy Anderson, Tom Harman and Adye Jordon all supplied live thylacines
of northwest Tasmania showing the known points of capture of fifteen of
Elliott (Examiner, 6/3/1917 p. 3), 2) West Takone (Melbourne Zoo
minutes, Oct/Nov 1929), 3) Meunna (Interview - Kath Doherty - daughter
of Frank Upston - Archives Office of Tasmania, AOT NS 896/37, Thylacine
Competition Entry, Doherty, 2/9/1981), 4) Mawbanna (Examiner, 1/5/2005),
Brittons Swamp (Bell, 1965), 6) Arthur River (Advocate, 20/3/1928
p. 4), 7) Arthur River (Malley & Brown Interview, 1/10/1972),
Arthur River (North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 13/5/1916 p.
2), 9) Salmon River (Forward & Harman capture, Circular Head
Chronicle, 11/8/1926 p. 5 & Mercury, 24/8/1954),
(Almer E. Saward capture 1, Guiler, 1986),
11) Trowutta (QVMAG thylacine
reports - Harrison, Ref: TAHO NS463/1),
12) West Montagu (Almer
E. Saward capture 2, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 7/6/1917
p. 4), 13) Irishtown (North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times,
23/7/1910 p. 6), 14) Arthur River Mill (Ken Willoughby capture,
Expeditionary Research Team Archives, 4/10/1970, QVMAG), 15)
Lapoinya (Kaine capture) (Dr. S. Sleightholme [interview with descendant]).
image: Google Earth.
Harrison's surviving notebook provides us with a rare insight into his
business practices. He appears to have been meticulous in recording
the details of his sales, purchases, and travel arrangements, and kept
a running balance of his day-to-day accounts. Harrison's notes that
he supplied Albert Le Souëf (the director of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney)
in spirit, with the intestines removed, at 10/- each. There are also
several references to skulls (unspecified) and skins (unspecified), indicating
that in addition to live animals, he also supplied specimen material to
An interesting entry in Harrison's notebook for 1927 notes a quote to supply
4 devils at £3.10/- and 3 tigers at £75 each to the Perry Brothers
circus. Several circuses had thylacines on display in their travelling
menageries, notably Wombwell's, St Leon's and the Fitzgerald Brothers (Sleightholme
& Ayliffe, 2013 [ITSD Project Summary, p. 17 & 94]), but there
is no evidence to suggest or confirm that this order was ever fulfilled.
Within his home in Wynyard, Harrison had his own private museum, consisting
of three rooms in which he proudly exhibited numerous mounts and skins
of Tasmanian marsupials, including 15
thylacine skins and 4 mounted specimens.
Harrison not only had first-hand experience with thylacines in the wild,
but also personally secured, or helped to secure, at least three
|i) "Snaring for
tigers back of Trowutta. After five days caught one by the front
paw which was broken. He kept the animal in a cage with splints on
the paw, and after four days the tiger would come to him to have the paw
|ii) "Once caught
a tiger which he tied up, and carried back alive on his back".
one tiger in a hemp snare. It chewed through several 2" pegs, but
not the snare rope".
With reference to the second capture, the Advocate of the 2nd July 1927
(p. 2) notes:
"Many years ago", Mr. Harrison states, "a friend of his was out in the
moonlight on a winter's night, waiting to get a sitting shot at a kangaroo,
when he saw running towards him a kangaroo at great speed. He fired
and knocked the kangaroo over. The animal jumped up and ran away,
when, to his astonishment, he saw four animals like young dogs following
the kangaroo, and uttering a short, snappy bark. These proved to
be a litter of tigers, three-parts grown. He shot one, and Mr. Harrison
helped carry it home".
Walter Blackwell of Wynyard was married to one of James Harrison's daughters,
and recollects several stories on Harrison when interviewed
in 1951. He said of Harrison:
Harrison carrying a wallaby across a road. This image is from a motion
film taken in Wynyard in 1924; almost certainly, the only movie footage
of Harrison in existence. Courtesy: Archives Office of Tasmania.
"Harrison once wanted to catch a tiger, so hired a horse, bought another
for £1, and set off for the Arthur River. At a point 1 mile
below its junction with the Hellyer River, and 1 mile from it, he shot
the packhorse for bait, and set snares all round it. That night he
camped on the Arthur River, and next morning he returned to find he had
caught a beautiful tiger. This took place about 20 years ago.
Before that, Harrison and two other men camping on the banks of the Arthur
heard a strange noise, sounding like a dog. A wallaby came down the
opposite bank, and swam across it towards them, followed by a tiger which
|began to swim
after it. Harrison in his excitable way, began shouting out to his
friends that there was a beauty for them to catch, but of course the tiger,
hearing the commotion, turned and swam back again. Another tiger
caught by Harrison in a snare had its skin cut right round its neck and
one front leg by the snare, except for a small gap at the top of the neck.
The tiger was kept in a cage at his home and after six weeks the wound
had turned septic, so he contacted Dr. Muir, who came and syringed the
wound out with Lysol. There was a rapid improvement and after another
fortnight the tiger used to come to the front of the cage to be treated.
Harrison took it over to Melbourne and sold it to a Melbourne Doctor as
a pet for £25. The specimen was caught in the Hellyer area
near Parrawe about 16-18 years ago".