of the Old Tasmanian Bushmen
West Coast bushmen,
circa 1900. Source: State Library of Tasmania, AB713-1-3947.
| The Mercury newspaper
of the 1st September 1932 (p. 12) notes the
following comments on the tiger from bushman John Pearce:
| "Perhaps the closest
call I ever had was one day when I was working on a particularly rough
part of the track near the Collingwood River. I had just finished
clearing out a section, and was walking back along the track to the camp
when I encountered a savage looking Tasmanian tiger. I had left
James Pearce (with dog
axe at the spot where I was working, and was therefore helpless.
I stood staring at the snarling beast, which was about 10 yards away from
me, and every minute I expected
it to rush at me. I hardly think I was afraid, because I had
caught many of these vicious animals in snares while hunting kangaroo,
but at the same time I had never before come face to face with one in the
bush. For several minutes the tiger kept his eye on me, and finally
slid quietly away into the bush. Naturally I was very much relieved,
and I can tell you I lost no time in getting to the camp. I passed
the spot on a number of occasions after that, but never without taking
an axe or slash hook with me".
"Mr. Pearce went
on to say that when the Linda track was being put through, a Mr. Richard
Lord, who was working in one of the gangs, used to feed a tiger which had
a habit of visiting his camp at night. Mr. Lord regarded the tiger
as a pet, but Mr. Pearce said it was not of the type of pet he encouraged
about his camp while he was working in the locality. In those days,
he said, tiger were very numerous in various parts of the State, and during
one game season he and his brothers caught 17 of them in special neck snares,
which were set along with the ordinary kangaroo snares".
The Pearce's neighbouring
clans, the Jenkins and Stannards from over Bronte way, were in no way reticent
but were nevertheless a skilled hunting unit who, along with the Pearces,
were responsible for presenting in excess of 230 thylacines for bounty
reward. Most of these were taken between Dee Bridge and Derwent Bridge
along the Central Plateau.
| The bushman George
Stevenson, of Blessington in northeastern Tasmania, is reputed to have
caught a host of Tasmanian tigers in the early years of last century using
pitfall traps. The tigers would be guided into the trap by miles
of wire netting tunnel fences, which involved a great deal of manual labour
to initially set up. As well, many tigers were caught in leg snares
set along fence lines surrounding his vast grazing property.
The government thylacine bounty was a significant incentive to many in
country districts, considering that a shepherd's wage at the time was a
mere five shillings a week.
Records from the vast Van Diemen's Land property of Woolnorth in far northwestern
Tasmania reveal an on-going battle with tigers over many years; so much
so that a "tiger man" was appointed in an effort to rid the property of
the supposed menace. The tiger man lived at Mt. Cameron West, and
the last of this hardy breed, George Wainwright, caught most of his tigers
along the coastal runs; usually during winter months when snaring was at
The Sawford family of the east coast waged a constant war with tigers,
and William Sawford, a fine old bushman interviewed on his 95th
birthday in 1972, still believed the animal existed in the wilder parts
of the east coast. He had first-hand knowledge of the tiger, having
trapped six and shot many others on his vast pastoral property in the early
years of last century.
chimney is all that remains of George Wainright's hut at Mt. Cameron West.
Photo courtesy: Tigerman.
Clifford Thorne was another of the old bushmen who at 92 years of age could
still vividly recall his experiences with the thylacine in his early days
spent in the state's northeast. Mr. Thorne grew up on a farm at Thomson's
Marsh near St. Marys. A scar, still visible on his leg, was a tangible
reminder of the tiger's sharp teeth. The wound was inflicted when
he intervened to separate his dog and a wayward tiger locked in battle.
West Coast bush track.
Source: State Library of Tasmania, PH 30 1 50.