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November 15, 2017


Into the Heart of Tasmania

by NancyElin

Title: Into the Heart of  Tasmania (2017)
Author: Rebe Taylor
Genre: non-fiction; history
Trivia:  (TAS)  #AusReadingMonth  @Brona’s Books
Trivia: #WorldFromMyArmchair Challenge (Tasmania)

Trivia: #NonFicNov

Trivia:   #AWW    @AustralianWomenWriters



  1. Into the Heart of Tasmania is a new history of Aboriginal Tasmania
  2. …the eccentric Englishman Ernest Westlake (geologist)
  3. ….and  his  hunt for man’s origins.


Who was Ernest Westlake?   (1855-1922)

  1. English amateur scientist Ernest Westlake from about 1870 to 1920.
  2. The man who loved stones and the history they revealed!
  3. Westlake was officially a geologist… unofficially a self taught anthropologist
  4. The story of Ernest Westlake his collections is brought to life  this book.
  5. I was most interested in what I could learn about Tasmania by reading Rebe Talylor’s book.


What did Westlake do?

  1. In 1908 E. Westlake packed a tent, a bicycle and forty tins of food and
  2. sailed from Liverpool to Port Melbourne Australia.
  3. He believed he found on the island of Tasmania the remnants (stone tools)
  4. …of an extinct race the Tasmanian Aboriginals.
  5. In the remotest corners of the island
  6. Westlake did encounter via interviews
  7. ….the living indigenous communities.


Why were the Tasmanians so important for anthropology?

  1. The Tasmanians are believed to have been the most isolated race on earth.
  2. Their importance is their status as a cultural beginning.
  3. Because of their isolation and slow transformation
  4. …the Tasmanians ‘may have gone on little changed from early ages’ (pg 100)


What evidence do we have that the Tasmanian Aboriginals first human beings?

  1. Edward B. Tylor, ‘the father of anthropology’ after viewing an aboriginal stones
  2. …’the Taunton Scraper’  declared the Tasmanian Aboriginals as the ‘dawn of humanity.’


What was Westlake’s goal?

  1. Westlake wanted to rewrite history.
  2. In the process he  finds and documents a living culture
  3. ...that had been declared extinct, Tasmanian Aboriginals.




  1. I knew NOTHING about the Aboriginals or Tasmania!
  2. Strong point:  Westlake lets the frontier violence done to the Aborigines
  3. seep through his  anthropological journey.
  4. …(Risdon Cove Massacre,  The Black War in Tasmania)
  5. I have never read about the injustice done to this race. #Shameful
  6. All in all did discover Tasmania….following Westlake’s journey on a digital map.
  7. Warning: Be prepared to  ‘push’ through the first 50% of the book.
  8. I had to…. at times Westlake’s  life  back in England
  9. …was not so interesting after his return from Tasmania.


  1. 1-8% – introduction to the man Ernest Westlake and his family and education
  2. 9-32% – described Westlake’s 1,5 year trip to Tasmania
  3. …Flinder Island and Cape Barren Island.
  4. 42-45% – Westlake’s return to England and his  studies…and his death in 1922.
  5. 46-48% – Westlake’s Tasmanian stone collection and notes were now open to
  6. Rhys Jones, University of Sydney earning his PhD in Tasmanian archeology (1966).
  7. 49-   57%   The book gathers steam with the very interesting
  8. …escavations by R. Jones and his team (1965)
  9. Finally Dr. Rebe Taylor shines as she pulls all the diverse theories
  10. …together of past explorers into a  ‘page turning’ last few pages!
  11. 57-100% – notes and other resource

Last thoughts:

  1. Rhys Jones the ‘cowboy archeologist’ once said:
  2. “Australian archaeological treasure is not gold or silver
  3. …it is time itself.”
  4. I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite a ‘few slow pages’.
  5. Dr. Rebe Taylor deserves
  6. University of Southern Queensland History Book Award 2017
  7. Tasmania, the heart-shaped island, takes on a new meaning for me!

Dr. Rebe Taylor:



I visited new museum websites:

  1. Tasmanian Museum
  2. National Museum Melbourne
12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 15 2017

    I want to read this! I’ve always been fascinated by Tasmania. We even had a deal me in participant one year from Hobart. (I used to say “We’ve had participants from Great Britain to Ghana and from Tucson to Tasmania!) 🙂

    I’ve marked this one as to-read on my account. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    • Nov 15 2017

      Rebe Taylor impressed me with her sharp and interesting analysis.
      I did struggle with Westlake’s life story in England (….he was not a man with ‘flair’…)
      but his dedication to his science was incredible.
      Thanks for you comment…and I hope you enjoy the book!

  2. Nov 16 2017

    I’ve been very curious about this book Nancy. As you know, a lot of my recent non-fiction reading has been about the Aboriginal history of Australia and the terrible deeds done by the early English settlers that have had flow-through effects to this day.

    The colonising English have a lot to answer to when it comes to the native peoples of the countries they colonised. Every single country concerned is still grappling with the issues – across Northern America, Africa, India and the Asia-Pacific basin They left behind a legacy of disadvantage, prejudice and a habit of sweeping it all under the carpet.

    One of my non-Aust non-fiction books at the moment is about this thing exactly from the Indian perspective – Inglorious Empire.

    • Nov 16 2017

      If I can mange it….during the busy reading month of November…I have another ‘Aboriginal’ suprise for you…!

  3. Dec 4 2017

    Spotted this review from a Tasmanian today about another Tassie book you might enjoy –

    • Dec 5 2017

      Wonderful! I will investigate book AND bookblog! I saw on the news that is snowed in Tasmania….OMG!

      • Dec 5 2017

        It turned a bit chilly this weekend & very wet. We had 95ml of rain on Saturday in Holbrook.

    • Jan 2 2018

      Thanks for that Brona. I have been searching for blogs about Tasmania and that one does not come up. It looks great.

  4. Feb 17 2018

    Very interesting stuff! Imo, there’s not enough paper dedicated to Tasmania. It’s such an underrepresented area of our world today.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. November Round-Up: History, Memoir, Biography. – Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
  2. #AusReadingMonth Wrap Up | NancyElin
  3. Q&A Australian Reading Month 2019 | NancyElin

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