11/8/2015 PressReader – Sunday Tasmanian – 8 Nov 2015 – Page #18 DAVID BENIUK
“It was in a sense a wild place, it was a place where big kids would chase you.” HENRY REYNOLDS
KNOCKLOFTY Reserve could be a dangerous place back in the day. Shooters, cliffs, fires and even angry squatters are forged in the memories of those who as kids roamed the bushland, long considered Hobart’s backyard. The reserve will celebrate its 70th anniversary next weekend and those memories are being collected as part of an interpretation project. Renowned historian Henry Reynolds grew up in Knocklofty Terrace, spending much of his childhood in the 1940s on the reserve. “Kids just went off after breakfast and were away all day,” the 77-year-old tells the Sunday Tasmanian. “We’d just go up and wander across the hills, even when we were quite young. “It was in a sense a wild place, it was a place where big kids would chase you and shoot their air rifles at you — you had to be pretty careful.”
Kids were sent off with a chop to cook on an open fire, for a game of cricket or to collect tadpoles from the reserve’s ponds. Professor Reynolds’s sister, Judy Scott, remembers playing in quarries and caves. “It was pretty dangerous but we used to go along the cliff and go into the caves and play cops and robbers and bushrangers,” she said. Much of the fun centred on an old farm dwelling known as the Pigeon House, which 79-year-old John Lahey remembers as a squat for itinerant fruit-pickers. “This kid came out shaking his fist at me,” Mr Lahey recalls. Hobartians welcomed a decision by the council to purchase the 175-acre site in 1943, seeking to save it from timber cutting for firewood. Axes, firearms and fires were banned as it became a reserve in 1945 and a suggestion it be named Churchill Park knocked back.
Professor Reynolds says it is likely to have been an open, grassed Aboriginal hunting ground before proving attractive to farmers. Tree-planting in recent decades has failed to take that history into account, he argued. “Their idea was to take it back to what it was once upon a time but I don’t think it was ever like that you can’t hunt if you have lots of trees,” he said. “I would like to see that whole area opened up again for recreation as it historically had been.”
Bill Stennard’s dad’s yacht tryout in the Knocklofty frog pond in 1942
Old Pigeon House
Anybody know anything about this?
Up on the Knocklofty Reserve near the frog pond(?) in the foreground. Was it destroyed by the ’67 bushfires?
Who owned/built/lived in it?
“The Pigeon House near the frog ponds was already gone by the early 50s when we used to roam the hills and fish for tadpoles. Definitely gone before the ‘67 fire. I recall that there were some stones which look like those in the photo of the building lying around near the ponds.”
UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL VALUES OF KNOCKLOFTY RESERVE
A report to the City of Hobart by Dr Caroline Evans and Dr Kathryn Evans December 2015
Suzanne Smythe and the history of Knocklofty Reserve.
One of the most popular recreational reserves in Southern Tasmania is an area over-looking Hobart, known as Knocklofty.
Meaning High Hill, Knocklofty is a location where people from all over the city come to walk their dogs, practise tai-chi and ride their bikes.
Although Knocklofty is now an expansive, forested reserve owned by the Hobart City Council there was a time when it’s hills were bare and the most prominent plant was gorse.
Suzanne Smythe is an author and local historian whose interest in Knocklofty was piqued after a discovery she made one morning while walking its tracks with her dogs and granddaughter.
Paul McIntyre spoke with Suzanne Smythe to find out more…
Duration: 16min 4sec