Stones of The Steppes
Favorite thing: "Oh, a sign". That was the thought that raced through my head. "Perhaps it's worth a look", I countenanced and so it was that I turned in to the Steppes Historic Site.
Just off the Lake Highway, about 35 kilometres north west of Bothwell, there's a series of sculptures. They were done by a sculptor called Stephen Walker and were passed on as a gift to Tasmania.
Artists are passionate and Stephen wanted to recall and record a life that no longer exists. For, just one kilometre from this very site, there used to be a settlement, right at the intersection of Lake Highway and Interlaken Road. Generations of the same family lived and died here, they were called Wilson.
In 1863 a police station was constructed here and James Wilson was offered the position of superintendent of police, one he held for 30 years. He married a lady from Bothwell called Jessie Moyes and they raised five children. Though the station was later closed they were allowed to stay as tenants of the Police Department and later purchased 17 acres a kilometre from the homestead.
James died in 1922 aged 85 but Jessie and three daughters remained. Jessie lasted till 1946, aged 99 years. The last of the family was Madge Wilson and she spent her entire life here until 1975 when she died, aged 92.
Fondest memory: The family, understandably, had a close affiliation with the bush, so much so that Madge and her sister Marion offered their private land at the Steppes for inclusion in the reserve, believing it would afford protection for the birds and wild animals that they loved so much.
It's difficult for us to even begin to imagine just how harsh life could have been. The bitter winters, not much company save for your own family and a landscape that to some may appear on the bleak side.
Yet they found solace in themselves and their environment. Travellers passing through, often seeking the elusive trout, could utilize the post office, the bakery and a bathtub, though it was located on a verandah.
The trout of the Great Lakes are not indigenous and herein lies another extraordinary tale.
In 1870 James and a police constable carried 119 English brown trout fry from the Salmon Ponds all the way to the Great Lake in large billycans on horseback, the water being changed at every creek en route. This worked inasmuch as they all arrived alive!
Personally, I am in awe of such endeavours and hope this record will allow others to realise the hardships they had to endure.
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: I loved this. They built a barracks right near the sign in 1824 in an effort to quell native uprisings but, in 1828 it collapsed, mainly due to overcrowding.
A new site was eventually surveyed and in 1832 Fort Wentworth was built on Barrack Hill and much of the original is still there.
This coincided with the bridge being built across the creek.
There is no defining knowledge as to how the name "Croaker" originated.......may I boldly suggest it could have something to do with frogs?
Fondest memory: D'Arcy Wentworth was actually a brother of the famous explorer William Charles Wentworth and both were descended from a suspected highwayman. D'Arcy was also the first Australian born officer in the British Army, a far cry from his antecedents! As a captain here he was in charge of the garrison and also assistant police magistrate.
All this is recorded on the board in pic 5.
The pleasant stroll takes you from town, across the creek and up the hill to the lookout over the town. It's a nice way to spend half an hour.
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking