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The roof of Tasmania : the history of the Central Plateau


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Jetson, T 1988 , 'The roof of Tasmania : the history of the Central Plateau', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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"The Roof of Tasmania" is the history of a unique region - the Central Plateau. Altitude and climate have forged a landscape, unusual in its features and characters. Throughout its history, the Plateau has been incorporated into the state's economy whilst at the same time retaining an identity through its isolation. Human occupation, both Aboriginal and white, has been transhumant. Thus a regional identity has never been developed. Instead there have been shared values related to occupational groupings and contending with the unpredictable Plateau weather. Economic activities can be classified according to whether resources of the land or water have been utilized. However,exploration was necessary before the Plateau's resources were known. The need to find new pastures was the main motive for journeys of discovery. Exploration was haphazard and many discoveries were made as a result of wild cattle, bushrangers and kangaroo shooters. At this early stage, pastoralism became established as the dominant land use. Its development, however, was hindered by obstacles such as bushrangers, aborigines, the cessation of cheap convict labour, an introduced species - the rabbit, and finally public opinion.
The other significant land use was the fur industry. One aspect utilized the native fauna - wallaby, kangaroo and possum, whilst the introduced rabbit was the basis of the other. In both cases, the climate made the highland pelts more valuable than their lowland counterparts. Its long term future was always questionable because of its reliance on the world fashion scene. The conservation movement's increased power added extra pressure to an always fluctuating industry. All three land uses have declined in importance. Pastoralism has been restricted to the less elevated regions whilst the fur trade is virtually extinct. Initially less important, the water resources have been more durable. The potential for irrigation and generation of hydro electricity had to await technological progress at the turn of the century. The Plateau was ideally suited for hydro electricity with its natural storages, high rainfall and sheer drops in elevation. In harnessing the water power the normal industrial infrastructure was created. Transport and communication systems and social facilities were improved. Whilst providing the power to transform the State's economy, the isolation gradually declined. But it was the combination of hydro construction works and the introduced trout which produced the internationally renowned "Shannon Rise". Although the latter has been destroyed, fishing has continued to be a significant contributor to the Plateau's economy.
The increased accessibility resulted in increasing numbers of tourists visiting the "Roof of Tasmania". There was a great variety of activities ranging from painting to bushwalking to shooting. Fluctuating economic conditions and . social values have altered government's attitudes to high altitude multiple land use. The current trend has set- aside large areas of the Plateau for recreational purposes. The wheel had turned - the traditional land uses had declined, not because the resources had altered, but because of international markets.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Jetson, T
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1987 the author

Additional Information:

Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 1988. Bibliography: leaves 318-330

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