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The roof of Tasmania : the history of the Central Plateau


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Jetson, T 1987 , '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 thee
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 Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1987 the author

Additional Information:

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

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