Time for a Tasmanian Hall of Fame

Written on 08 September 2021. Posted in News

The extraordinary Olympic performance of Ariarne Titmus is a timely reminder that we need to better celebrate our greats – those whose talents and achievements have, or should have them written into the annals of history. Tasmanians whose excellence, perseverance, and tenacity have propelled them into our consciousness deserve recognition.

Every society needs its heroes – people to whom the next generation can look up to. People to salute. And for our young people, some role models to which to aspire.

Tasmania has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to our greats. Tasmania per head of population provides well in excess of our fair share. Two of the last four Australian Test cricket captains are from our tiny home State. We need a facility where people can visit to celebrate them and the many others in all sorts of other endeavours. What better way to provide our gratitude and respect and inspire our youth than through the establishment of a Tasmanian Hall of Fame?

The Tasmanian Hall of Fame would operate as a repository for the memorabilia of our greats as well as a tourist attraction. The only difficulty associated with it would be two-fold, or potentially three-fold.

Firstly, could you build a sufficiently sizeable facility?

Secondly, who would be left out?

And thirdly, dare the question be raised – where would it be – north or south of the Blackman River? (Hopefully, the third question won’t derail the idea).

Many of our community clubs and associations have their own “halls of fame,” even if they don’t own an actual hall in which to provide physical recognition. There are also our “Honour Rolls” like the “Honour Roll of Tasmanian Women”.

Our Tasmanian Hall of Fame would be our celebration of all our Tasmanian trail blazers.

The categories and people to be considered are only limited by our imagination (and The Examiner’s word count!).

We have our Victoria Cross winners like Teddy Sheean and Alec Campbell, the last survivor of Gallipoli.

Our sports heroes have excelled. We’d have Ricky Ponting (cricket), Peter Hudson (AFL), David Foster (woodchopping), Ariarne Titmus (swimming), Richie Porte (cycling)…

They’re obvious and exceptionally well deserving. Their names are still currently in the public mind.

As is the Crown Princess of Denmark Mary Donaldson – our very own royalty.

From politics, Joe Lyons (our only Tasmanian Prime Minister) and Enid Lyons (the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives) would be certainties.

Trugannini and Fanny Cochrane Smith would be clear indigenous entrants.

We have our own movie legend Errol Flynn.

Further in the artistic sector, we have Peter Sculthorpe – the composer of more than 350 musical works.

Then there is our very own queen of country music crowned by the late Smoky Dawson – Jean Stafford, with awards in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the USA. Her memorabilia has been valued in excess of $1 million.

And who knows about Alannah Hill, Tasmania’s fashion designer?

Would we include Bill Lark for whisky, Bob Clifford for shipbuilding, Claudio Alcorso for wine, Joe Chromy for all manner of things including his success story as a migrant?

And let’s not forget Deny King – the King of the Wilderness.

While in the wilderness, what about Olegas Truchanas for his photography?

In painting – John Glover.

In Campbell Town we celebrate Harold Gatty – the “Prince of Navigators” for his world recognised pioneering work in navigation.

How about John Gellibrand, the father of Legacy (Not too late to donate for Legacy Week by the way!).

Or, our Nobel Prize winning Elizabeth Blackburn – the first woman in Australia to be so awarded.

Her world-leading discovery in 1984 was to establish the existence of telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes the telomere, a structure at the end of chromosomes that protects the chromosome. Hands up if you knew of Elizabeth Blackburn, let alone why she was honoured. It would be good if our National Curriculum could teach our children about such achievers and achievements.

Elizabeth Blackburn was, we are told, captivated by reading and re-reading the biography of another scientific great, Marie Curie (of radiation fame – the first woman to win a Nobel Prize).

Who knows how many Tasmanian girls might become captivated by learning about Elizabeth Blackburn’s achievements?

The Examiner’s word count must kick in soon, so the list must come to an end. Which is the shield behind which the writer will hide for the failure to mention an anticipated avalanche of other worthy inclusions.

A Tasmanian Hall of Fame will inspire the next generation to achieve, foster self-esteem for our collective selves as Tasmanians while being a wonderful tourist attraction and repository for memorabilia. It’s in all Tasmanians’ interests, so let’s do it.