Given that I know of a few fly fishermen who aren’t getting any younger – some would say we are earning the label of “museum pieces” – it’s great to hear that one of Tasmania’s famous old houses, Clarendon in the north of state, is to become the home of the Australian Fly Fishing Museum.
For anyone with the vaguest interest in how our beloved indulgence evolved, it is to be hoped that Clarendon will become the repository for all things fly-fishing related – from old style flies, silk lines and split cane rods to the fishing log books of the famous fisherman who waded our rivers and lakes.
Writing in a recent issue of the National Trust’s news magazine, community heritage officer Matt Smithies, says that curator Rhonda Hamilton has started research on “what is going to be an international standard exhibition, including static and interactive displays.”
For those museum visitors unfamiliar with the arcane pursuit of fly fishing, experienced anglers and fly tiers will be on hand to guide visitors in both tying a fly and casting one or two into the waters of the South Esk on whose banks Clarendon is located.
The museum will be housed in Clarendon’s Shepherd’s Cottage, which has recently been the subject of significant conservation work. The project to get the museum up and running was driven by a steering committee which included fishing identity Rex Hunt, as well as representatives from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
The National Trust (Tasmania) chapter says the museum will focus on the period from the 1930s to the 1960s, considered by many as the golden age of trout fishing, particularly in Tasmania with events such as the Shannon Rise which attracted fly fishing types from around the world.
Clarendon was built in 1838 by James Cox who is described as an inspirational visionary whose agricultural enterprises prospered at a time when northern Tasmania was the food bowl for Australia, exporting vast quantities of grain to NSW as well as to India, Mauritius and the Cape Colony. Cox was also a pioneer in the fine wool industry in Tasmania, had a keen interest in rare breed poultry and took an active role in the introduction of brown trout.
It is reported that in 1867 Cox acquired some 200 to 300 trout ova which were placed in northern Tasmania’s first purpose built holding ponds and hatching boxes.
A belated thank you James!
Now here’s where visitors to Camden Fishing can lend a hand!
Curator Rhonda Hamilton is seeking the donation of objects to help enrich the collection which will represent Australia’s extraordinary fishing heritage.
Anyone owning fly fishing objects who may be considering entrusting them to an organisation dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of Australia’s angling history should contact the Tasmania branch of the National Trust on 03 6344 6233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The museum, which received funding of $25,000, is scheduled to open by May 2013.
Meanwhile I’ll keep searching the grey hair and lined faces of a few fellas I know to see who might be better stored in a museum than wading Little Pine in a howling gale.