Amazing new photos found

These photos were found in the another of Lizzie Parkinson’s family albums.

They have all come up a treat. The photo of the Dawn was picked up in a 2007 Examiner clipping and where to find this photo of the Dawn. This will be a treasure for the families of the Willett’s (James (commissioned the build), Holt’s (were the key family on board when she was lost) and Jacks (shipbuilder) & Cutt’s (owner when she was lost)

William Holt with son Claude another on to scan up incredibly well/

The Dawn in the Tamar River<br /> Photo in the weekly courier 1909 April 29 insert 4 just after she sank. Picture donated by Jacks ship yards, builder of the Dawn.

John Holt, brother to William and James

The back end of the Coogee and Pearl on Little Dog William Robinson Holt with son Claude...

Little Dog this morning


This morning a magnificent rainbow on top of Little Dog made me smile as I was packing up to leave after a week of wind and rain. The tanks and dams are at last full, a welcome change from the terrible and prolonged dry spell over the past few seasons. The frogs happy chorus, sweet music to our ears, just like when were kids.

A few 2016 winter pics of Fotheringate

Taken Sun 24 July at 1100 Fotheringate has taken a beating from the ocean this winter. The beach littered with rubble from the ? NW Coast floods. Winter snow drops on the walkway down the to beach. Stunning winter moss Calm is the afternoon of the 24 July 16 Just before dark on the 24 July Just before dark on the 24 July IMG_7636


The whaling barque Runnymede

The barque Runnymede 284 tons was another blue gum clipper crafted and launched from John Watson’s yard, Battery Point, March 19 1849, christened by Captain Charles Bayley and named after Morrison’s Estate on the East Coast of Tasmania. According to the book Blue Gum Clippers and Whaling boats the Runnymede was highly successful in the whaling industry, under the Bayley Brothers.

John Holt was aboard the Runnymede as a seaman in 1857, signature for allocated rations can be found on REF: MB2/33/1/355 reel, Z267. The men signed up to join Runnymede did so late Jan or early Feb in preparation for sailing on February 10 1857.

John Holt, interests in the fishing industry, sets up around the early 1860’s the Oyster Bar, trading fresh fish from Hobart to sell at his shop the Oyster Bar L’ton. By 1862 is married to Elizabeth and step father to her three young sons.

The  fishmonger theme continues and by the mid 60’s John moves to secure Little Dog Island where he would make his fortune in the lucrative mutton bird industry.

The Holt sister in-laws



The above photos are the wives of James, William and John Holt/Robinson – these amazing women had 37 children between them…..24 boys and 13 girls.

Emily 11, Ellen 13 and Maryanne 13 – I could be wrong, the one known for certain is Great Grandmother Emily, a correction most welcome.

Ellen had the first of the children in 1878 son William Edward and Archibald Baden the last in 1903.

Emily had twin sons (James and Henry) in 1882. Maryanne’s twins were daughter Lillian and son Elson in 1894.

Ellen and Emily raised their families in the Straits whilst Maryanne’s family all raised in Launceston.

Many thanks to Maryanne’s great-granddaughter for this beautiful photograph, and welcome to Maryanne!

John Holt and Mary Akerman

John Holt and Mary Akerman Holt –  the past week have managed to spend time checking the finer details of their family history – like James and William this history is across five generations and can found at the Furneaux Museum at Emita.

Last year when I first read the family tree I recognised one name. Several nights ago worked out this person is a descendant of Elsie Taylor’s (Holt) son Archie Taylor and connected to one of my old nursing friends. He tells me that Elsie married into the well-known Taylor family…….. a family of Master Mariners.

A few nights ago stunned to see another person well-known to my daughter – another descendant of Elsie Holt’s daughter Edna. Edna’s great-granddaughter and my daughter were friends at LCGS. How strange they have the same Great Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Holt (Meg).  – this would I am sure please her as she came to Australia to make a new life for herself way back in 1853. LCGS was founded in 1848. As far as LCGS goes Meg Youl has had many descendants graduate from LCGS that I am aware of (ten), probably more if we looked a little closer.

March 1909: Elsie and her sisters May, Ruby and Lily were on board the Dawn when she was wrecked in the middle of the night after hitting three-mile reef near Georgetown. Captain Alf Holt being the girls older brother.

March 1910: Elsie’s youngest first cousin Archibald Baden Holt aged 7 and son of her Uncle William and Aunt Ellen was seriously injured in a shooting accident on Little Dog Island. Archie died several months later at the LGH in Launceston. Archie’s grave is next to Elsie’s parents at Carr Villa. Elsie named her first son Archie, her husband Cyril’s second name was Archibald, I wonder if her young cousin Archibald was an influence.






John Holt

a4e1c6eb-3dd0-46ce-913b-a24b78bb2e45 I have tried to work the particular Lodge and  specifically more about the Lodge uniform, also his age to get an idea of the year.

Interested to find out more of origin of this photo found in the Emita Museum family history.

Mary Dwyer or Elizabeth (Meg) married John Holt and then Thomas Prest/Youl

The attire is Masonic as per information from a first cousin and Lodge member.

John Holt Junior was a member of the Heart of Oak Lodge an entirely different Friendly Society.

The only available history of Druids and Friendly Society’s in Tasmania link

Masonic Lodge of Tasmania link with photo of attire in 1940

History of the UK DRUIDS 

This link references the beginning of a Lady’s Lodge called ‘Lady Oak Leaves

Museum Victoria



Examiner article 2005 



Masonsic Hobart 1902

Monds Golden Wedding at the Launceston Masonic centre 1902

Advertisement poster ball Sept 1901 Boags Beer Ball




Little Dog – Family History



Little Dog Island – a stones throw from Big Badger Corner. (open the link and the bay across the water west of Little Dog is Big Badger Corner)

Little Dog is a small island of around 206 acres and has been part of the Robinson/Holt family from the mid 1860’s until around 10 years ago. Great Dog Island is to the East and known as Big Dog. The two islands together are usually called ‘The Dogs’. For instance, Dad will still say he heard the boat (Trading) come in through ‘The Dogs’ during the night.

I have researched and found more early history on John Holt – makes sense about the attraction to Bass Strait.

John Holt’s death certificate states age as 52 when he died in 1878. DOB 1826 if certificate is correct. No documentation of arrival to Tasmania. There are several Mr Holt’s on the arrival indexes to Tasmania.

5 January 1857 there is a John Holt on the whaling Barque ‘Runnymede’ employed as a seaman. John Holt’s signature for payment food and wages. REF: MB2/33/1/355 reel, Z267.

5 May 1860 (second column half way down) advertisement of a stray pigs found in the backyard of John Holt, Canning St Launceston. The last 24 hours TROVE has given up these next five articles.

1 April 1865 (end of last column) John Holt Fish Monger and perhaps the earliest clue about the attraction to Bass Strait. In addition: Jimmy Holt used to tell his sons, as a lad  he had driven the stage-coach on the way to Hobart. In 1856 Jimmy would have been about 13 and probably did have a crack at driving at some point, or maybe he just sat beside the driver. Stage-coaches the mode of transport in those days.……..Jimmy started his boating career aged 14, the time lines work.

6 February 1867  John Holt returning from Bass Strait on 4 February aboard the Mountaineer.

20 May 1868 (top of second column) John Holt issues a warning to would be trespassers on Little Dog Island.

17 June 1872 Lease of Little Dog Island 200 acres (exclusive of 39 acres purchased by Mr J Holt).

17 December 1875 John Holt owner of 121 acres on Little Dog.

These articles set the scene for the Robinson/Holt history in Bass Strait.
We have  a lot of oral history handed down through Jimmy’s children about Great Grandfather Jimmy and his brothers Billy  and Johnny.

Most of the Robinson/Holt history is about Jimmy and Billy – not so much about Johnny. One explanation for this is that Johnny resided in Launceston and only lived on Little Dog during the birding season. The birding seasons a time when the three families came together to work, and hard work it was, everything   carted on and off the island – including wood. Wood was vital for the commercial aspect of running the three sheds and homes.The social aspect important for the brothers, their wives and of course the 30 + children and the thread to the cousins close friendships. Bishop Montgomery notes in 1891 (two years before Grandfather was born) about the three families on page 6.

The map below gives an idea of the division of land on the island in the early days. Jimmy, Billy and Johnny Holt reefs (named by the locals) worked out when you look map. One of the earlier maps I had Billy’s reef on the lower east when it should have been higher and in line with his land.IMG_0033

The three families continued this tradition and I am unsure when it all started to change, we know from the article below they were still operating commercially in 1913. Alf Holt in 1909 had the misfortune as Master of the Dawn and this involved his four sisters.

Johnny Holt died in 1915, James in 1926 and Billy in 1929.

1913 this link tells us about the Flu epidemic that claimed the life of Billy’s son Albert James Holt. Albert’s grave is next to his first cousin at Badger Corner. James article tells us the three families were all still birding in 1913 as he refers to his brothers and in the first article it seems perhaps a slight mix up, where in fact it should have said the young man died at his fathers camp William not James, then again he may have been in James camp if being nursed by Emily.IMG_5424

After James death the family had to sort out a complication with his Will.


George Robinson (Jimmy’s grandson) bought Johnny’s rookery . Tom Diprose (Jimmy’s son-in-law) bought Billy’s rookery.

When Dad was a child (the 40’s) the families still moved to the island to live and work during the birding seasons……….He has plenty of stories about this, especially how noisy the birds and penguins were at night  and again at dawn, not the ideal sleeping conditions! My siblings and I arrived in the 60’s and this annual migration had ceased instead we would do day visits in the Seaplane (boat). I remember the house and birding sheds where my Great Grandparents and grandparents lived and worked. I was still young when Little Dog was set alight and the buildings destroyed, sad losing these connection with our old family history. I remember the fire and looking across to Little Dog, a bright orange glow.

On Johnny’s block there is still a chimney. On Billy’s block there is a holiday home.


This picture taken on an overnight visit to the Island. I was so not disappointed, watching the birds landing with a thud in the rookery then wandering off squawking to find their respective burrows all very noisy and a magnificent display  of nature. The early morning racket on  scrambling to the rocks to fly off. Its one thing to hear the stories, its something you  need to experience to comprehend what it must have been like for our forbears………

The commercial story ended a long time ago and my parents owned Jimmy’s block until about 10 years ago.

In 1882 Canon Brownrigg gives a very accurate description as follows (I don’t think he was all that taken with birding)

‘The next day, leaving the Franklin at Badger Corner, I took a passage over to Big Dog Island in the Rosebud, as the navigation among the numerous sandbanks was well known to Edward Smith and Fred Collis, who offered me the passage in that boat. After visiting Mr Taylor at Big Dog we proceeded to Little Dog Island as Smith and Collis wanted to procure a few mutton birds for home use. Though there was no resident on the island I landed and accompanied Smith and Collis to their “birding.” The rookery the birds inhabit resembles rabbit warren. The soft ground is burrowed out in all directions among the tussocks of grass and the thin, covering over these holes often gives way-as it did frequently  in my own experience and lets one down knee deep. The mode of birding is very simple, but by no means free from danger, arising from snakes, which are occasionally found in the same hole with the bird. To procure the bird the arm is first bared, and then thrust in sometimes quite up to the armpit into the hole, and the bird is laid hold of. The young birds offer no resistance, but the old, bird does not hesitate to defend itself, and makes its presence felt by sharply driving its beak into the hand or arm of the capturer, and drawing blood. When dragged from its hole a jerk of the hand speedily kills the bird by breaking its neck. As the birds are collected they are fastened upon a pointed stick called a “spit”, which is pushed through their beaks and thirty birds makes a fair load to carry.Within a short time Collis and Smith had collected sixty, birds, and with the spoils returned to the boat, and sailed over to Badger Corner. At family prayer in the evening I baptised the infant child of Mr. W. Robinson making the ninth-time of administering that rite among the islands during this visit.’ 1882

In Uncle Fred’s 1905 diary wrote of his helping J Holt manage a fire in the New Year and taking some of the children with them – he went back during the birding season and spent a few day on Little Dog and I love how he writes…… Nephew Walter borrowed his boat to pop across to Little Green Island – this was the norm in those days, socializing between the islands – even the communications were amazing all by fires etc, no phones or mobiles in those days.

Settlement Point has a little rookery where visitors to Flinders can go along and watch the birds returning to their burrows a natural spectacle. For the best part of the year the rookeries lay dormant awaiting the noisy return of the residents – the remarkable Short Tail Shearwater.

The Furneaux Museumvisitors can experience a replica of a working mutton bird shed.




IMG_0029 IMG_0045

The Ketch ‘Dawn’ – built by J Willett


Photo of the Dawn in the Weekly Courier April 29 insert 4 and donated by Jacks Ship builder shortly after the Dawn was wrecked of George Town.

Last year discovering Fanny and James Willett and how they fitted into our family history along with Dad’s recalling of the Dawn handed down to him thought it a good story to research. Dad said his father and uncles had many boating stories they often shared as he and his cousins were learning their boating skills in the Strait’s, naturally many lessons from their own father – Jimmy Holt.

Dad recalls the Dawn was wrecked of a notorious reef just outside Georgetown, all on board were his father (Horace) first cousins including female cousins, referred to as the ‘girls’ and the Dawn was returning to Launceston from Flinders. He remembers hearing the girls suffered terribly from this experience, he thought they were strapped to the mast to keep safe whilst bedding and other flammable gathered then set on fire, alerting the rescue from the Low Head Pilot Station.

James Willett’s wife Fanny was elder sister to Jimmy Holt or James Robinson’s wife Emily.

Alfred (Fred) and Henry Collis – Fanny’s younger brothers also lived at Settlement Point. The Collis family settled in the Straits in 1873

The following is a blend of research about the Dawn the night she was wrecked from Dad, the Willett and Collis history (Museum at Emita), TROVE newspaper articles and Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac.

The  Ketch Dawn was built at Jack’s shipyard on the Tamar River, Launceston. Owner and Master, James Willett. Application of load line to the Launceston Marine Board registered on 24 March 1906, James Willett paid 10 pound to register the Dawn with at tonnage of 33.7.

The Dawn’s maiden trip to Settlement Point was 20/5/1906 with cargo and four passengers: Mr and Mrs Jimmy Woods with children Iola and Landon.

The Willett’s lived on Flinders Island for many years and in these articles James tells us 109 years later (his words) about his boating history. Examiner article 1. Examiner article 2.

Trying to find when James and Fanny moved from Flinders to Launceston remains elusive. The 1904 Walch’s Almanac has James listed as the Post and Telegraph Officer at Settlement Point (also licensed to deal money orders and the savings Bank). In the 1905 edition, his brother-in-law Henry was listed as the registered Post and Telegraph Officer.

Fred Collis noted in his 1908 diary this entry: ‘May 3 F Boyes called going home he brought us a bottle of magnesia from Mr H Walker I went to my snares and got one kangaroo took a bag of skins out and put them in the shed cut three pieces of oak for J Willett and went along the line’ 

August 29 Sabbath Done nothing The Dawn came into Whitemark F Boyes Emily Huitfeld and Mrs Ferguson called in on her way home Bubs got a Doll and ball from her Aunt Fan……….Fred notes in his diaries the arrival and departures of the trading boats to Settlement Point, the Dawn was a regular trader.

As we were not sure of the year she was wrecked I decided to see if I could find any hints on TROVE. I found more than  I bargained for. I was gob smacked when reading the articles, ah ha here was the history twist. It was not Emily’s (Willett) family on board, instead it was her husband’s family, his Nephew Alf Holt – still Horace’s first cousin but on his father’s side. Horace would have been about 14 when the Dawn was wrecked.

A young Alf Holt


Captain Alfred John Holt, is he in the first photo? perhaps a few years and pounds lighter. Alf 'Mate on the Loongoona around 1911 and then Captain of the Agnes 1918. The first photo was around the vicinity of 1896 - 1905.


Alf Holt was Master and Mr Cutts the owner of the Dawn when wrecked in April 1909. Alf and his crew were transporting cargo (barrels of mutton birds), also Alf’s four youngest sisters back to Launceston from Little Dog Island. The girls were returning home from their annual migration to Little Dog Island as late April signals the end of birding season. Little Dog Island was owned/leased by the three original Robinson (Holt) brothers – every year at the start of birding season Jimmy, William and John and families would move to Little Dog to work the 12 weeks or so. The three families had a combined total of 30+ children. Every year Little Dog would become a small community of extended family and tells us a little more of why these cousins were all so close.

EXTRACT from Fred Collis  1909 diary; ‘May 2 I sowed Melotte clearing about home J Woods called coming from Whitemark. Heard sad news The Dawn being wrecked I felt sorry for Alf Holt.’

Alf Holt in the Examiner indicates had they abandoned the ‘Dawn’ in the dingy they surely would have perished. Reading the articles gives perspective of the trauma the girls must have endured. I wonder if they ever went back to Little Dog. What an ordeal for parents John and Mary, involving 5 of their 13 children having already lost son Albert Holt a few years earlier in 1906 aged 25. 

Dad was spot on with the story.