Blog

Michael Sharland

By: Vanessa Finney, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 20 Dec 2011

We are about to start a project to digitise and transcribe the Nature Diaries of ornithologist, journalist and environmentalist Michael Sharland.

Thylacine at Hobart Zoo

Michael Sharland © Reproduction rights, Australian Museum

Michael Sharland, 1899-1987

Sharland was a photographer, journalist, environmentalist and ornithologist who wrote for both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Hobart Mercury for 60 years (under the pen name 'Peregrine'). Born in Tasmania in 1899, he joined the Field Naturalist Club of Tasmania at 18 years of age and was an active member for the rest of his life. He travelled widely in Australia and internationally, observing the natural world, keeping detailed diaries and taking photographs wherever he went.

Sharland was a passionate environmentalist, fighting for the protection of Tasmanian colonial historical sites, including Port Arthur and the Cascade Brewery site. From 1927, he spent 20 years working as a journalist in Sydney and Melbourne but returned to Tasmania where he became Superintendant of Scenic Reserves from 1947 to 1961and a member of the Scenery Preservation Board (forerunner to the NPWS).

Digitising the Sharland collections

Our team of digitisiation volunteers will start with six volumes of Sharland's Nature Diaries -- detailed observations of field trips and birding outings in Tasmania and across Australia from 1918 to 1947. The diaries are a fantastic primary source for the study not just of Sharland but also early environmentalism and the culture of amateur naturalists in Australia.

Sharland was a keen and talented photographer, and the Australian Museum holds 2,600 of his negatives plus 1600 prints which we will also be selectively scanning. We are hoping to make more detailed connections between his writings and photographic collections, as it appears that he kept detailed notes of the photographs he took in his diary.

1 comment

Col Bailey - 9.02 AM, 24 February 2012
Michael Sharland opened new horizons for thousands of Australians during his extensive journalistic career as ‘Nature Writer’ under the pseudonym of ‘Peregrine’ for both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Tasmanian ‘Mercury’ newspapers. He was an articulate and hugely knowledgeable naturalist who captured the imagination of his ever-growing audience with marvellously descriptive appraisals and descriptions of a wide variety of Australian native animals and birds, myself included. One of his favourite animals was without doubt the thylacine, and there is no doubting that Sharland knew as much about this mysterious animal as anyone on earth. Apart from personally studying the animal at close quarters in the Beaumaris Zoo, he interviewed many of the old trappers and bushmen who were familiar with the ways of the thylacine, as well as being personally involved with many of the early searches and expeditions launched post 1936. A long time member of the Tasmanian Field Naturalist Club, he was an active member of the Scenery Preservation Board as well as Superintendent of Scenic Reserves for many years and in addition was involved in many environmental projects around Tasmania and his invaluable contribution will never be forgotten.

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