Fiona Lee, The Board (detail), 2009, CAST, North Hobart, Tasmania

11 April 2011


I've been playing around in Trove, the National Library on-line document "place",  a site of books and newspapers and images, from all over Australia, now delightfully accessible without having to battle brittle microfilm in creaky machines in the library itself. It is an addictive site, an archaeology dig in which you can assemble lists and tags. Totally engrossing for the researcher/editor, particularly so for a proscrastinator, it is possible to spend hours correcting transcriptions from blurred and wrinkled newspapers from across the country. As you correct, you are lulled into the language of the time and place and the idiom of the press: early 20th century  court reports from Cairns and coastal shipping from Cooktown, the "social pages" of post WW2 Sydney.
Today I found in Trove a site I had been looking for in other, more traditional, places (the dreaded microfilm, bound copies of newspapers, card indexes, people's memories and so on) for some time. I had been told that I had the wrong city: all I knew was that the place was named "Eltham" and most of those I spoke too pointed me gently towards Melbourne. But there it was, on the web, a guest house in Hobart, Tasmania, c.1910, run by a woman who once gave a gun to a gentleman astronomer on his way to Port Davey... but that's another story. For me, this place is now real, even though Google Street View has proved its 41 rooms, tennis courts and extensive gardens have given way to a parking lot and a block of offices.
Trove can be found at:

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