Tales of an Island Far Away

Tales of an Island Far Away

Once upon a time there was a wondrous island with plants and animals and people that the rest of the world had never seen. Then, someone called Abel Tasman crossed the oceans to discover new lands, and also found his way to this island. When he returned home to Holland, he told of the mysteries he had seen, and soon, others came. They called it Van Diemen’s Land. Then, others heard of Tasman’s discoveries, and went to have a look for themselves. They then found that it was exceedingly isolated, and because it was so far away from everywhere else, at the end of the Earth, they sent their villains and criminals to the island, to spend ‘the term of their natural lives’ as slaves and prisoners. These prisoners were called ‘convicts’, because they had been convicted of their crimes, and were then transported to the colonies. At that time, the newly discovered island, and the larger island continent to the north, called Australia, had become ‘colonies’ of the English realm.

Very soon, tales of the beautiful wilderness were told in England and Europe. Anthony Trollope. Free settlers came to clear the forests, and put cattle and sheep on the green pastures. But the island was soon dubbed ‘Demons Land’, because the cruel masters of the convicts spread dread among them. The transported criminals tried to escape, and some succeeded, but then became bushrangers who robbed and killed the free settlers. The English farmers and townsfolk who had come to make a new life on the island complained about having to put up with bushrangers, and soon England stopped sending more villains and criminals to the prison island. Subsequently, the people of Van Diemen’s Land decided to call the island Tasmania, so as not to be reminded of the woeful convict times. There were no more bushrangers, but the villains were replaced by something far more hideous—ignorance.

The people who came from England and Europe to settle in Tasmania were ignorant of the uniqueness before them. They thought the original dark-skinned people who lived on the island since the last ice-age, for many tens of thousands of years were no good…the last one died in 1876, she was called Truganini, and was the last full-blooded Palawa, or Tasmanian Aboriginal. Her people had become extinct, and the causes of that were: introduced disease, genocide, and general violence against the Palawa. But the European ignorance did not stop there!

Apart from being the home of a unique tribe of people, Tasmania was also the domain of an animal that existed nowhere else on this planet: the Thylacine—the apex predator of the island. It was known as the Marsupial Wolf, or Zebra Wolf, but is most famous as the Tasmanian Tiger. It was falsely accused of being a voracious killer of livestock, and hunted to extinction. The last one, Ben, died in Hobart zoo in 1936. Only after the last Tasmanian Tiger had died, did the zoo keepers realize that she was a female.

What tragic losses.

And now the Tasmanian Devil, the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle (distinct from the mainland form), the Swift Parrot, the Tiger Quoll, and many other members of Tasmania’s fauna and flora are threatened with the same fate that befell the Palawa, and then the Thylacine.

Extinction is silent, and others of Tasmania’s animals that have also already silently slipped from existence into extinction are: the Dwarf Emu (also called King Island emu); the Tasmanian Emu; and the Lake Pedder Earthworm.

Those are Tazzie Tales of old.

Benjamin, Samantha, Geoffrey, Rebecca and their mums and dads, grandpas and grandmas know that they live in a wondrous and beautiful place. They look after the unique creatures and plants on their island. KD, Tazzie, Lucky, Goldie, the Swift Parrots that Ben calls ‘Christmas Birds’, and even the tiny bats at Halloween are there for them to admire—and to cherish and look after, because they exist nowhere else on Earth; they make Tasmania so unique.

The children of Sassafras Creek Valley are dedicated to the animals in their valley. Not only do they care for the famous Tasmanian devil, but they also do everything they can to ensure that the platypus, the fresh-water lobster, the native-hen (also called Piyura), the mountain dragons and everything else that shares their island with them will continue to exist into the future.

Will the spider orchids, blue pin cushion, chocolate lily, golden-hair lichen, green and gold frog, Pedra Branca skink, New Holland mouse, Hickman’s pigmy mountain shrimp, or even the Tunbridge looper moth, also find champions like Ben, Sam, Becky and Geoff to care for them? Or are they destined to join the thylacine in its ‘land of no return’? What about the Macquarie island rail, strapleaf woodruff, southern ballantine, coast banksia (extinct in Tasmania), or the parsley fern (extinct in Tasmania)? None of those were given the opportunity to become known and admired on the wondrous island at the end of the Earth. And what do we really know about the antechinus, dunnart or bettong? What makes one animal or plant more worthy of existence than another? Maybe Ben, Sam, Becky and Geoff can show their own children one day how delightful the Tasmanian fauna and flora is. ‘Once Upon A Time On An Island Far Away’ will otherwise become the sad continuation of Tazzie Tales without those creatures and plants.

In the pages of the six Tazzie Tales books, the children of Sassafras Creek Valley become well acquainted with the native animals of the island, and their encounters always lead to exciting adventures. By helping injured wildlife, the children also overcome personal adversities, learn valuable lessons, and become friends for life. Follow their adventures as they discover a thylacine, rescue a ‘boatload’ of Tassie devils from evil bushrangers, track down and catch a fox that got onto the island, save a valuable stand of Bluegums from being logged, help an injured Eagle fly again, and have the time of their lives during their Halloween night ride. The books are illustrated.

The poster shows the map that I needed to draw, in order to keep up with what’s where, and it now is a splendid background, framed by the main characters of the six books, as well as Ben and Sam on their ponies, as they ride straight off the map, and into their adventures.

The animals are KD the Thylacine, Tazzie the Tasmanian Devil, Lucky the Tiger Quoll, the Swift Parrots (Ben’s ‘Christmas Birds’), Goldie the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, and a cute Tasmanian micro bat that made its appearance during Halloween. They are hand-painted on white board, digitally layered and textured, and now grace not only the covers of the six books, but also T-shirts, mugs, posters, stickers, and a whole range of other useful things.

The illustrations inside the books are pencil on paper, digitally enhanced, layered, textured and framed. The six adventure novels for young readers from eight years onwards (and kids of all ages) will soon become available.

I’ve had some pretty awesome adventures during the writing of the books—and even more so afterwards; that story is told here http://tasmanianartist.yolasite.com/ben-and-dan...

Marlies Bugmann

Tales of an Island Far Away


Joined January 2014

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