This was my first commissioned history. Glenorchy is the northern half of Hobart, and has always had a distinct personality of its own, less public service and government than Hobart, more industrial and working-class. I grew up there and have a fond spot for it.
In 1983 the Glenorchy City Council advertised for a historian, and I submitted the lowest tender and got the job. I really enjoyed writing the book, especially interviewing the many fabulous elderly people whose memories sometimes went back before the First World War. This set me on my career of writing commissioned histories. I also enjoyed the straightforward manner of Glenorchy people, calling a spade a spade. You knew exactly where you stood. A nice change after the University.
I worked with artist Mollie Tomlin. She was marvellous, especially good at drawing buildings as they’d been in the past, with modern bits and pieces removed. She went to huge trouble to find the spot where a photograph from the mid-nineteenth century had been taken, and making a painting based on the photograph. It made a terrific cover for the book.
The Governor, Sir James Plimsoll, launched the book in 1986. The centrepiece of the launch was a wonderful cake a local lady decorated to look like the book. It was so life-like that Sir James tried to open it, and got icing all over his fingers.