E. T. Emmett

E. T. Emmett

Infobox Person
name = Evelyn Temple Emmett

image_size = 200px
birth_date =birth date|1871|05|18
birth_place = Launceston, Australia
death_date = dda|1970|12|09|1871|05|18
death_place = Hobart
occupation = Tourist director, bushwalker and writer in Australia
spouse = Sophie Margaret Maguire

Evelyn Temple Emmett (1871–1970) was the first Director of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau and a founder of the Hobart Walking Club. He actively promoted skiing and bushwalking in the state and served on several National Park boards. Several Tasmanian features are named after him. Today he is increasingly regarded as one of the foremost Tasmanians of his period.


Evelyn Temple Emmett (1871-1970) was born in Launceston in 1871 and grew up on his father’s farm in the village of Forest, within sight of The Nut at Stanley in Tasmania’s north-west. He was a true Tasmanian, with an impressive family lineage dating back to 1819. In that year his grandfather, Henry Emmett, brought his young family out to Van Diemen's Land from England, arriving only fifteen years after the establishment of Hobart Town (1804). His father, Skelton Emmett, was a pioneer farmer, prospector and track-cutter, a colourful and multi-faceted personality. E.T. Emmett’s early schooling was at Stanley, though he later attended Scotch College, Launceston. On completing his education he worked at Scotch College as a teacher for a brief period, before accepting the position of Junior Clerk with the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Company in 1888. When the government took over the railways a few years later, Emmett was promoted to the position of Chief Clerk. In his youth Emmett excelled in road races and walking matches, and later became a champion cyclist and an accomplished ballroom dancer. On 14 April 1903 he married Sophie Margaret Maguire at St Paul's Church of England, Stanley; they had three sons and three daughters.

A capable administrator, Emmett was chosen in 1914 to oversee the beginnings of the company’s tourism operation. His obvious flair and ability for the position led to his appointment as first Director of the newly-formed Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau. Emmett was eminently qualified for the job; he was well-educated, personable and articulate, and possessed an extensive knowledge of the state and its history. He had grown up in the Tasmanian bush, felt a close affinity with it and drew on his bush experiences throughout his life. The early years of his directorship were challenging times, as the concept of tourism was still in its infancy and only limited funds were available. But Emmett’s intimate knowledge of all things Tasmanian allowed him to accurately assess the state’s tourist potential. He worked tirelessly to lay the foundations of the fledgling industry. Whenever tourist numbers for Tasmania fell, he would immediately embark upon a series of promotional tours of the Australian mainland states, using lantern slides and his gift as a skilled public speaker to introduce Tasmania to new markets. Such promotion – commonplace today – was then a bold thrust into the tourist marketplace. His lectures were invariably well-received by packed mainland audiences.

Over the next three decades Emmett was at the forefront of a series of far-sighted initiatives to ensure the protection of many of today’s wilderness regions. He became a foundation member of the Scenery Preservation Board (forerunner of National Parks and Wildlife Service) in 1915, and, two years later, of the first National Park Board which administered the Mount Field National Park and the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in their early years. In 1921, Emmett, Clive Lord and Gustav Weindorfer drew up a landmark proposal for a new national park to be established, in the first instance, at Cradle Mountain. Further discussion between the three men resulted in the now-historic proclamation of a Scenic Reserve on 16 May 1922 which extended south as far as Lake St Clair and enclosed, at that time, convert|158000|acre|km2. This became known as the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

The year before Emmett had visited the mainland states to gain ideas for promoting tourism, and was impressed by the new sport of snow skiing. He returned with six pairs of skis and helped introduce the sport to southern Tasmania at Mt. Field National Park in the winter of 1922. In 1929, with Fred Smithies and Carl Stackhouse, he was among the first to test the ski slopes of Ben Lomond in Northern Tasmania, along with Geoffrey Chapman who also skied Ben Lomond the same year. Emmett helped organise and participated regularly in weekend ski trips by rail from Hobart to Mt Field which quickly became very popular.

On the return train trip from Mt Field on the last ski trip of the 1929 season Emmett suggested the idea of forming what would later become The Hobart Walking Club. He was supported by another keen skier and bushwalker, Jack Thwaites.Emmett’s casual suggestion on the train returning from Mt Field was received with such enthusiasm that shortly afterwards a notice was placed in "The Mercury" calling for interested persons to attend a meeting at Hobart Town Hall. Forty people, including the skiers from Mt Field, were present on Tuesday, 12 November 1929 when the Hobart Walking Club was formed. Walter Taylor was elected first President, Jack Thwaites, Secretary, and Cecil Johnston, Treasurer. Enthusiasm for the club ran high and nine days later the first general meeting was held. At this meeting rules were adopted and seventeen foundation members paid their subscriptions, nearly half of whom were women.

Among the foundation members were Emmett and Jack Thwaites, Walter Taylor, Geoffrey Chapman (who later designed the club’s badge) and Alfred White. In the weeks ahead membership continued to grow and on Saturday 30 November 1929 the first club walk on Mount Wellington was organized. It was a highly successful outing with thirty-five members, mostly women, walking from Cascades to the Log Cabin (later replaced by the Rock Cabin). Among them were Jack Thwaites and Emmett, who was known variously to club members as 'E.T.', 'Em', or, more respectfully, Mr Emmett. Between them, Emmett and Jack Thwaites laid the foundations for what would become one of Australia’s most popular and important walking clubs.

In December 1930 Emmett joined a party which made the first ascent of Mt Ida on the eastern shore of Lake St Clair. He also named Lake Oenone and Lake Helen on the upper reaches of neighbouring Mt Olympus. In March 1934 he made an early ascent of Frenchmans Cap with Jack Thwaites and Des Giblin. Lake Sophie, nestled below the mountain’s southern face, was named on that trip by Jack Thwaites after Emmett’s wife. In the early 1930s plans were put in place to build a vehicular road from The Springs to the summit of Mount Wellington, a proposal which met with considerable opposition. Emmett pushed strongly for the construction of the Pinnacle Road, despite his love of bushwalking and harbouring a lifelong contempt for the motor car. ‘Dad’s opinion was that not everybody was capable of walking to the pinnacle,’ his daughter, Margaret, remembered. ‘He believed that the majestic view from the summit should be shared by car owners as well as walkers.’

The Hobart Walking Club’s biennial magazine, "The Tasmanian Tramp", first published in 1933, was launched with funding assistance from the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau arranged by Emmett. He was editor and author of many articles for the first four issues and supplied the bulk of the photographs. A prolific and gifted writer, he also published two excellent books, "A Short History of Tasmania" and "Tasmania By Road and Track". When Emmett died in 1970 in his hundredth year, tourism in Tasmania had blossomed into an exciting, robust and growing industry behind which he had been the driving force. The opening up of wilderness Tasmania to the bushwalking community had been an important part of that development, and from the beginning Emmett fought hard for the preservation of the state’s natural regions at a time when the short-sighted plundering of these was often the primary consideration of business and government. After a long and distinguished career Emmett retired as Director of Tourism in 1941. In 1959 he was appointed to the Order of the British Empire (OBE). He has since been rightly called ‘The Father of Tasmanian Tourism’. Today his name is commemorated in three locations: Mount Emmett in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Lake Emmett in Mt Field National Park and Emmett's Chamber in King Solomon's Cave at Mole Creek.

Notable Achievements

*First director of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau.
*Instrumental in introducing the sport of skiing to southern Tasmania in 1922.
*Suggested and founded Hobart Walking Club with Jack Thwaites in 1929.
*Member of the party which made the first ascent of Mount Ida overlooking Lake St Clair in December 1930.
*Led the party which made the first official crossing of the Overland Track in January 1931.
*Pushed strongly for the conservation of Tasmania’s wilderness and historic areas through his work on National Park boards and the Scenery Preservation Board.
*Wrote two highly-regarded books and numerous articles about Tasmania.

Further Information

*Emmett, E.T., "A Short History of Tasmania", Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1937
*Emmett, E.T., "Tasmania By Road and Track", Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1952
*Alexander, Alison (ed.), 'Evelyn Temple Emmett', "The Companion to Tasmanian History", University of Tasmania, Hobart, 2004
*Thwaites, Jack, ‘Club Founder – E.T. Emmett’, "The Tasmanian Tramp", No. 9, 1949, pp. 9–10
*Thwaites, Jack, ‘Evelyn Temple Emmett, 1871-1970’, "The Tasmanian Tramp", No. 20, 1972, pp. 20–22
*"The Tasmanian Tramp", Nos. 1–20, 1933–72
*Kleinig, Simon, "Jack Thwaites – Pioneer Tasmanian Bushwalker and Conservationist", Forty Degrees South Pty Ltd, Hobart, 2008

External links

* [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A080463b.htm E.T. Emmett’s entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography]
* [http://www.jackthwaitesbushdiaries.com Jack Thwaites Bush Diaries]

ee also

*Jack Thwaites

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