Looking Back – New Year’s Day

As we head in 2022, we look back at New Year’s Day in Tasmania 100 and 200 years ago

A glance back at New Year’s Day in lutruwita/Tasmania in 1822 and 1922.

New Year’s Day 1822

The Hobart Town Gazette reported a public meeting held in Hobart on 1 January 1822. The meeting resolved that an Agricultural Society be established. Rather than focus on promotion of agricultural related matters as we know today, the society was concerned with protecting stock.

That this society being established particularly for the protection of Stock; and as it is the first and grandest Principle of the Society to prevent rather than to punish Crime, every Member pledges himself not to exchange Rum or Spirits of any kind for Sheep, or any other Description of Stock

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, Saturday 5 January 1822, p.2
Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, Saturday 5 January 1822, p.2

Information on Adolarius Humphrey, who was a founding vice-president of the Agricultural Society can be found in my post here.

At this time, the Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser was the only local newspaper. It was published once a week on Saturdays.

New Year’s Day 1922

The Examiner reported ‘glorious’ weather for the holiday. The meteorological observations indicated warm and cloudy conditions, with a temperature of 73.5°F (23°C).

Businesses were closed and crowds flocked to favourite spots within, and beyond, Launceston. This included a record crowd of 1800 people through the turnstiles at the Gorge (with many enjoying a swim), and between 2000-3000 people attending the Caledonian games at York Park. Trains to the North-West were busy.

Upon request by The Examiner, Premier Walter Henry Lee issued a New Year message.

The year just closed leaves perhaps a not altogether pleasant memory, inasmuch as hopes for the world’s peace have not been fully realised.

Walter Henry Lee

Sir Walter Henry Lee, born in Longford, was a three-time conservative premier of Tasmania. He wrote this new year’s message during his first term (1916-1922).

Lee had first been appointed as premier midway through WW1, with times continuing to be tough leading into 1922. Tasmania had limited manufacturing, severe inflation and a very large deficit. Lee tried to counteract this by promoting new schemes such as hydroelectric power and the Soldier Settlement Scheme. The latter particularly was criticised and did not have the hoped for success.

Heading into 2022…

Heading into 2022, some things remained unchanged. Agricultural societies are still part of Tasmanian life and people will gather in favourite relaxation spots today, albeit with much warmer weather than they had in 1922 (a hot 33°C is forecast for Launceston).

Pressing issues heading into 2022 are climate change and the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. QR codes, masks and density restrictions are a part of every day life.

What will life look like in 2122?

Australian War Memorial, Walter Henry Lee, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/H16358 [accessed 26 December 2021]
Companion to Tasmanian History, University of Tasmania, Walter Lee, https://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/L/Walter%20Lee.htm [accessed 26 December 2021]
Examiner, Monday 2 January 1922, p.4
Examiner, Tuesday 3 January 1922, p.5
Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, Saturday 5 January 1822, p.2
Postcard, Tasmania – New Year’s Greeting, personal collection, Tasmania
Weekly Courier, Thursday 5 January 1922, p.18

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