Gustav and Kate Weindorfer walked the Tasmanian bush in an historic yesterday where the sublime power and enchantment of the wilderness was untouched. Through the Naturalist’s Club, they found a sense of belonging and freedom from the confining strictures of civilised life. We first learn of the Tasmanian landscape when Kate’s love of botany is paused to appreciate the view of land surrounding Mount Roland near her home town of Kindred –she feels ”the silent outreach of the soul towards eternal beauty”(p12). Having recently stayed in the shadow of this” dramatic thrust of basalt” (p11) I felt the longing for the vanished world that is so lyrically brought to life by author Kate Legge.
The Naturalist’s Club is where Kate meets Gustav. Although she had explored her homeland with her brothers sayshaying “upwards in ankle- length skirt” (p11), her desire to save Cradle Mountain was lit by her membership. Kindred tells us of a world that was populatedby hobbyists who drove scientific enquiry. Kate Cowl (later becoming Weindorfer), regardless of status or lack of qualifications could share her intimate knowledge of this part of Tasmania with this group. Her love affair with Gustav and their shared dream of tourism in National Parks opened the wilderness to the invasive glare of the world. This awakening to the treasures of Cradle Mountain ultimately led to its conservation. Kate’s role was reduced due to her premature death, but Gustav kept true to their vision. Kate and Gustav wanted a road to Cradle Mountain and although both died before it was built, their legacy remains. The Mountain had 38 visitors in 1916; a century later 280 000 visitors view the panoramas the Weindorfers held as hallowed. This is a well- researched lament for yesteryear driven by Kate and Gustav’s yearning for wild places and each other