The southern leg of the Heritage Highway features an interesting tribute to Tasmania’s colonial days. The striking figures will catch your eye; the folklore will capture your imagination.
Who are those shadowy figures?
We should warn you, there are plenty of shady characters in these parts! Before we put the wind up you too much, we should clarify that the shadowy figures are actually sculptures in the ‘Shadows of the Past’ Silhouette Trail. They don’t wish you any harm—they just want to spin you a yarn about life along the Heritage Highway in the 19th century. Local artists Folko Kooper and Maureen Craig created the project to shine a light on the region’s colonial past.
Where can I find them?
There are 16 silhouettes dotted between Tunbridge and Kempton, so keep your eyes peeled. Some figures are frozen in action right by the roadside; others are poised high on the hilltops, keeping watch over modern day travellers.
What’s the story?
Each silhouette tells a tale about those who lived and worked along the Heritage Highway in the early colonial days. Discover fierce bushrangers, poor convict chain gangs, a professional hangman, well-to-do early settlers, a horseback messenger, a policeman removing a drunk troublemaker, railway line workers, a convict shepherd, a troop of soldiers, a surveyor, and stage coach travellers.
The sculptures also pay tribute to some intriguing native animals: the legendary thylacine and the mostly forgotten Tasmanian emu. Sadly, both are now extinct (unless you’re partial to the Tasmanian tiger conspiracy theories).
How do we know what life was really like?
Inspiration for the sculptures was drawn from the meticulously kept records of the colonial authorities. From these records, we can do our best to imagine. It is worth considering the experiences of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people—they would likely tell a very different version of 19th century events.
Where can I find more info?
If you’d like to delve deeper into the fascinating tales behind the silhouettes, take a virtual tour through the Heritage Highway Silhouette Trail. All 16 of the sculptures are listed with their photos, as well as information about the happenings that inspired them. Discovering the stories behind the silhouettes is sure to enrich your experience when you see them for yourself.
We love it when you share your adventures with us!
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Stage coach, Kempton | @kimlirving/Instagram