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John Ernest Philp

John Ernest Philp (1869–1937), bushman, sailor, writer and shipping agent, was born at Franklin into a Scottish family with strong links to the sea, Ernest Philp's life was shared between a love of the bush and a passion for the sea. Between 1893 and 1908 he worked on important pioneering projects such the cutting of the survey route for the Mt Lyell Railway to Strahan, western exploration and the Gordon River Track. On these trips he worked under EDB Innes and Robert Ewart, though by 1910 he was leading parties to Frenchmans Cap and to Mt Cameron, where he surveyed for a water race still in existence today.

Philp meticulously recorded details of his bush trips in lively detail. In 1899 he married Vera Robinson of Triabunna, courting her in a series of romantic journeys from Hobart. He continued to be drawn to the sea, keeping a small boat in Lindisfarne Bay and sailing regularly between Hobart and Strahan. In 1912 he embarked on an adventurous and memorable voyage to the Solomon Islands, returning to Hobart to work as a shipping and commission agent. One of the last of his kind, Philp provided an interesting link between that era and the present day. In retirement he drew on his encyclopaedic knowledge of local waters and maritime history to write The Whaling Ways of Hobart Town. He also wrote a series of fascinating articles on his bush adventures for Hobart newspapers under the pen name of 'Tahune-Linah', and his log of a memorable journey to the Solomon Islands in 1912–13 was published in 1978. Philp's name is commemorated in several features in the Frenchmans Cap region.

Further reading: JE Philp, Whaling Ways of Hobart Town, Hobart, 1936; JE Philp, A Solomons Sojourn: J.E. Philp's log of the Makira 1912–1913, edited by R Herr with A Rood, Hobart, 1978.

Simon Kleinig