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Kylie and the man on the headland

Kylie Tennant’s reconstructed shack.
Kylie Tennant, c.1945, (State Library of Queensland photograph)

The man on the headland

Who was Ernie, the man on the headland? Kylie paints the impression of an independent bushman who comes into the district in his sulky with his dogs, after a stint of mining in Queensland, and discovers the headland. He is at the same time solitary but friendly, and never marries. Ernie is the quintessentail bushman of Australia’s past.

Goodbye to Ernie

Kylie’s husband is a schoolteacher who likes eating oysters and surfing. Kylie is already a writer. She spins her story around those pursuits, around Ernie’s life, observations of local people and of Laurieton and the headland. It is a story of her family, its relationship with Ernie and with Laurieton and the coast and headland. It is very much a story of place and people and how they interact and influence each other.

Kylie Tennant’s shack. A study in rough planks, galvanised iron and living in place.

Life in-place

A sense of place is a continuous sub-theme through Kylie’s book. Geography shapes how people think and relate to a place. There is the headland itself, the Three Brothers—the rounded, forested mountains behind Laurieton that dominate the local geography—and the beach.

The Camden Haven River at Dunbogan. The nearby town of Laurieton figures in Kylie Tennant’s book, The Man on the Headland.



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Russ Grayson

I'm an independent online and photojournalist living on the Tasmanian coast after nine months on the road in a minivan.