We are about to start a project to digitise and transcribe the Nature Diaries of ornithologist, journalist and environmentalist Michael Sharland.

Thylacine at Hobart Zoo
In 1938, Michael Sharland led a Royal Zoological Society trip to the western Tasmania in search of the thylacine. They found evidence of existence of the thylacine, bringing back stories, photographs and casts of footprints (though they did not see an actual animal). In his report, Sharland recommended that an area of the NW be reserved for the protection of the thylacine. This photograph was taken by Sharland of thylacines in the Hobart Zoo. Australian Museum Archives - AMS268 Image: Michael Sharland
© Reproduction rights, Australian Museum

Michael Sharland, 1899-1987

Sharland was a photographer, journalist, environmentalist and ornithologist who wrote for both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Hobart Mercury for 60 years (under the pen name 'Peregrine'). Born in Tasmania in 1899, he joined the Field Naturalist Club of Tasmania at 18 years of age and was an active member for the rest of his life. He travelled widely in Australia and internationally, observing the natural world, keeping detailed diaries and taking photographs wherever he went.

Sharland was a passionate environmentalist, fighting for the protection of Tasmanian colonial historical sites, including Port Arthur and the Cascade Brewery site. From 1927, he spent 20 years working as a journalist in Sydney and Melbourne but returned to Tasmania where he became Superintendant of Scenic Reserves from 1947 to 1961and a member of the Scenery Preservation Board (forerunner to the NPWS).

Digitising the Sharland collections

Our team of digitisiation volunteers will start with six volumes of Sharland's Nature Diaries -- detailed observations of field trips and birding outings in Tasmania and across Australia from 1918 to 1947. The diaries are a fantastic primary source for the study not just of Sharland but also early environmentalism and the culture of amateur naturalists in Australia.

Sharland was a keen and talented photographer, and the Australian Museum holds 2,600 of his negatives plus 1600 prints which we will also be selectively scanning. We are hoping to make more detailed connections between his writings and photographic collections, as it appears that he kept detailed notes of the photographs he took in his diary.