Cover image for Frederick Smithies
Frederick Smithies
Agency Number:
Start Date:
16 Aug 1885
End Date:
13 Oct 1979
Frederick Smithies (1885 - 1979) conservationist, bush-walker, wilderness explorer and photographer was born at Ulverstone on the 16 August 1885, but lived most of his life in Launceston where he was the manager of the Launceston branch of the Atlas Assurance Company from April 1912 until his retirement fifty years later in April 1962. 

In middle age he became an enthusiastic bushwalker, exploring the natural environment of his own state. He travelled the rugged West coast on his 'Indian' motor cycle and later his 'A' model Ford purchased in April 1929; climbed Frenchman's Cap with his friend Cliff Bradshaw; back-packed into the Florentine and Rasselas valley area around Adamsfield and walked from Queenstown to Cradle Mountain. He became friends with Gustav Weindorfer (1874 - 1932) of Waldheim Chalet and became very involved with the Cradle Mountain area as a consequence of this relationship.

He was a talented wilderness photographer. He developed and printed his own photographs and hand-coloured lantern slides and was a member of an international stereoscopic photographic club. He took 16mm movie film and often carried equipment weighing 70lb (32k) into remote and difficult areas. He used his wilderness images to promote Tasmania's natural beauty to tourists and to raise awareness about visiting and protecting these areas by giving lectures around Tasmania and in other states on behalf of the Tasmanian government. In 1934 he organised the Tasmanian display at the Melbourne Centenary Exhibition on these themes.

He was also actively involved in the Northern Tasmanian Camera Club, the Lapidary Club of Northern Tasmania, the Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club, the Launceston Walking Club, the Launceston Art Society and was Chairman of the Tasmanian Scenery Preservation Board from 1941 - 1971, as well as a member of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair, Mt Barrow and Northern Scenery Boards. In 1946 he wa awarded the Order of the British Empire. He died at Launceston on 13 October 1979, survived by his second wife Jean (nee Perrin) and their two sons and two daughters.

His historic home 'The Grange' at St Leonard's, still a semi-rural suburb of Launceston at the time, was well-known to his friends and associates and the Launceston Lapidary Club met regularly in one of the out-buildings and another housed his dark-room and photographic material.

Mr Smithies made a decision to donate much of his collection to the Archives Office of Tasmania in 1975. This was done gradually until 1977 with the assistance of archivist Margaret Bryant, who also made some tape-recorded interviews with Fred during that period. His negative collection was borrowed for copying by the Office at that time, and after his death in 1979 the originals were donated to the Office by his widow, along with some original prints and further lantern slides. 

Information Sources:
Australian Dictionary of Biography; Margaret Bryant, Archives Office of Tasmania; 'Mercury' article 3 April 1962 page 8.
Series Created By Agency:
CRO67 Frederick Smithies Photographs01 Jan 189030 Jan 1978

CRO21 Stereoscopic Photographs01 Jan 1900

NS573/3 Cassette Tape Recordings of Interviews with Frederick Smithies01 Jan 191015 Jun 1977

NS573/1 Correspondence of Frederick Smithies01 Jan 191015 Jun 1977

NS573/7 Negatives of Frederick Smithies' Photographs01 Jan 191031 Dec 1940

NS573/5 Photographs, Photograph Albums and Copies of Miscellaneous Frederick Smithies Material01 Jan 191015 Jun 1977

NS573/4/12 Photographs Copied from Albums01 Jan 191131 Dec 1946

LMSS125 Papers of Frederick Smithies01 Jan 191531 Jul 1979

NS2523 Frederick Smithies Lantern Slides01 Jan 191901 May 1932

NS573/4/11 Miscellaneous Photographs01 Jan 191931 Dec 1969

NS573/2 16Mm Movies by Frederick Smithies01 Jan 192031 Dec 1940

NS573/4/10 Photographs of Gustav Weindorfer and Waldheim Chalet, Cradle Mountain01 Jan 192031 Dec 1930

LPIC27 Photographs of Various Trips01 Feb 192031 Oct 1945

NS573/4/4 Photographs of Whyte River to Tullah Trip and Mount Pelion Trip01 Dec 192131 Dec 1924

NS573/4/9 Photographs of Cradle Mountain01 Jan 192231 Dec 1948

NS3282 Original Photographs Taken and Printed by F. Smithies01 Jan 192531 Dec 1936

NS573/4/7 Photographs of St Valentine's Peak Trip and of Mount Barrow01 Jul 192528 Feb 1927

NS573/4/2 Photographs of Adamsfield Trip01 Feb 192631 Mar 1926

NS573/4/8 Photographs of Skiing01 Jan 192731 Dec 1931

NS573/4/3 Photographs of Frenchman's Cap Trip01 Feb 192831 Mar 1931

NS5559 Photographs Submitted for Competitions Conducted by the Stereoscopic Society01 Feb 192801 Dec 1940

NS573/4/1 Photographs of the Floods in the Derby Area01 Jan 192931 Dec 1929

NS573/6 Lantern Slides of Frederick Smithies01 Jan 193015 Jun 1940

NS573/4/5 Photographs of West Coast Road to Queenstown and 'Missing Link Road, Bronte Area01 Jan 193031 Dec 1937

NS573/4/6 Photographs of the Building of the Power Station at Tarraleah01 Mar 193631 Mar 1936