Image for Outfoxing the fox in Tasmania - a short review

The bestseller history book on Tasmanian’s decade long war against foxes is now being rewritten for the umpteenth time. For those vaguely intrigued by these matters, the new edition has some particularly interesting rewrites that make older versions both highly collectable and content-wise next to useless. There will be lots of pictures - some real others fabrication and old photos of foxhunters in Tasmania.

Dr Clive Marks HERE and HERE, the fox ecologist, gets a full chapter. His expertise in the forensic science of detecting foxes in low density and the forensic of fox faeces is one of many cracker-chapters.

Substantial re-writes have been necessary on earlier chapters dealing with fox politics. That rollicking chapter entitled Llewellyn’s Fox Plot has now been whittled down to a mere footnote mention in a new chapter dealing with the early introductions of foxes into Tasmania in the 19th and 20th century. Another new chapter entitled Tally Ho - Whoop whoop! covers the untold story of foxhunting in Tasmania. Yes, you get to read it first on Tasmanian Times. Now I feel this chapter might be a shock to the ordinary Tasmanian fox-aholic, but the publishers have given me strict instructions not to expand on its sensational detail.

The book contains new excerpts based on the new information of how dead foxes are found in Tasmania and actually how they got where they died. The Government’s assumptions are challenged, new explanations offered, even whole storylines invented (maybe they are true; you decide). This version is even more fantastic than in the earlier editions. The research is thorough, even citing Hansard transcripts.

There is a beautifully written chapter called Yes Minister! I am again sworn to secrecy here but many of the Labor heavy hitters over the last decade get a ‘run on the field’ so to speak: Jim Bacon, David Llewellyn, Bryan Green, Steve Kons and new-kid-on-the-block, David O’Byrne. It covers some federal politics shenanigans as well going back through all the Commonwealth environment ministers since Senator Robert Hill. A sub-section called Show me the money is perhaps a little too cynical, but shucks it is taxpayers’ bankrolling this venture.

There is a chapter called Tasmania’s Fox Line. It explains in amazing detail the systematic process of ridding these varmints from our shores by methodically burying poison across 3,000,000 hectares of countryside. In retrospect Governor Arthur’s intricate planning to round up every last aboriginal in the 1830 was sheer madness but his Plan B with the Conciliator, George Augustus Robinson was the killer blow in Tasmania’s Black war. (I suggested to the authors that this chapter be sub-titled History repeats itself.)

There is another important chapter called Rebadging the evidence which might cause many readers some uneasy moments. If you are prone to high blood pressure or at risk of apoplexy I suggest you read this section with medication or as an accompaniment to a soothing camomile tea.

Like so many revisions of history, the good, the bad and the ugly is discussed. The editors hope to commission a foreword from a local cryptobiology expert for the new edition. At this stage the publishers are a little reluctant to go for the premium hardback format for this edition; they feel this fascinating fox story has quite a way to go yet.