The story of pioneer Eliza Forlong's contribution to the Australian wool industry has served as a jumping off point for a new book chronicling the history of Tasmania's Merino sector.
Vera Taylor, whose family run preeminent Merino stud Winton at Campbell Town, wrote the book The Forlong Legacy - A History of the Merino and Wool in Tasmania, after being inspired by the story of Scotswoman Eliza Forlong, who famously walked throughout the German kingdom of Saxony in the late 1820s to buy Saxony Merinos.
The Forlong family subsequently brought those Saxon genetics to Tasmania, settling at a property named Kenilworth, next door to the Taylors' property Winton.
Kenilworth and its sheep were later sold to the Taylors upon the Forlongs' move to Victoria.
Vera and John Taylor lived at Winton until their retirement to Launceston about 10 years ago and were both part of the committee behind the 2013 installation of a bronze statue of Eliza Forlong in Campbell Town's main street.
"I just found the interest in Eliza Forlong was really good once people actually knew who she was but so many people had never heard of her," Mrs Taylor said.
"I felt it was really important to document as many aspects of her contribution as possible in one book.
"There have been a lot of books written over the years about wool and the Merino but they have been generalised, Australia-wide rather than anything specifically Tasmania focused and I thought there was a good opening for me to concentrate on that aspect.
"Eliza's influence in Tasmania was very significant and was the basis of many studs of the past and it really wasn't until the 1980s when things started to change with the type of Merino that came into the island."
Before their immigration to Australia, the Forlong family spent three summers in Leipzig to learn about wool growing and handling, leading up to Eliza's famous buying trip where she sewed her coins into the hems of her skirts for safe keeping.
"It wasn't practical for her to be walking the countryside in long skirts, no doubt she had strong boots but it was just unheard of ... it was so unique and that's why it's such a special story," Mrs Taylor said.
"I think she sometimes had a shepherd with her and sometimes they left sheep on the different farms and then went back and gathered them once she'd selected all she needed.
"Then they'd take them to villages and very often those old villages were walled and had gates to lock people in at night so she had to always get her timing right to be able to house her stock in stables.
"It was quite an amazing journey."
As part of the lengthy writing and research process, Mrs Taylor archived the contents of the office at Winton, which has been in the Taylor family since 1832.
"That took me 18 months and that was of huge interest because I unearthed all sorts of interesting letters and documents and diaries... all sorts of relevant information for what I was doing," she said.
"That included handwritten letters from members of the Forlong family that confirmed the way they spelt their name... they all signed Forlong, but when William Forlong got married in 1837, he added an 'e' so from then he always had e in his name and all of his descendent all have an e on Forlonge."
"I've tried to capture as much as I could about the Tasmanian Merino industry but the support I've been given has been very encouraging."
Mrs Taylor has had 400 copies of the book printed, 100 of which have already sold.
Initially the book is being sold privately but Mrs Taylor hopes to then make it available through select Tasmanian bookshops.
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