What’s in a title? How the Walls of Jerusalem got its name

Morning light, Lake Salome | Peter Walton
Morning light, Lake Salome | Peter Walton

Humans like to name things. Psychologists have known for years that it’s a part of our psyche, part of our humanness—we want to label everything we can.

Including the wilderness.

In 1849, Scottish-born surveyor James Scott did just that when he surveyed an area of wilderness south of Mole Creek in north central Tasmania. On his charts, he dubbed the area the Walls of Jerusalem because the mountains and crags of the area reminded him of the actual walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Surveyor Scott might’ve gotten the ball rolling, but it was another adventurer who kept it moving.

Reginald George “Reg” Hall (1907–81) was a Launceston lawyer who had a huge passion for the wild areas of Tasmania and spent many days bushwalking in them. In fact, he preferred bushwalking to almost everything else.

“Hall had no interest in conveyancing, a solicitor’s bread-and-butter, preferring to work as a civil and criminal lawyer, mounting court defences for clients who sometimes paid him in kind including potatoes, fruit, and fresh-water crayfish, rather than in cash,” according to Heritage Tasmania.

“His repudiation of conveyancing left him time to pursue his real passions of hiking, skiing and designing buildings, watercraft and bush gear such as tents, rucksacks and waterproof clothing. At a time when there was little specialised hiking gear, Hall compared designs with the work of Paddy Pallin in Sydney, who regarded him as a peer and even sent him new equipment to trial.”

Hall invented a bamboo framed backpack, homemade snow goggles, and a folding kayak, and he developed a handful of huts in various Tasmanian wildernesses, notably Halls Hut on an island in Lake Malbena.

During his 1849 survey, Scott named the Walls and Lake Ball, but nothing else. So, when Hall first visited the Walls in December 1928, he had a blank slate. During his many trips to the area during the following two decades Hall named most of the biblically named features that we know today.

Hall was responsible for such fanciful names as The Temple, King Davids Peak, Herods Gate, Solomons Throne, Mount Jerusalem, Golden Gate, Zion Vale, Lake Salome, and the Pool of Bethesda. He named the imposing dolerite Gate of Damascus, and the sparkling tarns of Solomons Jewels.

In 1954, about 20 of the names Hall suggested were accepted by the Nomenclature Board.

Hall wasn’t the only one interested in the solace he found in the soon-to-be Walls of Jerusalem National Park.

According to Heritage Tasmania, hiking in the Western Lakes/Walls of Jerusalem area had begun by 1886 and many anglers and graziers were visiting the area by the start of the twentieth century.

Some of these early visitors built huts, which you’ll visit on our Walls of Jerusalem trips.

walls of jerusalem, walls of jerusalem name, walls of jerusalem trek, walls of jerusalem hiking

Comment (1)

John McRae

The story that I heard about the name was that "Private Hugh Germain, a very well educated member of the Royal Marines posted to VDL in c1804 and following. He delighted in reading the Tales of the Arabian Nights as well as the Bible, and would take a copy of both in his saddle bag when he was sent out on explorative expeditions. There was a food shortage in Hobart around that time, and Germain was frequently sent into unchartered areas with a group of soldiers to kill kangaroos and other animals for food for the Colony. While he explored, he would name the various places they came across and note them in his diary and was responsible for places like Abyssinia, Bagdad, Jericho, Jordan, Lake Tiberius, Lake Salome, St. David’s Peak, Walls of Jerusalem, and the chain of lakes called Solomon’s Jewels on the Central Plateau."
I just looked this up and it seems the source is James Backhouse in his book "A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies", published in 1901. Maybe it's a combination of James Scott and Hugh Germain.

8 months ago
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