Waratah is situated on the western side of Tasmania but the European settlers were no wilder there than in other parts that were being newly developed for timber or minerals in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This was not a ‘wild west’ situation so the concept of ‘riding shotgun’ is unlikely to have been particularly relevant. But unexpected babies. Well that apparently was a different story.
While Waratah’s St James Church is no longer in use for worship, the current owner has focussed on weddings; displays of historic wedding photos dot the walls. In addition, the owner promotes the use of the building for wedding ceremonies. But there is no mention of ‘forced’ weddings in the past.
Back when Jeanette and I were perusing information at the Tarkine Interpretation Centre, we learnt that over a century ago Waratah was the centre for a Shotgun Carnival. This is an event that the Aussie Towns website records “In the 1920s the town held an infamous Shotgun Carnival which was actually the Muddy Creek Picnic and Sports Day. It was dubbed the Shotgun Carnival because it was reputedly the day when shotgun weddings took place.”
I asked the new church owner whether Waratah might not be put on the map if she and the town re-established the Shotgun Carnival as a bit of fun. Unfortunately her mind was elsewhere and this idea didn’t take hold.
The Advocate newspaper tells the story of a re-enactment of Muddy Creek Picnic interspersed with historic photos from the 1920s.