Celebrating Chauncy Vale

Day Dawn, Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary

Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary is one of a handful of entries in the Tasmanian Heritage Register that celebrate Tasmania's literary sector and the influence of Tasmania's landscape on our author's and writers.

Heading north from Hobart towards Bagdad, a small sign announces the intersection to Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania's first wildlife sanctuary and home of children's author Nan Chauncy.

Nan grew up at the family property in Bagdad and later at an adjoining five-acre property gifted by her brother as a wedding present, which she and her husband named Chauncy Vale. She wrote of her childhood at the family property at Bagdad as a golden age. She enjoyed the close family teamwork, the stories told by lamplight, the discovery of fauna and flora, and the legend of a bushranger's cave nearby. In an account to her publisher Nan wrote, 'Picture the delight of conventionally brought up children of those days, let loose in this wonderland, the long twisting valley with its steep tree-covered walls, its wild mountain creek and endless sandstone caves. Everything was a huge adventure, the world full of glorious discoveries'.

Nan and her husband Anton Rosenfeld shared a love of Tasmania's natural environment, purchasing an adjoining 1000 acres which in 1946 was gazetted as Tasmania's first wildlife sanctuary for various native and exotic animals. Nan and Anton lived simply at Chauncy Vale as the basic cottage, Day Dawn, had no running water and electricity. Alongside this simple and idyllic life however, the World War 2 antagonism towards the Jews caused the Rosenfeld's to change their surname to Chauncy, the family name of Nan's grandmother. It was also a difficult time economically. Insufficient income from their Saanen goat stud and from the wildlife sanctuary led Nan to publish articles in Wildlife and to write radio scripts for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Her first full-length novel, They Found a Cave (1947) was published by Oxford University Press in England, who were impressed with the freshness of its bush setting and characterisation of the children. The novel was a success in Australia and internationally and became the first of twelve published novels by Nan Chauncy, three of which won Children's Book of the Year Awards.

The cave at Chauncy Vale

Following the death of Nan and Anton, Chauncy Vale was gifted to the public. Day Dawn is a museum that celebrates Nan and Anton Chauncy's lives, the ecologically sustainable way in which they lived and the nature that provided the inspiration for Tasmania's best known writer of children's books about Tasmania.

Chauncy Vale is open to the public. Information on opening times and entry fees is available at https://www.southernmidlands.tas.gov.au/chauncy-vale/

For a copy of the recently revised Tasmanian Heritage Register entry for Chauncy Vale click here.

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