Your Guide – Rob Cooper
My name is Robert William Cooper. I am the owner of Tasmania i-Drive, a business established in 2010, and purchased by me in July 2017. I was looking for a way to share my passion for Tasmania’s natural beauty with visitors to my home State through sharing the sights and experiences on offer. Tasmania i-Drive has given me this opportunity.
The Cooper family’s story began on 29th November 1841 when my Great-Great Grandfather, John Cooper, was convicted of theft at the Old Bailey, London, and sentenced to 10 years transportation to Van Diemen’s Land. When I read the proceedings of the court case involving the theft of a bundle of bedding, valued at a little over 10 shillings, and subsequent guilty verdict, it dawned on me that had this event not taken place there may not have been a history involving the Coopers and Tasmania at all! In fact, there may not have been a me!
John settled in Bothwell, Tasmania, and married after he had completed his sentence. My Great Grandfather, John James Cooper, was born in Bothwell on 30th September 1852. My Grand Father, William Robert Henry Cooper, was born on 23rd October 1885, the 6th born of 10 children. His older brother was an ANZAC, Lance Corporal John James Edward Cooper enlisted in the army at age 38 and was assigned to the 1st Tunnelling Company, seeing active service in France. He returned after the war and settled in New South Wales to live out his days as a shearer.
My Grandfather died when I was only two years old but stories told by my father leave me in no doubt that they lived through some tough times, especially, the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. My Grandfather would help make ends meet by doing odd jobs such as shearing, and hunted rabbits to put meat on the table. My father, Bernard William Cooper, was born on 8th February 1915 and in his early working life was employed by the Hydro Electric Commission building the concrete canals at Tarraleah, alongside his father. He also worked at several other Hydro villages throughout his working life. My dad had an aptitude for numbers and ended up working in the office as a clerk and paymaster. He retired from the HEC after 39 years of service. To the best of my knowledge he was the first of the “Bothwell” Coopers to own a house. Past generations had predominantly worked as labourers and lived in rented accommodation throughout their lives. My parents purchased their first home in 1968 for $12,000. It was modest, but it was ours!
I was born on 1st September 1959, the 4th of 5 children to Bernie and my mum, Fay. I feel that I have inherited from them a sense of place and privilege. Privileged to have had a better education and opportunities not afforded my forebears. I am now able to share my story through showing visitors, to my home State, the natural wonders and beauty that Tasmania has to offer. Some of my tours even pass through the old Hydro villages. I invite you to come on a journey with me, and step where my ancestors once walked!