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The Arthur Ransome Society (TARS) was formed in England in 1990 for those of all ages who have enjoyed the famous Swallows and Amazons series or AR's non-fiction, written for adults. There are approximately 1600 members around the world coming together regularly for a variety of outdoor and literary activities.
Australian members (AusTARS) enjoy the camaraderie of shared interests and meet frequently in some states for Ransome-related activities. These can include literary discussions, film evenings, natural history and scientific outings, visits to tall ships, walks, surprise book theme evenings and, of course, feasting. Weekend corroborees, featuring outdoor activities such as sailing and kayaking, are also held regularly in attractive locations in NSW, Victoria and, occasionally, other states. All activities are low-cost as AusTARS is self-supporting.
Student and junior members are encouraged to participate in corroboree weekends and also to enter creative work for publication in the AusTARS magazine and receive prizes for their efforts. Travel subsidies to assist juniors to attend corroboree weekends are available.
Australasian members keep in touch through their quarterly magazine, "Furthest South", which publishes articles by members, reports of activities and a calendar of forthcoming events. Tars can hoist signals in Furthest South to swap or buy books, describe adventures and arrange corroborees. They can also test their knowledge in quizzes and crosswords. Overseas TARS branches in Canada, USA, Japan and New Zealand exchange newsletters with Australia.
AusTARS also receive all the publications produced by the parent organization in the UK for members: "Mixed Moss", the annual literary magazine, "Signals", which includes the calendar and reports of events in the UK; and for juniors, "The Outlaw". Members are able to purchase the annual special-interest limited edition volume published by Amazon Publishing, such as Arthur Ransome in China, Ransome Broadside. AusTARS holds a small (but growing) library of donated books of interest to members and videotapes of the AR titles which have been filmed, which can be borrowed by members.
Some TARS like to go sailing
The Society's mail order shop offers members a variety of Ransome-associated material, including all available editions of his writings in English plus other Ransome-related titles, videos, cassettes, burgees and more. All of the childrens' books are available on audio cassettes. Check the current offerings at The Shop
TARS has a wide range of activities, including literary discussion and research, sailing, camping, walking, and networking with other enthusiasts. Particular highlights are the AGM weekend and the Literary Weekend, which is held every other year. The United Kingdom has six regional groups each with its own program of meetings to which all members of the Society are welcomed. Junior members have their own national coordinator.
The Society has close links with the Windermere Steamboat Museum at Bowness where the original "Amazon" or "Mavis" is to be seen together with the "Esperance", one of the prototypes for Captain Flint's houseboat. Ransome's dinghy "Coch y Bonddhu", recently restored, which appears as "Scarab" in the books, is also at this Museum.
A separate trust of TARS members, The Nancy Blackett Trust has purchased Ransome's 1931 Hillyard cutter "Nancy Blackett", the original of "Goblin" in "We Didn't Mean to Go To Sea". Members have opportunities to sail on Nancy Blackett and to assist with her maintenance.
The Arthur Ransome room at Abbot Hall Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal, Cumbria, is partly supported by the Society.
Membership can be paid in Australian currency to the AusTARS Co-ordinator or the Honorary Treasurer.
Application forms with instructions can be printed from the Membership page or request one from the Secretary:
Dr Nancy Endersby
Phone: 03 9754 6806
E-mail: Nancy Endersby
New Zealand based members should contact the New Zealand Co-ordinator Ms Cheryl Paget or phone 06 877 5048.
Subscriptions fall due at the end of December, but the membership of those who join from October to December inclusive, will run to the following December 31.
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The watercolours and pastels on these pages are by David Bamford, AusTARS Convenor. Copyright 2006
Artistic Design Consultant: David Bamford