01/02/2015 - 01/02/2015
Travelling back from Cradle Mountain, we made a point to stop at any points of interest and going just that little bit further to see the nearby towns.
Even the little things that make me smile
First stop was Stahan, a small town and former port on the west coast of Tasmania. Although this is a significant tourist draw, offering scenic flights and boat rides across Macquarie Harbour into the relatively inaccessible Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. We were most taken by the local saw mill, producing beautiful pieces of furniture and trinkets from all the local type of wood including Huon Pine, Myrtle, Sassafras and Blackwood.
Heading back on our way, we drove through Queenstown, in a valley on the western slopes of Mount Owen on the West Coast Range. Queenstown's history has long been tied to the mining industry. This mountainous area was first explored in 1862. It was long after that when alluvial gold was discovered at Mount Lyell, prompting the formation of the Mount Lyell Gold Mining Company in 1881. In 1892, the mine began searching for copper. The final name of the Mount Lyell company was the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company. Some of the originals buildings are still prominent in the town centre, including the Empire Hotel
and Railway Station, complete with turntable at the end of the track
Throughout the town are some great statues, and reminders of it's mining past
Miners Sunday – the transition from a prospectors camp to a settled community commissioned by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd, to commemorate the Lyell district centenary, 15th October 1983. Ten decades of man and mining.
21 facets of life and mining in the Lyell District from 1883 to 1983.
Even the Empire Hotel is recognisable
Looking down on Queenstown, it is easy to see the impact it's history has had on the town
The smoke produced however was a toxic gas – sulphur dioxide. It clogged the air and left the surrounding landscape covered with a poisonous yellow dust. Within a few years the surrounding hills were void of any vegetation.
The Iron Blow – In January 1883, while following mountain creeks upstream in the search for reef gold, the McDonough brothers noticed a large outcrop of gossan – the kind of oxidised rock formation prospectors look for as an indication of rich mineralisation below the surface. Through the mid 1880’s the mine struggled, despite the rich potential of The blow, in 1890 the directors decided to wind up the company. By 1896, the investment climate had recovered and the company was able to raise enough finance to complete it’s ambition building program. In June that year the first two smelters were lit. Four months later it was reported in the London press that ten furnaces would product an annual profit of nearly £800,000. Mt Lyell was touted as the greatest copper mine in the world.
Moving on along the Lyell Highway, with Cradle Mountain-Lake St.Clair National Park on one side, and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park on the other, we stopped for lunch at Nelson Falls, tucked away in the rainforest
Further on, at Donaghys Hill we got a great view of the World Heritage Area
The Franklin River is famous throughout Australia and overseas and about 500 people travel down along it each year. It takes up to three weeks to complete the 93 km trip, from Collingwood River bridge to Butler Island on the Gordon River. Inflatable rafts are generally used and many choose to do the trip with a professional guiding company.
In the distance you can make out Frenchmans Cap, standing proud on the horizon.
Further down the valley we stopped to investigate a rather long swing bridge.
This is the beginning of the 3-5 day trek to Fenchman’s Cap (1446m) – the dazzling white monarch of Tasmania’s western wilderness. It’s distinctive white quartzite peak, ice-sheared on its south-east face, rises abruptly from rugged rainforest-clad ranges and jewelled mountain lakes, with the entire region almost totally encircled by the great Franklin River. This is one of Tasmania’s most challenging, most spectacular, and most rewarding bush walks.
Starting here with this impressive swing bridge