We’ve had a very rainy summer in Sydney this year due to the La Niña effect. Rainy weather like this reminds me of our visit to Western Tasmania. This region is one of the wettest in Australia (rainfall averages 2400mm annually), and in this post we visit the biggest town in the region, Queenstown. Like its Kiwi counterpart, it is an isolated place on the West Coast of the island, and like the other towns of the region, it also has a strong mining history.
Mining goes back all the way to the 1880s. Historical buildings scattered through the town attest to the town’s long history.
It started with gold, but eventually copper was the most lucrative metal. So much so that the town’s population grew to over 5,000. It wasn’t the mining itself that was the most ecologically damaging but its processing. The town had a few copper smelters that had to be fuelled, and the fuel of choice in the old-days was timber. So all the trees in the area were felled, hence the bare hills surrounding the town.
The high rainfall also meant that erosion was sweeping the topsoil away. The copper mine still exists but hasn’t been fully operational since 1994. Copper smelters no longer operate in town so the hills get a chance to slowly regenerate. But the lack of mining meant a lack of jobs, hence the population of the town has shrunk to under 1,800 and lots of shops remain empty. But there are people in town wanting to revitalise it.
Today we’re moving on to another mining town in western Tasmania, Zeehan. Zeehan has been a town since the 1880s, and continues to be a working mining town. The surrounding hills are rich in all sort of minerals – silver, tin, nickel, zinc to name a few (and those are just the common varieties). Signs of mining past and present are all around town.
In the early 20th century, the town was as big as Launceston and Hobart. These days it’s a lot sleepier.
But by the grandeur of its main buildings, you can tell that it was once a wealthy town.
There was some knitting done in 2021, though it was dominated by these socks with was a gift.
You might guess that these took awhile to knit up. However the wool was lovely so I made these baby booties with the leftovers, as another gift.
Finally, it was time to make a few replacement dishcloths using this pattern. These cloths are typically made in pure cotton yarn and can be used either in the kitchen or in the bathroom. They’re easy for a beginner to knit, and take no time at all. And at the end of the day you can chuck them in the washing machine with your other dirty linens.
We’ll continue our trip around Tasmania with a visit to the West Coast. The West Coast of Tasmania is similar to the West Coast of New Zealand in a lot of ways. It’s wild, rugged, and still relatively remote. It’s covered with mountains and ancient temperate rainforests that date to the time of Gondwanaland. And it’s also got interesting geology and also economically valuable minerals.
We made a brief stop in the village of Waratah.
It doesn’t have much now in the way of infrastructure, but it is the site of the first tin mine in Tasmania, Mount Bischoff, back in 1873. Ever the historian, Hubby wanted to revisit the site, so off we went in search of the old mine.
After driving down a few tracks and a bit of walking, we soon found some old remnants.
And the open cut wasn’t far off – it hasn’t been worked for awhile.
A short knitting interlude from Tasmania. I’m catching up on my posts – the last I made was in the first half of 2020. Since then COVID intervened, so it gave me a chance to complete a few things.
The first is a boy’s Spiderman-style beanie using this pattern.
Next was a winter coat for Ruby.
Lastly, another set of lacy fingerless mitts, this time a gift.
‘The Nut’ can be seen from most of Stanley.
From the road into town.
From the middle of town.
And from the beach.
But what about the view from the top? The Nut is 143m tall so it’s a bit of a hike up there. But there is a short-cut for the less fit – the chair lift.
And it’s a great view from the top.
Of the town.
And the port.
While strolling on the Nut or the town, keep a lookout for these guys – pademelons…
Hello there! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and start of the New Year. Covid has returned to Sydney. For those of you who managed to get away, congratulations. For those who didn’t, I’m continuing to post from my travel archives this year.
I’m continuing to post on our 2019 trip to Tasmania. I see that some of you have managed to get to the Apple Isle lately. Enjoy!
Anyway, back to the town of Stanley. It might have been founded from whaling, but people soon realised that the land was perfect for grazing. This is the house of the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, called Highfield.
It’s still surrounded by grazing land to this day. The pastures start from the edge of town.
And these days the cattle they rear in these parts are the best in Australia.
The reason? They have no problem with water around here – look at all that grass. No wonder the cattle thrive.
Freedom Day has diverted me from my blogging a little. I’ll try and get back on track this week with another post about the beautiful town of Stanley.
Stanley is a really cute historical town. Being founded back in the 1820s, it has a lovely selection of old buildings.
Its first industry back in the 1830s was whaling, and since then, successive generations have made their living from the sea or from agriculture.
Its seafood is top-notch, as you can see from this fine example of ‘pub-grub’.
Our next destination was the town of Stanley, about 230km north-west of Launceston.
The road leading to the town was of good quality, with plenty of stopping places to view the ocean and scenery.
The town is located on the base of the ‘Nut’, an(other) extinct volcano, which the first peoples called Munatrik.
We continue on our drive around Tasmania by driving across the top of Northern Tasmania. We had a few stops in a few towns. Like Ulverstone, where there was some nice old architecture.
And we strolled on the beach, which faced the Bass Strait.
We then continued east to the town of Penguin, known for, well, you know what. There were plenty of penguin paraphernalia in the streets, and this wonderful giant Christmas penguin (we visited in early December).
We didn’t stay overnight in these towns, instead we headed to…