Day 20 and Trial Harbour State Reserve VKFF-1835

We were nearly three weeks into our Tasmania holiday and it was day 20 (Monday 14th November 2022). We had a trip booked on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Our journey was the ‘River and Rainforest’.

The train departed the Regatta Point Station at Strahan and took us passed Macquarie Harbour and into the rainforest and mountains of Tasmania’s west coast.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway was formerly known as the Mount Lyell Abt Railway. The slow and arduous process of transporting copper ore from Mount Lyell to Strahan using 60 horse teams was the inspiration for the creation of a railway. Survey teams which were led by Engineer F.A. Cutten identified three feasible routes with the shortest via the King and Queen River valleys chosen in spite of its steep grades over the Rinadeena Saddle. Cutten proposed the Abt rack-rail system – cutting edge technology at the time – to negotiate the steep inclines.

Construction of the railway commenced in 1894. The contractor for the initial section made slow progress, experiencing low worker morale in the harsh working conditions. Engineer E.C. Driffield was engaged to oversee the whole project and sped up the work by employing day labour teams based in camps along the route. Workers armed with hand tools and wheel barrows felled trees, excavated formations, and built embankments along with 48 bridges.

The whole first stage from Teepookana to Queenstown was completed in 19 months. The second stage from Regatta Point, Strahan to Teepookna was completed in 1899 with another 12 bridges including Iron Bridge over the King River. The railway ceased operation in 1963 when road transport became a more economical option. About 35 years later the railway was restored and now operates as a tourist heritage railway.

Above:- Article from the Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Wed 26 Sep 1894. Image c/o Trove.

Our trip enjoyed a meal on board and a few stops along the way including a walk through the rainforest.

Once back in Strahan from our railway adventure we visited Peoples Park and went for a walk to Hogarth Falls. The park was declared in the late 1890s when the visionary Ware family recognised the importance of the tourist industry to Strahan. They donated 70 acres of land to be a park for the people and a botanical reserve, which included Peoples Park, Hogarth Falls, and Botanical Creek.

Between 1905 to 1925, on every Sunday, a brass band played beneath a rotunda in Peoples Park. Botanical Creek which runs alongside of the walk was Strahan’s only running water until 1969.

Above:- Article from the Zeehan and Dundas Herald, Sat 9 Mar 1901. Image c/o Trove.

Despite it being a rather dreary day and cold, the walk along the Botanical Creek through the rainforest was absolutely beautiful. The walk is about 2.4 km return. Rainforest trees including Leatherwood, Sassafras and Myrtle line the route.

We soon reached Hogarth Falls which were flowing well after all the recent rain. The falls stand about 15 metres high and is split.

It is not entirely clear on the naming of the Falls, however they were known as such from 1908 onwards.

After our walk through Peoples Park and Hogarth Falls we decided to head north to undertake a park activation at the Trial Harbour State Reserve VKFF-1835. It was about a 63 km drive from Strahan.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Trial Harbour State Reserve. Map c/o Google maps.

We drove north into the little town of Zeehan and then drove west along Trial Harbour Road which offered some great views of the coastline.

We stopped briefly at the Mount Heemskirk lookout to get a view of the town of Trial Harbour. During their 1798-99 circumnavigation of Tasmania, explorers Matthew Flinders and George Bass named Mount Heemskirk in honour of Ducth explorer Abel Tasman’s ship Heemskerck (Old Dutch for “Home Church”).

By the 1880s the township of Remine had commenced. It took its name after the the native name for the wildflower Blandfordia which grows in abundance on the hillsides surrounding the town.

The harbour in which it was adjacent to was known as Trial Harbour. It took its name from the vessel Trial which was driven ashore in March 1881. It was carrying Mr. Alex Ingleton, the Manager of the Montagu Mine. Reporters from the Mercury newspaper arrived and upon asking the name of boat on the beach, they raised their mugs of spirit and proposed the toast: “Here’s to the health of Trial Harbour.”.

By the 1890s there were over 200 people living in the town which had two hotels, a general store, restaurant, blacksmith’s shop, post and telegraph office and a police quarters, along with houses, tents and camps.

Above: Trial Harbour Hotel c. 1890 (left) and Trial Harbour. Images c/o https://tasmaniantimes.com/2021/11/tas-that-was-trial-harbour/

In 1888 a bushfire destroyed almost all of the buildings in the town. In April 1891 Websters Hotel in the town was destroyed by fire. In 1892 the Zeehan to Strahan railway was opened and this resulted in the town being redundant as a service port. Some years later another bushfire roared through the area and again destroyed the town.

Above:- Article from The Mercury, Thu 23 Apr 1891. Image c/o Trove

The Trial Harbour State Reserve is only small and was gazetted as a State Reserve in April 1999. It was previously known as the Trial Harbour Aboriginal Site.

It was cold, blustery and there were intermittent showers, so we operated from the vehicle for this activation. We dodged the showers, stretching out the 20/40/80m linked dipole supported on the 7 metre telescopic squid pole.

Marija made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3NP
  2. VK3UH
  3. VK3AWA
  4. VK3MCA
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK3PT
  7. VK2VH
  8. VK4AAC
  9. VK2MET/p (SiOTA VK-HLD2)
  10. VK1AO/p (SiOTA VK-HLD2)
  11. VK2HHA
  12. VK5HS
  13. VK3VIN

I made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3NP
  2. VK3UH
  3. VK3AWA
  4. VK3MCA
  5. VK3PF
  6. VK3PT
  7. Vk2VH
  8. VK4AAC
  9. VK2MET/p (SiOTA VK-HLD2)
  10. VK1AO/p (SiOTA VK-HLD2)
  11. Vk2HHA
  12. VK3AMO
  13. VK5KVA
  14. VK2BYF
  15. VK4FW
  16. VK2IO
  17. VK7AAE
  18. VK2YAK
  19. VK4YAK
  20. VK5WU
  21. VK3VIN
  22. VK2LEE
  23. VK3SQ
  24. VK3ZPF
  25. Vk3JW
  26. VK2ACK
  27. VK2EXA
  28. VK3ANL
  29. VK5HS
  30. VK2NP
  31. VK3NDG
  32. VK3RW
  33. VK5BJE
  34. VK3AFW
  35. VK5FANA
  36. VK4NH
  37. VK4DXA
  38. VK3ANP
  39. VK3BKC
  40. VK3MBW
  41. VK7RM
  42. KG5CIK
  43. VK7JFD
  44. VK3ACZ
  45. VK3FACD
  46. VK2CDB

I made the following QSOs on 40m AM:-

  1. VK5HS
  2. VK3SQ

I made the following QSOs on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. F1BLL
  3. Vk4FW
  4. VK8MM
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA

We packed up and left Trial Harbour and headed south on the Henty Road back towards Strahan. We stopped off at the Henty Dunes. A mixture of mineral grains deposited here over the last 10,000 years has created the giant 30 metre high sand dunes. There was a 4WD track but unfortunately it was not passable due to all of the recent rain, so we did not get to see much of the dunes.

It was a wild and wet afternoon, but we decided to visit Ocean Beach, Tasmania’s longest beach. It stretches 40km from north of Macquarie Harbour and Hells Gates to Trial Harbour. Ocean Beach has no landmass at this longitude between it and South America.

Whale stranding frequently occurs on this beach. In fact about two months prior to our visit a total of 230 Pilot whales beached themselves on the beach.

We then headed out to Macquarie Head, but the weather was so lousy the views were not great.

References.

  1. Our Tasmania, 2023, <https://www.ourtasmania.com.au/northwest/trial-harbour.html#:~:text=The%20Harbour%20was%20named%20after,the%20south%20Heemskirk%20mining%20field.>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  2. Tasmania.com, 2023, <https://tasmania.com/things-to-do/waterfalls/hogarth-falls/>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  3. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 2023, <https://parks.tas.gov.au/things-to-do/60-great-short-walks/hogarth-falls>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  4. Tasmanian Times, 2023, <https://tasmaniantimes.com/2021/11/tas-that-was-trial-harbour/>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  5. West Coast, 2023, <https://westcoasttas.com.au/listings/ocean-beach>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  6. West Coast Wilderness Railway, 2023, <https://www.wcwr.com.au/tours/riveranrainforest>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  7. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Heemskirk>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  8. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Beach_(Tasmania)>, viewed 4th January 2023.

Day 19 and the Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve VKFF-1805

It was now day 19 (Sunday 13th November 2022) and we had a trip booked for a boat cruise on the Gordon River.

The trip took us to Hells Gates which is the narrow entry from Macquarie Harbor to the open water of the Southern Ocean. The name relates to the convicts’ claim that it was their point of “entrance to Hell’, their Hell being the penal station on Sarah Island. 

We sailed passed the Bonnet Island lighthouse and the Entrance Island lighthouse. Both lighthouses were constructed in 1891.

The cruise also took us passed Liberty Point and the aquaculture pens which are stocked with Atlantic salmon and Ocean Trout.

We then visited Sarah Island which was one of Australia’s harshest convict settlements. The Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island operated between 1822 and 1833. Sarah Island took the worst convicts including those who had reoffended and those who had escaped from other settlements.

Conditions on the island were extremely poor with malnutrition, dysentery and scurvy being common. Punishment at Sarah Island included solitary confinement and regular floggings. It was reported that in 1823 a total of 9,100 lashes were given. In 1824 a prisoner named Trenham stabbed another convict in order to be executed rather than face further imprisonment at Macquarie Harbour Penal Station.

Below is an excellent 20 minute video on the Macquarie Harbour Penal Settlement.

We then returned to the boat and sailed down the famous Gordon River. The river is 172 km in length and is part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness.

We then stopped at a Heritage landing and took a guided tour along a wooden boardwalk through the rainforest.

The boat then made its way back to Strahan where we left the boat and visited Morrison’s Huon pine sawmill. Huon pine only grows in Tasmania and predominantly on the West Coast and in the South West. The Morrison’s sawmill had been in operation on the site at Strahan since the early 1940s.

It was mid afternoon and we decided to go for a bit of a drive to activate a park. We decided upon the Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve VKFF-1805, which according to the parksnpeaks app was one of the closest parks, about 48 km away.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve. Map c/o Google maps.

The Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve is located on the eastern side of the Zeehan Highway near the junction with Anthony Road.

Above:- An aerial view of the Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve. Image c/o Google maps.

The park was gazetted on the 30th day of July 2001.

The park is located in the district of Henty which was named in honour of Mr. William Henty (b. 1808. d. 1881) who was the Colonial Secretary (1857-1862).

Above:- William Henty. Image c/o Wikipedia.

During the Pleistocene epoch, Tasmania was affected by multiple periods of glacial activity with large ice sheets covering much of central and western Tasmania. The Henty Glacial Erratics State Reserve is located at what was the western limit of ice during the Henty glacial event about 34,600 years ago. As the ice sheet melted, rock debris, including large boulders called glacial erratics, and clay that were once entrained in the ice were deposited as glacial tilt.

There is a short walk with some unique glacial features and interpretive signs.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3DAE
  3. VK2IO/p (Wallumatta Nature Reserve VKFF-2012)
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK2YAK
  6. VK4YAK
  7. VK3VIN
  8. VK3UH
  9. VK3GJG
  10. VK3DFG
  11. VK3ZPF/p (Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132)
  12. VK5BJE

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK3DAE
  3. VK2IO/p (Wallumatta Nature Reserve VKFF-2012)
  4. VK5FANA
  5. VK2YAK
  6. VK4YAK
  7. VK3VIN
  8. VK3UH
  9. VK3GJG
  10. VK3DFG
  11. VK3ZPF/p (Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132)
  12. VK3JW/p (Dandenong Ranges National Park VKFF-0132)
  13. VK2NP
  14. VK5BJE
  15. VK5CZ
  16. VK7AOE
  17. VK3LF/m
  18. VK7RA
  19. VK4TJ
  20. VK5AYL
  21. VK3NP
  22. VK2MI
  23. VK2YK
  24. VK5GA

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4TJ
  2. IK4IDF
  3. IW2NXI
  4. VK4NH
  5. VK4DXA
  6. VK4KC
  7. VK4MAD
  8. VK4DOG
  9. DL2ND
  10. VK4MUD
  11. IK1GPG
  12. VK4CZ
  13. F1BLL
  14. VK4MWL
  15. ZL3MR
  16. ZL1TM
  17. OH6GAZ
  18. OH1MM
  19. OH5EP
  20. ZL1BQD
  21. OH1XT
  22. VK4APV
  23. IZ5JMZ
  24. DK4RM

We packed up and headed back into Strahan. We stopped briefly at the Ocean Beach and Henty Dunes lookout to enjoy the views.

That evening we went out for dinner at the hotel in Strahan.

References.

  1. Lighthouses of Australia Inc, 2023, <https://lighthouses.org.au/tas/bonnet-island-lighthouse/>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  2. Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill, 2023, <https://morrisonshuonpine.com.au/about-us/>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  3. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hells_Gates_(Tasmania)>, viewed 4th January 2023.
  4. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macquarie_Harbour_Penal_Station>, viewed 4th January 2023.