Day 21 and Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area VKFF-2925

We were now into week three of our Tasmania trip and it was day 21 (Sunday 15th November 2022). We had spent 3 enjoyable nights in Strahan and now it was time to head inland to Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat. We had a 160 km trip ahead of us that day.

Above:- Map showing our route between Strahan and Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat. Map c/o Google maps

Once again, as we did the day before, we headed north out of Strahan on the Henty Road. Our first stop was the Zeehan Pioneer cemetery. There are a number of historic graves within the cemetery including that of John Moyle who built the first hut in Zeehan and was the first mine manager on the field. Sadly we found the cemetery in a bad state of repair.

We then drove into the little town of Zeehan which is located about 139 km south west of Burnie. There are a number of historic buildings in Zeehan including the Gaiety Theatre which was built in 1898 and the Zeehan School of Mines built in 1903.

Prior to European settlement the Zeehan area was the home to the indigenous Peerapper and Tommeginne people of the North West group.

The first European explorer to sight the west coast near Zeehan was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (b. 1603. d. 1659) in 1642. He sailed close to the coastline but waa unable to send a landing party due to poor weather.

Above:- Abel Tasman. Image c/o Wikipedia

Over 100 years later, during their 1798-99 circumnavigation of Tasmania, British explorers Matthew Flinders and George Bass named Mount Zeehan after one of Tasman’s ships the Zeehaen (Old Dutch for “Sea Rooster”) in honour of Tasman.

Above:- Matthew Flinders and George Bass. Images c/o Wikipedia.

In 1871, tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff and then in 1879 at Mount Heemskirk. In 1882, deposits of lead and silver were also discovered. By August 1888 the Mount Zeehan Post Office had opened. In 1890 the township was named Zeehan. The town flourished due to it being close to the Zeehan mineral field. Up to the First World War, a total of 159 companies operated with the town stock exchange having 60 members.

The main street of Zeehan was over two miles long and had 20 hotels, a hospital, and two theatres, the Gaeity Theatre and the Theatre Royal. In 1910 the town’s population peaked at about 10,000 and it was the third largest town in Tasmania after Hobart and Launceston.

Above:- Zeehan main street, early 1900s. Image c/o https://wchczeehan.com.au/

We visited the West Coast Heritage Centre at Zeehan which is located in the old Zeehan School of Mines building. This is a very good museum and is a must do during a visit to Zeehan.

The museum has an excellent display of minerals and gems.

Outside they have a blacksmith workshop, machinery shed, an underground mine, and railway exhibits.

The old Zeehan Police Station is part of the museum and contains various police memorabilia and the magistrates court.

The museum also includes the Gaiety Theatre and Hotel which was built in 1898 by the Hon. Edward Mulcahy.

There is also a Masonic Lodge Display and a huge amount of other display and history of Zeehan.

We then drove out to the Zeehan Spray tunnel, a 100 metre long abandoned railway tunnel which leads to the old Spray Silver mine. It was carved through the hill to enable ore being moved from the mine. The tunnel is 3 metres high, 2.2 metres wide and 100 metres long.

We drove north out of Zeehan on the Murchison Highway and stopped briefly at the site of the old Renison Bell township. It was once a thriving tin mining centre and was named in honour of George Renison Bell who was an early settler and prospector in the area.

We had Montezuma Falls on our list of things we wanted to see. But when we arrived we found it was an 8m – 3 hour return walk and we just didn’t have the time unfortunately.

The video below shows what we missed out on. Montezuma Fllas is Tasmania’s largest single drop waterfall, with the water falling 104 metres.

We then drove back to the Highway and on to the town of Rosebery.

In 1893 gold was discovered in the rainforest on the slopes of nearby Mount Black by prospector Tom McDonald. He made several claims in the name of the Rosebery Prospecting Association which was named after Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery.

Above:- Lord Rosebery. Image c/o Wikipedia

One of the interesting things to see in Rosebery is the Rosebery Aerial Ropeway which was constructed in 1928 to enable lead/zinc ore from the Hercules Mine to be transported to a new ore concentrating mill being built in Rosebery. The aerial ropway was used until its closure in February 1965. It transported an estimated 2 million tonnes of ore to Rosebery.

We then visited the replica of an early miners camp in Rosebery. It si a replica of one of two early accomodation huts for engineers who were required to stay on site for security reasons and other duties. The original was built in 1915 and was used until the 1950s.

Next was the Rosebery mural and the Visitor Centre which unfortunately was closed.

Stitt Falls was our next stop in Rosebery. The falls can be viewed after a very short walk from the carpark. Stitt Falls drops about 5-8 metres.

It was a rather chilly and overcast day and there was snow on the top of the nearby mountains close to Rosebery.

Prior to leaving Rosebery we had a quick look from the roadway at the MMG Limited Mine. Zinc, copper and lead concentrates as well as gold ore are produced at Rosebery.

North of Rosebery, we stopped briefly to have a look at Lake Rosebery and the Murchison River.

We then turned off the Murchison Road and headed east on the Belvoir Road. We soon reached the Black Bluff Nature Recreation Area. A check of the WWFF Australia website revealed sadly that this park was not on the list of VK7 qualifying parks.

But within sight was another sign, this one for the Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area, and that was on the list, VKFF-2925.

It was an extremely cold afternoon with the outside temperature being about 3-4 deg c, but we decided to brave the elements and walk to the top of the Black Bluff lookout. There was lots of snow on the ground as we walked to the top. Once at the top you are rewarded with some amazing views of the Black Bluff Nature Recreation Area, the Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area, and the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park.

The Vale of Belvoir is located in the foothills of the rugged peaks of Cradle Mountain. It is an extensive natural grassland which is surrounded by old growth rainforest. Much of these grasslands are rare and endangered and provide habitat for threatened plant and animal species.

The Vale of Belvoir is of World Heritage significance and is the only surviving grassy valley of its kind, unchanged since the time of the Aboriginal wallaby hunters of south-west Tasmania 18,000 – 20,000 years ago when glaciers covered much of highland Tasmania. The valley is widely recognised as one of the most important places for nature conservation in Australia.

Above:- An aerial view of the Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area. Image c/o Google maps.

The Vale of Belvoir was named in 1827 by land surveyor Joseph Fossey (b. 1788. d. 1851) after the Vale of Belvoir in Leicestershire in England. The name derives from the Norman-French for “beautiful view” and dates back to Norman times.

Above:- Belvoir Castle overlooking the Vale of Belvoir in England, c. 1819. Image c/o Wikipedia.

From the 1850s cattle was grazed in the area. One settler, George Williams also had a dairy herd and a cheese factory. During the 1960s the Charleston family took over the land from the Williams family.

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy finalised the purchase of 473 hectares of private land in the Vale of Belvoir in 2009. It was purchased for the ole purpose of nature conservation.

Above:- The Vale of Belvoir Conservation Area. Image c/o Google Earth.

We then headed back down to the vehicle and strung out the 20/40/80m linked dipole while there was slight snow falling. As it was so cold we operated from the comfort of the 4WD.

Marija worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK2HHA
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK3SMW
  5. VK2VH
  6. VK4AAC
  7. VK7JFD
  8. VK7AN
  9. VK2IO
  10. VK3AWA
  11. VK3EJ
  12. VK7FAMP

I worked the following stations on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK3PF
  2. VK2HHA
  3. VK3SQ
  4. VK3SMW
  5. VK2VH
  6. VK4AAC
  7. VK7JFD
  8. VK7AN
  9. VK2IO
  10. VK3AWA
  11. VK7STO
  12. VK3YUN
  13. VK3EJ
  14. VK3ZPF
  15. VK3JW
  16. VK3BWS
  17. VK3NP
  18. VK3VIN
  19. VKESRC
  20. VK3FOWL
  21. VK1DI
  22. VK3GRX
  23. VK2YAK
  24. VK4YAK
  25. VK3XL
  26. VK7DIK
  27. VK3NBL
  28. VK3BEL
  29. VK7WUU
  30. VK5BJE
  31. VK7WJT
  32. VK7LTD
  33. VK7FAMP
  34. VK2EXA
  35. VK3MCA
  36. VK3PMC
  37. VK7AAE
  38. VK3SKT

I worked the following stations on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4NH
  2. VK4DXA
  3. VK4KLA
  4. VK4TJ
  5. F1BLL
  6. UT5PI
  7. IW2NXI
  8. ZL1TM
  9. VK4KC
  10. VK4MAD
  11. VK4DOG
  12. VK4EMP
  13. VK4TI
  14. VK4AOC

It was getting late, so we packed up and continued on to our accomodation at Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat. And what a beautiful spot it was.

Below is the view from our verandah of the cabin.

We enjoyed a beautiful meal that night at the Retreat, and after dinner watched the Tasmanian Pademelons being fed.

References.

  1. Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2023, <https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fossey-joseph-2060>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  2. MMG, 2023, <https://www.mmg.com/our-business/rosebery/>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  3. Tasmanian Geographic, 2023, <https://tasmaniangeographic.com/the-vale-of-belvoir-an-introduction/>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  4. The Sydney Morning Herald, 2023, <https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/renison-bell-20040208-gdkqox.html>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  5. Waterfalls of Tasmania, 2023, <https://waterfallsoftasmania.com.au/waterfalls/stitt_falls>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  6. West Coast, 2023, <https://westcoasttas.com.au/listings/zeehan/walks/spray-tunnel>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  7. West Coast Heritage Centre, 2023, <https://wchczeehan.com.au/>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  8. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeehan>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  9. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosebery,_Tasmania>, viewed 5th January 2023.
  10. Wikipedia, 2023, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vale_of_Belvoir>, viewed 5th January 2023.

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