Day 23 and Hellyer Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1139

Day 23 (Thursday 17th November 2022) involved a drive from Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat to Stanley on the north west coast. We were taking a bit of a detour, as we wanted to visit Hellyer Gorge.

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

After breakfast we travelled west along the Belvoir Road and then north on the Murchison Highway. We took a quick break at the memorial cairn for John Roy Fidler, the surveyor of the section of the Murchison Highway between Roseberry to Waratah between 1958-1960.

We then took a short detour down Waratah Road and into the little town of Waratah. It is believed the town was named by officials from the Van Dieman’s Land Company after the Waratah River, which in turn was named after the flowering Waratah.

In 1871, James ‘Philiosopher’ Smith discovered tin at Mount Bischoff by James “Philosopher” Smith in 1871. In the following year a number of mining leases on Mount Bischoff were taken out.

Above:- James Smith Tribute, You Tube (Winston Nickols).

By 1874 the Mount Bischoff Post office had opened. Five years later in 1879 a police station and court house were built. The post office was renamed Waratah in 1882. During the 1880s it is believed that the Mount Bischoff mine was the richest tin mine in the world, and in 1883 the mine became the first Australian industrial plant to be lit by hydro electricity. The town was the first town in Australia to be lit by electric street lights, in 1886. The mine powered 400 incandescent streetlights.

The mine closed in 1947. By that time it had produced 81,000 tonnes of tin and provided a dividend equal to £200 for every £1 initially invested.

In the heart of the town are the Waratah Falls. You can get down to the base of the falls or view the falls from a number of vantage points in the town. During Waratah’s mining boom, water races and tunnels fed water to the falls, where the water was diverted to a nearby power station to produce hydro electric power.

Adjacent to the falls is the Dudley Kenworthy waterwheel memorial. He was the final man to run a mining lease at Mount Bischoff. He operated a stamper mill. Its purpose was the first step in separating tin from waste rock. The stamper was located in the side of the hill adjacent to the falls, and due to it crushing the ore is created a continual thumping noise for the residents of Waratah.

We called in to the Bischoff Hotel for a coffee as there were no other shops that we could find. The coffee was great. The hotel was Waratah’s first brick hotel and the only remaining one. It was built in 1909 in Queen Anne style and replaced a previous wooden hotel which was built in 1878 and subsequently burnt down.

Whilst in the town we visited the museum located in the old Waratah Courthouse. The current courthouse was built in 1908 as the Council Chambers and Court House. In 1879 the original Waratah Police Station and Court House were built side by side.

The museum houses an extensive collection of photographs and historical artefacts. The gentleman running the museum at the time was extremely friendly.

Alongside of the museum is a replica of ‘Philosopher’ Smith’s hut.

The old Waratah Post Office was built in 1913. It replaced the original 1882 building.

We were pleased that we detoured into Waratah as sit has a rich history and there is quite a bit to see and do here.

We then drove back to the Murchison Highway and headed to the Hellyer Gorge State Reserve VKFF-1139 for a park activation for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.

Above:- Map of Tasmania showing the location of the Hellyer Gorge State Reserve. Map c/o Google maps.

Hellyer Gorge State Reserve is about 3,000 hectares in size and was declared in 2002.

Above:- An aerial view of Hellyer Gorge State Reserve. Image c/o Google maps.

The park is named after Henry Hellyer (b. 1790. d. 1832), a surveyor and architect and one of the first explorers to visit the rugged country of the north west of Tasmania.

In 1825 the Van Dieman’s Land Company was formed. Hellyer was one of the first officers to sign on as a surveyor, and later as Chief Surveyor, and Chief Architect.  Hellyer explored the majority of north west Tasmania for the Company, and wrote extensive journals and reports.

Hellyer suicided on the 9th day of September 1832, leaving a suicide note which ended as follows:

Alas my mother, in agony I fly to my saviour.


Above:- Henry Hellyer. Image c/o

The Hellyer River passes through the park. The river flows for about 61 km and flows into the Arthur River.

Marija and I operated from the Hellyer Gorge Rest Area. There was a table and bench here in the picnic area alongside of the Hellyer River. We used the Yaesu FT857, 40 watts, and the 20/40/80m linked dipole for this activation.

Marija made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2HQ/p (VKFF-2698)
  2. VK3VIN
  3. VK7JFD
  4. VK3FTOM/p (Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-)
  5. VK3QH
  6. VK3HAK
  7. VK3PF
  8. VK3DW
  9. VK7ZGK
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK2HHA

I made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2HQ/p (VKFF-2698)
  2. VK3VIN
  3. VK7JFD
  4. VK3FTOM/p (Wilsons Promontory National Park VKFF-)
  5. VK3QH
  6. VK3HAK
  7. VK3PF
  8. VK3DW
  9. VK7ZGK
  10. VK5FANA
  11. VK2HHA
  12. VK2IO
  13. VK3UH
  14. VK3CBP
  15. VK3UAO
  16. VK3ANL
  17. VK3CJN
  18. VK2MET
  19. VK1AO
  20. VK2JRO
  21. VK3AHR
  22. VK7AAE
  23. VK5FB
  24. VK3ZGA
  25. VK3CAP
  26. VK3APC
  27. VK3PDB
  28. VK2DWP
  29. VK2EXA
  30. VK1DI
  31. VK3ET
  32. VK3TET
  33. VK7OT
  34. VK2VH
  35. VK4AAC
  36. VK3EJ
  37. VK3KAI
  38. VK3GV

I made the following QSOs on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK4NH
  2. VK4DXA
  3. VK4TJ
  4. VK2JU
  5. VK4EMP
  6. VK4EI


  1. Aussie Towns, 2023, <>, viewed 6th January 2023.
  2. Bonzle, 2023, <>, viewed 6th January 2023.
  3. Monument Australia, 2023, <—state/display/70967-john-fidler>, viewed 6th January 2023.
  4. Monument Australia, 2023, <>, viewed 6th January 2023.
  5. Proclamation under the Nature Conservation Act 2002
  6. Wikipedia, 2023, <,_Tasmania>, viewed 6th January 2023.
  7. Wikipedia, 2023, <>, viewed 6th January 2023.

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