Waratah

Waratah sits at the eastern gateway to the Tarkine wilderness and adjacent to the Savage River National Park. It is a 40-minute drive south of Burnie and 50 kms north from Tullah. The road through the area was not completed until 1963.  Now  Waratah is connected to Corinna, a tiny settlement located approximately 62 kms further south west.

Waratah was probably named by Van Diemen’s Land Company officials after the Waratah River,  which was named after the wildflower that was found growing in the area.  We did not see a Waratah in flower during our Tarkine trip so I am including a photo taken on a completely different trip of mine. The photo below, of a flowering Waratah, is one I took during my walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River – for more information refer to my blog Walking the Derwent here.

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The Waratah River, running northward, is a tributary of the major Arthur River, the river which roughly forms the northern boundary of the Tarkine.

Waratah River into Arthur River with red line

ABC news reported a story  Waratah keeps on through hard times thanks to the passion of the old and the new .  This presents historical information and includes otherwise unseen photographs.

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Waking and getting going on Day 3

Once showered, breakfasted and packed up, and when Jeanette was surfacing I set off to explore Waratah further.  I headed downhill on a mapped street which had never been built formally and which could not have been driven on. As I walked towards town I expected to be picked up at the Waratah Roadhouse a while later.

A magical world met me. High above, the sky was a dense blue colour and, closer to the earth, the sun was glowing through enveloping mists.  Every edge was softened. A heavy dew meant the mown grass was covered in water droplets sparkling in any light.

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I knew there was a large Lake Waratah and made the assumption that the collision of air and water temperatures was creating the delicate fog.  Later I was to see that the misty conditions continued a considerable distance to the west.

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In the distance I distinguished the Bischoff Hotel.

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Then when I reached the main road I was able to look around the outside of the historic Post Office.

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Equipment and water wheels came into view the further I walked.

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A roadside sign alerted me to the waterfall although the fall of water could not be seen from this point. The landscape flowed gently.

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But it was Lake Waratah which surprised me with its ethereal beauty on the morning of Day 3 of our travels into the southern Tarkine. There was no traffic and no other person around when I approached it. Watch this video and love the silence. On the edges of Lake Waratah, apparently our native Platypus can be seen if you are lucky.

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Danger alert for the Tarkine

The future of the Tarkine continues to be uncertain with the immediate possibility of logging in some areas.  Tomorrow, in both Hobart and in Melbourne, a vigil will held by people keen to persuade the governments to provide protection.

Hobart
Thursday 25 May at 8:15 am,  15 Murray St, Hobart Contact Jenny Weber on 0427 366 929 or jenny@bobbrown.org.au

Melbourne
Thursday 25 May 17 at 8:00 am, 695 Burke Rd, Camberwell  Contact Emma Wasson on 0409 300 592 or emma@bobbrown.org.au

The Bob Brown Foundation has sent me the following information:

For 100 days now, citizens and our campaigners have peacefully occupied threatened forests in takayna / Tarkine, stalling proposed logging! The logging due to start in February has been prevented by our ongoing presence in these forests.

This Thursday, as we mark 100 days of action for takayna / Tarkine, you can join peaceful demonstrations in Hobart and Melbourne calling for protection of the Tarkine. In Hobart, we will be hosting a vigil at the executive offices of the Premier and government Ministers. We will be outside the offices, with banners, for 45 minutes calling on the Tasmanian Government to give permanent protection to takayna / Tarkine.

In Melbourne we’ll be hosting a vigil at federal Environment Minister Frydenberg’s office, calling on him to give permanent protection to one of the planet’s last wild places.

You are also welcome to join the camp in these ancient, threatened forests. The proposed logging coupes have two endangered Wedge-tailed Eagle nests in the forests and while the eagles are breeding from July 1st to February 10th, no logging is allowed. So we are planning to have a presence in these forests right up until the end of June.”

To join the camp in the Frankland River Forests– Email jenny@bobbrown.org.au for directions and information about how to come and enjoy the ancient forests by the Frankland River.

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Accommodation in Waratah

Very few accommodation options exist in Waratah for people without a tent, caravan or other mobile home. A large area near Lake Waratah has been allocated for people travelling in this way.   We were not travelling this way so finding alternatives within the town was not easy. Photo below, courtesy of Discover Tasmania, shows the camping ground.

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We needed accommodation with cooking facilities because research indicated that only the Waratah Roadhouse provided meals in Waratah (no other alternative existed) and we were not sure whether the quality or menu would suit us.

Eventually we were fortunate to book our ‘unit’ which seemed like the last available space in town.  I used the online service Booking.com which listed this property as a Unit (the owners list it as a Unit) and because I imagined our unit would be one in a block I asked for the number. Was it number 2 or 11 or 23 or what?  Just Unit at the address given.  When we found the place it was, in fact, a self-contained house on its own block.  Appearing very much like ex State Government Housing property it was a basic 2 bedroom brick place tightly fenced in, and furnished with different vintages of cheap oddments which didn’t match each other or the floor or window coverings.  Despite needing a complete makeover the house was clean, and we felt comfortable cooking our meal that evening.  But there was nothing pretty to be seen indoors so we spent the evening as couch potatoes watching television so as not to be demoralised by the environment.

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Once I went to bed, my mattress sagged dreadfully in the middle.  But my back survived the night and I was up early and excitedly ready for new adventures and new sights.  If we need to stay another night in Waratah in future, I would probably book in there again. Better the devil you know.

 

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Mt Bischoff

The mountain and it’s mine were the final features on our itinerary for visiting on Day 2. However, feeling weary we decided to find our accommodation first, settle in and refresh and then head off again despite the afternoon coming to an end.

Mt Bischoff was a constant landmark as we moved around the town. Clearly one side of the mountain had been removed and various cutting levels were evident. We knew that the mountain and the mine were located only a kilometre or so from the town and therefore we believed a closer inspection would be easy to achieve.  To our surprise, from the back door of our accommodation, we had a bird’s eye view across to the mined mountain.  The shadows were fixed across the cuttings and I recall the tints of yellows, whites and  greys in the rock faces.  Refer to Wikipedia for more information here.

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The University of Tasmania has created an information sheet with a photo taken years ago when less of the town side of Mt Bischoff had been mined.  Have a look here. A mining link explains “The Mount Bischoff tin mine at Waratah in Tasmania was the first major mining venture to take place in Tasmania. It was discovered by hobby prospector James “Philosopher” Smith and Shawn Bischoff in 1871. The discovery grew to become one of the richest tin mines in the world.” The article continues rich with facts about the mountain and the mine’s past.

Inertia and torpor stalled our advances on Day 2 so we never came closer to the mountain than our accommodation. At the start of Day 3, I looked back past our house accommodation towards Mt Bischoff pointing to the sky in the distance.

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In addition to the mountain and the mine, there were a number of aspects of Waratah we did not explore. So the town retains some mystery for any return trip.

 

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The waterfall in the middle of the town

I was excited all day waiting to find this phenomenon. Is there any other town or city in the world with a waterfall at its centre? My first-hand experience of the waterfall in the centre of Waratah occurred late in the afternoon and it was worth waiting for.

Initially we attempted to see it from the side closest to Waratah’s centre, opposite the Kenworthy Stamper Mill.  We walked across a mown paddock (of course it was mown) straining to see the fall of water. In parts the angle and the height and the security fence prevented access to a perfect view.  However persistence is useful.

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Then we drove along Smith St across the bridge over the outflow from Lake Waratah until we parked outside the Bischoff Hotel. From there the waterfall was clearly in view, along with interpretation boards in the foreground.

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A stunning spectacle. No doubt the volume of this fall of water would be enhanced after rain, but I felt quite privileged to see such a beauty with its very different character from Philosopher’s Falls seen earlier in the day.

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Mt Pearse, located to the south east of Waratah in the distance, stands clear in the photo below.  If you want to climb this mountain read details under the tab for Mt Pearse here. Please note there are no tracks, therefore this is a walk for experienced and appropriately equipped walkers.

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Early next morning I recorded this video over the waterfall but without a view of the waterfall.  The sound is delightfully gentle.

I hope by now you have been excited by what you have seen and that you are planning your trip to Waratah and its environs.  But there is more. Much more.

 

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The Bischoff Hotel

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The Bischoff Hotel is not currently open for business. Over a century old, it stands rather dramatically on a hill overlooking Waratah Falls and the centre of Waratah. This grand structure indicates Waratah was once an important and large town. I found a sales video online which shows aspects of the Hotel and Waratah. Since the Hotel was locked up tightly when we passed through, seeing the images on the video has helped me to understand the nature of the building’s interior.

The Hotel is up for sale and I wonder what sort of person will see potential in this establishment. The Real Commercial website shows photos of the Hotel in snowy conditions.  The same site informs us:  “In close proximity to Cradle Mountain one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist destinations, and the gate way to the famous Tarkine wilderness, offering the most affordable accommodation in the area. The hotel has a large public bar, with walk in cool-room, open fire, lounge bar, dining room able to seat 50 patrons, a bottle shop, commercial kitchen, walk in cool-room, managers apartment, 18 rooms including , one spa room,4 ensuite rooms(queen and doubles) and a good variety of bed configurations, 3 car garage all on  approximately 1 acre.”

The Bischoff Hotel has its own website with more photos and information including a history.

At the start of our Day 3, I walked down into the mist over the town and saw the side of the Bischoff Hotel in soft focus with Mt Bischoff in the distance.  A beautiful morning with no-one around.

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