It’s my pleasure tonight to rise to speak about a very dedicated and enthusiastic group of locals who are dedicated to seeing the beautiful community of Waratah and surrounds preserved and put on the map as a tourism attraction. Waratah is a beautiful community in north-west Tasmania, in which I spent a lot of time as a child, and I’m pleased to be talking about it tonight. The group I’m referring to is to be commended for their efforts to promote this community, to secure its future through tourism and through historical preservation.
For those of you not familiar with the community, Waratah, south of Burnie and towards the west coast of Tasmania, is a spectacular former mining boom town. It was home to the great Mount Bischoff tin mine, which, in its heyday, was one of the world’s richest tin mines. It was discovered in 1871 by a fellow by the name of James ‘Philosopher’ Smith. It contributed not only to the Tasmanian economy but also to the national economy, along with mines like the Mount Lyell copper mine in Queenstown and the Dundas silver mine in Zeehan. Cities like Melbourne were beneficiaries of places like Waratah, Queenstown and Zeehan. Many of the buildings we see today were funded off the back of some of these very successful Tasmanian mines, which is an important thing to put on record for my Western Australia and Victorian colleagues.
Some of the other towns that this group is focusing on in the region are places like Magnet. A beautiful valley known as the Magnet valley was the site of a mining town which, in its heyday, was home to a couple of thousand people and boasted a great number of hotels, a hospital and three schools. Today there is nothing there. There are the foundations of the Catholic church, but there isn’t a great deal more to show there was ever a bustling mine and a community to support it. It too generated a significant amount of wealth for the state, as a silver-lead mine. It was also the birthplace of a Tasmanian Labor luminary and former Premier, the late Eric Reece. Other spectacular locations in the region include the Luina township, the Cleveland mine and the Godkin mine, to name but a few. All of these locations are being reclaimed by the dense and beautiful rainforest. Very slowly, but surely, all of these towns are disappearing off the map. It is important to note that these towns contributed significantly, not only to the state’s economy but to the nation’s economy as well. I think it is important that we Tasmanians recognise the history that these communities have with regard to that economic contribution.
Turning to the group I mentioned at the beginning of my adjournment speech tonight, this group of dedicated locals not only are keen to see that we preserve what these communities mean to the state of Tasmania and to recognise the history of these communities but also are keen to put them on the map and promote them as a tourism attraction. The individuals in this group, Winston Nickols, Ann Dunham, Kim Kecely, Shane Pinner, Paul Ledger and Chris Hawkins, to name but a few, have been passionate advocates for these towns and this region. They have done a great job promoting what is special about this part of the world and chronicling the history of this community, which is something that I fear was slipping away over time. I’m very grateful to them.
The projects they have been proposing to enhance this part of Tasmania include the Men of Rock museum, an interpretation centre which will be a great visitor attraction in the town of Waratah and will chronicle the history of the area and highlight its contribution to the economy and the history of our state; interpretive signage for a number of the aforementioned disappearing towns in our wilderness to show the significant contribution these towns have made to the economy but also to demonstrate how hard life was in these rugged and inhospitable parts of the country; the Pebble Pathway, which runs from Waratah to Temma, on the very wild west coast of Tasmania, was once walked by the Tasmanian Aborigines and, after them, the miners and prospectors of the region. The pathway is a 100-kilometre walk, which this group is hoping to open up as another walking trail, to add to the offerings we have in the state: the Overland Track and the Three Capes Track. I commend the group for their enthusiasm, and I encourage senators who aren’t familiar with the region to come on down. I will give you a guided tour of the area myself. I commend the group and look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition.