Tarkine's heritage a tourism opportunity: The Advocate reports

The Tarkine's extensive mining heritage had "terrific tourism potential", historian Nic Haygarth told a mining conference yesterday.

Mr Haygarth gave a presentation titled 150 Years of Mining in the Tarkine at the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council conference at Queenstown.

He took the audience through early exploration efforts in the 1860s to gold and osmiridium booms and as far as relatively modern times and the establishment of the Savage River Mine (1963) and the Cleveland Mine, near Luina, which ran from 1968 until 1986.

Environmentalist opposition to most new mining in the Tarkine has largely been built on the area's natural beauty, temperate rainforest and bio-diversity.

Image: Nic Haygarth

Mr Haygarth's talk showed the area was far from being untouched wilderness.

"I think the mining heritage is also important," he said.

He touched on Aboriginal mining efforts in Tasmania, which included ochre mining.

He said not much was known about Tasmanian Aboriginal mining and hoped one day more would be learned.

The many Tarkine mining episodes Mr Haygarth mentioned included:

■ "Pyromaniac" Circular Head farmer Skelton Emmett, who used to burn bushland in the hope of exposing mineral outcrops.

Emmett washed gold in the Arthur River near Milkshake Hills in 1860.

■ James "Philosopher" Smith, who found the world's then-richest tin deposit in the Tarkine in 1871, leading to major growth for the Tasmanian economy.

■ An Arthur River goldrush in 1872.

■ The discovery of magnetite at Savage River in 1876.

■ The VDL Company building a railway between Burnie and Waratah, which led to a form of Tarkine eco-tourism in the 1880s.

■ The Magnet silver-lead mine (1892-1940).

■ The 1910s-20s boom in osmiridium, which was used for the nibs of fountain pens.

Tasmania had a world monopoly at one stage, and it was valued at six to seven times as much as gold; and

the filming of the 1925 film Jewelled Nights, based on a romantic novel concerning Tarkine osmiridium mining and marking the end of the career of silent movie starlet Louise Lovely.

My Haygarth showed photos of miners in the Tarkine and much of its mining legacy, including old machinery and evidence of transport systems.