Skip to content

More fascinating history

  • by

There is certainly no shortage of history in Tasmania.

Every town, no matter how small, has a history that is well documented and today we found a particularly fascinating piece at Beaconsfield in the Tamar Valley.


View Larger Map
If you recall Beaconsfield became known throughout the world on 25th April 2006 when a small earthquake triggered an underground rock fall at the Beaconsfield gold mine causing a collapse deep in the mine.

Seventeen people were in the mine at the time. Fouteen escaped immediately following the collapse, one was killed and the remaining two were found alive after five days using a remote-controlled device. These two miners were rescued on 9 May 2006, two weeks after being trapped nearly a kilometre below the surface.

The collapse and the subsequent heroic rescue of Brant Webb and Todd Russell make up a large section of the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre, where we had come to visit, but there is much more at the centre as well.

A reconstruction of the space that Brant Webb and Todd Russell were trapped in in 2006

A reconstruction of the space that Brant Webb and Todd Russell were trapped in in 2006

The town’s  mining heritage along with its  farming and logging history is fascinating and at the  Heritage Centre there are numerous displays of renovated machinery, and all sorts of items associated with the town and the Tamar Valley.

The building itself is of interest as its the original mine site and even today some of the original buildings are still used in the current operations of the mine.

Some of the original buildings are still in use such as the Winding shed housing the winch to the current mine

Some of the original buildings are still in use such as the Winding shed housing the winch to the current mine

The building originally housed huge boilers which were used to run the undergound pumps, the winches and the myriad of crushing and transporting machinery that was used in the mining operation, Much of this machinery is still there.

Much of the machinery in the original building is still in working order

Much of the machinery in the original building is still in working order

Of particular interest was the huge pumps that were used at the turn of the century to extract over 36 millions litres of water every day from the bottom of the mine 1500 feet below and bring it to the surface by a series of cisterns. These massive pumps were removed from the mine bottom in 1996.

The engineering of these pumps is fascinating as they are huge but very simple in their design.

This pump was retrieved from the bottom of the mine in 1996 after being there since 1904

This pump was retrieved from the bottom of the mine in 1996 after being there since 1904

The massive timber rods that worked these pumps are still there and you cannot help but gain a profound respect for the people who designed, built, installed and then operated this machinery.

The huge water wheel that operated the crushers which ground down the quartz so the gold could be extracted still works and you can easily imagine the noise and the scurrying activity that would have been the daily routine here.

The water wheel which drove the crushers at turn of century still works

The water wheel which drove the crushers at turn of century still works

We had a great time at this Heritage Centre, learned a lot and felt it was very good value for money.

A bit of shopping on the way home and we will get ready to free camp for the next 10 days over at Boat Harbour and Stanley before returning to Devonport to catch the ferry on the 1st of May.

Join the conversation