The Blue Tier in TasmaniaÄôs North East Highlands was an unknown little part of the world until it became the centre of a forestry operations debate.¬İÄùFriends of the Blue TierÄù was formed to investigate alternatives to clear-fell logging and protect this beautiful area which has wild forests of giant trees, hidden waterfalls and fabulous wildlife, much of it threatened.¬İThe mountain plateau they are seeking to protect ¬İonce had the worldÄôs largest open-cut tin mine with miners swarming through the forests, eager to make their fortunes. Now it is a walking destination catering for all levels of experience.
The Blue Tier Forest ReserveÄôs long history in mining and forestry operations adds interest for visitors. The first Europeans came to this area after some miners who were working in the Mathinna goldfields discovered some rich tin deposits in some of the creeks in this area.¬İThe news spread quickly and the area was settled in 1878 as a mining town. Back then the town was made up of a pub, two hotels, a blacksmith, butcher, three stores and a few residential cottages.¬İThe level of work varied over the years with the fluctuation of tin prices from things such as the Depression. Chinese miners were also employed here for cheap labour until a policy to employ only white labour in the hard rock mines forced them out.
Over the years many mining companies came and went, some of these included Cambria, Wellington, Anchor Company and in more recent years Aberfoyle Ltd (1960s) and Renison Ltd (1977). Between 1875 and 1996 the Blue Tier produced more than 11,000 tonnes of tin.¬İIt was in 1958 that the Blue Tier was claimed as a forest reserve, and by 1997 more than 5000 hectares has been included to conserve the flora, fauna and rich heritage.
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Where Is it?
27 km west of St Helens, off Tasman Highway
There are a series of tracks on Blue Tier that offer a variety of experience, duration and level of challenge for walkers (see below). Goblin Forest Walk is the shortest at only 20 minutes return. ¬İThe walk has a great interpretation of some of the miners who worked here and also shows how the forest is regrowing back after it was cleared for mining all those years ago.
Pun in A Paddock
In 1880 a family with 15 children built a private homestead up
the road from the Cottons. A decade later, a hotel license was granted
for the property – known affectionately these days as The Pub in
the Paddock. It has been continuously licensed ever since and
visitors can experience hospitality of a bygone era with hearty meals
and open fires. It has six rooms for accommodation and a tea room.
Up the road from The Pub in the Paddock is another Pyengana
institution – Pyengana Dairy Company. Its renowned
Clothbound Cheddar is produced by John Healey using the original method
established by his great grandfather at the turn of the 20th century.
With such a long history of production, Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar is
one of Australia’s oldest specialist cheeses. Attached to the
dairy is the Holy Cow Cafe, a wonderful place to do a little cheese
tasting, or to stop and enjoy a light meal as the cows on the other
side of the fence jostle for a spot on the laser-guided milking
St Columba Falls
Not far from Pyengana is St Columba Falls, one of Tasmania’s
highest waterfalls, with water plunging 90m from the Mt Victoria
foothills to the valley of the South George River. There is a
delightful walk from the car park to the falls through one of the most
captivating rainforests you will see in a long time. Halls Falls is a
smaller, cascading waterfall, but its location in beautiful forest
makes up for anything it may lack in size. The water that tumbles
over these two falls is the reason the region became known as Pyengana.
It is the Aboriginal word for “two rivers”. These days
the two rivers are called North and South George. South George flows
through the valley and spills over the top of St Columba Falls.
The area around Pyengana had several tin mines such as the Anchor Tin Mine and Battery situated in the Pyengana Pass.¬İFifteen kilometres beyond Pyengana are the remnants of the mining village of¬İLottah where massive anchor stampers stand silently. These rusted tin crushing machines were driven by a waterwheel. At its height Lottah had 40 homes, but when the mine closed in the 1950s, the township was abandoned and all that remained was something resembling a moonscape. The site has since been reclaimed by Mother Nature.
Halls Falls in the north east, is located up near Blue Tier, and is the first attraction along the way to the Anchor Tin Mine Site and Blue Tier. There are also a number of picnic tables near the information booth, and some old mining equipment. The walk to the falls is only 30 minutes return, however if you want the full experience it is recommended that you dedicate about an hour and a half. The falls are one of the prettiest in Tasmania and are well worth leaving the main road to visit. What it lacks in sheer size it makes up for in quiet beauty.
Goblin Forest Walk
The Goblin Forest Walk is the shortest and easiest of a series of tracks on Blue Tier, near St Helens in TasmaniaÄôs north east. It is recommended for both walkers and mountain bike riders. These walks offer a variety of experience, duration and level of challenge. Interpretation signs along the walk explore the history of the Blue Tier.
This 20-minute walk is great for those who do not have much time but want to stretch their legs and learn about the Äòmountain of tinÄô. The walk is of wheelchair standard.¬İAnother short walk is the 30 minute return to the top of Mt. Poimena. It is a short and steady climb to the summit. Walkers are rewarded with spectacular views over St. Helens and the coastline beyond (follow blue markers to the trig point). Winter snowfalls are rare, but add a special touch to a winter walk if you are lucky enough to be in the area after a snow fall.
Moon Valley Rim Loop Walk
Moon Valley Rim Loop Walk (2 hours):¬İThe walk takes you to the summit of Mt. Poimena then along Moon Valley Rim and Blue Tier Battery before returning via the Sun Flats Road. (follow blue markers)
Australia Hill Loop Walk
Australia Hill Loop Walk (2 hours):¬İThis walk passes through open country and stands of regenerating rainforest and is great for visitors who want to see some remnants of the mining era. Look for abandoned machinery at Summit Mine and Harry MosesÄô (the last Blue Tier miner) sluice box at the Compere Mine. (follow orange markers)
Mt Michael Loop Walk
Mt. Michael Loop Track¬İ(2 hours):¬İBegins at the Sun Flats Road. The walk passes through rainforest before climbing up to the summit of Mt. Michael. Walkers are rewarded with fantastic views. On the way down stop and look at the Mt. Michael Mine which was one of the largest mines in the area (follow yellow markers).
Wellington Loop Walk
Wellington Loop Walk (3 hours):¬İBegins at the halfway mark on the Goblin Forest Walk. The walk is great for those interested in the history of the Blue Tier because it takes you past interesting remnants of the mining days. The walk passes through a diversity of vegetation types including regenerating rainforest, patches of remnant rainforest and sphagnum bogs (follow red markers).
Three Notch Walk
Three Notch Track Äì return (6 hours):¬İThis, the most difficult of the walks, follows an old pack trail to McGoughs Lookout and return. Walkers are rewarded with spectacular views of the coastline. The walk is long and difficult and should only be attempted by experienced walkers. (follow yellow and red markers). It is now possible to hike from Sun Flats to the bottom end near Pioneer. However this requires having a vehicle at the other end to pick up walkers. .