Zeehan

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DISTANCES: Queenstown 38Km, Burnie 155Km

CLASSIFIED HISTORIC TOWN

The history of Zeehan dates back to 1642, when Abel Tasman, from his brig, the ’Zeehan’ sighted the mountain peak which was later named Mount Zeehan. Mount Heemskirk, also in the Zeehan area, was named after Tasman’s other ship. It was in the early 1880s that the small settlement arose about three km north of Mount Zeehan. The silver led field was discovered in 1882, but was not developed before 1888. The ore was found over such a wide area that it was thought to be another Broken Hill. Frank Long discovered silver lead (Galena) on the banks of Pea Soup Creek in 1882. It was this discovery that led to the establishment of the town of Zeehan. The population rose quickly; at the census of 1901, Zeehan had a population of 5,014 making it the third largest town in Tasmania at that time.

Zeehan then grew to become a thriving city known as ‘The Silver City’. At the turn of the century, it had a population of around 10,000, with 27 pubs at the time, making it the third largest town in Tasmania. Between 1893 and 1908, Zeehan saw its greatest period of prosperity. Ore worth $8 million was recovered in that period. After 1908 however, the mines began to fail. Mining activities declined, and with it, Zeehan.

Zeehan experienced a revival brought about by the reopening of the Renison Tin Mine at Renison Bell. Zeehan now has a population of around 892 (Census 2001) and despite two severe bushfires; many of the original buildings still stand tall and enjoy everyday use.

WHAT TO DO AND SEE

West Coast Pioneers Memorial Museum was established in 1965 and is now regarded as one of the best regional museums in Australia. The complex houses an outstanding display of pioneering memorabilia including some of the best mineral samples in the world. Working and static displays also include mine headframe and steam winder, stamp battery, machinery collection, working blacksmith, wheelwright workshop and steam locomotives. Allow at least a couple of hours at the Museum at Zeehan.

Once the largest concert hall in Australia, the Gaiety Theatre is part of the visitor experience at the West Coast Pioneers Memorial Museum.

Try a four-wheel drive tour of the Teepookana & the King Rivers Wilderness.

Spray Tunnel located at the end of Main Street, Zeehan, and the Spray Tunnel provides a scenic walk, drive or cycle through the 100-metre narrow abandoned railway tunnel, on a one-way gravel road. The loop takes about 10 minutes to drive around and can only be accessed by vehicles less than 2.2m wide and less than 3m high, a 20-minute walk from the Golf Course may also be enjoyed and it is recommended that you take a torch.

Howards Park is in memory of Ronald James Howard who was a member of the Zeehan Commission from 1939 to 1968.

Mt Zeehan is 702m high and provides a good 3-hour walk. Start opposite Zeehan Smelters and follow the gravel track to the base of the mountain.

Pioneer Cemetery is located 400m along Henty Main Road, the Pioneer Cemetery was the first used from 1891 to 1930.

Dundas, now a deserted mining town is located 10 km from Zeehan. Dundas was once connected to Zeehan by train, offers a short scenic drive, and was once the site of a large town that, with the closure of the mines, has reverted to bush.

Reece Dam, a 35-minute drive along a sealed road, brings you to the 120m high rock fill dam; a road goes over the dam face and spillway and rejoins the Murchison Highway near Tullah.

Henty Dunes is located midway between Zeehan and Strahan, the Henty Sand Dunes seem to go in all directions and offer wonderful views of Ocean Beach.

Henty River in October and November is renowned for its sea run trout. Lovely picnic spots are available beside the river.

RECREATION

Swimming Pool, camping, golf course, tennis, fishing–river & lake, walking tracks, 4WD or all terrain vehicle area, mine tours. Service clubs operate.