The drive across the Central Highlands to the West Coast was relaxed. We had the road to ourselves most of the time, occasionally passing a car coming in the opposite direction.
We drove through forests, passed the lakes and lagoons, crossed over a few rivers, the road became more windy as we travelled. We were in the middle of nowhere, it did feel like wilderness.
We weren’t expecting this …..
As we approached Queenstown, a sign directed us to Iron Blow Lookout. Gold mining began here in 1883 but soon became a huge copper mine.
The area was heavily forested but trees were cut down for the mine, smelting works, brick works and saw mills. Now the area has a barren lunar appearance due to poisonous fumes from the smelting process. Vegetation is only now beginning to grow, twenty years after the mine closed.
The local rivers still run red, due to the minerals in the ground.
Queenstown has a fascinating museum showing the history of the area, the opening of the west coast road in 1932, the railway to Strahan, towns now forgotten as mine workers left, known as ghost towns. The thousands of exhibits and photos have all been donated by the local community. We were intrigued with old photos, books and ledgers from the early twentieth century, wage records and a dog registration book going back to 1913.
The town has a unique sports field – the gravel oval. No grass in sight. It was great to see kids playing and practicing their Aussie Rules skills. The oval is now heritage listed and has it’s own interesting history.
On our return journey we took a detour into Tarraleah. We had noticed a canal with water flowing in cement channels.
But we weren’t expecting this ……
We all take electricity for granted, for light, cooking, heat and charging our phones and lap tops. I for one never think about where it comes from, how it is generated. I was totally amazed by this huge industry hidden in the wilderness.