Waratah sits on the edge of the Tarkine Reserve in north-west Tasmania 40 minutes” drive south of Burnie and 50 minutes from Burnie/Wynyard Airport.
The town with its magnificent waterfall – in the main street – was once the richest tin mine in the world. Today, Waratah offers visitors a rare insight into an original mining town. The town remained isolated from the rest of Tasmania until 1963 when a connecting road was finally completed.
On December 4, 1871, a prospector, James ‘Philosopher’ Smith, discovered tin at Mount Bischoff. His discovery triggered a mining boom and the birth of Tasmanian mining.
When the mine closed in 1935 it had produced 81,000 tonnes of tin and provided a dividend equal to £200 for every £1 initially invested. At its peak the town, which now has only a few hundred residents, had a population in excess of 5,000.
While you can no longer visit the Mount Bischoff mine you can visit the Kenworthy Stamper Mill a working historical artefact and the last mining operation to be conducted on Mount Bischoff. The Stamper was relocated from Dead Mans Gully to a purpose-built facility in the centre of town.
You can also visit the Courthouse Museum with its collection of local historical artefacts, photos and personal stories. A replica of ”Philosopher” Smith”s Hut sits next to the Museum, demonstrating the conditions of miners during those early days.
Visitors can picnic by the waterfall or enjoy the views from the comfort of the café, take a stroll around the lake and look out for platypus, or try your hand at fishing for trout.
Every Australia Day the town holds the Annual Australia Day Duck Races and a reunion for the former Luina, Waratah and Savage River residents.
Waratah is a good base for exploring the Tarkine, and you can choose from bed and breakfast, caravan and camping ground and hotel accommodation.
Waratah”s weather is subject to the prevailing west coast weather patterns and its lush rainforests are fed by the Roaring Forties winds and rain. Make sure you bring a jacket and all-weather gear.