Western Tasmania has an exceptionally rich and diverse range of geological features in a small area, including folded and glaciated mountain ranges, ancient volcanoes, world class ore bodies, rare minerals, and ancient fossils. Here, the handiwork of the massive forces and landscape-forming processes of the “Living Earth” are evident in nearly every view. Rocks from all the major geological periods of Earth history are found here, and the region contains Australia’s best examples of glaciated landscapes.
Geologists first forged their way into the western wilderness in the 1850s, when the young Charles Gould walked from Lake St Clair to the West Coast Range, on a government-funded survey of the geology and potential gold deposits. Gould also began naming the peaks of the range after famous British geologists of the time, from Darwin in the south through Jukes, Huxley, Owen, Lyell, Sedgwick, Geikie and Tyndall to Murchison in the north.
The West Coast’s European history is centred around geology and mining. The discovery of tin at Mt Bischoff in 1871 led to a series of discoveries which revealed Western Tasmania to be one of the richest and most diversely mineralised provinces in the world. Mines were developed at Queenstown (Mt Lyell), Zeehan, Rosebery, Hercules, Mt Farrell, Renison, Cleveland/Heazlewood and Savage River between 1871-1900, and discoveries since 1974 have seen new mines at Que River, Hellyer, Henty, Kara, and Avebury. Copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tin, tungsten, iron and nickel have been mined.
This GeoTrail provides information to enable you to understand and appreciate the geological processes which formed the rocks at each site, and the landscapes which can be seen. Some sites also show how man has interacted with the geology and the landscape.
Each site has a roadside sign, either a large sign with information and explanations, or a small sign showing the relevant QRCode weblink to the Living Earth website which has general and detailed information on all the sites, for you to learn more about the geological and landscape evolution of the West Coast.