The Living Earth | West Coast Geotrail
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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.


The Living Earth Geotrail has been developed by a number of organisations who all share an interest in the project. Below is some information on the partners, and where you can find out more about their individual efforts in other areas in the region and across the state.

Mineral Resources Tasmania

Mineral Resources Tasmania (MRT) is a Division of the Department of State Growth. The purpose of MRT is to give effect to government policy in relation to minerals and petroleum resources, and the Division provides essential information for land management in Tasmania.

The focus of MRT is to produce and promote up-to-date geoscientific information on Tasmania as an aid to the mineral and petroleum exploration industries, other government agencies and the general public, in order to improve the State’s economic position, and to promote sustainable land-use planning and environmental management.

Find out more at

West Coast Council

The West Coast is the gateway to Tasmania’s wilderness. Coastal populations include Strahan, situated on Macquarie Harbour, and the picturesque shack sites of Granville Harbour and Trial Harbour. The inland population centres of Queenstown, Zeehan, Tullah and Rosebery and the small historic townships of Gormanston and Linda are all within a short distance from magnificent lakes, rivers, rainforests, dunes and historic sites.

Find out more at

Department of State Growth, Tasmania

The Department of State Growth actively pursues investment, facilitates major projects, supports business and industry to grow, and ensures we are investing strategically in infrastructure. The department also works closely with business and industry to address barriers to growth, including red and green tape, to provide a skilled workforce, develop our cultural industries and ensure efficient cost effective transport and logistics systems.

Find out more at