Ravenswood and the mine

Ravenswood is a heritage town dominated by an enormous gold mine, and tensions between its history and its future are inevitable.

The town was founded 150 years ago because of its gold and flourished for 50 years. Then it became a ghost town, drowsing for 70 years before coming back to life 30 years ago, again because of its gold. Now it is threatened by its gold.

When new technology made the gold profitable again in the early 1990s the mine re-opened as an open-cut pit south-east of the town. Another pit has now opened to the south-west, raising a long wall just a couple of hundred metres from the main street.

Ravenswood hall and shop
The community hall (restored) and shop in the main street with the mine wall behind them

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Cooktown

Cooktown, when I finally reached it after thinking about it for thirty years, was much more normal than I had expected.

In my imagination it was a romantically tumbledown jungle shantytown on the banks of a crocodile-infested river at the far end of hundreds of kilometres of rough dirt road. What I found was an attractive country town of some 2500 people, with  shire offices, schools, a good tourism infrastructure, etc, etc.

cooktown from Grassy Hill
View of Cooktown from Grassy Hill

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Strahan and Macquarie Harbour

A North-South line through Hobart and Launceston divides Tasmania fairly accurately into the settled East and the wild West. The West is wetter and far more mountainous, and much of it is wilderness (and long may it remain so!). Macquarie Harbour opens onto the middle of the West coast and was one of the most isolated outposts of the early colony. Its main township, Strahan, did well enough from fishing and timber-getting to survive but is still a tiny spot of humanity in a world of mountains, water and trees.

Strahan

Strahan is now a pretty little town strung along the northern coast of Macquarie Harbour. Fishing and timber are still important but tourism, exemplified by day-long harbour tours on big catamarans, has become a major activity.

strahan beach
Looking along the Macquarie Harbout beach from Strahan caravan park towards the centre of town

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Walking the Dalrymple Track up to the Stone Bridge

Four years ago I walked the inland end of the Dalrymple Track (see Wikipedia for its history) with Wildlife Queensland  folk, then took a quick look at the coastal end by myself. As I said in a blog post at the time, I always hoped to complete the rest of the walk eventually, and last week I almost made good on that plan, walking from the coastal end to its highest point a couple of hundred metres past the old Stone Bridge.

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