The Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre in …. well, Beaconsfield! is a very interesting place with many stories to tell, machinery to see and plenty of interactive displays to allow you to immerse yourself into the surroundings.
Now the interactive side of things really appealed to us, Shelly is always touching things and this place just gave her the go-ahead to touch and play with everything! I’m guessing actual ‘kids’ would really enjoy that side of it too!
A lot of work has gone in to preserving the history of Beaconsfield and the heritage of the region, by opening up this tourist attraction.
History of the mine
This area is where Australia’s first iron ore exports occurred in the very early 1800’s. But it was the discovery of the Tasmania gold reef that really started the mining in the area and put Beaconsfield (then known as Brandy Creek) on the map. From 1877 the area was filled with miners and their families and facilities were abundant to cater for everyone.
The gold rush was certainly an exciting and prosperous time. At its height, the reef averaged 20 grams of gold per tonne. Over the years the mine had constantly battled water problems and flooding and by 1914 the continuing costs of removing flood-water caused the mine to close and it remained this way for the next 80 or so years.
In later years a museum was set up to show the history of the area, but by the early 1990’s, a joint venture was formed and the Tasmania Mine was reopened to again tap into the reef and it’s abundance of gold. $1 – $1.5 million worth of gold was being extracted during this second opening.
In 2011 the mine’s owner announced that the Beaconsfield Mine would be closing, not because there was no gold left, but because the current gold prices didn’t make it viable to mine below the current depth of 1210 metres.
Tragedy strikes Beaconsfield
Any Australian would remember ANZAC Day 2006 when a 2.3 eathquake caused a rock fall to occur in the Beaconsfield mine.
17 miners were working underground that day, including Todd Russell and Brant Webb who were working 925 meters below ground in a cherry picker cage, which was being operated by the forklift driver Larry Knight.
Unfortunately Larry Knight was killed in the rock fall, but remarkably Todd and Brant survived, and in fact they survived trapped for the next 2 weeks before they were finally rescued.
The greatest misfortune of this whole incident is that Larry should have been in his grader smoothing the surface of the decline, but instead, as his grader was undergoing a mechanical service, he jumped into the telehandler (similar to a cherry picker) and headed into the mine.
News and pictures from Beaconsfield were beamed across the world and this once unknown little Tasmanian town was now the centre of a huge media story.
They even have a simulation of the rock falls where you can climb in and experience where the miners were trapped for 2 weeks, waiting to be rescued ….. now this is the part that really puts it into perspective, wow, unbelievable the size of this area where they were both trapped. We were there for about 10 seconds, not two weeks!
There is an entry fee and you are given a map and can take yourself on a self-guided tour. There is so much to see and you should really allow a couple of hours to see it all. We could have easily spent longer there than we did, but unfortunately we were on a bit of a tight schedule that day. There are plenty of volunteers around to help with any questions you may have – like the one that told George he wouldn’t be finding any gold if he kept panning the way he was and gave him a lesson!
Address: West Street, Beaconsfield
Telephone: (03) 6383 1473
You can purchase a ‘Tamar Triple Pass’ which gives you access to Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre, Seahorse World and Platypus House and offers a large saving on entry fees.