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The West Coast of Tasmania is mainly isolated rough country, associated with
wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally re ...
,
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef, or placer deposit. The exploitation of these deposits for raw material is based on the economic v ...
and
tourism Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring (disambiguation), touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tour (disambiguation), tours. Th ...
. It served as the location of an early convict settlement in the early history of
Van Diemen's Land Van Diemen's Land was the colonial name of the island of Tasmania used by the British during the European exploration of Australia in the 19th century. A British settlement was established in Van Diemen's Land in 1803 before it became a sep ...
, and contrasts sharply with the more developed and populous northern and eastern parts of the island state.


Climate

The west coast has a much cooler and wetter climate when compared to the east coast. Frequent low pressure systems hit the west coast causing heavy rain, snow, and ice. The West Coast Range blocks these systems from impacting the east, therefore making the West Coast a rain catchment with some areas receiving over of rain a year. In winter temperatures at sea level hover around , and when not raining, morning frost is common. The temperatures are much lower inland from the coast with maximums in winter often failing to surpass . Typically, the snow line in winter is around 900 metres (3000 ft), however sea level snow falls several times each winter as well. Summer is mild with maximum temperatures averaging between and , though some days still fail to reach . Despite snowfall usually occurring in winter, it has been known to fall in the middle of summer.


The ethos

Many outsiders have had difficulty understanding the isolation of the west coast, and the small communities, and the historical context to that isolation. Initially the only way in and out was by sea, and no serviceable roads to either the north or east existed until the 1930s (east) or the 1960s (north). Railways were the main land connection from the 1920s to the 1960s - though that connection was with the north coast, rather than the more populous southeast. The treacherous conditions at Hell's Gates at the mouth of
Macquarie Harbour Macquarie Harbour is a shallow fjord in the West Coast region of Tasmania, Australia. It is approximately , and has an average depth of , with deeper places up to . It is navigable by shallow-draft vessels. The main channel is kept clear by t ...
, and ocean travel along the exposed western side of
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
have made marine travel a dangerous pastime even to the current day, despite modern technology. Memorial plaques to recent lost sailors on the wall at the northern edge of the Strahan wharf illustrate this. The current airstrip is at Strahan, with the airstrip at Queenstown no longer a current registered landing ground. In the 1970s a regular service to the east coast was run by Airlines of Tasmania. All transport services to the west coast are subject to interruption by severe weather. In addition to closures of air and marine service, the roads to the west coast may be blocked for days at a time by ice and snow during severe winter conditions. The consequence of the isolation, and the ways that the communities coped with the difficulties, were little examined prior to the 1990s, except for parts of Tim Bowden's 1979 Radio Documentary "''The West Coasters''", and various references in
Geoffrey Blainey Geoffrey Norman Blainey (born 11 March 1930) is an Australian historian, academic, best selling author and commentator. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including '' The Tyranny ...
's "'' The Peaks of Lyell''" book and the important works of C.J. Binks and Kerry Pink. Since the rise of tourism on the west coast, the Franklin Dam issue and the creation of the world heritage wilderness area, a steady number of small publications concerning the history and features of the region have been produced. For a brief time in the early 20th century the west coast had population and political power on a parity with
Hobart Hobart ( ; Nuennonne/Palawa kani: ''nipaluna'') is the capital and most populous city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. Home to almost half of all Tasmanians, it is the least-populated Australian state capital city, and second-small ...
and Launceston. Following the demise of most of the
Zeehan Zeehan is a town on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia south-west of Burnie. It is part of the West Coast Council, along with the seaport Strahan, and neighbouring mining towns of Dundas, Rosebery and Queenstown. History The greate ...
mines, the west coast population has either remained static, or declined relative to other parts of the island.


The legacy

The environment is described with particular historical understanding by C.J. Binks in "''Explorers of Western Tasmania''" Chapter 2 - "A Sketch of the Western Country". See also West Coast Range The convict era is introduced in articles about Macquarie Harbour Penal Station,
Convicts on the West Coast of Tasmania The West Coast of Tasmania has a significant convict heritage. The use of the west coast as an outpost to house convicts in isolated penal settlements occurred in the eras 1822–33, and 1846–47. The main locations were Sarah Island (known ...
, and Hell's Gates. The reliance on the railways can be found in the separate article West Coast Tasmania Railways. The mining history was captured first in
Charles Whitham Charles Whitham was the author of the oft-reprinted ''Western Tasmania: A land of Riches and Beauty'', which was a comprehensive study of the geographical features of West Coast, Tasmania and the conditions of the region in the 1920s. Early lif ...
's Western Tasmania book - and
Geoffrey Blainey Geoffrey Norman Blainey (born 11 March 1930) is an Australian historian, academic, best selling author and commentator. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including '' The Tyranny ...
's Peaks of Lyell and the books that have followed. See also the list at West Coast Tasmania Mines for a list that includes historical names and locations - many now long abandoned. The vast tracts of
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing, and ecological function. The United Nations' ...
( Huon Pine, among others) in the west coast region have been subject to fire, and exploitation - as well as significant areas now under conservation. The history of the West Coast Piners who utilised the Franklin River and Gordon River and their tributaries is a vital part of west coast history. The legacy of the Hydro Electric Commission (The Hydro) on the west coast is a complex one, due to its sense in the 1940s to 1980s considering the west and south west regions as its 'last frontier' for the remaining catchments for its power development schemes.


Photographic record

As most of the European activity on the west coast (after the convict era) lies within the invention and use of the camera, most aspects of west coast history have been captured on film. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and the State Library of Tasmania in Hobart are the main holdings of the record, while the late Eric Thomas's collection in the 'Galley Museum' in Queenstown is on a par with both. Some examples of collections: - * Hurley, Frank. ''Tasmania, A Camera Study'' John Sands, 1953 * Cox, G.W. and Ratcliff, E.V.R. ''Tasmania Remembered'' ( H.J. King ) Mary Fisher Bookshop, 1974. * Tassell, M. and Wood, D. ''Tasmanian Photographer'' (John Watt Beattie) Macmillan, 1981. * Hopkins, D.L. ''The Golden Years of Tasmania'' St David's Park, 1991. * Morley, Les. ''The way we were'' The Author, 1997. Third Edition. Due to the rise of tourism in the 1990s - a considerable number of DVDs and videos are commercially available of the region - going into areas which had been inaccessible as recently as 30 or 40 years ago. Also tourists and hikers have gathered a considerable record of the region which regularly appears in either their own or generally accessible websites on the internet.


Bioregion

The Tasmanian West
bioregion A bioregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a biogeographic realm, but larger than an ecoregion or an ecosystem, in the World Wide Fund for Nature classification scheme. There is also an attempt to use the ...
comprises the West Coast region and the South West region.


Locality

The gazetted locality/suburb named "West Coast" covers a largely uninhabited region between the Arthur River and Queenstown, and doesn't include the populated towns in the West Coast region. It is in the local government areas of Circular Head (34.6%), Kentish (0.3%), Waratah-Wynyard (27.1%), and West Coast (38%). Its central point is about west of the town of
Sheffield Sheffield is a city in South Yorkshire, England, whose name derives from the River Sheaf which runs through it. The city serves as the administrative centre of the City of Sheffield. It is historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire ...
. The 2016 census has a population of nil for the state suburb of West Coast. The
Southern Ocean The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. With a size of , it is regarded as the second-small ...
forms part of the western boundary. The locality encircles Corinna, Renison Bell, Rosebery and
Zeehan Zeehan is a town on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia south-west of Burnie. It is part of the West Coast Council, along with the seaport Strahan, and neighbouring mining towns of Dundas, Rosebery and Queenstown. History The greate ...
, and is adjoined by the localities of Arthur River, Couta Rocks,
Cradle Mountain Cradle Mountain is a locality and mountain in the Central Highlands region of the Australian state of Tasmania. The mountain is situated in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. At above sea level, it is the sixth-highest mount ...
, Gormanston, Granville Harbour,
Guildford Guildford () is a town in west Surrey, around southwest of central London. As of the 2011 census, the town has a population of about 77,000 and is the seat of the wider Borough of Guildford, which had around inhabitants in . The name "Guildf ...
, Lake Margaret, Lileah, Luina, Mawbanna, Middlesex, Nelson Bay, Parrawe, Queenstown, Roger River, Savage River, Southwest, Strahan, Temma, Togari, Trial Harbour, Trowutta, Tullah, Waratah, and West Takone.


Road infrastructure

The locality contains the following road routes: • A10 • B24 • B27 • B28 • C132 • C214 • C218 • C247 • C248 • C249 • C252 The A10 route ( Zeehan Highway) enters from Queenstown in the south and runs generally north-west until it reaches Zeehan, where it becomes the Murchison Highway and runs north-east through Rosebery, and then turns north until it reaches the north-eastern boundary, where it exits to Guildford. At Queenstown the Lyell Highway changes from A10 to B24 and runs south and west to Strahan, following part of the southern boundary of the locality. Route B27 (Henty Road) enters from Zeehan and runs through the south-west corner to Strahan. Route B28 (Anthony Road) starts at an intersection with A10 and runs north-east to Rosebery, where it rejoins A10. Route C252 (Pieman Road) starts at an intersection with A10 on the northern boundary of Rosebery and runs west to Lake Pieman, where it ends at an intersection with C249. Route C249 enters from Zeehan as Heemskirk Road and runs north-west and north to Lake Pieman, where it becomes Corinna Road and continues north through Corinna, where it becomes Norfolk Road and continues north until it ends at an intersection with C214. Route C214 (Blackwater Road / Rebecca Road) starts at an intersection with C218 on the northern boundary and runs south and west before exiting to Couta Rocks. Route C218 (Roger River Road / Sumac Road / Rapid River Road / Tayatea Road / Trowutta Road) enters from Roger River to the north and follows a circular path through the northern part of the locality before returning to Roger River. Route C247 (an extension of Corinna Road) starts at an intersection with C249 in Corinna and runs north-east until it exits to Savage River. Route C132 (Belvoir Road) starts at an intersection with A10 and exits north-east to Guildford. Route C248 (Trial Harbour Road) starts in Zeehan and runs southwest through the locality to Trial Harbour.


See also

* Railways on the West Coast of Tasmania


References


Bibliography

* * * Tuma, Andrew and Bottrill, R.S.(2006) ''The minerals of Western Tasmania:Introduction, history and geological setting'' in Australian Journal of Mineralogy, volume 12, No.2, December 2006 pp. 51–58 * * *


External links

* http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/wha/wherein/detail.html - context in position to World Heritage Area {{Coord missing, Tasmania Regions of Tasmania