Zinc and Gold mining town in Western Tasmania
Rosebery is a mining town nestled 145 metres above sea level in the hills of western Tasmania some 305 km west of Hobart. It is not like normal towns in the sense that it seems to sprawl up and down the hillside. It is a single purpose town which is clearly indicated by the Zinifex zinc mine which dominates both the town and the local economy.
Historically this area of Tasmania was inaccessible and therefore resisted early European exploration. The forests were dense, the cold winds - the Roaring Forties - blew rainclouds off the Southern Ocean, and the undergrowth with its leeches and dense scrub, made travelling through the area difficult. It wasn't until 1893 that a gold prospector named Tom McDonald reached Mount Black and staked out a claim which was eventually to become the huge mine which today still drives the economy of Rosebery.
Rosebery was named after Tom McDonald's company, the Rosebery Gold Mining Company (in turn it was named after Lord Rosebery who was Prime Minister of Britain at the time), which began to work Mount Black almost immediately. After a few years the area around Rosebery was typical of a frontier mining town with locals describing it as 'a village built on the muddy slopes of Mount Black ... with another village on the boggy peat soil to the south of the Primrose mine'.
The mineral wealth of the area was quickly discovered. McDonald found gold in 1893. Zinc and lead were found in 1894 and by 1897 copper was being mined at Primrose. By 1899 the privately owned Emu Bay Railway (out of Burnie on the north coast) had reached Rosebery and greatly assisted the local economy by providing access and a good transportation route.
The economy and future of the town was fragile until 1920-21 when Electrolytic Zinc Company purchased the mines in the district, built houses for the mine workers, and invested in an elaborate aerial ropeway to move ore from the Hercules mine to Rosebery. These changes occurred over a twenty year period from 1920 to 1939.
Today Zinifex Zinc Mine is central to the economic success of the town.
Tours of the Mine
Zinifex do not have tours of the mine. However Hays Bus Service in Rosebery do have surface tours which help the traveller to understand the workings of the mine. Contact the West Caost Visitor Information & Booking Centre for details.
Hercules to Rosebery Aerial Ore Bucket Ropeway
Constructed to move ore from the Hercules mine to Rosebery this elaborate aerial ore ropeway continued to operate until 1986. Since then it has collapsed. The remnants of this highly unusual method of ore transportation can be south of the town.
Mount Read is 1588 m high and offers superb views of the entire area. The walking route starts from a Telecom road which is about 1km south of Rosebery. It offers excellent views down on Rosebery and, on a very clear day, it is possible to see as far as Macquarie Harbour in the south.
Rises to 1275 m but is a difficult walk. Most walkers follow the power lines to the saddle of the mountain from where a track leads to the top. The mountain is commonly covered in snow in winter time and, like all mountains in the area, is prone to dramatic and very rapid seasonal changes.
Although it is only 712 m high, Mount Farrell does offer the scenic splendour of views across to Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park. The walk to the top is relatively short (only 4 km) but in that short distance the track rises 500 metres. Again this is for experienced walkers.
The Montezuma Falls tumble 113 metres and, as such, are the highest falls in Tasmania. The falls can be accessed from Williamstown which lies south of Rosebery. Some guide books talk of the walk being quite difficult - leeches, slippery and wet walking trails, a simple bush track - and the walk involves about 5 km along an old railway track - unless you have a 4WD. It takes 3 hours return. It might be a more simple, and much safer, to take the trip with Hays Bus Service. Contact (03) 6473 1247 for details.