Apr
07
2012

You will find plenty to do in Zeehan

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Tours of the west coast of Tasmania are an ideal way to unwind and reconnect with the island state's rich mining history.

With famous old train routes like the award-winning West Coast Wilderness Railway (formerly the ABT) following the twists and turns of the King River, boats cruising the Gordon River and charter flights roaming the sky, it is hard not to want to stay in the region for just that little bit longer.

But when it comes to creating your own unforgettable travel experience it is often the small things that have the biggest impact.

Zeehan is a historic mining town to the north of Queenstown that used to be one of the most populous areas in the island state. With a main street over two miles long (3.2 km); it also claimed over 20 hotels. In the 1970s it saw increased activity due to operations at the nearby Renison Bell Tin mine, and again in the 1990s.

Its rich history dates back to the mid-1600s when Abel Tasman first spotted the area, and later early settlers staged their establishment of the towns of Strahan and Queenstown by building a small anchorage on the northern side of Ocean Beach, named Trial Harbour. Zeehan was named by Matthew Flinders after Abel Tasman’s brig the Zeehaen.

The West Coast Pioneer Memorial Museum is a must-see destination for history buffs (and kids) and has an excellent collection of minerals and small and large equipment which were at the core of the town’s early life.

It will help give you an overview of the highs and lows of the state's mining boom, as well a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of locals at the time. The museum traces the fact that tramways and railways into and out of the area totalled an incredible sixteen over the years.

The town boasts one surprise which is a tribute to its past as a much larger metropolis – the Gaiety Theatre.

Performers from around the world including Australia's first opera singer Dame Nellie Melba would regularly step on stage during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Zeehan is just a short drive away from Lake Pieman another tourist hotspot that is also a favourite destination for fishermen in Tasmania.

This particular waterway is famous for its trout, but if you prefer the delicate taste of crayfish you are better to head toward Granville Harbour.

You will need a set of special fishing licenses to take advantage of these activities – freshwater lakes, rivers and estuaries from the Inland Fisheries Service (Online) and for ocean based fishing for recreational taking of crayfish, abalone and scallops by diving, from Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

After spending your morning on the water, you can busy yourself in the afternoon by climbing to the top of Mount Zeehan. The views of the town and coastline are sure to take your breath away.

Zeehan from an old postcard - image credit UTAS

Gaiety Theatre Image Credit Ally Rolls

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