Friday, August 3, 2012

Cataract Gorge to Beaconsfield

It is incredible to think that such a spectacular natural beauty is set right in the heart of a city. Cataract Gorge meets Launceston. The impressive South Esk River meanders its way towards the city centre cradled by the incredible cliffs of the gorge.

Cataract Gorge
One of the advantages of travelling in winter, is that things are relatively quiet and the pace is that much slower. Far more conducive for that much needed break. Finding a park anywhere is a breeze and what’s more it is likely to be free. Coming from one of the most expensive places in the world to park, this was a rare, unexpected treat!

Parking just along from the Gorge, we meandered along the ever popular walking track, nestling the cliff face. What an amazing sight at every turn.

Moving from here we headed up the East Tamar to George Town, then backtracked to the Batman Bridge to cross to the West Tamar. While no evidence, past or present, of any DC characters were evident, the structure itself was impressive.
Meredith and Lily, Cataract Gorge

Beaconsfield was in our sights. A little town of which up until 2006, very few had ever heard. The world had seemingly stopped and turned their ever-watchful eyes towards the fateful events that unfolded in this sleepy mining town on that fateful ANZAC Day.

Seismic activity created a land fall at just below 1000 metres below ground, killing one miner and trapping two others. Through incredible ingeniuity, courage, persistence, patience and bravery, these two miners were finally rescued 2 weeks later. While two miners were trapped in a cage crushed by fallen rock, in a space which only just accommodated their two bodies, Australia sat riveted to their TVs.

Media from all over the world converged on this small gold mining town that through tragedy and bravery ended up on the map.

Brant and Todd's uniforms
Seeing in the flesh the actual cage lift, clocking in/out board and the iconic A frame mine shaft brought back many memories of that fateful day. Climbing into a simulated space in the Heritage Centre brought it all too close to home.

Beaconsfield Mine lift and shift board

The Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is well worth a visit. An impressive museum with several items for children to play with on their journey through. A hide and seek game throughout the museum also stimulates interest and is rewarded with a small piece of quartz and gold sample from the mine.

Lily trying out ink pen in old school desk
For a complete change of pace, interestingly, Beaconsfield was the first place in Australia to add fluoride to town water, back in the 1950s. The trial set up by one man was such a huge success that it provided the support and evidence to fluoridate water supplies throughout Australia.

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