This small former gold mining town lies close to the Tamar River, around 40 kms from Launceston in Tasmania’s North East.
It hit international headlines on April 25th, 2006, when a 2.3 magnitude earthquake triggered an underground collapse in the local gold mine.
Most of the miners working underground at the time managed to escape, apart from 3 miners caught in the rockfall.
Falling rock killed miner Larry Knight, leaving miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb trapped.
Unfortunately for the 2 trapped miners, they’re close to 1 km underground, partially buried, and presumed dead.
Over the next 14 days the miners are trapped underground while rescuers attempt to get them out alive.
The Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre is a combination of this once active gold mine and a heritage centre located inside a mix of modern and historical buildings.
Before we had microchips and fancy technology, we had giant metal machinery of all shapes, sizes, makes and models.
Filled with wheels, cogs, belts, gears, pulleys, whistles, and powered by good old fashioned steam power.
The Diprose exhibition is a fascinating time capsule of the past that shows off a host of these awesome machines.
If old machinery isn’t your thing and you prefer something a little more advanced, then the communication area is for you.
Phones, radios and various communications devices from throughout the years are on display. And some of them are truly bizarre!
A few even still function. Pick one up, dial and see who you get on the other end.
Mine rescue exhibition
The mine rescue exhibition covers every aspect of the rescue attempt, the community support and media coverage around the mine rescue.
Be prepared for information overload, as there is lots to digest. The walls are covered in information boards detailing:
- How the miners were discovered alive.
- The steps taken to rescues them.
- Conditions they were forced to live in.
- How rescuers kept them supplied with food and water.
- The machinery and equipment used, created or modified during the rescue attempt.
- And much, much more.
Mine collapse memorabilia is spread around the room. And TV’s screens broadcast the original news footage shown around the world. It’s all absolutely fascinating!
Wanting an idea of the claustrophobic space the miners were trapped in? You can enter a crawl through tunnel that demonstrates the size of the cavity the 2 miners were trapped for 14 horrifying days.
And finishing off the exhibition is a huge brightly coloured wall of wool.
Originally only meant to be a 925 metres to signify the depth the miners were trapped at, the scarf knitted by community members in memory of the mine collapse now reaches an impressive 2 kms long!
The dark, moody lighting gives the whole exhibition a very powerful and emotional feel. Intertwining the tragedy of death and the joy of life, community and camaraderie.
Life and times exhibition
The life and times exhibition is one of the more intriguing and quirky exhibitions we’ve ever visited.
Where else are you going to see a wall of knobs? Or a very old and very uncomfortable looking enema kit?
Now don’t be alarmed, the wall of knobs is literally that. A wall of door knobs made out of hundreds of different wood types. And the enema kit is part of display showing what an old hospital setup would have looked like back in that time.
The exhibition is an eclectic mix of everyday utensils, machinery and other odds items from an older time.
The outdoor exhibition feels like you’ve stepped into a episode of a pickers TV show.
Old machinery, vehicles, tools and equipment of every imaginable type is here. Every corner or nook contains some new interesting contraption to enjoy.
Try your hand at panning for gold and see how miners used to live by visiting the miners hut.
Visit the headframe and enter the yellow lift cage the miners used to travel underground. Or climb the headframe for views over the surrounding area.
[alert type=”info” dismiss=”no”]The headframe has a live webcam with views over the town. [/alert]
Follow the cable from the headframe to the winder house and marvel at the gigantic winch used to control the lift and remove ore from the mine.
Make sure to fire up the water wheel! The massive waterwheel powered crusher is a crowd favourite. It’s pretty hard to miss when it starts up as you can hear its rhythmic thumping from almost anywhere in the centre.
It’s a large area with so many wonderful things to see and do. It impossible to cover them all!
[alert type=”info” dismiss=”no”]Keep an eye out for the yellow hand prints dotted around the centre. These hand prints designate the interactive displays.[/alert]
Still gold to find
Although the mine was officially shutdown in 2012, 6 years after the mine collapse, the mine still contains gold.
The reason for the shutdown is purely financial. It cost more to extract the gold than the current gold price.
Reopening the mine is still possible, as long as gold prices match the extraction costs. The mine is currently slowly filling with water, and will require pumping, but gold mining could resume in the future.
The animal hunt
It’s the simple ideas that sometimes have the biggest appeal and Beaconsfield have added in some fun for the kids. (and the young at heart adults)
Hidden around the centre are a collection of small animals waiting for you to discover.
Some are fairly easy to find, and some are downright impossible to find. But that’s part of the fun.
A list of hidden animals is available from the front desk, so you can begin your hunt.
And from the amount of kids running around trying to find them all, it’s a big hit!
Beaconsfield is open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm. (Except Christmas Day and Good Friday)
- Children (5-16 yrs) $5 AU
- Concession $12 AU
- Adult $15 AU
- Family (2 adults and 2+ children) $38 AU
[alert type=”info” dismiss=”no”]Beaconsfield participates in the Tamar Triple Pass scheme. This give you discounted access to Beaconsfield, Platypus House and Seahorse World.[/alert]
Should you visit?
Absolutely yes! Beaconsfield is one of the best attractions we have visited in Tasmania. We easily spent 4 hours wandering and enjoying everything on offer. It’s good value for money, with enough variety to keep everyone entertained.
There is so much to see and do here, and this post doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of Beaconsfield.