Historic goldmining town on the West Tamar Highway, Beaconsfield services the many small communities located on the western side of the Tamar Valley.
Where Is it?
Beaconsfield is 46 km north west of Launceston.
The Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre is the main attraction in the town and should not be missed. Twice the size it was a decade ago, the remnants of the original Tasmania Gold Mine that was the original Grubb Shaft Museum still stand, but have been extensively added to with an impressive state-of-the-art wing.
The town has many older buildings which recall a time long gone when gold was the driving force behind the town. A park near the town centre is home to a number or early buildings, including miners' cottages and the original school building. The town's Council Chambers once served as the Mine Office; the Beaconsfield Branch of the Bank of Tasmania still stands. Used to store the gold mined in the town in the early days, it suffered the biggest bank robbery in Tasmanian history in 1884 when its vaults were cleared out by bandits.
In the evenings and on weekends, when the miners put down their tools, the Alicia Theatre was the most frequented building in town. Dame Nellie Melba and Enrico Caruso are among the many great performers of yesteryear who performed here. During the First World War, the theatre was targeted by opponents of conscription, who tried to blow it up.
Holy Trinity Church in Margaret Street was built in 1907 and is distinguished by its ornate wooden gables and tower. As you get closer you ll notice that it has been covered by blonde zincalume. However, apart from this, it is an exceptional timber church and the inside is characterised by some particularly impressive rough-hewn timber and some fine woodwork.
Narawntapu National Park abounds in Forester kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and even Tasmanian devils on its grassy plains and heathlands. They are relatively comfortable in the presence of people and will often allow you to approach them for close observation. At dusk, you can catch sight of little penguins scampering up the beach at Point Sorell. The western part of the park is in an ideal location to be combined with a tour of the vineyards of Tasmania s premier wine-growing region, the Tamar Valley.
Notley Fern Gorge (27 km south) is a forest dominated by large, old eucalypts over a understorey of rainforest. Towards the creek, there are a variety of fern species growing in abundance. The gorge is a 3/4 hour walk from the carpark along a well constructed path following a creek, with a 1.5 km return walking track through the forest. A picnic area is at the car park along with clean rest rooms.
Holwell Gorge reserve (8 km south) is centred around a narrow gorge and fern glade in the Dazzler Range. It features many beautiful tall trees, ferns and a 45-minute scenic walking track past three waterfalls.
York Town (8 km north) is the site of the first attempt to establish a British presence in northern Tasmania. For a brief period between 1804 and 1808 Col. William Paterson and his party of settlers, soldiers and convicts created a small, bustling village and established farms and a government garden at York Town. They faced many difficulties stock losses, poor soil, food shortages and episodes of robbery, bushranging and piracy. Only two years after its settlement, it was clear that relocation would be necessary, and by 1811 York Town was virtually deserted. Today, a walking trail and interpretive signs tell the story of York Town, though little of the settlement remains above ground.
Within walking distance of Beaconsfield, Beauty Point is a small fishing town, sited where West Arm meets the Tamar Estuary. The town is the home of Seahorse World, a working seahorse farm and educational centre that is open to the public, and Platypus House, a unique attraction being the only venue in Tasmania where visitors can watch Tasmanian Platypuses and Echidnas in daylight conditions in an indoor setting.
Greens Beach (18 km north) is located on the eastern side of the mouth of the Tamar estuary opposite the Low Head lighthouse. The often deserted, long sandy beach at this smallholiday and retirement village is ideal for a stroll.