Situated in the Esk Valley, Fingal is the centre of Tasmania's coal mining industry. Evercreech Forest Reserve in the Fingal area is the home of the famous White Knights, the tallest white gums in the world. Finga's wide main street features several impressive 19th Century buildings. The Holder Brothers Store dates from 1859 and nearby is the old Tasmania Hotel, constructed, in part, from the stones which were originally used to build the Prison Barracks in the 1840s. It became a hotel in the 1850s and is now the local Tourist Centre. It sells arts and crafts from the district.
Former Tasmania Hotel
Where Is it?: Fingal is 72 km east of Launceston, 150 km north east of Hobart, 19 km west of St Marys on the Esk Highway.
The Fingal area was surveyed in 1824 by Roderic O'Connor and John Helder Wedge. The town of Fingal came into existence in 1827 as a convict station, and experienced a boom when Van Diemen's Land's first payable gold was discovered in nearby Mangana. Throughout the 19th 20th centuries, the valley was a major producer of gold and tin.
Though often claimed to be named after Fingal's Cave in Scotland, a letter found among the correspondence of the Lands and Survey Department, dated 30 November 1827, written by Roderic O'Connor (one of the Commissioners appointed to divide the colony into Counties, Hundreds and Parishes, and set aside reserves for townships etc) indicates otherwise: "The township which we have selected between Talbot's and Grant's is an admirable one as it embraces all the points from the South Esk and Break of Day Rivers ... we abandon the one on marked on the chart at the head of Mr Talbot's grant reserving only as much as will suffice for the Parish. We have called the township 'Fingal' in honour of Mr Talbot whose family rank high in Ireland".
Major deposits of black coal were discovered in the valley in 1863. The completion of the railway line to St Marys in 1886 enabled the establishment of large scale coal mining in the Fingal Valley and this area has provided the majority of Tasmania's coal since this time.
Fingal Valley Festival and World Coal Shovelling Championships staged in early March each year. It attracts both interstate and overseas competitors as well as thousands of spectators. Veterans cycling race, sheaf tossing, wood chopping (inc.tree felling), the Tasmanian shearing titles, Sheepdog trials, arts and craft stalls and childrens entertainment are all part of the action.
On arrival at Fingal one sees the old convict cells with their unusual pyramidal design, one of the few original reminders of the convict era and can still be seen on the western outskirts of the town. As well as road construction and land development, convicts provided a cheap labour force and much architectural artistry for many of the district's substantial homesteads.
Three churches in Fingal dominate the freestone buildings of the township.
St Joseph's Catholic Church, Gray Street, Fingal
Three churches in Fingal dominate the freestone buildings of the township. They are St Joseph's (Catholic), St Peter's (Anglican) and the original Presbyterian church (now the Uniting Church). They were built in 1880, 1867 and 1881 respectively, and contain some of the State's finest examples of traditional window leadlighting. St Peter's is the town's oldest church.
St Joseph's (1880) is situated on a ridge to the south overlooking the whole town. Stylistic very similar to St Peters Anglican Church nearby, on which it was presumably based, its is a fine Gothic Revival church, with gabled roof and buttresses under the gable ends. Its random rubble sandstone walls have quoins on the corners and around openings.
St Andrew's Uniting Church, Fingal
St Andrew's, formerly Presbyterian Church, is a very well preserved example of Victorian Carpenter Gothic Architecture. This church is an exact replica of the first church built in Derby but is in a far better condition. Captain Samuel Tulloch of Launceston, a great benefactor to Tasmanian Presbyteriansim, was invited to perform the stone laying ceremony on 24th March 1881. Tulloch was a Shetland Islander who had made his fortune as a shipmaster, ship owner and merchant and was a one-time representative in the Tasmanian House of Assembly. The church was completed by July 1881 and opened for service on Sunday the 10th of that month.
In The Area
A scattering of old weatherboard and corrugated iron buildings is all that remains of the one-time boom town of Rossarden. Nestled at the foot of Ben Lomond, Rossarden was buzzing as late as the 1960?s, when the Aberfoyle mine was working to full capacity. The mine, which opened in 1931 produced wolfram another name for tungsten operated until February 1982, when its closure sounded the death knell for the town. The mine tried to sell its former employees their home for a dollar, but few took up the offer and the town s population fell from 500 to just 90. Within a month, what was not sold was demolished and carted away.
Evercreech Forest Reserve
Evercreech Forest Reserve (23 km north) is home to the tallest White Gums in the world. They are known as 'White Knights' because they grow to a height of 90 metres. The reserve has many short bushland walks through the forest including a loop past the 'White Knights' and to Evercreech Falls. Apart from these spectacular trees, large ferns and mountain streams abound, many flowing dramatically over falls deep in the forest.
The magnificent mountain of Ben Lomond with its imposing cliffs and peak are visible over much of the northern midlands of Tasmania. Ben Lomond National Park is invaluable for the conservation of the flora communities and species diversity of the imposing Tasmania s alpine areas. The area consists of an outstanding variety of glacial and periglacial features which are considered of national significance. The snowy slopes of Ben Lomond in Winter are a centre for downhill skiing in Tasmania.
Coal was first discovered at Cornwall in 1843 when a farmhand from nearby 'Woodlawn' went Hunting in the hills and found that his dog, digging in a badger hole, has scratched out coal. The Blackwood mine, also known as the Cornwall colliery, is run by the Cornwall Coal Company. It is the only supplier of coal mined in Tasmania. The major consumers of Tasmanian coal are currently the Cement Australia plant at Railton and the Norske Skog newsprint mill at Boyer. Production of raw coal in 2009 and 2010 totalled 646,148 tonnes, with 372,441t of saleable coal produced.
The village of Cullenswood grew out of a pioneer farming property of the same name. Christ Church, Cullenswood, was completed in 1847 and by 1851 Robert had secured his nephew, Dr Samuel Parsons, from Ireland, to take over as the first clergyman. He was installed by Van Diemens Land s first Anglican Bishop Francis Russell Nixon. By this time the Break O' Day Plains was becoming well settled with some six to eight grants issued in the area around Cullenswood.
The need for a town to service these settlers, servants and tenant farmers was obvious and a village began to spring up around the church. By 1858 when a Catholic Church was built a few hundred yards to the west of the Anglican Church, there was a Post Office, Store and a hotel called the Tasmanian Inn (This is not to be confused with the Tasmanian Hotel at Fingal) at Cullenswood and until St Marys established as a town some years later, Cullenswood was the main service centre for the eastern end of the Fingal Valley.
Today the village of Cullenswood is nothing more than the Anglican Church and its Rectory, both of which have seen better days. The property of Cullenswood, however, has survived well and, along with Malahide at Fingal, is still in the hands of descendants of the original grantees.
Mangana became the first gold mining site in the Fingal Municipality and indeed, in Australia, when alluvial gold was discovered there in 1852. A minor gold rush to The Nook, as it was then known, resulted, and soon 500 prospectors were panning the creeks and digging tunnels and shafts. The township of Mangana gradually declined as one by one the mines closed, and none is operational today. A few of the town's original buildings remain.
Jubilee Mine is about 5 kms out of St.Marys along German Town Road. The walk takes approximately 90 minutes return. The path follows an old pony track some of the way and is mainly through rainforest, with patches of Eucalypt forests. At the old mine site there are relics left from the miners living quarters. The cement entrance into the old tunnel can still be seen. Birdlife is abundant, and the species found include Blue Wrens and Robins.
A waterfall some 70 plus metres tall, that consists of four drops, only two of which can be seen from the viewing area. Access is a via a 30-minute return walk from the car park and picnic area. The falls are close to the Evercreech Forest Reserve. The falls are located off Mathinna Plains Road near Mathinna.
A pretty waterfall, however it is seasonal and can be little more than a trickle in summer. The walking path leads to a viewing platform. Located east of Fingal along the Esk Highway, Valley Road branches off to the right towards the logging area of Mt. Puzzler.
Situated in the Hardings Falls Forest Reserve. The walk from the car park and picnic area is through dry forest dominated by eucalypts, oyster bay pines and banksias. There is a steep walk from the lookout down to the Swan River. Rocky platforms along the river bed provide a great place to relax and observe the tranquil series of cascades. Located off the MG Forestry Road, Fingal Valley via Avoca or Fingal.