Mole Creek

Mole Creek is a pretty town surrounded by some of Tasmania's most beautiful wilderness and is the perfect base for exploring nearby national parks, Cradle Mountain and some amazing caves that must be seen to be believed. Mole Creek is well known for its honey and accounts for about 35 percent of Tasmania's honey production.

There are several walking and cycling tracks near Mole Creek, like the scenic Westmorland Falls and Alum Cliffs Gorge lookout. A little further afield, Liffey Falls is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and has an easy walking track with picnic facilities among lush green ferns.

The town is named after Mole Creek, a tributary of the Mersey River. This creek is named due to the way that it appears above ground, descends below ground into the limestone cave system, then reappears multiple times. The main industries in the area are forestry, farming, limestone mining and the R Stephen's honey factory. One of the largest non-farm employers in the area is Unimim Lime Limited. They quarry and process limestone to make quicklime and hydrated lime. As of 2007 they employed 28 people at Mole Creek.

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Brief History

Australian Aboriginals have lived on the island of Tasmania for thousands of years. The earliest archaeological evidence for Aboriginal habitation of Tasmania is from the valley of the Forth River, 35000 years before the present. Prior to European settlement, Mole Creek, along with much of the surrounding area, was part of the lands of the Pallittorre aboriginal tribe. Their range included Deloraine, the face of the Great Western Tiers, and the Gog mountain range to the north of Mole Creek where they mined ochre in the Toolumbunner ochre pits. There is evidence that they had been settled in the Mole Creek area for at least 10,000 years. As Europeans moved onto their land the two groups came into conflict, many aboriginals and some Europeans were killed. Their population in the area has been estimated to drop from 200 to 60 during 1827-30.

During the 1820s, the Van Diemen's Land Company cut a stock route from Deloraine to Emu Bay (now known as Burnie) via Chudleigh and Mole Creek. Prior to this cattlemen had run cattle and built stockman's huts on the land west of Westbury. From the 1820s onwards land grants began being issued as the land was gradually surveyed. A systemic exploration of Mole Creek and the area west was conducted in 1826 by Edward Curr, Joseph Fossey and Henry Hellyer. Mole Creek was originally a mixture of tall forest, plains and boggy marsh. Settlers in the early 19th century cleared the land largely using fire and the ring barking of trees. The land was first held in large leaseholds by the wealthiest in the colony of Tasmania. In the mid-19th century a number of waste lands acts were passed by the government allowing for smaller holdings, opening up the then densely forested land around the town of Mole Creek. Many of these first settlers were farm labourers or ex-convicts, who had worked as labourers or tenant farmers on the larger holdings.

The name Mole Creek comes from a nearby stream, recorded as early as the Land Commissioner's reports' maps from 1826-28. This creek flows above ground, and in portions underground through the caves underlying the area. The caves of the nearby Mole Creek Karst National Park, which include the show caves Marakoopa Cave and King Solomons Cave, have attracted tourists since the 1850s. Their popularity encouraged the establishment of tourist facilities in Mole Creek including Howe's Boarding House and Lee's Mountain View Guest House. By 1876 the town had a water-powered flour mill and water powered saw mill. At the same time a Wesleyan chapel and minister's residence were being constructed. A post office opened on 28 May 1884 though the town remained small. A former resident remembered Mole Creek in the 1890s as "a small bush settlement" Lime kilns were built at Mole Creek in the late 19th century, taking advantage of the extensive limestone in the area.

Mole Creek Road, 1902

In the early 20th century the opening of some scenic caves for tourism lead to further development in the town. King Solomon's Cave was discovered in 1906 and opened for tours in 1908. Marakoopa cave was found in 1910, opened in 1912 and sold to the state tourist department in 1919. Edward Charles James, who had obtained a lease on King Solomon's Cave, built what is now the Mole creek hotel over 1907-8 as a 30-room guest house. Due to some unusual sale conditions he could not serve alcohol. The building was sold in 1910 to George Lee who ran it as the Mountain View Guest House. A grocery and hardware shop ran from part of the building from 1929 to 1965. In June 1953 the sale conditions were overcome and a licence to serve alcohol was granted.

Robert Stephens had kept bees as a hobby. After he returned from service in World War I he continued his interest. He opened a commercial honey production facility in Mole Creek in 1918. By 1923 the factory had 50 hives and was selling honey under the Golden Bee brand. Since 1951 it has concentrated on leatherwood honey. Each year hives are transported to Tasmania's west coast to make honey with the distinctive flavour of leatherwood (Eucryphia lucida and Eucryphia milliganii). The Factory and Apiary are provisionally registered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. It has operated on the same 2-acre (0.81 ha) site since operations began; the oldest building is a c.1920 timber cottage and the prominent façade that faces the main road dates from the 1970s. The factory is run by Stephen's decedents using the "Golden Bee" label introduced in 1930 and the "Golden Nectar" label for leatherwood honey introduced 1951. As of 2010 it was producing 350 tonnes (390 tons) of honey each year and approximately 35% of all Tasmanian honey.

Mole Creek Railway Station, 1919

A rail line was opened in 1890. It ran 20.4 kilometres to Mole Creek, through Chudleigh, from a junction near Deloraine on the Western Line. There was a plan to extend the line further west and government surveyors employed to this end. The survey was cancelled in 1891 and by 1900 there was no longer an expectation that the line would be extended to Tasmania's west coast. Throughout its existence, it carried mostly timber destined for the paper mill at Burnie and, in later days, woodchips for Bell Bay. From the 1920s passenger services, which on occasion ran as far as Devonport, were mostly conducted by railcars. From the 1970s to the 1980s the track saw extensive use transporting limestone to South Burnie. The rail extension was closed in 1985 and the track lifted in 1992.

Electricity, supplied by the Hydroelectric Commission, reached Mole Creek in 1936 and street lighting was installed soon after. Construction of a memorial hall began at the end of 1950, funded by a state government grant of 1000 pounds. A driving force behind construction was the school's lack of a recreation hall forcing them to on occasion rent the Methodist Hall. The Mole Creek bush nursing centre was opened in mid-1944. and came under control of the Launceston Public Hospitals District Board in 1968. The site is now a health centre housing the Mole Creek Child Health Centre and is operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Trowunna Wildlife Park

When visiting Tasmania's north west, don't forget to include Trowunna - a Wildlife Park with a difference. Trowunna Wildlife Park has been the place to see the Tasmanian devils since 1985. Trowunna is a privately owned wildlife park, where native Tasmanian fauna and flora thrive. It houses the world's largest heritage population of endangered Tasmanian Devils, but also has a great range of marsupials, birds and reptiles on site.

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The village of Chudleigh, not far from Mole Creek, is one of those places that seemed destined for greatness but never quite got there. Prior to European settlement, Chudleigh was part of the lands of the Pallittorre Aboriginal tribe. Their range included Deloraine, east of Chudleigh, and the Gog mountain range to the north-west where they mined ochrein the Toolumbunner ochre pits.

During the early 1820s theVan Diemen’s Land Company created a track or stock route from Deloraine to Emu Bay (now Burnie) that ran via Chudleigh and Mole Creek. The route enabled them to move livestock from the west of Tasmania, to the population centres further east. The company built facilities, including a grain satore store (1827-28), in Chudleigh. The store still stands as a silent reminder of what might have been.

The former Van Diemen's Land Company grain store building was restored in 2002.

Europeans settled the area west of Deloraine from the early 1800s, and cattle were being grazed in the Chudleigh area from as early as 1823. John Badcock Gardiner, who probably named Chudleigh after the village with the same name in Devon, England, was granted 850 acres (340ha) in the area after arriving in Tasmania in 1829with his family. Land in the district granted to Lieutenant Travers Hartley Vaughan in 1830 was later sold toHenry Reed.The property,which had been known as Native Hut Corner, was renamed Wesley Dale.

By 1831 a lime burning industry had been established. The town of Chudleigh was surveyed and marked into town blocks by John Batman, founder of Melbourne, many of them 10 acres (4.0ha). The town was laid out to hold a population of 5,000, as it was intended to be a railway junction on a line from Launceston to North-West Tasmania. A railway line was built from Mole Creek to Deloraine, through Chudleigh. It ran 20.4 kilometres and opened on 5 April 1890. The rail line was used for mail, freight and passengers; occasional passenger services went as far as Devonport. Passenger services mostly ceased when they were replaced with a bus service in 1960. The line was closed in 1985, and the tracks lifted in 1992.

Chudleigh school, 1904

Dan Picket, an ex-convict who had been granted a ticket of leave, built the first hotel, the two-storey Chudleigh Inn, around 1850. The building was later reduced to a single storey. A police watch house was completed c.1860. The township of Chudleigh was formally declared in 1866. It continued to expand and by 1883 also had a post and telegraph office, two stores, two churches, and over a dozen houses. Chudleigh's anticipated development never came, but by 1862 an extensive system of caves (Mole Creek Caves) had been discovered in the area, attracting visitors.

For some time the town had an Australian Rules football club. It closed in the 1930s, re-formed in 1939, then finally closed in the 1980s. Telegraph communication followed construction of the railway line in the late 19th century. The first telephones were installed in Chudleigh homes in the 1930s and mains electricity in the 1940s.

Chudleigh village, c1907

The Chudleigh Agricultural and Horticultural Society has run the show annually since 1889, except for breaks from 1914–28 and 1939–45 due to the two World Wars.The show has been held on various grounds; the present one was purchased in 1932. Held annually in February, Chudligh Show is a great family day; Expect to see cattle, horses, sheep dogs, vintage tractors, chopping and more.

Mole Creek National Park

The Mole Creek Karst National Park was declared in 1996 to provide protection for some of the finest and most visited cave systems in the State, including Marakoopa and King Solomons Cave. Both caves are open to the public, and provide the opportunity to take a deeper look into the fascinating world of 'karst' landscapes.

The Mole Creek area is renowned for its caves. Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves are but two caves in an area that contains over 300 known caves and sinkholes. Other typical karst features in this area include gorges and large underground streams and springs.

Both caves are home to a range of fascinating animals which have evolved features which allow them to adapt to their lightless environments. The glow-worm display in Marakoopa Cave is the largest you'll see in any public access cave anywhere in Australia. For the visitor, the Mole Creek Karst National Park offers a range of activities. Although guided tours of the caves will be high on your agenda, don't miss the opportunity to take a short walk through the beautiful forests in which these caves occur.


Marakoopa Cave

Marakoopa Cave features two underground streams, a large display of glow-worms, large caverns, rim pools, reflections and shawl and flowstone features. Marakoopa  is a Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning handsome. After taking a tour of the cave you will understand why it is so named.

Tours are approximately 45 minutes in duration. There are two unique tours in Marakoopa Cave:

Underground Rivers and Glow-worms

Visit the lower chamber to be dazzled by sparkling crystals and reflective pools of stalactites. Take time to listen to the music of underground creeks and soak up the silence of abandoned river passages. This easy tour caters for all age groups and levels of fitness.

Cathedral, Gardens and Glow-worms

The magnificent cavern known as the Great Cathedral is a highlight not to be missed. TheGardens feature delicate formations and beautiful colours. Medium fitness levels are required to ascend the stairway to the Great Cathedral. How to get there: Travel to Mole Creek on road B12. Continue through Mole Creek for a further 10 km to sign C170 indicating Marakoopa Cave. From the sign it is a further 4 km to the cave.The trip takes about 90 minutes from either Launceston or Burnie. Access to the caves is possible from the northwest coast, by back roads via Sheffield or Wilmot.

King Solomons Cave

King Solomons Cave is jam packed with features and lavishly decorated with shawls, stalactites and stalagmites. This small but compact cave displays a range of formations and caters for all age groups and levels of fitness. All tours are approximately 45 minutes in duration. Both caves are open seven days a week except Christmas Day. Fees are charged for the cave tours. Both reserves have shelter huts, toilets, picnic areas with electric barbecues and nature trails. Food and petrol may be bought in the nearby township of Mole Creek, where accommodation is also available. For further information contact the Senior Ranger, Mole Creek, phone: (03) 6363 5182. How to get there: Follow the Bass Highway to Deloraine, and then take the Mole Creek Road (B12) via Mole Creek for a further 16 km following the signs.

Kubla Khan

Kubla Khan at Mole Creek is also a long cave (2.2 km), but its fame lies in its incredibly rich formations.The cave is not open to the general public, but its 18 m high stalagmite, known as the Khan, is famous. The Khan is in a huge chamber called Xanadu. This cave also contains a flowstone floor which is 40 m long, and terraced up to a height of 15 m! This is a limited access cave with permits issued only to recognised speleological groups.

Alum Cliffs

The Alum Cliffs lie within the Alum Cliffs State Reserve and form a part of the Gog Range. The short walk from its car parking area to Alum Cliffs (about 40 minutes return) takes you to a forest lookout perched high above the Mersey River, as it flows along the valley through the Alum Cliffs Gorge. From the carpark, steps climb to a forest clearing where you will find one of the installations which form the Great Western Tiers Sculpture Trail – Soulevement-Triangulaire, point de vue – by David Jones. This enormous structure acknowledges the triangulation of three major physical references – Quamby Bluff, Alum Cliffs Gorge and Western Bluff, as seen from the site of the sculpture.

Tulampanga, or Alum Cliffs, was a place of particular social and spiritual significance to Aborigines because of the ochre to be found in that area of the Gog Range. Many tribes travelled to Tulampanga to obtain this highly prized material and for them this was a sacred celebration place. The connection of Aboriginal people with the Mole Creek area is thought to date back more than 10,000 years, and the Pallittorre band of the North tribe was based around Mole Creek/Meander. To these early inhabitants, the Great Western Tiers were known as Kooparoona Niara, or Mountains of the Spirits, culturally significant as the meeting place of three Aboriginal clans.

Devil's Gullet

Devil's Gullet

Devil's Gullet is a dolerite cliff in the Central Highlands of Tasmania that is approached via Mole Creek at the western end of the Gt Western Tiers. Devil's Gullet Lookout gives you uninterrupted views of Tasmania's World Heritage Area. A glacier carved its way through this alpine highland to cut the deep valley below. Alpine forests now cover the landscape leaving only the 220-metre dolerite cliff bare. The lookout comes at the end of a 20-minute return walk from the lookout's carpark. The entire walk is easy and takes place on a boardwalk. There are no facilities at this site so plan and pack accordingly. Devil's Gullet is 79 km from Devonport via Mole Creek.

Ironstone Mountain

Ironstone Mountain

This climb to the highest peak of the Great Western Tiers is for the more serious of hikers/walkers. Do not attempt this one if you are unfit, inexperienced or ill-prepared. The track is challenging track with steep sections, but scrambling over boulders and crossing the Western Creek waterfall makes for a very fun hike. Access to Ironstone Mountain is mainly from two walking tracks. The closest access is from the north via Mole Creek, Caveside and Westrope Road to the Western Creek Track which follows the eastern side of the gully formed by Western Creek. Another access route is from the east via Deloraine, Meander, Smoko Road and the Mount Ironstone Track. This track starts 2 kilometres south of Mother Cummings Peak, another dominant landmark in the region.

Westmorland Falls

Westmorland Falls

Lobster, Montana and Westmorland Falls are all in the Mole Creek limestone cave area on the Mersey River. Several waterfalls and pools are enclosed by 100 metre cliffs. Many visitors have fun spotting the freshwater lobster at Lobster Falls. Severe flooding in January 2011 and again in June 2016 caused a lot of changes; tracks needed to be re-routed and viewing platforms repaired/replaced by Parks and Wildlife, allowing access to the creek. If you have been there before, you will certainly be amazed at the changes wrought by nature. The falls have been cleared by the rushing waters, revealing many fossils, and the little creek below the falls has been transformed into a wide, deep, boulder-strewn riverbed.

Lobster Falls

To reach Westmorland Falls from Mole Creek, travel about 6 km south along Caveside Road to a T-junction. Go right into Wet Cave Road, which is unsealed. The Wet Cave reserve is soon reached straight ahead and you take the left turn and continue on until you reach a small car park on the right with a sign ‘Mole Creek Karst Conservation Area’ and ‘Westmorland Falls’. Large rocks mark the track entrance. Lobster falls is 10 km east of Mole Creek via Mole Creek Main Road. Like most accessways to waterfalls in Tasmania, the track to the falls is a little rough and uneven in places.

Montana Falls

Situated on Western Creek, it is accessible from Lomg Ridge Reserve on Leonards Road, Montana. Although path to the waterfall is in a Regional Reserve (which is public property), the other side of the creek is private property, and should not be accessed. A well marked side track that leads to a series of small cascades known as the Montana Cascades.

King Davids Peak, Walls of Jerusalem

Walls of Jerusalem Mational Park

The Walls of Jerusalem is a mountainous area in the extensive central plateau of Tasmania which forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. As the park is remote and not accessible via road, the Walls retains its wilderness character. There are no facilities for casual visitors. The region is an alpine wilderness dominated by dolerite peaks, highland tarns and lakes and alpine vegetation. The Walls of Jerusalem National Park is very exposed to the extremes of Tasmania s changeable weather.

The Walls of Jerusalem National Park offers experienced bushwalkers and cross-country skiers the opportunity to pursue their passion within a spectacular mountain region that is little touched by the modern world, and to test their skills against the elements. The wild weathers characteristic of the Walls is as much a part of experiencing the region as is the landscape. People venturing into this area must be prepared for extremes of weather.

A walking track leads from the carpark at Lake Rowallen through scleropyhll forest before entering the alpine regions of the park at Herods Gate. The track continues to Dixons Kingdom. However, beyond this point tracks are poorly defined or non-existent. The track, to the main valley of the Walls around Lake Salome, can be visited as a day walk. Most prefer to explore further and two day walks with an overnight campsite is the most popular trip. Camping platforms have been provided in the entrance to the Walls below Herods Gate. This is also a good area for experienced walkers as there are multiple multi-day approaches across the Central Plateau to the Walls.

Walkers should NOT venture too far into the park without careful preparation and suitable equipment. Tents, warm sleeping bags, waterproof and cold weather clothing and fuel stoves are essential. Boots and preferably gaiters are needed. Bushwalkers must carry a tent. Huts within the park are small, in poor condition and suitable for emergency shelter only. There is a camping platform and composting toilet at Wild Dog Creek. We recommend that walkers camp here in preference to Dixons Kingdom.

Halls Butress, Walls of Jerusalem

How to get there: The Park is not accessible via road. Bushwalkers must walk up into the park from the carpark located off the gravel Mersey Forest Road near Lake Rowallan. The carpark is reached via Mole Creek by following the Mersey Forest Road to Lake Rowallan, and then taking the gravel road on the left just after the Fish River. The park boundary is reached by following the walking track up through forest for about 1/2 hour. It is a further two hours to Herods Gate, which marks the start of the high exposed plateau. The track is often wet and muddy. Please be aware that when driving between sunset and sunrise you are sharing the road with wildlife.

Walls of Jerusalem National Park website