Tullah today is a small village set on the shores of Lake Rosebery, snuggled amidst beautiful mountains and surrounded by magical rainforests, a town of fascinating, rich history and rugged, wild beauty.
Tullah: Lakes, Mountains, Rainforests and More
Surrounded by lakes containing plenty of both rainbow and brown trout, Tullah has become a fisherman’s haven. Beautiful wilderness walks and mountainous treks on both Mount Farrell and Mount Murchison provide one with magnificent views which makes Tullah a favourite stopover for both bushwalkers and anglers from the world over.
Once Known as Mt Farrell
The original settlement was called Mt Farrell, from where on the eastern slopes of the mountain, back in 1892 prospector Tom Farrell discovered galena (lead-sulphide). With little success mining copper, the lode was patchy and no profit was to be made, so Tom Farrell moved on in 1894. Meanwhile, the Innes Brothers (E.G. and J. Innes) were surveying and cutting a track from Liena (near Mole Creek) to the new mining fields at Rosebery, a track which wound its way past the northern end of Mt Farrell. Here they found payable lodes of galena, but kept their find secret, and returned 10 months later to peg their claim. In 1899 the North Mt Farrell Co. was formed and consignments of ore were soon seen leaving Tullah.
In April, 1901, the settlement was declared a township and renamed Tullah, an aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting of the waters’. By 1906 the mine had produced more than 430,000 ounces of silver and 4,000 tons of lead, the township was established and population was over 400. The mine prospered and the community grew, but by the 1930s the quality of the ore diminished and as effects from the Great Depression took hold, metal prices fell and the mine closed. Another rich outcrop of galena was discovered just north of the old mine site, and in 1934 the North Farrell Mine re-opened and went on to produce around 700,000 tonnes of silver lead ore before it closed once more in 1974.
About the Mineral Galena
The ore mined at Mt Farrell was called galena. Commonly known as silver lead, the more accurate name is lead-sulphide. Galena (latin for ‘silver-lead’), is the most common form of lead bearing ore around the world. At its peak, the Mt Farrell mine produced galena that was 63% lead and 60 ounces silver to the ton. Just before both world wars there was a huge demand for lead, to be used in the making of bullets. Before knowledge of leads toxic effects, it was also used widely as a performance booster in fuels and as an additive to paint. Today however, lead is treated warily although it still has many common uses, such as in the production of sinkers used for fishing, and more importantly it is used in the making of protective aprons used by many medical patients to prevent excessive x-ray radiation when undergoing x-rays.
The Hydro Moves In
In 1973 the Hydro Electric Commission (now Hydro Tasmania) began construction of the Pieman River Power Development, and once more Tullah came to life as the commission built over 250 dwellings to house employees working on local power schemes. Separate accommodation was also built in the form of dormitory style accommodation for over 1,000 employees who travelled from out of the district to work their shifts. At the peak of construction Tullah’s population neared 2,500. Once the Pieman River Power Development was completed in 1987, the town continued as the base for both the King and Anthony Power Schemes. When completed in 1994 the Tullah Hydro Village was put on the market. A house could be bought for $10 000, some were sold to redundant HEC workers or to anglers who used them for a weekender, but the majority were purchased by miners working at nearby Henty and Hellyer mines.
Lake Rosebery and Lake Mackintosh were both ‘man made’ lakes created as part of the Pieman River Power Development, and Lake Murchison, also a ‘man made’ lake on the Murchison River was created as part of the Anthony Development. Lake Rosebery, surrounds Tullah on north, west and southern sides, Lake Mackintosh, is located east of Tullah and Lake Murchison is slightly south east of the township. Lake Rosebery and Lake Mackintosh today are very popular for anglers who travel from far and wide to fish for both Rainbow and brown trout in these lakes.
Wee Georgie Wood
An article on Tullah would not be complete without mention of Wee Georgie Wood. The original transport in and out of Tullah was by foot and pack-horse following pack tracks to Mole Creek and Rosebery. For several years only high grade lead silver ore from the mine was sent by pack horse for transfer to the Emu Bay Railway line near the old Pieman bridge down river. In 1902 this system was replaced by the North Mount Farrell Tramway, constructed originally using wooden rails and horse drawn carriages which connected to the Emu Bay Railway at Boco. As operations at the mine increased, the Company became more financial, a new two foot gauge line was constructed with steel rails for tiny steam locomotives. The new line followed a major route along the Pieman River to connect with the Emu Bay Railway Line at Farrell Siding 8½ miles away. Wee Georgie Wood was a new 6 ton Fowler locomotive, numbered 16203, which arrived in 1924 to replace the ageing 6 ton Krauss locomotive being used at the time.
When Wee Georgie Wood first arrived in Tullah, the little locomotive had brass plates attached to each side with the name Wee Georgie Wood inscribed. Georgie Wood was a real person, a British actor and comedian who when fully grown was only 4 foot 9 inches tall. This little locomotive bore the namesake of this man, and like his namesake, he was only very small in stature, but within their own circles, they were both of considerable fame. With construction of the new Murchison Highway in 1962 Wee Georgie Wood was one of only two remaining locomotives. The line to Farrell Siding was closed with the opening of the highway to Tullah, and Wee Georgie Wood continued for a further two years working the half-mile line between the mine and the flotation plant. In 1964 Wee Georgie Wood sadly became redundant, and was headed for the scrap heap or for mounting as a monument. In his lifetime at Tullah, it is estimated Wee Georgie Wood made 20,000 return trips, travelling 240,000 miles, his outward freight averaged 6 tons of ore concentrate and his inward freight was ‘anything and everything’! Residents in both Rosebery and Tullah couldn’t bear the thought of the little workhorse being laid to rest and in 1977 the “Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway Inc” was formed with the aim of restoring the little locomotive to working condition. Today, the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway Inc. is open to the public, providing short journeys for visitors.
Tullah is located on the Murchison Highway, about 100 kilometres (one hour) south of Burnie. So much of the true beauty of Tullah lies beyond the highway. Tullah has a shop (take-away or dine in meals available), a Post Office, a service station and an online centre. The Tullah Lakeside Lodge and the Tullah Wilderness Gallery both offer accommodation. The Wilderness Gallery (also a licensed café), is located on the highway, and here one can see works by Tullah’s resident timber artist, Pamela Carboon, where much of her work is displayed. Pamela specialises in Huon Pine Sculptures, as well as a variety of hand sculptured bowls, platters, bread boards and tables.
The Tullah Lakeside Lodge, located at the end of Meredith St, is situated on the banks of Lake Rosebery. With magical views across the lake to the mountains, here one can enjoy fine dining in the licensed restaurant and comfortable accommodation ranging from ‘budget style’ to ‘premium’. The Lodge does not only cater to those staying, it is open to the public all year round, caters to breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus also operates a café throughout the day. A beautiful location for a lakeside wander, or one can hire a kayak and go for a paddle.
Unlike many of the West Coast towns that disappeared after the mining boom, townships such as Luina, Guildford and Williamsford which now only exist in our history books, Tullah is a story of survival, and in Tullah you will find friendly, caring locals who are only too happy to share with you the township they are proud of, and all the riches to be found, both in the history of and within Tullah today.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography. You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards. Carol writes feature articles for this website about all things Tasmanian. If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.
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