The Forest EcoCentre is a very unusual building. As you approach Scottsdale from Launceston via the Tasman Highway you’ll see it. It looks like a Martian has crash-landed his spaceship into the paddock!
Tasmanian Forest EcoCentre of Scottsdale
We were on the way to the Tin Dragon Trail Cottages in Branxholm for our three-night research mission in north east Tasmania when we first saw the Forest EcoCentre. We had to stop and explore! We had very little idea what the place was about, and we were a little hesitant to enter. There was a note on the door saying the Visitor Information Centre had moved. We stuck our heads in the door, and no one came running to shoo us away. In fact, we didn’t sight another soul the whole time we were there!
Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable
Apparently, the $1.8 million, architecturally designed office building was opened in 2002 as “Scottsdale’s new tourism icon”. The inner, regular-shaped premises houses the offices of Forestry Tasmania, while an interpretation walk leads the visitor around the perimeter providing information about the landscape, forest and history of north east Tasmania. There was a display of locally-made products, some of which appeared to be for sale. Cafe chairs were neatly stacked up, and the counter was unattended on the day of our visit… but it is possible that food and drinks are still served on occasion.
All of these departments are enclosed in a lop-sided, cone-shaped cover, about 14 metres high, giving the Forest EcoCentre its amazing appearance. The truncated cone (that’s a cone with its point cut off) is made from steel, plywood panels and polycarbonate glazing. Forestry Tasmania commissioned the “radical” design for the Forest EcoCentre, as it was called at the time.
Not only was it visually exciting, it was also hoped the offices would only use 20% of the usual energy requirements of a comparable building. A special ventilation chimney was meant to moderate the thermal environment of the offices. I guess by now, ten years down the track, they would know if the design was a success.
Tasmanian Things to Do: Forest EcoCentre
We wandered around the internal garden track, and checked out the displays and read some of the information. The boys were particularly intrigued by a collection of stick insects and forest bugs! Personally, I was drawn to the history boards detailing the contribution of locals to the north east region. And given there are lots of forestry walks and trails in the region, from Hollybank to the Blue Tier, Scottsdale seems to be an appropriate place to have the Tasmanian Forest EcoCentre.
There was a small theatre area with a DVD to watch called “The Tin Dragon: the Story of a Chinese Miner“. That served to remind us we were close to our home away from home, and we hastened off to check in. Branxholm is only 25kms from Scottsdale, heading east towards Derby and Weldborough. With other attractions in the town, and well as Bridestowe Lavender just up the road, we resolved to return to the current Visitor Information Centre in Scottsdale another day.
For more information about the Forest EcoCentre, either visit the website or phone Tasmanian Forestry on 6350 6466.