On many occasions, Think Tasmania has been contacted by non-Tasmanian residents requesting suggestions of the best place to settle on the island. Regular readers will know I’m a frequent visitor to the island and have a good idea of where in Tasmania we want to live. In April we hope to make a final decision so that plans can commence. If you have any suggestions of where we should be living in Tasmania, please leave your ideas in the comments below or on Facebook and they will be considered respectfully.
Back in 2003 we were heading over to the west coast (Strahan I think) and we stopped for a coffee in the town of Waratah. It was winter and a cold miserable day. I remember entering the café next door to the Bischoff Hotel. There was a Scotsman at the counter with a Glasgow Celtic scarf around his neck. I was dying to talk football but his two outstanding dogs caught my eye. Similar to Irish Wolfhounds, these two beauties were rare breed Scottish Deerhounds. With two mugs of coffee in hand and the dogs behind, he exited the café to the seats outside. One mug of coffee for him and one shared between the dogs in saucers. The daily ritual; I was told and that’s about all I can remember about our first visit to the town of Waratah.
After reading the wonderful articles by Carol Haberle about Waratah and the mining history of the town, of I couldn’t help returning for a second look. It’s not far from Burnie (about an hour) and I would suggest a minimum visit of three hours to get a decent feel for the town.
Time to Explore the Town of Waratah
I wasn’t in a hurry. In fact I had all day like a cow in a field. I parked outside the Bischoff Hotel to admire the view of the waterfall, valley and the town. It was far too early to try one so I strolled down the hill past a beautifully restored Post Office to the rusty and rotted remains of machinery and wagons that would have been used in the mines. They were only bits of junk but didn’t look out of place on the well-manicured grass. Judging by the number of scats, wallabies were performing a wonderful service at night.
I crossed the bridge and headed over to the left and chose to take the walk down to the base of the falls. Looking up into the hills, I could see the scarring of the landscape and some mining activity. In front of me the water gushed down from above; I imagine it would be even more spectacular when the floodlights are on at night.
Back up a steep hill I headed into the town of Waratah and had a good look around the Stamper Mill. Very unusual and well restored for the interest of visitors.
Waratah: Tidy Town in Tasmania
As I walked toward the major road junction and the roadhouse, I noticed the energy and enthusiasm of a Waratah-Wynyard Council worker pushing a mower over a large expanse of lawn. This prompted me to form the impression that the town of Waratah is the cleanest and tidiest town I have seen in all of Tasmania.
It is a town where I could live. It would mean a trip into Burnie or Wynyard to do a major shop or for health issues but this would be the only downside. Cold in winter with snow and heavy frost but I would be up against a roaring fire with a toasting iron and a woolly hat on my head just like my grandmother, Florence Findlay, had done many years ago.
At the road junction there is a magnificent sign that gives a 3D image of the town. It’s close to the lake and nice, clean table settings that are ideal for a picnic or a BBQ. Children would love it and so did I. Lake Waratah is the focal point for the town and is spectacular to say the least.
It was so pleasant walking on the pathway towards the platypus viewing area. One of the locals seemed oblivious to my presence as he practiced casting a fly. I wondered whether fish habit the lake. I suspect they do. I wouldn’t mind living in the clear water either.
Weatherboard Miner’s Cottages
After passing a well-equipped park for the kids, I was back at my car. The pub was opening in twenty five minutes but I was eager to drive around the houses at the back of the town. As could be expected, most were basic weatherboard homes with some in the vogue of miner’s cottage. I could imagine the residents without work doing it tough in a town far from the nearest business, factory or shop. Only those working in the mines could have optimism.
Isn’t this so typical of small Australian towns that once boomed with industry? I can think of a few close to us. Eldorado in North East Victoria is a good example but now little remains except for a hotel and a sprinkling of homes that appeal to those that want to get away from it all.
This raises the question… is the town of Waratah for Jeanette and I?
Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.