There are two simple ways of getting to the Blue Tier Forest Reserve. You can either head east from Scottsdale along the Tasman Highway heading past Branxholm, Derby and Weldborough. You continue for about ten minutes past Welborough and take the Lottah Road turnoff.
If you are coming from St Helens side it is pretty much the same deal, heading west along the Tasman Highway and turning off at Lottah Road. Once you get onto Lottah Road you just have to follow the signage which will take you up to Blue Tier. Some parts of the road were pretty rough when I went up, however maintenance was about to begin so I think it would be ok to take any vehicle up now.
What makes the Blue Tier Forest Reserve so interesting is its long history in mining and forestry operations. The first Europeans came to this area after some miners who were working in the Mathinna goldfields discovered some rich tin deposits in some of the creeks in this area.
The news spread quickly and the area was settled in 1878 as a mining town. Back then the town was made up of a pub, two hotels, a blacksmith, butcher, three stores and a few residential cottages.
The level of work varied over the years with the fluctuation of tin prices from things such as the Depression. Chinese miners were also employed here for cheap labour until a policy to employ only white labour in the hard rock mines forced them out.
Over the years many mining companies came and went, some of these included Cambria, Wellington, Anchor Company and in more recent years Aberfoyle Ltd (1960s) and Renison Ltd (1977). Between 1875 and 1996 the Blue Tier produced more than 11,000 tonnes of tin.
The Blue Tier area also has a history in forestry operation. From 1945 to 1952 two sawmills were in operation with one run by a French family who milled celery top pine; while the Nichols mill focused on myrtle.
The timber produced was used to develop settlements in nearby areas such as at St Helens, and some was also transported to mainland Australia. Also, like many other places, after the forests had mostly been cut down to make way for the miners, the area was left bare.
Later on in the early 1900s and continuing through until the 1950s several families used the sparse areas to run cattle and sheep. It was in 1958 that the Blue Tier was claimed as a forest reserve, and by 1997 more than 5000 hectares has been included to conserve the flora, fauna and rich heritage.
Driving up to the Blue Tier, I noticed that there are still a lot of bare areas making it a very interesting landscape. There are so many different walks to do, and the area is serviced with a toilet and BBQ facilities. I took the Goblin Forest Walk which is the shortest at only 20 minutes return. While I didn’t see any goblins this walk has a great interpretation of some of the miners who worked here and also shows how the forest is regrowing back after it was cleared for mining all those years ago.
What I really liked about this walk was that it was wheelchair friendly. This is thanks to Clarence Strochnetter who was an active member of the Disabled People International Association. He was born in the area (Pyengana) and had an active involvement in the community in this sense. The boardwalk was dedicated to him in 1994 after his death in 1991, and provides great infrastructure for all to enjoy this area.
Taking a walk around, you can still see the site of the old school house which remained in the area until 1954 until it was purchased by Alfred Newitt and moved to St Helens. There are at least 7 different walks all ranging in distance and duration. As I said before the Goblin Walk is the shortest, and the longest, Three Notch Track is 20km return, estimated to take at least 8 hours. Each of the walks shares a bit of the history of the area. For example if you are interested in the mining history, the Australia Hill Circuit stops off at several old mining sites and is about a 2 hour walk.
Those wanting a bit of sawmill history can see the Nichols Sawmill site on the Wellington Creek Circuit which takes about 3 hours return. You can get a brochure about the walks from the Scottsdale EcoCentre or I think also from the St Helens Visitor Centre, otherwise there are plenty of signs which tell you what is available.
The day was a bit foggy when I came up (like it always seems to be where ever I go); however I am told that there are some fantastic views from different vantage points along the walking tracks.
GPS Coordinates :
LAT : 41°13'45.86"S
LON : 148° 1'54.11"E
Always check our road and track closure information before setting off on your journey (click here)