University of Tasmania
whole_BrownPeterJohn2011_thesis.pdf (66.06 MB)

The Mole Creek Pack Track between Central and Western Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:39 authored by Brown, PJ
This thesis examines a pack track made in the late 1890s to tap the emerging mineral wealth of the isolated West Coast of Tasmania. It was built as part of a parochial conflict over access to the West Coast which focused largely on railways, which has now been called the railway wars. The Mole Creek Track was surveyed and built as a sop to northern Tasmanian interests, as were tracks in southern Tasmania. As well as its historical interest the Mole Creek Track is remarkable in that it largely survives as a physical artifact. In keeping with the practice of the day, a professional surveyor, Edward George limes, determined the practicality of a route for this track using skills that are little understood today. The standards that he set for the route were much more rigorous than those of the pioneering bushmen who knew the country. This difference in approaches led to conflict within his survey party and within the local community. The Mole Creek Track was built by day labourers, even the overseers were on day rates, although they all worked under the general supervision of the Public Works Department. The overseers, chiefly Richard Broomhall and Henry Coleman, were essential to the construction of the track because they determined how it was built based on their experience, rather than written instructions: The track-cutters who made up their work gangs were drawn from both the Mole Creek and Rosebery areas and brought different skills and expectations to the work. A major aim of the thesis is to document the effects of this through a combination of field surveys, excavation and archival work. The Mole Creek Track was considered to be largely lost but by employing a combination of research methods it has now been located for much of its length. Based on the results of this research the thesis argues that the remains of the track have considerable cultural heritage value but neither it, nor any other track, has been listed under Tasmanian heritage legislation. Even though much of the track lies within the Cradle Mountain ‚Äö- Lake St Clair National Park ‚ÄövÑvÆ its cultural heritage values have been degraded and continue to be threatened by high visitor numbers on sections of its route now taken up by some of the Overland Track and the Arm River Track. Conducting a cultural heritage assessment based on a New Zealand model would provide the basis to manage the over-used sections, and the 'lost' sections before they are rediscovered by significant numbers of walkers.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2011 the author No access or viewing until 18 October 2013. Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. The track now and then -- Ch. 2. Surveying the track -- Ch. 3. Building the track -- Ch. 4. The men of the track cutting gangs -- Ch. 5. The success of the track -- Ch. 6. Bushwalkers -- Ch. 7. Managers

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