There is a lot of forest in Tasmania.
In the south east of the island, there was once a thriving timber town known as Wielangta. In its heyday it had a general store, bakery, blacksmiths’ shops, a school and of course several saw mills.
Wielangta was ravaged by bushfires in the 1920s and abandoned in 1928.
I visited the area yesterday with Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney – the Irish born producers of Mine Your Own Business.
All we saw was forest. The town has disappeared.
This is some of the beautiful blue gum forest we saw along the Wielangta forest drive.
The forest has re-grown and like most forest in Tasmania is now falsely considered pristine wilderness. But within the forest there is a rusted boiler and decaying tramlines — all that remains of the once thriving timber town known as Wielangta.
Interestingly, according to the website dedicated to Bob Brown’s fight to stop logging in Wielangta forest, this forest is described as “the most untouced and secluded area within 50 km of the Hobart CBD. It is a tiny fragment of the complex biodiversity here at the end of the last Ice Age.”
Wielangta forest is home to the swift parrot, wedge-tailed eagle and broad toothed stag beetle.
Parts of the forest have been cleared felled and then burnt by timber workers since European settlement. And the forest has always regrown.
Here’s Phelim in a recently burnt coup, perhaps looking for the town that disappeared?
Here’s Phelim perhaps looking for the ancient Wielangta (broad toothed) stag beetle.
Thanks to Alan Ashbarry for taking us to Wielangta and for organizing the Tasmanian showing of Mine Your Own Business. Following the screening last night there was much comment over drinks, about how relevant the film is to Tasmanian timber communities struggling to survive against environmentalism. The film will be screened tonight (Wednesday night) in Sydney and tomorrow (Thursday night) in Perth. For more information visit http://ipa.org.au/events/event_detail.asp?eventid=120 .