Zeehan

A Silver City waits at the bottom of a rainforested valley

WHAT SPARKS YOUR INTEREST?

Hentyl Dunes
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania and Dan Fellow

Gaiety Theatre was once the largest concert hall in Australia.
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Lois Ryan

Blacksmith Shop - West Coast Heritage Centre
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Granville Harbour
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

Lake Selina
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

Trial Harbour from lookout
Image thanks to: Dietmar Kahles

Zeehan Township
Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

Zeehan

Region

Zeehan was once known as the Silver City. This former mining boom town lays at the bottom of a wild valley full of rain-forests and hills. The town was built in 1800’s with funds from an economic explosion after tin, silver and lead were discovered. It became a refined wild west town for Tasmania’s west coast region; entertaining and housing rugged Victorian-era miners.

This west coast town bears the opulence and scars from a boom and bust past. It’s still full of rugged characters and its main street is a museum unto itself. Head on down to the incredibly restored Gaiety Theater; the same theater that entertained the rugged pioneers of the early 1800’s now enthrals locals and tourists alike.

Getting There

Zeehan is clear across the island from Tasmania’s largest city. It’s nearly 300 kilometers and a 4-hour drive from Hobart. Devonport is a bit closer sitting only 182 kilometers and 2.5 hours away. Launceston is 230 kilometers to the east making it over a 3-hour drive.

Zeehan: A Town of Boom and Bust

Economic prosperity would rise in this rainforested town. Then the bottom would fall out leaving the town in economic ruin. This process repeated itself through the decades making Zeehan a scarred and rugged town full of flashes of opulence. Simply put, Zeehan is a living museum.

Visit the West Coast Heritage Center and Pioneers Museum to marvel at indigenous, pioneering and mining displays that take you into Zeehan’s past. The museum also boasts one of the greatest mineral collections in the entire world. Image credit: Wai Nang PoonWest Coast Heritage Centre - Zeehan School of Mines and Metallurgy, Tasmania, Australia

Head down Spray Tunnel which is another boom and bust scar. This abandoned railway tunnel is 100 metres long, and you can still walk, ride or drive through this project that was never completely finished.

Highlights

This former mining town is surrounded by natural beauty. You can challenge yourself with a walk up Mount Zeehan for 360° views of the surrounding area. Head on over to the rugged west coast at Trial Harbour or Granville Harbour to marvel at coastal views. Then take a walk up Henty Dunes on the country’s longest Beach to cap off a day exploring the wilderness.

Nearby Lake Pieman has some of the best trout fishing in all of Australia. After a day exploring the unique history of Zeehan, head on out into the wilderness with your fishing pole.

History Lovers, Geology Buffs, Nature Lovers and Fishermen

Zeehan has one of the best history museums in all of Tasmania in the West Coast Heritage Center and Pioneers Museum. History lovers also adore Zeehan’s Main Street with its flashes of past opulence and economic doom. But Zeehan is world-renowned for its unique geological features and stunning minerals waiting to be unearthed. The History Museum has one of the finest collection of minerals and it draws geology lovers from across the planet.

This former mining town relies heavily on tourism and has great infrastructure. It makes for the perfect base camp for nature lovers who are about to venture off into the wilderness. It also makes for a comfy stay during a fishing trip to nearby Lake Pieman. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Joe ShemeshZeehan, Tasmania, Australia

Zeehan Accommodations

You’ll find a couple of comfortable hotels in the middle of town. Passersby, on their way up or down the western coast, can take advantage of a few caravan parks on the outskirts of town.

Activities and Things To Do And See

The Gaiety Theatre and Grand Hotel is a perfect example of Zeehan’s “Silver City” days. This mining town was once awash in so much money that it could attract the likes of Enrico Caruso, the most famous tenor of his generation, and Dame Nellie Melba. This theatre was once the largest in the entire country with a seating capacity for more than 1000 concertgoers. Erected in 1898, the theatre was consistently packed with rugged miners looking to stay entertained.

The West Coast Heritage Centre is right on Main Street. It has a fine collection of old train engines as well as a 15-room exhibit full of artifacts from Aboriginal and mining times. These artifacts are now on display in the old Zeehan School of Mines and Metallurgy. There’s even a Pioneer Women’s Gallery in this stunning historical Museum.

What to Eat

Zeehan is a small town, but it offers up a hearty hotel pub restaurant for weary travelers. There’s also one local café where you can grab a coffee before venturing out to experience this mining town’s intriguing history.

History

In 1879, tin was discovered in nearby Mount Heemskirk. It took just a few years for more than 50 companies to stake claims in the rugged wilderness north of Zeehan. This first mining boom brought plenty of economy to the little valley town, but it turned out that most of the claims were a total bust.

Silver was discovered at the present location of Zeehan back in 1882. An impressive haul was dug up by a man named Frank Long and it led to the largest mining boom on Tasmania’s west coast. Less than 10 years later, more than 159 companies were operating in Zeehan’s Valley. With the discovery of silver came opulent buildings such as theaters, hotels and extravagant banks. By 1901, Zeehan became known as Silver City.

The Silver began to decline in 1910. There were less than 1000 residents by 1950, and the last mine closed in 1960. But while the mines in Zeehan have all but dried up, the town remains home to current day miners working on Savage River and Renison Bell.

Environment

Zeehan’s climate is generally mild and warm throughout the year. It never gets very hot nor doesn’t get very cold, but it does rain quite a bit. It rains less in summer.

Local Tips

Have some fun searching for the nearby ghost town of Dundas. It did not survive the boom and bust of Tasmania’s west coast mining history.

Stroll down the far end of Main Street to be captivated by Zeehan’s waning opulent past. The street is lined with jaw-dropping buildings from when it was known as Silver City.

What's Nearby

Headed 20 kilometres west to Zeehan’s main port at Trial Harbor. There is great fishing to be found, but this was once an incredibly important port during the Silver City days.

Head another 15 kilometres to the northeast and you’ll find Granville Harbor. Originally a soldier’s settlement at the conclusion of World War I, Granville Harbor is now a well-trafficked coastal holiday destination with plenty of fishing.

What to do

Zeehan

Gordon River Cruises

Gordon River Cruises

One of Tasmania’s best wilderness cruises

We will show you a side of Tasmania like no other: our award-winning Tasmanian-owned Gordon River Cruises give you a unique perspective on our natural wilderness and the amazing West Coast.

The Gordon River is one of our natural wonders and an amazing location for a wilderness cruise. From deep within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area it winds its way through the rainforest to arrive at the wide expanse of Macquarie Harbour, then through the narrow entrance of Hells Gates into the Southern Ocean.

Your wilderness cruise departs from Strahan, a picturesque historic harbour-side village on the edge of Macquarie Harbour and the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

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GORDON RIVER CRUISE INCLUSIONS:

  • Dedicated on-board guides
  • Chef-prepared buffet lunch
  • First access to the Gordon River ensuring the best possible chance of seeing the famous reflections
  • Three seating options, including the Captain’s Premier Upper Deck
  • Audio tours for international guests (reservation recommended)
  • Two walking tours (Heritage Landing and Sarah Island)
  • Captain’s Premier Upper Deck includes an open bar. Main deck includes a cash bar

West Coast Wilderness Railway

West Coast Wilderness

Step back in history as you  board a majestic steam train and journey deep into the heritage of the Tasmanian wilderness and hear tales of resilience and triumph over rugged terrain, hardship and adversity. Much more than a railway journey within a wilderness setting, the West Coast Wilderness Railway is a heritage experience that will touch your soul.

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Full Day railway journey

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Wild West Coast Tour

Cambridge - Gordon River

Experience the wild West Coast of Tasmania, as you fly to Strahan then enjoy the famous Gordon River Cruise.

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

AU$895

One Day Scenic Flight and River Cruise

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Historic Lake Margaret Hydro Power Tour

Queenstown - Lake Margaret

Explore the century old Hydro Power town of Lake Margaret. See the original machinery still working to produce clean electricity to power the Mt Lyell Mine as it did when first commissioned by the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway company in 1914.

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

AU$65

2.5 Hour Tour

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Lost Mines - Ancient Pines

Queenstown - Lynchford

Mining relics amongst the ancient temperate rainforest of Tasmania's Western Wilderness. Visit a special timbers sawmill (Monday to Thursday). Take a spooky walk in abandoned Gold & Copper Mines.

AU$65

3 Hour Tour

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3 Hour Tour

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The Pedder Experience

Gordon River - West Coast

The Pedder Experience is Wild Pedder's signature tour: a four-day wilderness experience in Tasmania's remarkable Southwest. All inclusive of transport, delicious Tasmanian meals, comfortable accommodation and knowledgeable guides.

AU$2265

4 day hike

AU$2265

4 day hike

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Franklin River Rafting 9-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine

AU$2895

9 Day Expedition

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9 Day Expedition

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Franklin River Rafting & Frenchman's Cap 11-day Expedition

Launceston - Franklin River

A true wilderness experience with the pioneers of the best river journey in the world as voted by Outside Magazine plus a climb of Frenchman's Cap

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

AU$2995

11 Day Expedition

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Where to Stay

Zeehan

Zeehan Bush Camp and Caravan Park

Zeehan - West Coast

Situated in the historical district, this campground is within 2 km of West Coast Pioneers Memorial Museum and Zeehan Golf Club. Henty Dunes and Mount Murchison are also within 40 km.
This campground features laundry facilities, an arcade/game room, and tour/ticket assistance. Free WiFi in public areas and free self parking are also provided. Additionally, a garden, barbecue grills, and a picnic area are onsite.
All 7 accommodations have free WiFi and feature kitchenettes with refrigerators, stovetops, and microwaves. Other amenities available to guests include living rooms, DVD players, and coffee makers.

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Star rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Penghana Bed & Breakfast

Queenstown - West Coast

Situated in a state park, this bed & breakfast is within 2 km of Eric Thomas Galley Museum and Spion Kop Lookout. Nelson Falls is 10.3 km away.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Mt Lyell Anchorage

Star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Castaway Holiday Apartments

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Strahan Harbour, West Coast Reflections, and Beaches.

Star rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Risby Cove

Strahan - West Coast

Situated on the waterfront, this motel is within 2 km of Strahan Visitor Centre and Beaches. Botanical Garden Reserve and Strahan Harbour are also within 10 minutes.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Franklin Manor

Strahan - West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this hotel is within 2 km of Botanical Garden Reserve and Beaches. Strahan Visitor Centre and Strahan Harbour are also within 15 minutes.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Ormiston House

West Coast

Situated in Strahan, this luxury guesthouse is within 2 km of West Coast Reflections and Beaches. Strahan Harbour and Strahan Golf Club are also within 2 km.

Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Star rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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