Progress on the Melaleuca Heritage museum and mining interpretation trail

The Melaleuca Heritage museum and mining interpretation trail are being brought to fruition with the help of the Tasmanian mining and minerals industry.


Painting the Engine Shed
Kershaw Thompson Pump
Rallinga Smelter
Chart Recorder
Rallinga Smelter
Taking measurements for the Annex

The remote Melaleuca in Tasmania’s South West, which can only be reached via foot, sea or boat, is renowned for its world heritage area and also for its mining history.

Melaleuca was a small mining settlement from the 1930s until recently where high grade alluvial cassiterite (tin oxide) was mined.

The volunteer group Friends of Melaleuca Wildcare Inc and the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service have been making progress with the project’s first stage.

The President of the Friends of Melaleuca, Janet Fenton, said that one of the primary aims was to demonstrate that a mining area can be successfully rehabilitated and used for tourism and education.

“The museum will cover themes such as the progress from hand to mechanical mining and issues around living and working in a cold and wet remote area and straddle mining history, science and conservation,” Janet said.

“The project is valued at around $65,000, some half of this being 'in kind' support.

“In addition to the $14,000 at our disposal, our target was to raise another $10,000 by the end of 2014. Although we have not quite reached that goal, sponsorship of $6,000 (all from the mining sector) will certainly enable progress in 2015. A big thank-you to the three corporate sponsors who kindly made donations of $2,000 each - Bell Bay Aluminium, MMG Rosebery and Grange Resources.

Volunteer museum consultants take a look at a Kershaw Thompson pump used in Charlie King's tin mine at Melaleuca in the 1940s

Above image: Volunteer museum consultants take a look at a Kershaw Thompson pump used in Charlie King's tin mine at Melaleuca in the 1940s.

“In addition, building modifications are being partially funded by the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS). We will be seeking additional sponsorship during this year.”

Some progress has been achieved on the first stage of the project. Par Avion sponsored flights to the site for curators from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Maritime Museum. These museum experts are providing advice on setting up the museum, as well as advising with ongoing curatorial and conservation details.

Museum consultant admires the smelter at Rallinga Mine

An architectural draftsman has volunteered his time and effort for Friends of Melaleuca, and has completed a site survey and drawn up plans for the addition of an entry annex. These plans are currently with the PWS engineer and it is hoped that they will be approved soon. Building materials will then be purchased and shipped to Melaleuca. The building work will be overseen by a PWS field officer, and is scheduled for March/April 2015.

 The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery lent a chart recorder to graph humidity and temperature fluctuations in the building.  Issues regarding UV light reduction and insulation will also be addressed.  Melaleuca has a humid, west coast climate, making conservation of objects a challenge. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery lent our group a chart recorder to record fluctuations in humidity and temperature.  By April 2015 we will have a year's data, which will inform decisions on stabilising conditions in the building, and assist with management for the longevity of the exhibits.

Issues regarding UV light reduction and insulation will also be addressed.  Melaleuca has a humid, west coast climate, making conservation of objects a challenge. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery lent our group a chart recorder to record fluctuations in humidity and temperature.  By April 2015 we will have a year's data, which will inform decisions on stabilising conditions in the building, and assist with management for the longevity of the exhibits.

Museum consultant admires the smelter at Rallinga Mine.

In the meantime, Friends of Melaleuca volunteers will commence work on an interpretation plan for the displays inside the museum. Objects for display will be selected, and associated photographs and maps sourced.  Decisions will be made regarding stories for display panels, and a lay-out planned for these and exhibits around the museum. Objects will be documented and measured so that appropriate display cabinets can be made or sourced.An architectural draftsman volunteered his time and expertise for a site visit prior to drawing plans for an entry annex for the museum.