Located 113 km south west from Burnie, 269 km west from Launceston and 152 km north west of Queenstown, Savage River is basically a mining town which fluctuates according to the price of its minerals and the richness of its seams. At the moment there are no signs indicating the name of the town and it could more accurately be called Australian Bulk Minerals - hardly a name designed to attract much interest.
Early sailors knew that there were considerable mineral deposits in the area because the rugged mountain ranges interfered with the compasses. What they didn't know was that the force interfering with their compasses was the huge deposit of magnetite at Savage River some 25 km from the coast.
It wasn't until 1877 that a government surveyor, Charles Sprent, discovered the Savage River iron ore deposits. At the time the low quality of the ore (about 38 per cent iron) and the difficulty of getting the mineral out meant that it was left untouched. In subsequent years there were various plans (in 1926 Hoskins Iron and Steel - later BHP - carried out a survey) but it wasn't until 1961 that Roy Hudson's Industrial and Mining Investigations Pty Ltd became convinced of the ore deposit's economic potential. It wasn't until 1965 that he managed to find backers but the project went ahead and the town of Savage River was built between 1965-67.
The huge open cut mine sends the ore by a 85 km pipeline to Port Latta on the north coast of Tasmania. Over the years its fortunes have waxed and waned but it is still an important mining town.
Further down river is the near-ghost town of Corinna (current population of 5) which is on the Pieman River. The Pieman River gained its name from an escaped convict, Thomas Kent who was a pie maker by profession.
They lost their way and in the ensuing weeks all of the escapees disappeared except for Pearce. When he was recaptured unproven accusations of cannibalism were made against him. The following year Pearce escaped again accompanied by another convict, Thomas Cox. Once again Pearce found himself without food and, to solve the problem, he killed and ate Cox. When he was finally recaptured Pearce admitted to eating Cox and confessed to cannibalism during his first escape. He was subsequently executed in Hobart.
The Pieman River was named after Pearce's occupation - he was a pieman in Hobart.
Things to see
Corinna and the Pieman River Cruises
This must surely be one of the most isolated tourist attractions in Australia. Corinna has a population of about 5 at the moment (it was down to two a few years ago). It is an old mining ghost town which once boasted a population in excess of 2500. Today the Pieman River Cruise is the main attraction. A rare opportunity to experience pristine wilderness on one of the most isolated coastlines on earth. The boat goes down to the mouth of the river and passengers can wander along the shoreline and experience the sensation of watching waves which have travelled uninterrupted by land from the coast of South America.
It is wise to contact the operators on (03) 6446 1170 for cruise times. Accommodation is offered at the Pieman Retreat Cabins and there is a kiosk with emergency supplies which operates in the summer months but people intending to stay should come well stocked. There is no electricity and consequently the kiosk does not stock perishables. For more information check out: http://www.corinna.com.au/Experiences/RiverCruises.aspx
Accommodation and Eating
Corinna Wilderness Experience
P.O. Box 105
Zeehan TAS 7469
Telephone: (03) 6446 1170
Facsimile: (03) 6446 1180
Web Site: http://www.corinna.com.au