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Thursday, May 18, 2006
Launceston, Tasmania's second largest city, is at the southern end of the Tamar Valley. Starting at Bass Strait, the Tamar River is an estuary which can be navigated its entire 58kms.

There are many pretty towns along the way which attract thousands of tourists each year. Until recently, the towns were home to people living quietly amongst orchards, high-yielding vineyards, pastures and forests.

Until April 25 this year, it was all very rural and gentle. That all changed when seismic movement in a Beaconsfield goldmine trapped three miners. Sadly, Larry Knight was killed instantly. Two other miners, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, were trapped in a miner's cage where they remained for two weeks.

World attention focused on the little town as an intricate and slow rescue plan was put in place. Beaconsfield's population of 1200 held its collective breath and refused to give up hope that the two men would be freed.

Representatives of the Australian and international media descended on the town, and it was a joyous moment when they brought us the sight of the men emerging from their underground tomb, then signed off from duty and embraced their families.

Getaway salutes the miners, their families and rescuers and the people of Beaconsfield.

The media has gone in search of other stories and townspeople are going quietly about their business again.

Gold mining began in Tasmania in the 19th century, and in 1881 Beaconsfield was the state's richest town with 53 companies in operation. Mining ceased in 1914 and started up again in 1999.

Summertime visitors to the Tamar Valley stop to pick strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and stone fruits. Vineyards have cellar-door sales and many have their own restaurant.

Lunch, dinner or coffee cruises along the river are popular and relaxing as they make their way through the delightful area. There are many excellent restaurants and cafés to visit, and arts and crafts are prevalent.

The river has a variety of saltwater fish, and inland streams and lakes offer the challenge of freshwater fishing.

Ironically, the town's only formal tourist attraction is mining-related. The Grubb Shaft & Gold Heritage Museum is adjacent to the working mine and outlines Beaconsfield's rich mining history.


The centre of northern Tasmania.


Grubb Shaft & Gold Heritage Museum entry is $9 for adults and $4 for children. It is open between 10am and 4pm each day.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Grubb Shaft & Gold Heritage Museum
West Street
Beaconsfield, 7270
Ph: (03) 6383 1473
Fax: (03) 6383 6384

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