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Adamsfield

History

Clarks Hut veranda and nearby relicts (Photos by Steve and Bec Johnson)

Black Gold!

A rush of miners to the Adams Valley began in mid 1925, where despite the isolation, a township of more than 1000 people quickly developed. At this time osmiridium had a value of around £30 per ounce – about seven times the value of gold.

Osmiridium, a naturally occurring alloy, was used to manufacture fountain pen nibs, poisonous gasses and jewellery. It was also used for medical and dental purposes and later in the electronics industry.

Initially mining involved highly labour intensive individual workings. By the late 1930s this became more capital intensive with shafts, tunnels, water races and substantial amounts of equipment. After the start of World War II few people lived in the town. Open cut mining was conducted for a short period in the 1960s. The last recorded production from the field was 12 ounces in 1968. Of the 31 100 ounces of osmiridium produced in Tasmania, half came from Adamsfield.

A difficult journey

Access to Adamsfield was via pack tracks through the Florentine Valley. It was a difficult journey due to the country traversed and the weather conditions. Huts along the way acted as resupply points for both the hopeful miners and the packers who kept the settlement supplied with stores.

Adamsfield today

Today there is little left of this once booming town. Most of the buildings have been burnt by bushfires or reclaimed by the bush. Despite this, a visit to Adamsfield is well worthwhile. What remains gives a feeling for what once existed here and the surrounding landscape emphasises the remoteness of the settlement. In spring, daffodils and other flowers indicate where gardens once surrounded homes.

The most obvious features at the site such as Clarks huts and the associated relics, the open cut and mullock heaps, are actually from the later, 1930s - 1960s period of mining.

Further Information

A detailed history of mining at Adamsfield is available for download as a PDF (1.1 Mb) from Mineral Resources of Tasmania.