Finding New Value in Old Places

‚ÄčImage courtesy Waratah Wynyard Council

The Tasmanian Heritage Register is the storybook of our state's history, people and places. Keeping the information up-to-date is both an ongoing task and a reminder of our state's recent history. Over the 21 years of the Heritage Register's existence, it is interesting to look back and see how places have found new meaning for local communities. The story of Waratah's Athenaeum Hall is one of many great examples.

When Waratah's Athenaeum Hall was entered in the Tasmanian Heritage Register in 2007, the need for an injection of funds to bring the hall back to its former glory was noted. Now the hall is flourishing again as the home of the Tarkine Interpretation Centre.

Image courtesy Waratah Wynyard Council

The Athenaeum Hall once served as the social and learning hub of the booming mining town of Waratah. A company manager of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company, Henry Kayser, was keen to provide residents with alternatives to the gambling and drunkenness on offer in the town. From 1877, the Waratah Mechanics Institute was where miners could improve themselves by reading good books and attending edifying lectures, but by 1886, the town had grown to such an extent that the Institute was considered too small. The Athenaeum Hall was constructed to address the situation and almost immediately after it opened, the old Mechanics Institute burned down.

Visitors to the Tarkine Interpretation Centre can still learn much through the books, interpretive displays and historical photographic collections that help tell the stories of the Tarkine rainforest as well as the mining and pioneering stories of Waratah. Entry is free. For more information on the Centre click here.

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