Historic site to become tourist drawcard

The late 19th century quarry in Ross, in the Tasmanian Midlands region, has been leased out to the Tasmanian Wool Centre (TWC) to preserve it for the future. Plans are now underway to make it a drawcard for tourists.

TWC manager Debra Cadogan-Cowper said the quarry was located on the edge of the village, dubbed the ‘convict era town’, making it easily accessible to visitors.

“As the village of Ross is fortunate to have the most beautifully crafted stone bridge in Australia and a significant number of stone buildings, both public and private, linking this history to an example of its material beginnings, the quarry became a natural choice to expand on Ross’s tourism offerings,” Cadogan-Cowper said.

“It is undetermined which buildings came from this quarry, but this in itself could be a study for a geologist to analyse stone from different buildings to match to the quarry,” she said.

The Tasmanian State Growth Community Infrastructure Fund has provided money for the plans while the TWC has also contributed funds and in-kind support for the project, she said, adding that a grant deed was in place with the fund.

She said TWC’s insurers had secured a public liability cover for the land and premises that was owned by the Northern Midlands Council and a private resident.

Natural amphitheatre

Cadogan-Cowper said ideas would grow organically once the site was open to the public and community support increased to develop its potential.

“The quarry forms an amphitheatre that lends itself to be used for musical or theatrical performances. Logistically, as there are no services like power or water at the site, performances could be limited to the orchestral type,” she said.

“There would not be any conversion as such as our decision was to retain the integrity of the site and leave it as it is,” said the TWC manager, who has roped in residents to provide it with some “tender loving care”.

The site has not been a working quarry for decades, she said, adding that it had remained relatively untouched, apart from some opportunistic dumping of concrete waste, which had now been removed.

The quarry once produced sandstone that is formed from the mechanical erosion of older rocks, such as granites. This material is transported from the region of erosion, to a lowland deposition area known geologically as a sedimentary basin.

The various processes of decomposition of the primary rock result in only the most durable and stable elements surviving in the sediment, and in the case of sandstone this is mostly quartz, she said.

The colour, granularity and texture of the sandstone depend on the shape, size and mineralogical nature of the sand grains and their cementing matrix and the environment of formation.

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