The Murchison Area is located in north-western and western Tasmania, between 230 and 270 kilometres from the Launceston CBD (with King Island another 90 kilometres offshore). The Murchison Area is bounded by Bass Strait in the north, the Cam River, Burnie City, the Central Coast Council area, the Kentish Council area, the Meander Valley Council area, the Central Highlands Council area and the Derwent Valley Council area in the east, the Huon Valley Council area, the Davey River and Port Davey in the south, and the Southern Ocean in the west.
The Murchison Area encompasses the four local government areas of Circular Head Council, King Island Council, Waratah-Wynyard Council and West Coast Council.
The Murchison Area is predominantly rural, with townships at Queenstown, Rosebery, Smithton, Somerset and Wynyard, and smaller townships and villages at Boat Harbour, Currie (King Island), Marrawah, Sisters Beach, Stanley, Strahan, Tullah, Waratah, Yolla and Zeehan. Land is used largely for beef and dairy farming, vegetable growing, horticulture and timber production. Fishing, aquaculture, mining and tourism are also important industries. The Murchison Area encompasses a total land area of about 19,100 square kilometres.
The original inhabitants of the Murchison Area were the North West and Tommeginer Aboriginal people.
European settlement dates from the 1820s. A penal colony was established on Sarah Island in 1822, and the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company were established at Circular Head (Stanley) in 1826. Early industries included boat building, fishing, timber-getting and farming. Land was first leased on King Island from the 1830s. Population in the Murchison Area was minimal until the 1870s. Rapid population growth took place from the 1880s into the early 1900s, spurred by mining, forestry, improved access, and increased dairy and beef farming and crop and vegetable growing. The population declined in many townships from the 1970s as mining waned. The population continued to decline during the 1990s, falling from about 31,000 in 1991 to 28,000 in 2001, largely due to major changes in the mining, forestry and hydro-electric industries. The population was relatively stable between 2001 and 2011.
Major features of the Murchison Area include the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Rocky Cape National Park, Savage River National Park, Southwest National Park, the Tarkine Wilderness, Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, Macquarie Harbour, Sarah Island, Hellyer Gorge, Cape Wickham Lighthouse, Currie Lighthouse, Table Cape Lighthouse, Lavinia State Reserve, Seal Rocks State Reserve, The Nut State Reserve, Reid Rocks Nature Reserve, Dip River Forest Reserve, Kentford Forest Conservation Area, numerous state forests, Stanley Seaquarium, Arthur River Cruises, Gordon River Cruises, Pieman River Cruises, Stanley Seal Cruises, Tarkine Forest Adventures (Dismal Swamp), West Coast Wilderness Railway, The Nut Chairlift, King Island Dairy, Woolnorth Wind Farm, Huxley Hill Wind Farm, Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, West Coast Heritage Centre, King Island and a number of smaller islands, TasTAFE (Smithton Campus), King island Hospital and Health Centre, Smithton District Hospital, West Coast District Hospital, and numerous rivers, beaches and waterfalls.
The Murchison Area is served by the Bass Highway, the Lyell Highway, the Murchison Highway, the Ridgley Highway and King Island Airport.
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