Cygnet, Tasmania, Lymington, gold, gold mine, Lymington, Cygnet Gold Mt Mary fossils, geology, tinguaite, Huon Trail  Cygnet Gold


Cygnet Tasmania Its Gold Mine History

& the Geological Trail - Part of the Huon Trail


Cygnet in Tasmania was first explored and named by Rear Admiral Bruny D’Entrecasteaux (don-tra-cast-o) in 1792-3. He charted the channel that is now named after him and his second in command Capt. Huon de Kermadec named the bay Port de Cygnes (Bay of Swans). D’Entrecasteaux in the two 28 gun, 96 man French frigates Research and Esperance was looking for the ill fated expedition of  La Perouse when he charted the waters of S E Tasmania.

The first white settler in the Port Cygnet area was by William Nichols who sailed from ‘Browns River’ now Kingston, in 1834.

The area has had a wide  varied history from woodcutting, shipbuilding, gold and coal mining and small fruit growing (raspberries and blackcurrants) to the major industries now being apple growing, apple canning and fish farming, together with small farms and an increasing wine, craft and tourist industry.

The history this page wishes to explain started a long time before all of these very recent events.300 000 000  years ago the sedimentary rocks found in the Cygnet area were being formed in cold shallow seas. It is this geology and subsequent history along with  the story of mining of the gold brought into the area by intrusions of rare igneous rocks that will be explained to you as you drive along a geological time trail inspecting the markers and rocks throughout the district.



Gold has been won from the hills around Cygnet since the mid 1800’s. Most of the gold would have been recovered from the alluvial workings around Lymington in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Little gold was obtained from the many small shafts and adits where miner’s attempted to mine the minor quartz reefs and mineralised zones on the margins and within the igneous syenite body that brought in the gold. It has been estimated that around 3000 ozs of gold was won from the area over that time. About $3 000 000 at today's prices.

Little evidence can be found of the gold workings today as old shafts and adits have been filled in and alluvial workings have been ploughed over or are now timbered or are blackberry and gorse-choked gullies.

Mt Mary Mine 1920' s


Lymington alluvial Workings Late 1800's (Main Cygnet Gold Area.)


Mt Mary Gold Mine Tragedy

Evidence of Cygnet’s golden past can now only be seen in the commemorative stained glass window to Edmond Dillon and  Edward Ryan in the Cygnet Catholic church (picture right) and the grave stone of James Wicks (picture left) in the Anglican church cemetery commemorating the  bravery of the three men in the tragedy that struck this small community on the morning of March 30th. 1898. On that morning Edmond Dillon, feet astride a log cross bar and holding on to the windlass rope, was lowered down the narrow 18 metre deep shaft of the Mt Mary Gold Mine by the 15 year old Edward Ryan. He was never to return to the surface alive. Ryan, realising something was wrong when Dillon did not answer his call, ran down to the town returning with the local Constable, Constable Hall. Ryan, with Hall holding the windlass, slid down the rope to see what was wrong with Dillon. He called to be pulled up, but when the cross bar reached the surface Ryan was not on it. By that time a number of people had come to the top of the shaft. The local blacksmith, James Wicks, ran up from his forge and volunteered to be lowered down the shaft. It was requested he be tied to the rope but he declined. His fate was to be the same as that of Dillon and young Ryan; suffocation due to lack of oxygen. By now the apple factory whistle was blasting and the church bell was ringing as news of the tragedy spread through out the tiny community.

The graphic account of the tragedy and the funerals as reported in the ‘Tasmanian Mail” of April 9th 1898 showed this tiny community united in grief .


 The Lymington Geological Time Trail

Start from  the junction of the Main Rd (B68) & Lymington Coast Rd (C639) by the Shell Service Station.

Walk on the coastal sea floor off Gondwanaland as it was 275 000 000 yrs ago, as it is now exposed on the shore platform at Poverty Point. See the sea creatures (fossils) and image what it was like. Imagine sea ice floating on the sea’s surface melting and the rock and pebble fragments trapped in the ice dropping into the sand and mud in the sea floor below.

Image coal forming in the swamps several million years later after sediment, deposited by rivers to the north, caused the sea floor to shallow eventually forming land. Then 175 000 000 yrs ago, in Jurassic times,  great molten magma rose injecting large dolerite sills and dykes into these sediments. In the early Cretaceous, a mere 100 000 000 yrs ago, further igneous activity deep under the Cygnet area caused an unusual molten magma to be injected into the near-surface rocks. This magma (syenite) formed a flat domed structure within the dolerite and the older sedimentary rocks, as well as smaller narrow dykes of sanidine porphyry. The syenite remelted the dolerite at its margins, forming the rare hybrid complex of altered rocks as seen at Regatta Pt. The syenite also brought in the gold that was to be later mined in a number of small mines and alluvial workings around Lymington, Mt Mary and other areas.

All this and more, can be seen from coastal outcrops from Cygnet to Lymington.



Stop One (1.8 km) Regatta Point (See marker 1 near aboriginal midden sight. Information below removed by Parks and Wildlife at the request of the Southern Aboriginal Centre)

(Hybrid Igneous Rock Complex)

The rocks exposed on the foreshore extend over a kilometre south. They were formed when molten syenite magma intruded through the older dolerite sill rocks, remelting the dolerite along the syenite-dolerite contact.


Stop Two (3.7 km) Old Long Wharf Jetty. ( Igneous Porphyry Dyke) -  

Only marker still in place. See road marker 2 by old 'Long Wharf' (Note second marker in parking pull off area - you will have to walk a short distance along the beach back towards Cygnet.)


On the foreshore approx 200 m north towards Cygnet past the green boat shed and just around the pt. are two dark green sanidine porphyry dykes (Tinguaite). These dykes were injected into the older rocks when the molten magma had large felspar crystals (sanidine) crystallising out, as the magma was squeezed between the older rock the crystals ‘lined up’ in swirls due to the motion of the magma.








Stop Three (7.3 km)  Drip Beach (Marker 3 removed by ????)

 Note: Road marker missing (no sign marker)  (Grey Lace Agates)

Grey Lace Agates can be found as river pebbles on the beach and in the river gravels in the area. Best time to search is at a low tide after high winds - these conditions help to expose the agate pebbles.

 Grey Lace Agates



Drip Beach

Stop Four (8.9 km) Poverty Pt  (Fossil Beds.)  Marker - new Huon Trail Marker ( Road sign and Marker 4 removed by ??? (replaced ?) by Huon Trail marker.)



Beach on Huon River near Poverty Point

Permian marine fossils can be seen (best at low tide) south along the beach. Marine shellfish, fan corals and small marine snails can be seen in the rock platforms and low cliffs.

 Brachiopod fossil shell   Fenestellid fan coral


 Brachiopod fossil shell  Brachiopod (internal mould)


Pectin (a scallop-like fossil)



This page was listed by Mike Jagoe of Nicholls Rivulet in June 2008.



For more information etc. I can be contacted by email.

More information and geological images will be listed if people show any interest in the page.








Cockle Creek Recherche Bay Story


Cygnet Market


 Mike Jagoe  Nicholls Rivulet 29h January 2016