The Iron Blow lookout is a cantilevered viewpoint located just outside of Gormanston on the West Coast of Tasmania. Find out everything you need to know about visiting this scenic lookout and check out some images I captured during my visit.
Queenstown is a mining town through and through. Its history has been shaped by the industry and the majority of the people living in this region still rely on mining to survive. The Iron Blow lookout is a historic snapshot of Tasmania’s mining past. It’s the earliest major mining venture on Mount Lyell, now just a large water-filled aperture where a rich orebody was once found.
In this guide, I’ll detail exactly how to get here, what to expect and a few photographs from the lookout. I’ll also include a brief description of the site and touch on why this area is an example of the severe environmental impacts of mining.
Where is the Iron Blow Lookout?
The Iron Blow lookout is located just off the Lyell Highway outside of the small town of Gormanston, Tasmania. It's a convenient pull-over stop for those driving east from Queenstown, just after Tasmania's most scenic road, the 99 Bends.
Below I've pinned the exact location to help you find it.
Google Maps Pin: "Iron Blow Lookout"
How to Get to the Lookout
From Queenstown, take the Lyell Highway towards Gormanston. Just before you reach the township, you'll see a sign to the left, which leads down Iron Blow Rd. Follow this road all the way to the end to find a large car park with adequate parking space for roughly 15 vehicles.
The road is sealed the entire way and suitable for any vehicle type.
Car Rentals in Tasmania
Unfortunately, the cost of bringing your own car on the Spirit of Tasmania has skyrocketed in recent years.
Now, it is usually cheaper to rent a car on arrival. I recommend using RentalCars.com in Tasmania to compare rates for different vehicles across dealerships.
(Rentals are limited in Tasmania so it's a good idea to book in advance).
About the Iron Blow Lookout
The Iron Blow lookout is a cantilevered lookout that stretches roughly 10 metres over the large open mining cut. Below, you'll find a deep, metal-rich pool of water that has filled the void.
The first shot at the Iron Blow was in January 1884. A mob of hardy prospectors camped out in the Linda Valley to work the site. This particular site was very rich with metals including iron, gold, silver, argentite, tetrahedrite and jalpaite. The mine finished up in 1929.
It's a striking scene. A lunar landscape void of any life and an admittedly beautiful blue pool that gives off the sense you're at a volcanic site rather than an old mine.
ALSO NEARBY: Nelson Falls
The Ultimate Tasmania Travel Resource
Looking for more Tasmania travel guides & adventure inspiration? Below are my most comprehensive blog posts that will serve as a great free resource for your trip.
The Environmental Impacts of Mining in Tasmania
While I recognise that mining has played a significant role in Tasmania's history and economy, the area surrounding Queenstown is a clear representation of just how devastating the industry continues to be on the environment.
The landscape is quite unique in Tasmania, an island usually rich with dense wet rainforest. The lack of trees and vegetation in this region is due to sustained "acid rain". This is the result of the Queenstown copper mine's sulfur pollution.
Having spent a fair amount of time photographing and documenting the natural beauty of this region, I was devastated to find out that the impacts don't end there. Many of the surrounding rivers are polluted and not suitable for drinking.
As a result, heavy-metal contaminants continue to circulate within the delicate ecosystems. Furthermore, much of the Tarkine rainforest, Australia's largest body of temperate rainforest has been clear-felled. Sadly, cutting and felling continues today in order to support expansions in the mining industry.
Perhaps the sourest note of all is that the current expansions are pushing further into the Tarkine by MMG Rosebury, a Chinese-owned heavy metals mining company. And, unfortunately, we all know that Chinese state-backed companies don't exactly have the best interest of Australia's or our ecosystems in mind. Sadly, it's quite the opposite, and the newly proposed tailings dam in the Tarkine is a clear example of this.
Chiming in On a Sustainable Future
Visiting the Iron Blow lookout is a chance for visitors and Tasmanians alike to peer into Tasmania's mining history. It's an important reminder of days gone and a tribute to the legacy of hard-working Tasmanian miners. These men will always live on through our history books as pioneers, risking it all to build what we have today.
But, as an outsider, admittedly partial to the delicate cultural divide of mining vs activism, it's clear that mining expansions don't represent a sustainable future for this region.
Instead, I hope that sustainable tourism can help fill the gap. The Iron Blow lookout is a great example of honouring the past, while also being reminded of just how devastating 21st Century mining operations (especially Chinese government-run) can be.
Visit the Bob Brown Foundation website to learn how you can save the Tarkine rainforest and put people and the environment before off-shore profits.
RELATED POST: 7 Awesome Things to do at Strahan & the West Coast
More Photos From the Iron Blow Lookout
Below I've included a few more images that I captured during my visit to the Iron Blow lookout in Tasmania.
Where to Stay In Tasmania's West
The most popular place to stay in Western Tasmania is in Strahan. There's just so much to see and do in this region and it's definitely worth at least a couple of days. Activities like the Gordon River Cruise and the rack and pinion railway are must-dos when travelling in Tasmania.
Below are a couple of my recommended places to stay in nearby Strahan, as well as one in Queenstown.
Wheelhouse Apartments - Strahan
Unique apartments located in Strahan, each with river or lake views. These apartments are some of the best-rated online for Western Tasmania!
The Boat House - Strahan
Another Strahan favourite, this affordable holiday accommodation option features river views and includes a kitchen and living area.
Penghana B&B - Queenstown
If you're after the best place to stay in Queenstown, check out this 1898 National Trust Mansion B&B which is just 2 minutes drive from the Wilderness Railway & the Heritage Tours.
More Tasmanian Travel Guides & Adventure Inspiration
I hope you have enjoyed this short guide to the Iron Blow lookout Tasmania. For more travel guides and adventure inspiration, make sure to check out my other articles below.
I understand that this article in particular was a bit of a sensitive one. Dialogue is important to resolve any issue, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below or reach out to me personally.