Ben Lomond (Tasmania)

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Ben Lomond
Summit run.jpg
Ben Lomond Summit Run
Elevation 1,572 m (5,157 ft)
Location Tasmania, Australia
Coordinates 41°34′S 147°40′E / 41.567°S 147.667°E / -41.567; 147.667

Ben Lomond is a mountain in the north of Tasmania composing of a central massif, with an extensive plateau above 1200m, and high outlier peaks projecting from the mountain proper. The highest feature on the plateau is the unimposing summit of Legges Tor, at 1572m, on the northern aspect of the plateau. The southern end of the plateau is dominated by Stacks Bluff, 1527m, which is an imposing feature that drops away to a cliffline 600m above the surrounding foothills. The prominent outlier peaks of Ragged Jack (1369m), Mensa Moor (1358m) and Tower Hill (1122m) surround the plateau.[1]

Ben Lomond is east of Launceston in the Ben Lomond National Park. Tasmania's premier Alpine skiing operations are located at Ben Lomond with downhill skiing facilities in the State.

Its accessibility from Launceston, together with the existence of a ski village on the plateau make Ben Lomond an all year round favourite for tourists and hikers. Access to the village and summit can be made via several walking tracks or via a zig-zag road known as "Jacobs Ladder".


The Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) name for Ben Lomond was recorded as Toorbunna (Palawa kani - turbuna).[2] The lake on the southern aspect of the plateau, now known as Lake Youl, was known to the Aborigines as meenamatta, a name that survives in the Menamatta Tarns on the north-western aspect of the plateau.[3] The region to the south of Ben Lomond's southern aspect (Ben Lomond Country) was recorded as Troune or Loonder. The name Tudema Tura was recorded for the country around the south to western aspect of Ben Lomond. The South Esk River was known as Mangana Lienta (lienta=river).[3]

The mountain's name is taken from the Scottish mountain of the same name and was given by Colonel Paterson, who founded the first settlement in northern Tasmania in 1804.[4] There is no isolated peak named Ben Lomond but instead the name may refer to the plateau, massif, region or National Park in which it is situated. In colonial times Ben Lomond referred to both the mountain proper and the surrounding countryside of the South Esk valleys. Features on the mountain have accreted names over the last two centuries as the region has opened up to surveyors and official parties. The prominent peaks were named early by settlers and apparently based on appearance or location, with Stacks Bluff (originally 'the Butts', then 'the Stacks'), the Knuckle (now Ossians Throne) and Ragged Jack (originally Ragged Mountain) appearing in correspondence in the early 1800s. Features on the plateau were predominately named after surveyors (Giblin Fells), Government Administrators (Twelvetrees Moor), or contemporary explorers (Grant Cirque).[5] Last to be named is Mensa Moor, which was approved by the state Nomenclature Board in the 1990s[6]


Aboriginal land-owners of Ben Lomond[edit]

The original inhabitants of the area were the people of the Ben Lomond Nation, which consisted of three and possibly four clans totalling 150–200 people. They occupied the 260 km2 (100 sq mi) of country surrounding the 182 km2 (70 sq mi) Ben Lomond plateau. Three clan names are known but their locations are somewhat conjectural; the Plangermaireener clan is recorded as variously inhabiting the south/south-east aspect of the Ben Lomond region (and has been associated with the Oyster Bay tribe to the east); the Plindermairhemener are recorded in association with the south and eastern aspects of the region and the location of the Tonenerweenerlarmenne is uncertain.[7] Until 12,000 years ago, during the last ice age, the plateau itself was covered by an ice cap, leaving it largely devoid of soil and lacking in resources.

The clans of the Ben Lomond Nation were migratory and the Aborigines hunted along the flats of the South Esk and North Esk rivers, their tributaries and the highlands to the northeast; as well as making forays to the plateau in summer.[8] There is evidence of artifacts around Lake Youl that suggests regular occupation of this site by aborigines after the last ice age.[9]

The clans of the Ben Lomond Nation were displaced in the early 1800s by extensive colonial occupation up the South Esk river and its tributaries. This particularly manifested along the mountain's western and northern boundaries, which lay closest to the settled areas of Launceston and Norfolk Plains (now Longford). The presence of farms and stockmen interrupted the migratory tribal life of the Aborigines and, although initial relations were peaceable, displacement was accelerated by continuing intrusion into country, abduction of aboriginal women and violent conflict with both settlers and with rival tribes.[10] In particular, women became scarce due to the abduction by sealers of women in coastal areas, consequently leading to internecine raids for women across the interior. Children, also, were a target for abduction by settlers. For example, the prominent settler James Cox, at Clarendon on the Nile River, raised the Aboriginal William 'Black Bill' Ponsonby from a child[11] The aboriginal people were forced into an ever more marginal existence and; with numbers depleted by disease, murder and abduction, were forced into sustained conflict with occupying settlers. These remnants of the Ben Lomond nation allied with members of the North Midland nation in order to conduct guerilla style raids on remote stock huts and farms along the South Esk into the 1820s and 1830s during the Black War, but by October 1830 they had been reduced to just 10 individuals.[12]

Roving Parties[edit]

Later in the Black War, the colonial government authorised the employment of Roving Parties (essentially armed bounty hunters) to conciliate the remaining free aboriginal tribesmen. In September 1829, John Batman (then aged 28), with the assistance of two "Sydney blacks" he brought to Tasmania and the Tasmanian Aborigine 'Black Bill' Ponsonby, led an attack on an Aboriginal family group together numbering 60–70 men, women and children in the mountain's south east foothills. Waiting until 11pm that night before attacking, he "...ordered the men to fire upon them..." as their 40-odd dogs raised the alarm and the Aborigines ran away into thick scrub, killing an estimated 15 people. The next morning, he left the place for his farm, with two badly wounded Tasmanian men, a woman and her two-year old boy, all of whom he captured. However, he "...found it impossible that the two former [the men] could walk, and after trying them by every means in my power, for some time, found I could not get them on I was obliged to shoot them." The captured woman, named Luggenemenener,[13] was later sent to Campbell Town gaol and separated from her two-year old son, Rolepana, "...whom she had faced death to protect."[14] Batman reported afterwards to British Colonial Secretary, John Burnett, in a letter of 7 September 1829, that he kept the child because he wanted " rear it...".[15] Luggenemenener died on 21 March 1837 as an inmate at the Flinders Island settlement.[16]

Later, Rolepana (aged 8 years), child-survivor of the massacre, travelled with Batman as part of the founding party of Melbourne in 1835. After Batman's death in 1839, Rolepana would have been 12 years old. Boyce notes that Rolepana was employed by colonist George Ware at 12 Pounds a year with Board on Batman's death, "...but what became of him after this is also unknown."[17] However, Haebich records Rolepana as having died in Melbourne in 1842 (he would have been about 15 years).[18] She also says that:

Batman openly defied Governor Arthur and [George Augustus] Robinson by refusing to hand over two Aboriginal boys in his employ: Rolepana (or Benny Ben Lomond) and Lurnerminer (John or Jack Allen), captured by Batman in 1828. He claimed the boys were there with the consent of their parents,....He also demonstrated a strong proprietorial interest in the boys, when he told Robinson they were 'as much his property as his farm and that he had as much right to keep them as the government'. Indeed Batman was convinced that the best plan was to leave the children with the colonists, who clothed and fed them at no expense to the government and raised them to become 'useful members of society'. In a series of letters to Governor Arthur, he 'pleaded hard for the retention of youths educated by settlers and devoted to their service'.[19]

In late 1830, as the infamous 'Black Line' military operation was being disbanded elsewhere in Tasmania, George Augustus Robinson spent a week in north-east Tasmania, searching without success, for the "Ben Lomond-Penny Royal Creek people".[20] In December, 1830, with 33 Tasmanian Aborigines having been removed to nearby Swan Island, Robinson sent a party to look for the Ben Lomond people, again unsuccessfully.[21]

The fate of the Ben Lomond people[edit]

After the failure of the 'Black Line' in 1830, Colonial Governor George Arthur announced on 14 March 1831 his new policy of the removal of Aborigines from Tasmania.[22] By then, 34 Tasmanian Aborigines were interned on Swan Island.[22] In August, 1831, Robinson "....gave an unequivocal commitment that if hostilities ceased, Aborigines would be protected and have their essential needs met by the government while being able to live and hunt within their own districts."

This was somewhat deceitful and conflicted with Governor Arthur's aims for the Aboriginal people. These concessions, combined with the promised return of their women from the sealers, were the documented terms under which the chief Mannalargenna joined Robinson'sembassy.[23][23][24][25]

Mannalargenna, an Aboriginal leader who organised guerrilla attacks against British soldiers in Tasmania during the Black War, was either a Plangermaireener or Oyster Bay Chief (or perhaps a leader of a confederation of the two Nations). Manarlargenna has been praised for attempting to preserve the remnants of his people with his bargain or treaty with Arthur and Robinson. It would ultimately lead to the end of hostilities with the Aboriginal people, although at the expense of exile to Flinders Island and then Oyster Cove.[26] the remnant aboriginal people were moved en masse to Flinders Island where Manarlargenna died of pneumonia t.[20][27]

On Flinders Island the aboriginal people were stationed at the settlement of Wybalenna ('Black Man's Houses' in the Ben Lomond Nation language). The son of a Ben Lomond Nation elder, Walter George Arthur, was the "activist" who petitioned Queen Victoria in 1846.[28][29] Walter George Arthur was born about 1820. His father Rolepa, was a "...leading man of the Ben Lomond tribe.." and known to Europeans as 'King George'. Walter was separated from his family in unrecorded circumstances and lived for several years around Launceston, Tasmania as one of numerous vagrant children. When taken into custody by George Augustus Robinson he was a "professional thief". He was sent to the Boy's Orphan School in Hobart in 1832.[30] 1835, he was sent to Wybalenna settlement on Flinders Island where he remained until 1838.[31] He and his wife Mary-Anne went with Robinson when he was appointed Protector of Aborigines at Port Phillip [Victoria], returning to Flinders Island in 1842.[32] In 1856,while living at the government settlement of Oyster Cove, he applied (but was refused by the Superintendent] for permission to hire a convict pass-holder to work on his farm.[33] In 1858, he and his wife applied for land in the Huon Valley near Hobart under the Waste Land Act. They were told they would have to abstain from alcohol for a year before he would be considered.[33] Soon after May 1861, he drowned in a boating accident on the Derwent River as he and another Tasmanian Aborigine, Jack Allen, were returning to Oyster Cove from work on a whaling ship.[33]

The Ben Lomond Nation ceased to exist as a political and cultural entity after occupation of country and the subsequent murder, abduction or exile of its people. When the last people of that nation died at Oyster Cove on the Derwent much of the rich history that had persisted for generations died with them. The Palawa did not die out- descendants of the 'tyreelore', Palawa women taken as wives by sealers in Bass Strait, continued to live in a prosperous community on Flinders and Cape Barren Islands. Many of these descendants have cultural and genetic lineage from the Ben Lomond Nation and with the chief Manarlargenna, in particular.[34][34]

Modern History of Ben Lomond[edit]

Exploration in Colonial Times[edit]

The first European to ascend the mountain was likely to have been John Batman, who is recorded to have crossed the plateau in his forays against the Ben Lomond Nation.[35]

The artist John Glover ascended the mountain with John Batman in the 1830s and is recorded to have made sketches of the plateau and of Lake Youl although none of these sketches have survived.[36]

The first scientific visit to the Ben Lomond plateau was made by the Polish explorer Paul Edmond de Strzelecki on 28 November 1841 and he measured the height of the mountain (incorrectly) by barometry as 5002 feet.[37] In 1852; after the site was surveyed by James Sprent(Government Surveyor), a Trigonometric Point was constructed on Stacks Bluff (the southernmost extremity of Ben Lomond) using convict labour .[37]


Alluvial Gold had been found to the east of Ben Lomond at Tower Hill, Mathinna and Mangana and was mined from 1855 until the 1940s. At its peak Mathinna had a population of 2000 but this dwindled after mining ceased. Tin and tungsten were the other minerals to be obtained in the southern foothills of Ben Lomond and the townships of Rossarden and Storys Creek arose from the 1920s to 1957 around these mines. Coal had been found on, and around, Ben Lomond and the Stanhope Mine, situated on Buffalo Brook about half way between Stacks Bluff and Avoca, was the principal mine. There was a mine on the plateau, at Coalmine Crag, from which some coal has been extracted for local use. Mining interests existed on the north-west of the mountain, around the island peak of Ragged Jack, but they proved to be economically unviable.[37][38]

Recreational Walking tracks onto the mountain[edit]

Recreational walking on and around the plateau became popular from the 1880s when the mines had brought large numbers into the area. At this time the principal track to the plateau lay across the Ben Lomond Marshes ascending the western side of Stacks Bluff. This was the track from Avoca, up Castle Cary Rivulet to the Ben Lomond Marshes, to the plateau on the western side of Stacks Bluff along the headwaters of the Ben Lomond Rivulet. Another steep track existed from Storys Creek which is still used to ascend via Tranquil Tarn to the summit of Stack's Bluff. The western face of Ben Lomond could be approached from English Town and this track took a course round the northern slopes of Ragged Jack.

Excursions in the late 1880s became popular enough for a landowner to build a two-storey hotel with a store, bakehouse and stables at the northern end of the Ben Lomond Marshes for the use of excursionists and miners.[39] This was the 'Ben Lomond Hotel', built by J.F. Rigney of "Bona Vista", near Fingal - but by 1908 the hotel had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair.[37][40]

Today, formed tracks exist that access the plateau from the northern, northeastern and south-eastern aspects of the massif. The northern access track is from the Scout hut at Carr Villa, in the northern foothills, to the summit (following the snow pole line of the old ski track) and thence to the ski village. The island peak Ragged Jack has established walking and climbing routes that are accessed via the north west foothills. The southern access is from Storys Creek, past Tranquil Tarn, to the northern slopes of Stacks Bluff. A track leads up to Stacks Bluff, where extensive views of the plateau, Midlands and the south as far as Mt Wellington can be seen. The plateau is relatively open walking but no other marked tracks exist, although guide books describe access to various features on the plateau.[6][41]

Surveying the mountain[edit]

A Full survey of Ben Lomond was conducted from September 1905 to 1912 by Colonel W.V. Legge and, later, Lyndhurst Giblin took over the survey. The surveyors climbed to the plateau from Mangana but on some of the later visits they ascended via Avoca and the Ben Lomond Marshes. The nomenclature of features on the mountain were established at this time and were named after members of the survey party and famous explorers of the period. Stacks Bluff had already been named (after the rock formations on the southern extremity of the bluff - the 'Stacks') but the true summit of the mountain was named after the surveyor, Legge.[37]


Legges Tor from the summit looking towards the Ben Lomond Ski Resort.
Ben Lomond snowfields.
Jacob's ladder single lane access road to Mount Ben Lomond in Tasmania Australia

The Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club formed in 1929 and pioneered trips to the mountain and improved the access track. The first skiing party to visit Ben Lomond went to the plateau in the winter of 1931. Their route was by way of English Town, Ragged Jack and the headwaters of the Nile River, but this route had the disadvantage that it involved an extended walk to get on to the plateau. Fred Smithies, a pioneer of skiing on Ben Lomond, had walked with parties up from Storys Creek and had realised that better access was required to the northern snowfields. Earlier experience had shown him that a northern route was feasible, and one was eventually found through the help of a local farmer, beginning from the Upper Blessington road at Wattle Corner.[37]

In 1932, a chalet was built at Carr Villa, and construction of a road from Upper Blessington to Carr Villa began soon after. It was finally completed in 1953.

In 1950 a Parliamentary Standing Committee recommended that Ben Lomond be developed as a ski resort. The Australian National Championships were held at the site in 1955. In 1963 the access road was extended to the top of the plateau via the steep and scenic "Jacobs Ladder". Subsequent developments have included new ski lifts, visitor facilities, a licenced inn and accommodation, sewerage system, and improved access. The Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority was formed in 1995 to manage the Skifield Development Area.[4]

Today, Tasmania's premier Alpine skiing operations are located at Ben Lomond, 60 km from Launceston.[42] Located in the Ben Lomond National Park, the village is at 1460m and the top elevation is 1570m.[43] A number of club lodges provide accommodation and the mountain has fine views which stretch to the ocean.[44] In 2010, the Department of Parks and Wildlife released a plan for the Ben Lomond ski area recommending snow making machines, the enhancement of snow play areas and the development of a possible snow board park.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tas Govt list Map". Land Information System Tasmania. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Retrieved 8 December 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Ben Lomond National Park". Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service. 
  4. ^ Ben, Lomond (1988). Ben Lomond plateau ski and walk map. Hobart: Tasmap - Tasmanian Government. 
  5. ^ a b Wilkinson, Bill (1994). The Abels : a comprehensive guide to Tasmania's mountains over 1100m high. Launceston: Tasmanian Outdoors Collection,. ISBN 0646 216910. 
  6. ^ Plomley, Brian (1976). A word-list of the Tasmanian aboriginal languages. Launceston: N.J.B. Plomley in association with the Government of Tasmania. ISBN 0724601988. 
  7. ^ Ryan, Lyndall (2012). Tasmanian Aborigines : a history since 1803 (1 ed.). Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781742370682. 
  8. ^ Kee, Sue (1991). Aboriginal archaeological sites in North East Tasmania. Hobart: Occasional paper / Dept. of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage 0156-2797 ; no. 28. ISBN 0724617620. 
  9. ^ Ryan, Lyndall (2012). Tasmanian Aborigines : a history since 1803. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781742370682. 
  10. ^ Plomley (Ed), Brian (2008). Friendly mission : the Tasmanian journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson, 1829-1834. Hobart: Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery: Quintus. ISBN 9780977557226. 
  11. ^ Clements, Nicholas (2014). The Black War : Fear, Sex and Resistance in Tasmania. University of Queensland Press. ISBN 9780702252433. 
  12. ^ Rosalind Stirling, John Batman: Aspirations of a Currency Lad, Australian Heritage, Spring 2007, p.41
  13. ^ James Boyce (2008) Van Dieman's Land, Black Inc, Melbourne, pp.200–201
  14. ^ Henry Reynolds, (1995) Fate of a Free People: A Radical Re-examination of the Tasmanian Wars, Penguin, Melbourne, p.81
  15. ^ Kristyn Harman, Send in the Sydney Natives! Deploying Mainlanders against Tasmanian Aborigines, University of Tasmania Web site <>, p.14
  16. ^ James Boyce (2011) 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia, Black Inc, Melbourne, footnote #136 on p.236
  17. ^ Anna Haebich, 2000, Broken circles: fragmenting indigenous families, 1800-2000, Fremantle Press, p.101
  18. ^ Anna Haebich, 2000, Broken circles: fragmenting indigenous families, 1800-2000, Fremantle Press, p.100
  19. ^ a b Vivian Rae-Ellis (1988) Black Robinson: Protector of Aborigines, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, p.65
  20. ^ Vivian Rae-Ellis (1988) Black Robinson: Protector of Aborigines, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, pp.66-67
  21. ^ a b James Boyce (2008) Van Dieman's Land, Black Inc, Melbourne, p.284
  22. ^ a b James Boyce (2008) Van Dieman's Land, Black Inc, Melbourne, p.286
  23. ^ James Boyce (2008) Van Dieman's Land, Black Inc, Melbourne, p.288
  24. ^ James Boyce (2008) Van Dieman's Land, Black Inc, Melbourne, p.290
  25. ^ Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.155
  26. ^ Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.187
  27. ^ >Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.197
  28. ^ Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People: A Radical Re-examination of the Tasmanian Wars, Penguin Books, Australia, p.159 ff
  29. ^ Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People: A Radical Re-examination of the Tasmanian Wars, Penguin Books, Australia, p.16
  30. ^ Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.17
  31. ^ >Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.19
  32. ^ a b c Henry Reynolds (1995) Fate of a Free People, Penguin, p.20
  33. ^ a b Bill Gammage, (2011) The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, p.40
  34. ^ Bonwick, James (1884). The lost Tasmanian race. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp, [1970]. Reprint of 1884 ed. : London : Sampson, Low Marston, Searle and Rivington. 
  35. ^ McPhee, John (1980). The art of John Glover. South Melbourne: McMillan. ISBN 0333299116. 
  36. ^ a b c d e f Plomley, Brian (1988). "1988 ELDERSHAW MEMORIAL LECTURE BEN LOMOND: HISTORY AND SCIENCE". 
  37. ^ "Launceston Examiner 19/12/1891". Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  38. ^ "The Mercury 7 Jun 1888". trove - National library of Australia. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  39. ^ "Daily Telegraph (Launceston)". 18 Oct 1909. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  40. ^ "Climbing Routes Ragged Jack". thesarvo. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Ben Lomond | Offpiste | Piste Maps | Snow Conditions / Reports | Ski Images". Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  43. ^ "Home and away". 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  44. ^ "Businesses want Govt snow job - ABC Northern Tasmania - Australian Broadcasting Corporation". 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 

External links[edit]