Small deposits of weathered ochre are common across Tasmania, resulting from the weathering of a variety of sources, such as dolerite, basalt, haematite and serpentinite. The use of both red and yellow ochre mixed with animal fat as a body decoration was widespread among the Aborigines.
More modern uses for ochre include the manufacture of pigments for paint, and colouring agents in concrete and pottery glazes. Ochre has been mined from the Smithton area, Abbotsham, Penguin, Launceston and Beaconsfield for use in the manufacture of paint. The chrome-bearing oxides of iron near Beaconsfield produce a large range of colours – red, yellow, green and brown – and were extracted by various companies for use as paint pigments from the 1880s to 1928. A sizeable deposit of ochre near Savage River has been investigated in recent years.
Further reading: C Bacon, 'Industrial minerals in Tasmania – ochre', report 1987/09, Department of Mines Tasmania.