Penguin in the 1880s (ALMFA, SLT)

Penguin was not settled until 1860, as travel along the coast between the Leven and Blythe rivers was nearly impossible due to dense bush, and there was no sizable river mouth for safe anchorage. Land speculation further delayed settlement. Trade began when a wharf was built at Penguin Creek in 1872, allowing timber and potatoes to be exported. When the railway was extended to Burnie in 1901, trade by sea declined. In the 1860s minerals were discovered on the coast and in the Dial Range. Penguin Silver Mine opened in 1870 with optimism, but failed a year later. Several thousand tons of iron ore from deposits near Ferndene were shipped away between 1897 and 1909. In the succeeding years, Penguin and the surrounding district has remained mainly rural, devoted to farming, forestry and residential development along the coast.

Further reading: A Barker, Penguin's pioneering days, Penguin, 1997; R Parnell, The struggle of the Penguin tramway, Devonport, [1986].

Howard Simco