Darwin Crater
 It took a long time to figure out and awknowledge Darwin Crater's status as a crater and as an impact crater. This part of Tasmania is rugged, filled with trees and brush, and minerals. When people established the mining town of Darwin, they came across a lot of strange glassy fragments in the ground. As time went on, it became clear that these fragments had come from a particular direction - from a forested bowl south of the town of Darwin and south east of Mt. Darwin. At long last, a gravity survey (looking for more mineral sources) and a drilling project determined that Darwin Crater was an impact crater - and the Darwin Glass was an impactite - impact glass caused by the melting and splattering of the substrate during the impact.

To visit the Darwin Crater area is relatively simple, however, the crater itself is in the Franklin-Gordon National Park, and in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This means, no collecting in the park!

 The Road to the Darwin Crater area starts in Queenstown. Head south through town...

At the pass you can look down on Lake Burbury and see the approxiamate location of Darwin Crater. It is actually out of sight in the hills, but it is near the arrow below.

The road goes down by the lake (artificial) and switches over from paved to a good dirt road.

Take the left fork

Eventually you arrive at the gate. If you have pre-planned your trip, you can get the key to the gate, and permission to pass with your vehicle. The key and permits are available back in Queenstown at the Parks and Wildlife office. Otherwise, you can park just off to the right and walk up the road about 1 or 2 kilometers to the beginning of the "trail" to Darwin Crater.

 

If it is summer, there are several hazards on the road and more seriously, on the "trail":

There are 3 species of snakes in Tasmania - One is seriously poisonous, one is poisonous - but you wouldn't die, and the other is basically not poisonous. Unfortunately, the are all about a meter long and black, and the way to tell the difference between them is to look at the shape of a couple of scales on the back of the head. On the open road between the gate and the "trail" start, I saw 2 - this did not bode well for a tramp through 3+ km of overgrown trail. 

While talking to the rangers, I found out several other factors that convinced me that it really wasn't worth it. (as if the snakes didn't??)

Leeches... OK, an occasional leech is OK, sort of... (but, been there, done that...)

The trail was very overgrown, the last people on it were a group of 3-4 people in October, 3 months before.

And, realistically, when you get into the crater, the only reason you can tell you are there is that you are going slightly downhill - then, after a bit, uphill. The crater itself is so overgrown, there is no real way to gain an appreciation for it.

So, I walked to the sign and the alledged start of the trail, took a picture, and walked back.

 

See the Trail??? It seems to have gone in towards the dark area on the left, then gently moved to the right. Maybe I'll go back when the snakes are gone, with a couple of friend, and a machete or two.

The road back down to the gate, with Mt Darwin in the distance

 

Looking along the center rubble of the road, an occasional piece of Darwin Glass would show up!
(no collecting in the park!! wait until you are outside!) 

 

A view of Mt Darwin from outside the park, now it's legal to pick up the fragments of Darwin Glass!!

 Fragments of Darwin Glass I found here and there...
 More Darwin Glass

Darwin Crater from Google Earth

Google Earth recently recieved some new imagery of the Darwin Crater / SW Tasmania area
- a significant improvement from the previous Landsat resolution data!

Vertical view Darwin Crater

Vertical view - line in from left is the overlay of the Darwin Crater trail
The trail itself is fairly well overgrown. See the entrance image above.
Easy to see the central area of the crater from the vegetation, harder to determine where the rim actually extends to.

Oblique view to north

Oblique view - to the north. It's a little easier to see the shape

Oblique view to west

View towards the west - light lines in the distance are parts of roads,
though the visible ones are not the ones you take to the crater hike start.

Back to Craters

Page and images by ted Brattstrom - updated 15-Apr-2009