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Tin Mountain -
Review - The Sunday Tasmanian - 2 March 2014
Ruins remain of the tin
This is a remarkable book. It
deals with an aspect of Tasmanian history not well known.
The Blue Tier in North-East Tasmania was known to the
Chinese tin miners as 'Tin Mountain' - hence the title of
Garry Richardson is a noted historian and
has researched the subject extensively. He has amassed a
great deal of primary source material to produce this
comprehensive book on the area.
"When the first tin
miners were prospecting the Blue Tier and its surrounds,
there were no tracks and everything required was carried on
their backs .... to battle away at the scrub in all weather
trying to find a rich prospect of tin must have been
extremely daunting", Richardson says.
of tin at Weldborough and the Blue Tier happened in 1875.
Quite apart form the many whites who got involved, the
Chinese were an integral part of tin mining in the North
East and generally, relations between the two races were
cordial and welcoming.
Once the prospectors came, the
families followed, bringing in schools, churches, shops,
hotels, sporting clubs, entertainment such as local dances,
post offices and homes.
The area boomed, but post
World War II there was virtually nothing left.
Getting there was always a problem, because of the appalling
roads, and in 1888 the following description was given :
"The Blue Tier township is the end of the world, seemingly
as anything like a reasonable road terminates here. There
are pack tracks it is true, but these are simply a
disconnected series of bog holes nine months out of 12".
It is incredible to think how vibrant these communities
were and how nothing exists except memories and ruins.
The book deals with the various and numerous companies
which worked the mines, such as the Laffer and Norwegian
Company, the Niagara Company, Wikborg of Hobart Town, Albert
Mining Company and Rosetta Tin Mining Company.
colourful characters are highlighted, such as champion
shooter S O'Flaherty, who "secured five matches out of
seven, breaking 120 bottles in succession without a miss".
According to Robert Davye, who arrived at the tin mines
of Weldborough in the early days and who was engaged to take
a census of the Chinese, there were about 1100 of them in
It took Davey 16 days to visist all the
Chinese in the district and he had to travel on foot over
rough bush tracks. The material concerning the Chinese is
Maa Mon Chin, who lived at Weldborough
with his family in 1897, recalled : "My father was a sort of
leader in the community and not only did he do mining, he
started a Chines and English store. We used to have Chines
and European goods. He used to hold money for a number of
people because the nearest bank was at Derby.
he added : "My father never smoked opium but I suppose about
80 per cent did". Chin and his family subsequently moved to
Victoria, where he died in 1923.
The book fills a
vacuum in the history of Tasmania. It is an attractive
volume, A4 size, well bound, with glossy pages featuring
many photographs and maps. With index, 350 pages.
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