|The Tin Mine
Old mining town notable for its excellent Tin
Mine Centre museum
If you arrive in Derby at the same time as one
of the many tourist buses which make their way
around Tasmania, you're likely to find hundreds
of people either inspecting the town's major
attraction, The Tin Mine Centre, or busily
consuming scones and tea in the 'Crib Shed'
tearooms attached to the centre. This should not
be surprising. Derby is a classified historic
Located 103 km north east of Launceston on
the banks of the Ringarooma River, Derby is an
interesting little town which wanders along the
hillside beside the river. It lies about halfway
between Launceston and the east coast and
therefore has become something of a natural
tourist stopover point.
The town came into existence after George
Renison Bell discovered tin in the area in 1874.
The area had been surveyed by James Scott in
1855 but it wasn't until the discovery of tin
that people began to move into the rugged
valley. The economic future of Derby was assured
when the 'Brothers Mine' (named after the
Krushka brothers who found the particular tin
lode) was opened in 1876. A dam was built and
the mine continued to extract tin until 1948.
The town was originally called Brother's
Home, after the mine and the Krushka brothers,
but the name was changed to Derby, probably to
honour the Prime Minister of England, the Earl
of Derby, in 1897.
In the 1880s and 1890s the town was
prospering. The district had a population of
around 3000 and the mine, which had been renamed
Briseis after the 1876 Melbourne Cup winner, was
recognised as the richest tin mine in north east
Tasmania. It was producing up to 120 tons of tin
The mine was sold to an English company in
1899. It continued to operate successfully until
4 April 1929 when, after heavy rains, the
Cascade Dam burst releasing nearly 3500 cubic
metres of water which swept through the town
killing 14 people. After this tragedy the mine
was closed. It reopened in 1934 but never
reached the same level of output it had achieved
in the late nineteenth century.
Things to see:
Derby Tin Mine Centre
The town's major attraction is the Derby Tin
Mine Centre (open from 9.30 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
daily) which is a carefully recreated mining
village including a main street, a huge sluice
and a wide variety of mining equipment. The
highlight of the main street (which includes a
Miner's cottage, General Store, Butcher's Shop,
and Mine office) is the old Derby gaol, a
particularly intimidating small building.
The museum, located in the old Derby School,
has extensive displays of mining and everyday
goods including scales, cross-cut saws, old
butter churns, displays of rocks found in the
local area, old telephones and documents from
the Briseis Mine.
Over the road from the Tin Mine Centre is one of
the town's real novelties - the Westpac bank
which opens rarely and has a reasonable claim to
being the smallest bank in Tasmania and one of
the smallest in Australia.
The town itself is undistinguished and in
decline. A detailed history of the district is
provided in the informative Let's Talk About
Ringarooma District brochure.