Historic Tasmanian Town - Derby
The Tin Dragon Interpretation Centre
Derby is a fascinating historic Tasmanian town. Approaching the town from St Helens about 65 kilometers to the east you get a premonition that this town is a bit special……an enormous granite rock that is nestled into the hillside has been painted to resemble a trout. On entering the main street the pioneering atmosphere of the town is evident by the beautifully maintained historic buildings. The other ramshackle buildings add to the character of this place.
In 1876 Derby became a boom town when the Krushka brothers discovered a massive tin deposit near the stream that runs adjacent to the main street. Within a few years thousands of miners from Europe and China were mining the area. It wasn’t long before the supply of water from the river was inadequate for the massive pumps and huge nozzles to wash away the earth exposing the tin ore deposits.
Smaller mining operations were eventually consolidated and in 1901 a water race was constructed from Ringarooma, a distance of 48 kilometers. It is incredible that the race was built by hand in such rugged terrain over a period of only 15 months. The race was built to carry 100 million litres of water daily and the first release of water took three weeks to reach Derby.
With a plentiful supply of water the mine became the world’s largest exporter of tin ore, producing about 10% of the world’s tin. Even greater productivity was desired so an unlimited supply of water was required to rapidly expose the ore deposit. The Cascade Dam was therefore built near the town and on the 4th of April 1929 after very heavy rain, the dam burst releasing nearly 3500 cubic metres of water which swept through the town killing 14 people.
The Derby Tin Mine Centre presents a graphic and moving audiovisual account of mining in the town and the devastating collapse of the Cascade Dam. The other displays feature fascinating details on the history and uses of tin. The surrounding grounds include old buildings and relics from the past, as well as a monument dedicated to those who lost their lives when the Cascade Dam collapsed.
- Mountain scenery, rainforests and old tin mines surround this classified historic town. In the late 1800s it was a booming mining settlement and at the Derby Tin Mine Centre you can pan for a bit of raw tin - metal we use every day of the week without thinking about where it comes from.