The Tin Dragon Trail - Branxholm
Tin Dragon Trail Cottages – Another Hidden Tassie Treasure
Branxholm is a small country town located 7 kilometers from Derby, which was a major tin mining town in the 1900’s producing about 10% of the world’s tin. The Derby Tin Mine Centre provides an audiovisual history of mining the area as is well worth a visit.
The Tin Dragon Trail Settler’s Hut was built as a historic interpretation centre dedicated to the Chinese miners who were major contributors to mining in this area.
In the 1830’s Chinese began to migrate to Tasmania, primarily to earn money to support families back home. By the 1860’s anti-Chinese sentiment led to riots and attacks on Chinese communities as the Chinese worked hard and could survive on a fraction of what was required by Europeans. Restrictions were imposed on Chinese migration with the introduction of a 10 pound ($20) poll tax, which was more than one year’s earnings in China.
In 1873 tin was discovered in Branxholm and by 1875 one hundred Chinese miners were working in North East Tasmania. In 1879 gold was discovered at Mt Arthur causing many European miners to leave Branxholm so that the Chinese were able to buy unwanted claims cheaply. In the 1800’s there were over 1000 Chinese miners in the area, outnumbering European miners 10 to 1. Tin exports during this period contributed about 25% of Tasmanian export earnings.
By the 1890’s the Chinese population of Tasmania had declined by half due to restrictive government legislation and the difficulty of making a profit from small scale mining. After federation in 1901 Chinese were no longer able to obtain naturalisation in Tasmania and by 1920 there were only about 40 Chinese left in the Branxholm district.
The 1890’s saw the consolidation of mining interests in the area and in 1901 and a water race was constructed from Ringarooma (a distance of 48 kilometers) to provide a plentiful water supply facilitating large scale mining. It is quite incredible that the race was built by hand in such rugged terrain over a period of only 15 months.
Alluvial tin mining caused environmental devastation in North East Tasmania leaving behind trenches, pits, mullock heaps and severe erosion. Pristine forest was destroyed and river mouths silted up with overburden sluiced into them. The Ringarooma river was declared a sludge course by the end of the 19th century.
A small section of the water race can now be accessed via two walks on the Tin Dragon Trail property. The Henry AH Ping walk starts near the Tin Dragon Settler’s Hut and continues along the Ormuz/Arba water race and via the Jubilee tail race into the historic alluvial mine site. The Guiding Star Briseis Race circuit walk starts near the Chinese Heritage Walk's Settler's Hut. This easy 6.7 km walk takes visitors along the Ormuz Water Race through regrowth rain forest beside the Ringarooma River and then tracks uphill alongside the Guiding Star Creek to meet the Briseis Water Race.
Four holiday accommodation cottages located on the property are named after the Chinese miners who worked in the region's tin mines over a century ago and are constructed from timber & stone sourced from the property. The self-contained cottages provide exclusive accommodation in a serene rural setting. The studio cottages have an outdoor heated spa and all cottages have outdoor BBQs in a private courtyard - don’t be surprised if the alpacas come to check you out.
The Tin Dragon Trail Cottages are rated in the top 10 Tasmanian B&B’s by TripAdvisor.