These days if you blink you might miss it, but in years gone by,
Weldborough was a tin mining boom town. During the 19th century,
Weldborough had the largest Chinese community on any tin field in
Australia. They are said to have outnumbered the Europeans.
Where Is it?
Weldborough is 28 km south of Derby, 117 km east of Launceston, 44 km north west of St Helens.
Weldborough was first known as Thomas Plains. It was named
after an early surveyor. The original plan was to open the area to
rural development but the discovery of tin resulted in a sustained
The boom saw a service town of pubs, general stores, butcher’s
shops and the like. Later a hotel (with good accommodation) and a
racecourse were built. Chinese dominated tin mining and outnumbered
Europeans by up to 10 to 1. At its peak, Weldborough had about 700
Chinese miners: most of the State’s 1,000 to 1,300 or so Chinese.
The original pub slept three shifts to a bed. Not roulette but mahjong
and fan tan were played in Tasmania’s first casino. A lottery was
part of gambling and a Chinese man was murdered while taking the
proceeds to the bank at nearby Moorina. In 1893 a visiting Chinese
opera company performed at Weldborough. The Chinese worshipped at an
elaborate local temple, burning incense sticks and seeking guidance
from the deity. Weldborough’s joss house – with its
ornately dressed figures, intricate carving, scrolls and plaques
– is now at the Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston.
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At Weldborough cemetery there are numerous derelict graves of
Chinese. Although most tin miners returned to China, at Moorina
cemetery there is a monument in their honour, together with a stove in
which to burn offerings to their spirits: testament to the fortitude of
the Chinese and their contribution to the development of Tasmania.
In the roaring days of the Weldborough Mine the lights were never
dimmed, and with three shafts to every bed the trade ‘roared
on’ continuously, and every prospect bore a pleasant smile.
Having exhausted its importance as a going concern, the Weldborough
Things To See And Do
A few kilometres to the east of the town, Weldboropugh Pass rises
595 metres and offers excellent views on either side of the road and
the range. It is known for the most spectacular fern displays that you
will see anywhere in Australia. For a number of kilometres huge ferns
line both sides of the road. They are interspersed with stands of
blackwood, sassafras and some of Tasmania’s oldest myrtle. At the
top there is a lookout that offers spectacular views to the coast.
The tiny settlement of Moorina was originally a tin mining centre.
It now has a virtually non-existent population. The only interesting
landmark in the town is the solitary Chinese headstone and small
‘oven’ in the cemetery (turn off the main road – it
is clearly signposted) which recall the fact that in the late
nineteenth century hundreds of Chinese arrived in the area to work in
the tin mines. Moorina was once known as Krushkas Bridge (after the
Krushka brothers who settled in the area and opened the Derby mine) but
was later renamed Moorina, after Truganini’s sister.
Mt Paris Dam
Mt Paris Dam (6 kms west), on the Mt Paris Road. is the only
surviving pillar and slab dam in Tasmania. Originally named the Morning
Star Dam, it was built across the Cascade River using only shovels and
wheelbarrows in 1937 and was connected by an 11 Km water race with the
Mt Paris Mine. The mine closed in 1970 and the dam fell into disuse. In
1985, a hole was blasted into the 16 metre high wall to release the
water. In the middle of the dam, most of the vegetation has now grown
back, the only indication it was ever any different is the dam wall
which still rises starkly before you in the middle of the bush.
Blue Tier Reserve
The Blue Tier Reserve is an exposed plateau with a rich mining and
natural heritage. What makes the Blue Tier Forest Reserve so
interesting is its long history in mining and forestry operations. The
first Europeans came to this area after some miners who were working in
the Mathinna goldfields discovered some rich tin deposits in some of
the creeks in this area.
The news spread quickly and the area was settled in 1878 as a mining
town. Back then the town was made up of a pub, two hotels, a
blacksmith, butcher, three stores and a few residential cottages. The
Blue Tier area also has a history in forestry operation. From 1945 to
1952 two sawmills were in operation with one run by a French family who
milled celery top pine; while the Nichols mill focused on myrtle. There
is a range of walks from a short 400m circuit, which is wheelchair
friendly, to a 10.5km walk one-way to Weldborough for the more
adventurous. More information >>
Halls Falls in the north east, is located up near Blue Tier, and is
the first attraction along the way to the Anchor Tin Mine Site and Blue
Tier. There are also a number of picnic tables near the information
booth, and some old mining equipment. The walk to the falls is only 30
minutes return, however if you want the full experience it is
recommended that you dedicate about an hour and a half. The falls are
one of the prettiest in Tasmania and are well worth leaving the main
road to visit. What it lacks in sheer size it makes up for in quiet