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The North-East

North-eastern scene near Scottsdale, undated postcard (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)

Tasmanian Aborigines were killed in the north-east close to Eddystone Point as retribution for the killing of white people. In the 1850s James Scott explored the area, noting that the deep red soil was fertile with enormous trees and dense undergrowth. In 1859, a road was begun from Launceston to Ringarooma to encourage settlement.

In 1874 cassiterite, the ore of tin, was discovered at Derby, and mining began. Tin was soon discovered in other areas, and alluvial mines opened up right through to Gladstone. Cheap labour was imported to work the mines, and a large population of mainly Chinese workers was centred on Weldborough. The rich red soil extended a little past Derby. It was used to grow vegetables, and still supplies the bulk of vegetables used within the state. During the Second World War a factory opened in Scottsdale and produced processed and freeze-dried vegetables for the armed forces. The land in the far north-east was later developed as grazing land and supports large numbers of cattle.

Today the north-east is noted for its regrowth pine forests and pine-processing mills, and the production of milk and vegetables. Bridport on the coast has developed as a holiday town, and a regular barge service operates from there to Flinders Island and Melbourne.

Further reading: A Loone, Tasmania's North East, Launceston, 1928; O Reid, The north east, [Hobart ], 1977; G & S Miller, Of rascals and rusty relics, Hobart, 1979.

Peter Burns