Tin mining ghost town on the western coast of Tasmania
Located 15 km from Zeehan and 294 km from Hobart, Renison Bell is now nothing more than a few derelict buildings, an interesting historic walk and the fans which provide air to the underground mine which operates a few kilometres away towards Rosebery. It was a tin mining centre and was named after George Renison Bell, an early prospector and settler who explored the Tasmanian west coast and discovered a number of mineral deposits. Tin was discovered in the area around 1890 and there was a small flurry of activity with alluvial tin being mined. Mechanical processes began around 1905 but the deposits were exhausted by 1922.
By the 1940s Renison Bell was nearly a ghost town. Graeme Hetherington, in his book The West Coast: A Personal Recollection wrote: 'If Rosebery was the end of the line for the drifters of the workforce, Renison Bell was the next stop after. In a town with a population of no more than fifty, ten or so were pensioned off derelict men. Tom Pepper, Bravo Wallace, Jack Grubb, Des Finn and various others lived by themselves in indescribably rundown-looking shacks and got on with the task of drinking themselves to death in so far as their pensions made this possible.'
The mine was expanded in the 1950s when a new underground mine and concentrating plant were developed. It has subsequently grown into the world's largest underground tin mine and by the late 1980s it was producing 46 per cent of Australia's total demand for tin. Today no one lives in the town and Renison Bell is the name of the mine.
Visiting the Renison Bell Mine
It is not possible to inspect the mine and there are no tours available.
Battery Mill Walk
Very poorly signposted this 45 minute walk starts at the parking space near where the old Renison Bell Hotel once stood. It is a pleasant and interesting walk to the battery mill which passes many reminders of the once thriving township.