Tasmania is a well-know tourist destination with its many beautiful features attracting tourists from all around the world. In fairly recent times the fastest growing group of tourists has been those coming from China. What Chinese tin miners of the 19th century would have made of people travelling to where they once worked in order to take photos and drink coffee is perhaps easy to imagine.
In 2003 the local councils of north-eastern Tasmania began to develop a tourist trail concept to highlight the history of the Chinese tin miners. As in many other parts of Australia the combination of trade with China and the arrival of tourists from China was encouraging Australians to discover their Chinese past. If Lambing Flat (Young) in NSW could make a festival out of its anti-Chinese riots then certainly north-east Tasmania (which never rioted against anyone) could make something of their tin miners.
Thus the clichéd Trail of the Tin Dragon was created. The trail nominally runs from St Helens on the coast, winds its way through mountains once filled with tin and ends in Launceston. In between there is little to be seen apart from the general well researched and written tourist markers. St Helens boasts a “History Room” to which was added another room devoted solely to the districts’ Chinese history. It also runs an unfortunate film the best of which can be said that it is so full of clichés and stereotypes and so lacking in history that there is little to complain about. However all is forgiven at the Launceston end of the trail where can be viewed the many objects that once filled the five temples of the tin mining communities of the north-east.