George Renison Bell


George Renison Bell

George Renison Bell (18401915), prospector, was a great contributor to Tasmania's mining industry. Born at Bothwell, Bell got the mineral prospecting 'bug' at the New Zealand gold rushes in the 1860s. He was a devout Quaker, modest, generous, well-read and politically aware. His frequent newspaper correspondence showed his integrity, love of the bush and geological expertise.

Bell's career was a mix of achievement, bad luck and bad management. By sparking a rich mining field, his tin finds in the north-east in 1874 stimulated the Tasmanian economy, but inadequate legislation prevented him being adequately rewarded. In 1890 he discovered the Renison tin mine, which only became profitable long after his death. For decades his wife and eight children scraped by on his earnings from prospecting, mine management, farming and labouring.

Further reading: K Pink & P Crawford, Renison: the slumbering giant, Zeehan, 1996.

Nic Haygarth