Australia's biggest export industry today is iron ore and remarkably, it all started on the West Tamar.
Lt-Colonel William Paterson was keen on natural history and exploration. Only a few months after leading the settlement at York Town in 1804 he made an amazing discovery on Anderson's Creek. It was iron ore - of superb quality and better than anything ever seen back in Britain.
He put convicts to work opening up a small quarry on Mt Vulcan and sent a bulk sample back to Portsmouth for smelting. So the first discovery of iron ore, the first mine and the first mineral export from Australia, was from York Town.
At this time though, the European population of northern Tasmania was only a couple of hundred people, most being either soldiers or convicts and there wasn't the manpower, nor the money for mining - it was a struggle even getting agriculture established.
We know the iron ore wasn't forgotten. In 1812 Sydney entrepreneur Simeon Lord applied to Governor Macquarie for permission to mine it.
This was the first mining licence ever issued in Australia - and it was at York Town 208 years ago. Unfortunately the difficulties of manpower and infrastructure prevented Simeon Lord from proceeding. He never worked his claim.
It wasn't until 1872 that the first mine was established, at the site of Paterson's original find.
The iron price was skyrocketing internationally and a Launceston newspaperman named Tom Just took up 320 acres on lease. He convinced Melbourne investors to back him and began work.
And suddenly there was an iron rush.
By 1876 four giant iron smelters had been built - at Beauty Point, Flowery Gully and two near Beaconsfield. New towns sprung up, money poured in and people flocked in for the jobs created.
Reporters were drawn to see the new diggings and the huge factories being built. The British & Tasmanian Charcoal Iron Co smelter at Beauty Point was said to be the largest factory complex in Australia.
It was also Australia's first hot-blast smelter, and the first time Wollongong and Newcastle coal was ever used in iron production, predating BHP by 40 years.
The iron mining and smelting around Beauty Point and Beaconsfield in the 1870s was the peak of the Australian iron industry of the 19th century.
Unfortunately though, just as their production came on line, the railway bubble burst in the United States and Europe, and the price of iron collapsed. None of these courageous and pioneering companies survived.