Joseph Davies, the first mine manager at Beaconsfield, was a man ahead of his time.
He was 39 years old, born and trained in geology in Hobart, and experienced in quartz mining as a manager in Victoria.
He returned to run a mine at Lefroy, where the Dally brothers, who'd discovered the gold at Beaconsfield, found him in August 1877 and made an offer he couldn't refuse.
Joe was an extraordinarily principled and efficient man - a devout Wesleyan, teetotaller, and a competent mineralogist and chemist as well as a geologist.
The Dallys relied on him totally, and when William Hart MHA and William Grubb MLC bought the mine shortly after, the brothers recommended he remain in charge.
The Tasmanian mine was unusually wet for Australia and Joe Davies solved the problem by driving long adits (tunnels) into Cabbage Tree Hill.
This drained the water and allowed for enormous profits in the early years.
Davies wasn't just a pioneer in mining and metallurgical methods, he introduced a health and compensation scheme for his workers at a time when men were usually expected to provide for themselves.
He pioneered strict safety systems, including requiring employees to sign a non-drinking pledge and installing safety cages in the shafts.
He paid high wages and created a remarkably good working environment.
As manager of Tasmania's richest gold mine (and the biggest gold discovery in Australia between about 1872 and 1892) Davies accepted responsibility as the leading identity in the Beaconsfield community.
It was a large town in those days, and Davies was active in many community and industry groups, local administration and advising other mines, without asking for recompense.
He gave time and money to local concerns such as the churches, school, roads, formation of a municipality, and served voluntarily as a magistrate and coroner.
He promoted the district and wrote on local geology and mining methods, including creating detailed geological maps and an impressive mineral collection.
He was often called upon to advise mainland mines on production in wet conditions, and was a member of the Geological Society of London.
Under Joe Davies the Tasmania mine became the largest employer of mine labour in Tasmania, with over 600 employees, and paid handsome dividends for 25 years.
It produced 544,000 ounces of gold, worth $1.5 billion today, while under his stewardship.
And that was using picks and shovels!
Davies retired to The Grove, George Town in 1902, after 25 years of service.
His son Major Tom Davies DSO MC followed him in studying geology and became Minister for Mines from 1934 to 1942.
The mine closed in 1914, but was worked again in 1999-2012, operating out of a deep shaft Davies dug more than a century before.
It is becoming very likely the mine will open again, and timely to remember its significance in Australian mining history.