Ron’s journey from goldmine to tin mine
By Daisy Baker
07 March, 2018
LOOKING out the window of his Derby home, 83-year-old Ron Hayes watches mountain bikers zip by on the trails.
“I’ve seen Derby go down twice in my life, you know – mining towns are up and down like that,” Mr Hayes says.
“They mostly just die but [the mountain bike trails] have resurrected Derby.
“Now we’ve got these bike riders here, and some of the locals are against it but Derby will never die now.”
Ron has lived in Derby since 1953 when his family bought a farm in the town and prior to that, he lived on the family farm at Telita.
He was born in St Marys but in 1946 his mother wanted to relocate the family to Telita so Ron and his brother weren’t forced to follow in their father’s footsteps and work in the coalmine.
Mr Hayes recalls going to school in Derby with his brother and sister, and a particular highlight was a trip to Hobart when he was 14 to see the first motorcar before it was publicly unveiled.
As a young man, Mr Hayes played football for Derby with his brother, playing in two premierships.
He was also a keen golfer and former captain of the Scottsdale Golf Club.
Mr Hayes is one of few surviving founding members of the Moorina Golf Club, who bought and built the course in 1961.
He fondly recalls playing golf on some of Australia’s best courses: “I’ve played golf everywhere in Australia. I was part of the Australian Hotels Association and that’s how I came to play in every capital city, on the best courses.”
He says his biggest sporting thrill, however, came from the trots when he won a race in Melbourne while driving the horse.
“My mate Lindsay Rattray got me into horses,” he says.
“The first horse I bought cost 375 pound and that was in 1959. He was a very kind horse.
“I set a world record with him in Scottsdale – it was the first day I ever drove a horse and we won two races.”
Mr Hayes gave this horse to a seven-year-old girl and he says he was surprised when this girl – now 70 – visited him in hospital just two weeks ago.
“She landed up at the hospital a fortnight ago when I was having my new hip put in.
“I didn’t recognise her at first but she had a photo of him to give to me,” he says, pointing to a black and white photo on a nearby cabinet.
In 1968, Mr Hayes took over the pub in Derby, where he worked for 27 years.
He says this was an enjoyable time but in 1995, he decided it was time for a change.
“I bought the Briseis mine – where they’ve built the mountain bike tracks, I mined all that. So I was involved in tin mining too.”
As a young boy, Mr Hayes was taught ‘you’ve got to speculate to accumulate’, which he maintains is a ‘blood true saying’ that has guided him through life.
“When I bought the mine, one bloke told me I was mad for selling a goldmine [the pub] to buy a tin mine,” he remembers, shaking his head.
“But it paid off in the end.”
Mr Hayes continued working on his quarry until the end of last year, when he retired in December.
He currently lives on the same ground that the Krushka brothers, who founded Derby, built their first home.
“I really have had a great life.”