Day 61 Tuesday Aug 5th 2014 Mt Isa
It is a bright, clear and chilly morning. We visit the underground hospital which the miners tunnelled into the hillside during the war. With bare rock walls and an earthen floor it was used as an air raid shelter for the patients and staff in the event of an attack.
Attached to the underground hospital is a hospital museum full of frightening medical equipment and next door is Mt Isa’s last Tent House. Tent houses were built from canvas and made more permanent with the addition of corrugated iron walls and roofs.
The Mary Kathleen abandoned town site is located halfway between Mt Isa and Cloncurry. Uranium was found here in 1954. A town was built for the miners and their families. When the mine closed in 1984 families were given 21 days to vacate. All the buildings were sold, houses, shops and community buildings. The houses were sold and most went to Mt Isa and Cloncurry for $3000 – $4000. Even the community swimming pool was filled in. Today there is consideration to reopen the mine site to extract rare earth minerals used in modern technology. The town site is on the land held by Rosebud Station and the Campbell family. The only signs of what it was are the tarred roads and concrete house slabs. The Campbell family allow free camping on the site so it is very easy for one to find a nice level camp site on one of the many slabs. Dotted through the trees there are about twenty vans and campers. There is a delightful gentleman who keeps an eye out for the place and is a wealth of information regarding the history as he used to visit the town as a child. He shows us a memorial containing the ashes of two former residents who loved this place. There is also a small cairn made from scavenged junk that holds a letter box. This letter box contains traveller’s business cards and a visitor’s book. We feel like we are in the middle of nowhere, yet there are many signatures since yesterday alone.
2020 Note: We’ve since heard that the Mary Kathleen uranium mine behind the town is also worthy of a visit. It is an unusual place to camp but it is in a delightful bush setting.
Towing Kms: 0