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Not far from the Queensland/Northern Territory border is the city of Mount Isa, located in the Gulf Region of Outback Queensland which is a very hot and arid part of Australia. We had driven through some of the flattest, driest drought-stricken landscapes that we have ever experienced so it was a welcome sight to see some hills, although denuded from the mining excavations.
Mount Isa, or “Isa” as it known by its locals, is an iconic Australian mining town which is dominated by the sprawling Mount Isa Mine with its 270m exhaust stack from the lead smelter. The mine is the deepest underground mine and is still the worlds largest single producer of copper, silver, lead and zinc.
A good introduction to Mount Isa is a 2 hour city tour where you will learn the history of mining from discovery to current day operations. Get a bird’s eye view of the town from the Hilary Street Lookout. It’s an especially good spot to take sunset photos or evening mine shots.
If you don’t do the tour, make sure you see the ‘Underground Hospital‘ which was built in 1942 after the bombing of Darwin. The hospital is tunnelled into the side of a hill and stands as a monument to the ingenuity and tenacity of the people of Mount Isa. There is also the Beth Anderson Museum, which is attached to the underground hospital, which features a wonderful collection of antique medical equipment and stories of the times.
If you are into art, then visit the Outback at Isa Artworks, which has the famous miner statue taking pride of place in front. There are exhibits of local outback artists paintings, a copper mural and Riversleigh-inspired quilts, to name a few.
The Hard Times Mine tour will take you deep into the heart of mining and gives you a unique opportunity to experience what it was actually like to toil far below the surface on a daily basis. Tours are available 7 days a week and runs for 2.5 hours.
Take your fishing rod out to Lake Moondarra, located 16 Kms north of Mount Isa and try to catch a Barramundi, Sooty Grunter, Long Tom or a Sleepy Cod, (yes these are species of fish!) It is a large body of water which even has a sandy beach for a swim or enjoy a picnic or BBQ on the foreshores.
Or maybe try to catch some fresh Red Claw in a crab pot. Toss them in a boiling pot of salty water and they are delicious to eat!
A visit to the Queensland Outback is an experience like no other. There is a stark beauty in the dry, dusty and brown landscapes. You feel as though you are a million miles away from civilization and you emphasise with the hardships that the inhabitants of this harsh land have to endure.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)April 11, 2016
Despite living up in that region I never visited it. I know plenty of people who lived out there though and they are a resilient bunch.
KathyApril 11, 2016
You probably haven’t missed much, however I think a trip to the Queensland Outback is a quintessential experience just to see how resilient the people are out here.:)
ShereApril 12, 2016
We visited Queensland but we didn’t drive to mount Is a, we will have to come back :D
KathyApril 13, 2016
Mount Isa is probably not on most visitor’s travel itineraries when they come to Queensland. It is a very remote area, but one that is worth seeing to witness the beauty of Outback Australia.
Rhonda AlbomApril 16, 2016
Mount Isa sounds interesting. My hubby would be fascinated (he’s an engineer). I did not know that Darwin was bombed in the war. Sounds like a lot of history imps this town.
KathyApril 16, 2016
Oh yes Darwin was totalled by Japanese bombings, then 20 years later they were once again totalled by Cyclone Tracey. The northern parts of Australia were turned into airfields and army barracks because of the impending threat of Japanese invasion. Fortunately our defence services fended them off. There is great history in some of these outback towns and cities.