Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Sunday 17 –Monday 18 June

Mount Isa to Cloncurry is only about 120 kilometres, which didn’t take us very long, even with a detour to the site of the old uranium mining township of Mary Kathleen. Uranium was mined there from the 1950s but the mine had a chequered history as it was totally dependent on contracts being renewed or new ones negotiated. It was a company town, and when the mine was wound up all the buildings were auctioned off and removed. Today the mine site is on private property, and while access is freely available there is no obligation for the owners to maintain any aspect of the site. However you can still see the kerbing around each house site, and quite a few trees that aren’t native -  the oleander is one.  There are mine mullock heaps in abundance, but we didn’t find the quarry which now holds a curious mixture of non-drinkable water.

Non-native tree and remnants of street kerbing at Mary Kathleen
Mullock heaps, Mary Kathleen
This wattle, although beautiful, is everywhere, almost in weed proportions

Arriving in Cloncurry we stopped at the Mary Kathleen Memorial Park, which has an interesting collection of memorabilia. From Mary Kathleen itself, the old Police Station building is now the information kiosk, while the caretaker’s cottage is from the old town as well. Apparently all the houses were identical. The adjacent park has a collection of old machinery donated by local people and businesses.
Caretaker's cottage was originally a miner's house at Mary Kathleen
David on a large piece of Maclaren-built machinery

This old cart was certainly built to carry a load

These are only a small part of the springs - puts the 7 leaf springs on our trailer to shame

We visited a couple of cemeteries with historic interest. The Chinese cemetery near the river is a reminder of the large number of Chinese here during the goldrushes. The old town cemetery has several graves of Afghan cameleers, only one with a headstone though, with the grave facing north-south and the body interred facing Mecca. The famous Australian writer and poet who appears on the $10 note, Mary Gilmore is also buried in Cloncurry with her husband. She died in 1962 at 97 years of age. In our quest to find this grave I stepped into a hole (no, I do not have one foot in the grave) and almost twisted my ankle, but it’s recovering okay.

Cloncurry is renowned for its role in the early days of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and also QANTAS. The first ever QANTAS passenger flight landed in Cloncurry and the original aircraft hangar is still in use today. There is an excellent museum devoted to Reverend John Flynn and his vision for a “mantle of safety” over outback Australia. It includes Alf Traeger’s first pedal radio, details of many pioneers of the RFDS and also the School of the Air.
Model of the original Qantas aircraft
The museum also has an art gallery which currently houses a travelling display of quilts, all red and white.
A rare and unlikely to be repeated photo - David viewing a quilt exhibition

We ended our stay in Cloncurry with another wood gathering expedition as we met a couple who indicated that further south we would find very little wood, so we are now loaded up, ready to find a place to stay where we can actually have a fire.
The Cloncurry River

A nice load of firewood gathered from the banks of the river above.

1 comment:

  1. "One foot in the grave."

    Good one Joy!!!

    We are really enjoying your blog. Pleased you are having such wonderful experiences.

    T & J


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