Founded on land belonging to the Kalkadoon people, one of Queensland’s longest-running mining towns has today turned 95. Known for its soaring plumes, spinifex, red dirt and heatwaves, mining is the lifeblood of Mount Isa — a fact the remote community steadfastly defends.
“Mount Isa really was the enduring strength of the mining industry,” long-time resident and former mayor of 18 years Ron McCulloch said. In an era of environmental consciousness, Mr McCulloch said the city could attract some criticism in 2018, but he did not believe the spirit had been lost.
“Nowadays I think people are much more motivated by wealth and looking after themselves more than looking after the city, so I think there’s been a little bit of a downturn in the affection people have for the mining industry and the city itself.”
Despite this, Mr McCulloch, who arrived in Mount Isa in 1961, said the city’s strength was still around.
It started with the discovery of lead
Mount Isa’s mining history began in 1923 with the discovery of lead ore. Prospector John Campbell Miles was travelling to the Northern Territory to race his horses and look for gold, when he decided to take a break at a local camp.
“He met up with a bloke on the side of the road … and asked if he could go to their camp and rest up for a while with his horses,” local historian Barry Merrick recounted.
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