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Queensland's Ghost Towns

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by T. A. Rose (subscribe)
Enjoying challenging myself to add to the WeekendNotes vast library and now on WordPress powered blog at tarose.blog
Published August 4th 2021
Are ghost towns remnants of the past or future?
Queensland's Ghost Towns

The Wild Irish Girl Mine in Maytown, North Queensland.
The Wild Irish Girl Mine in Maytown, North Queensland.,source Wikipedia


Due to its boom and bust mining history, there are many heritage-listed ghost towns in Queensland. Listed below in alphabetical order are mainly heritage sites but with several anomalies. Latitudinally, the majority of them are in the State's north and far north - especially near Mareeba as well as the Shire of Etheridge, along with a few near Cloncurry - which is spaciously adjacent to Mount Isa city in the state's far north-west. There are other types of anomalies, with Cracow, Acland and Mill Point a bit closer to Brisbane than the rest. In fact, the closest ghost town to Brisbane is close to a tie between Acland and Mill Point - both about 175 kilometres away, but aside from Cracow, inland near Theodore, is a matter of an Outback or Gulf Country road trip, with off-road vehicles recommended for most sites.

Ghost towns are often genuinely scary, so naturally, take note that they are the sort of thing that will fascinate some people due to their interest in history but ultimately can be viewed as scary to others - hence in terms of visiting, group exploration relates to such an observation.

In terms of spookiest, the author's top three were:

1. Mount Mulligan - for its mining disaster
2. Min Min - for its legendary lights
3. Mary Kathleen for its current radioactive contrast with its heyday planned community.

For the futurists who may be reading this, ghost towns could be a history lesson about what the present actually means in terms of the future, for instance, with the current growth in regional Australia, will people be there in the ensuing decades or are we in fact seeing the ultimate boom and bust cycle in those areas?

This offers a chance to get a quick guide on Queensland's many ghost towns, with each town linked to a descriptive webpage and a bit of an idea on what the town involves, such as location, a fun fact or a claim to fame.

All images are sourced from Wikipedia.org.

A to L

There is the old town of Acland in the Darling Downs, which was famous due to one resident remaining in the town years after the old Acland coal mine had closed . Further north, Arrilalah is a small site near Longreach. While Ballara, near Cloncurry and Mount Isa, and Betoota east of Birdsville in the Southern Outback and Calcifer, near Mareeba in the state's far north, are all old mining towns. In the state's Central West is Collingwood, while west of Charleville with the claim of Australia's smallest town is Cooladdi.

Old colliery near Acland
Old colliery near Acland, source, Wikipedia.


Cracow is in Central Queensland cattle country, closer to Rockhampton in terms of major centres yet quite inland. While further north on the Gulf Developmental Road is Cumberland, near the Gulf of Carpentaria's Georgetown. While in Gulf Country, the Golden Gate Mining and Town Complex near Croydon is a preserved ghost town. While the preserved stamp mill of the Kidston State Battery halfway between the Gulf of Carpentaria and the state's east coast in Etheridge Shire is heritage-listed along with adjacent Kidston Ghost Town.

Collingwood

With a massive history near to Winton, involving bores, geology, the hope for a thriving outback settlement and rich in indigenous history Collingwood is different to many other mining towns in that it never really had a boom. Nearby Longreach is essentially what Collingwood could have been, and thus is the legend of the Diamantina Shire's true ghost town.

Cracow

Cracow, Qld
Cracow, Qld, source Wikipedia.


While not completely abandoned, due to the aforementioned boom and bust reality of country Queensland towns, this one is nearly abandoned, with it now serving as a bit of a stop-off for travelers on the Theodore-Eidsvold Road with its pub run by Fred Brophy. Indeed, it's named oddly after Poland's Kraków in the 1850s. If stopping by, you'll see the pub and the former town, leftover after the closure of the gold mine in the 1970s and now the biggest event in Cracow is Fred Brophy's famous boxing tent..

M

Maytown is in the Palmer River Region near Cooktown - a remnant of the gold rush days. The Mill Point settlement site at Lake Cootharaba in Noosa Shire is from a settlement based around an old sawmill, while further north is home of the Min Min lights, Min Min in Channel Country, Central-Western Queensland. Mount Britton is in the Isaac Region - that coal mining region near Mackay's Pioneer River Valley. Further north in Cloncurry Shire is Mount Cuthbert - with a heritage-listed old town and copper smelter. While heading north east from Mount Cuthbert to Mareeba is Mount Mulligan - one of Queensland's most eeriest and spookiest, due to it being the home of Queensland's worst mining disaster combined with its isolable location. In the same location is a series of smelters and cemeteries in the heritage Mungana Archaeological Area.

Mary Kathleen

The uranium mining township of Mary Kathleen near Mount Isa is quite a famous ghost town, even on a world and national stage - famous enough for what it actually achieved as a mine and remote township yet due to websites like Instagram has shot to a certain amount of fame due to its interesting uranium mine towering over a blue mineral drenched lake below.

Mary Kathleen old uranium mine
Mary Kathleen old uranium mine source: Wikipedia.


The Wild Irish Girl Mine in Maytown, North Queensland.
The Wild Irish Girl Mine in Maytown, North Queensland.,source Wikipedia


N to Z

The excavated Burnett River town of Paradise has been excavated by UQ archaeologists and is now finally inundated by the nearby dam of Lake Paradise. In another of the eerie gulf country vicinity ghost towns, the Quartz Hill Coach Change Station is in Etheridge Shire and a heritage-listed coach station. Just south-west is Selwyn in the Cloncurry area - famed for its old Mount Elliot mine in the Selwyn Ranges.

Near Selwyn is Mount Elliot old mine
Near Selwyn is Mount Elliot old mine, source Wikipedia.


In Totley Township is why Ravenswood is often written about as a Ghost Town - like the great majority on the list, it's a mining-related ghost town near Charters Towers. Last on the list is Wolfram near Mareeba with the name wolfram another name for the more known robust yet rare metal of tungsten and thus that was the attraction, while it is now a ghost town no longer used and only of interest to historians and enthusiasts alike.

The coach station at Quartz Hill circa 1905
The coach station at Quartz Hill circa 1905, source, Wikipedia.

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Why? A List of Queensland's Ghost Towns
Where: Queensland, Australia.
Cost: Depends on travel distances and transport, none are all that close to Brisbane.
Your Comment
Interesting and historical article of places of yesteryear. Nice to see that the remains remain.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|3114) 49 days ago
I love nothing more than exploring abandoned places. What a great article listing them all!
by Paula McManus (score: 3|3733) 49 days ago
That's a fairly long list and a great list of potential future weekend notes articles.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9003) 49 days ago
I didnt realise there were so many fright towns. Spooky!
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|3215) 49 days ago
Great article and a real eye opener!
by May Cross (score: 3|8029) 46 days ago
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