As we drive into Mount Isa, the world’s largest city, named so due to the city limits extending over 40,000 sq klms and the main street being 188klms long, the first thing that grabs our attention is the tall mining stack that is 266m high. (873ft) Mount Isa mines for copper, lead, silver and zinc. A multi-cultural and dynamic city in the Queensland outback, there is a thriving population of about 25 000 in town and 36 000 out of town on properties and in aboriginal communities.
CITY LOOKOUT shows you a constantly changing view across this outback oasis. It is easier for me to understand the beginnings of Mount Isa since I have read an interesting history book. I can really appreciate what the first settlers endured without water and suffering from the extreme heat and weather conditions.
THE UNDERGROUND HOSPITAL was built by the miners during the war in 1942 to prepare for Japanese bombing. In 1959, the present day hospital was built and the underground hospital was renovated in 1977 and now opens for tourists from April to September from 10.00am to 2.00pm. Closed during the wet season.
HARD TIMES MINE lowers you down 1.2 klms so you will experience something special. Your tour guide who has worked as a miner for most of his life, will kit you out in over-alls and cap lamps. He will tell you interesting tales of the old days while you are descending in the Alimak Cage. You can get up close and work the air-leg drill, and also feel the earth rumble when the blast face is fired. Tours run 7 days per week but bookings are essential.
PAPER MAKING is demonstrated at the Mill, Arilla Paper, which is located at the Old Mining Museum in Shackleton Street and you can watch Indigenous women weave their magic with local grasses, trees, reeds such as buffle grass, spinifex and river gum leaves.
THE RIVERSLEIGH FOSSIL CENTRE in town has some very interesting finds of fossils dug out of the nearby fossil fields. Tourists are able to share landmark discoveries with their resident Palaeontologist on a daily basis. These fossils are found on a cattle property about 250klms north-west of town. From 1983, the beautifully preserved remains of thousands of inhabitants such as giant pythons, marsupial lions and carnivorous kangaroos have been excavated from limestone rocks that are 10 to 15 million years old. Opening Times: 8.30am-5.00pm daily. Lab tours Monday to Friday 10am & 2.00pm (Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)
THE ROYAL FLYING DOCTORS CENTRE can offer you an insight into this essential
FRANK ASTON MUSEUM has great history underground too, and features displays of the local Indigenous people. There is also a lot of old mining gear and
CLIMATE in Mount Isa is worth knowing as the cooler months are between April and September. The summer heat can be very stifling as day temperatures can reach over 40degrees Celsius. The city has two types of summer weather, hot and dry or hot and wet. The city averages 9.5 hours of sunshine a day and the annual rainfall of 437 mm tumbles down in the 50 wet days a year. Summer night-time temperatures hardly ever fall below the mid-twenties. The winter dry season will usually find the skies coloured a brilliant blue, with daytime temperatures in the mid-twenties and pleasant nights averaging 12.5C. The lowest winter temperature recorded is 2.5C.
There are many other sights to see when you visit Mount Isa. It is also home to the second largest rodeo in the world, held every August. I find the history of Mount Isa to be so interesting and heart-rendering for the early pioneers with their exploits and adventures often leading to illness and death. They are truly extraordinary people to be admired.