Bucket List #11 Mt Isa

Visit Mt Isa (BL16)

I’m not actually sure why I put Mt Isa on my bucket list at the time. Maybe because it was of the iconic place it holds as the outback town in Queensland. When I ran my Chauffeur Car business I had clients that were very frequent travellers to “The Isa”.

Mt Isa is situated a lot further north than I assumed it was. I had this mental picture that it was more central west Queensland. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention during Geography classes at High School. Sometimes I struggled to find the location of the class, let alone a town on a map.

So as I drove into Mt Isa I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Perhaps something like West Australian’s Kalgoorlie. It certainly reminded me of Kalgoorlie in many ways. Mining town with the actual mine literally towering over the town. Every business in town associated with the mine in one form or another. Interdependent on the fortunes of the price of the resource and how the company is faring on the Stock Exchange at the time.

The Visitors Centre is centrally located in town and well resourced. Nice little café attached. As you would expect in a mining town, a mine tour was on offer along with other mining related activities. Having been down a mine before I didn’t worry about doing the tour. The town and its buildings are far more modern than those in Kalgoorlie and Mt Isa appears to be a much more modern city in many ways. Very accessible parking for caravans and motorhomes and a very well constructed dump and fresh water facility beside the Leichhardt River which runs right through the town.

The Lookout is directly opposite the main highway from the Visitors Centre and although only a short climb to the top, due to the short “run up” I had to remain in first gear. The view from the summit gives a sweeping view over the town and mine and great place to get your bearings. I did some shopping and had a walk around the shops. Streets very wide and being a major city it has every type of shop you would expect in a large regional centre

I took the 19km drive out to Lake Moondarra. The artificial Lake was constructed in 1956 to supply water to the city and the mines. It is a large expanse of water and a popular place for all kinds of water sports. Some nice walk trails and a good lookout area. Nice and relaxing along Transport Bay shoreline with BBQ facilities and picnic tables.

Mary Kathleen Mine, which closed for mining in 1982 is about 60km east of Mt Isa. The actual mine is only accessible by 4wd but you can visit, and stay, at the old townsite. The town which housed about 1,000 people at its peak, was dismantled in 1984 and everything was sold off by auction and all buildings removed. Today all that remains is the paved streets, the base of the town square and the concrete pads where the houses once stood. Well worth having a look at.

The drive east out of Mt Isa reminded me of the drive north out of Newman in WA. Same hills, rock formations and road transversing the landscape.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed in Mt Isa but the town itself did little for me. The landscape around the town held more interest for me.

Mt Isa Mine overlooking the town (City)
Mt Isa from lookout
Lake Moondarra, Mt Isa Qld
Picnic/amenities area at Lake Moondarra
Entrance sign to Mary Kathleen Minesite.

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