For information regarding tours of Mount Isa and surrounding regions, please visit
Mount Isa Viitor Information Centre, located at Outback at Isa.
Mount Isa, known affectionately by the locals as "The Isa",
is the oasis of the Outback. Once a raw mining city, it is
now a bustling commercial centre, the heart of the rugged
expanse of North-West Queensland. Mount Isa is recognised
as one of the world's largest local government areas, with
almost 41,000sq km being included in the city's boundaries.
Set on the banks of the Leichardt River, the city is a green
oasis, with lovely gardens and parks striking a dramatic contrast
to the surrounding rugged red landscape. The massive chimneys
of the Mount Isa Mines (MIM) complex dominate the cityscape
and reinforce the fact that Mount Isa owes its very existence
to the rich ore bodies that the town is built on. The climate
of The Isa is as dramatic as the landscape. Winters bring
cool dry nights and 26-degree days, with vivid blue skies.
Summer however brings erratic flooding rains and temperatures
that soar into the forties, with nights remaining in the mid
to high twenties. Life though is still pleasant as most of
the town's facilities are air-conditioned allowing life to
go on as usual.
200 km to the Northern
Territory Boarder along the Barkly Highway,
904 km form Townsville, 1829 km from Brisbane
the summer months Mount Isa has two types of weather, Hot and Wet,
and Hot and Dry. It is usually the latter. The Isa 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 rarely
fall below the mid-twenties, while the daytime temperatures climb
regularly towards the forties. The winter dry season will usually
find the skies painted a brilliant blue, accompanying daytime temperatures
in the mid-twenties and mild nights averaging 12.5 oC.
The land around
the present day city of Mount Isa was home to the Kalkadoon
aboriginal tribe. The Kalkadoon tribe led a subsistence lifestyle
on this land that the white settlers looked at as nothing
but poor grazing land, with the odd mineral deposit. As settlers
and prospectors pressed further into their lands the Kalkadoon
tribe members set out on one of Australia's most successful
guerrilla wars in a fight for their lands. Their success continued
until at Battle Mountain in 1884, with what some historians
have called call a rush of blood, the tribe attacked a fortified
position in large numbers and suffered terrible losses. The
weakened state of the tribe made their land more vulnerable
to the settlers and soon much of the land was lost. Armed
patrols chasing the surviving tribe members and poor grazing
lands for the settlers made times hard in the area over the
gold prospector John Campbell Miles stumbled upon one of the world's
richest deposits of copper, silver and zinc upon during his 1923
expedition into the Northern Territory. While camping on the banks
of the Leichardt River, Miles found the yellow-black rocks in a
nearby outcrop reminded him of the ore found in the Broken Hill
mine that he had once worked at. Upon inspection these rocks were
weighty and heavily mineralised. A sample sent away to the assayer
in Cloncurry confirmed that Miles had hit the jackpot. He and four
farmers turned miners staked out the first claims in the area. Taken
with friend stories of the Mount Ida gold mines in Western Australia,
Miles decided upon Mount Isa as the name for his new claim.
physical isolation, blistering temperatures and lack of access to
supplies and water made the early years tough by any standard. This
did not stop Miles and his partner Bill Simpson gouging some 45
tones of ore out of their lease before selling up to the newly formed
Mount Isa Mines company in 1924. A lack of funds, poor ore grade,
the isolation, and depressed prices saw the Mount Isa Mines (MIM)
get off to a shaky start. It was men like W. H. Corbould whose belief
in the mine, led to its ultimate greatness.
many outback towns Mt Isa built an airport before it built a railway
station. QANTAS began commercial passenger services in 1922, with
services to the Isa starting up in 1925 (Visit the History pages
at the Qantas homepage for more information). The rail line arrived
in 1929, opening markets and making mining more viable. In 1928
the medical isolation for the people of the district was reduced
with the establishment of the Royal
Flying Doctors Service in Cloncurry. This base along with the
School of the Air that shared its facilities since 1960 was transferred
to Mount Isa in 1965, where it has remained open ever since. The
Mount Isa School of the Air caters for approximately 240 students
from Preschool to Year 10 in an 800 000 square kilometre catchment
World War 2 the Isa was on the convoy route from Townsville to Darwin
and acted as a large logistical base. The bombing of Darwin by the
Japanese spurred the locals into voluntarily building what is believed
to be Australia's only underground hospital. The remains of this
hospital can still be found dug into the hill behind the present
day Mount Isa Base Hospital. Efforts have begun to restore the underground
hospital to working order for its tourist and historical potential.
The under ground hospital is one of many sites of the "historical
landmarks walks" that can be obtained from the Riversleigh Fossil
Mt Isa is a two-hour
flight from Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville. Macair Airlines, Ansett
Airlines and its subsidiary Flight West fly daily from these ports,
with local aircraft and helicopter charter companies servicing the
towns in the surrounding district. McCafferty's and Greyhound Pioneer
have daily bus services to Townsville, Darwin and Alice Springs.
The roads to the coast and the Northern Territory and to the majority
of the major towns in the district are sealed, though subject to
flooding in the wet season. Queensland Rail operates the Inlander
rail service departing from Townsville twice a week. The city has
a taxi service and many car hire companies for travel with in Mt
Isa. The Mount Isa Irish Association and the Carpentaria Buffalo
Club both run free courtesy buses for patrons of their facilities.
Leisure and Cultural Activities
Lawn Hill Gorge. In
1985 the 12282 hectares surrounding the Lawn Hill Gorge system was
declared a National Park. The gorge is an emerald oasis in the semiarid
Gulf Savannah region. A remnant of the ancient rainforest that covered
the region millions of years ago, the park is a treasure trove of
unique Australian flora species. Permanent springs and wet season
rains that spill over 60 metre sandstone cliffs keep the gorge filled
with deep crystal clear water year round. This permanent water has
sustained lush flora and the indigenous population for thousands
of years, with evidence of continual Aboriginal dwelling dating
back over 35000 years.
Tribal Council Meeting Place
to the Riversleigh fossil centre, the Kalkadoon Tribal Council
Meeting Place, show cases the artwork and artefacts of the
Kalkadoon people. The Meeting Place runs organised tours to
Aboriginal art sites, takes tourist on bush tucker trips and
showcases and sell local Aboriginal art. Come an meet some
of the traditional land owners and listen to some of there
fascinating stories and history.
Heritage Listed Riversleigh Fossil Area
the Riversleigh cattle station, located 75km south of Lawn Hill,
was added as an extension to the Lawn Hill National Park. The flora
and fauna found on the station was not the reason for the stations
inclusion in the park, instead it was for the extensive vertebrate
fossil deposits. The Riversleigh deposits are some of the richest
vertebrate deposits in the world and are responsible for over half
the known Australian mammal species in the last 30 million years.
Incredibly a quarter of Australia's known mammal species were recovered
from the Riversleigh site in just one hour. Terrestrial animal fossils
are very rare due to rapid decomposition after the animal's death.
Few places on the planet have provided conditions favourable to
the fossilisation of land creatures. For this reason Riversleigh
was listed by the World Heritage Society in December 1994.
Fossils Interpretive Centre (Link to own page) was built to
showcase the incredible fossils discovered at the Riversleigh
Station, 250 km north west of Mt Isa. This centre is the main
tourist information centre for Mt Isa and is the departure
for most of the town's tour operators.
Mt Isa's biggest event
is the annual Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo held over three days on the
second weekend in August. The Isa rodeo is the biggest and the richest
rodeo in Australia and is on the international circuit and second
only to Calgary in prise money. The inaugural Mount Isa rodeo was
held in 1959 and offered a prise pool of £500. This has grown to
over $200,000 in the year 2000. The rodeo Mardi Gras through the
streets of the town attracts crowds of up to 10,000 to view floats
representing city businesses, clubs, organizations and events.
River Canoe Race
year the small
town of Gregory located 300km north of Mt Isa hold a 42km canoe
race. This race attracts large numbers of entrants. Some are serious
most are not. Either way it is an event worth watching.
These two man-made
lakes are beautiful wildlife sanctuaries and popular leisure
and water sport venues for the people of Mt Isa. Lake Moondarra
is located 15.5 km north of Mt Isa and the sealed access road
makes the lakes picnic grounds and boat ramps accessible to
normal road vehicles. The 111,370 ha lake is the cities main
water supply and is stocked with fish, such as Barramundi,
by the local fishing club. Lake Julius is located 25 km west
of the town of Kajabbi and the road is recommended to be travelled
only by high ground clearance vehicles during dry conditions.
Due to its isolation, Lake Julius is more popular as a weekend
get away spot, offering a recreational camp and accommodation
Mt Isa has one of Australia's
youngest populations combined with one of Australia's highest average
wages. These factors have more than helped in making sure that the
Isa has a legendary nightlife. Clubs such as the Irish and the Buffs
have free courtesy buses for patrons and are definitely worth visiting,
especially if you are feeling the need for a cappuccino and slice
of cake. There are two nightclubs in town, "Switches" on Miles St
and the newly opened "Rish" in the Irish Club. Both are comparable
to clubs in Brisbane and are busy most nights. You will find that
the many Clubs, Pubs and Hotels in town are more than happy to assist
any visitors to town in have a good time. The Mt Isa Hospital Social
Club is also infamous for showing hospital staff and students a
good time. Membership runs at $2 a week and can be obtained from
a Social Club Management Committee Member. Most hospital staff will
be able to point you to your nearest committee member.
Civic Centre and Library
The town Civic Centre
regularly hosts visiting artist, seminars and conferences in air-conditioned
comfort. The Library has an extensive array of fiction and non-fiction
books, as well as offering computers for word processing and free
Screens the latest movie
releases. Movie screening times are available on 4743 2043.
Latest release videos
are available through the video stores in town. These include Civic
Video and Video Easy.
As the Isa is
a regional centre, most of the retail services that you would
expect to find in the City can be found in Mt Isa. These include
K Mart plaza, Coles, Woolworths, McDonalds, KFC, Red Rooster,
Pizza Hut, Eagle Boys, many clothing stores, and restaurants
including Chinese, Mexican, German, Indian and Ethiopian.
is the world's largest producer of silver and lead and in the top
ten for copper and zinc production. More than half the town works
directly or indirectly for the mining industry. The shops, schools,
hospital, transport industry and tourism play a part in the town's
economy, but the mine is considered the lifeblood of the town.
private (Catholic) and two State High Schools, ten primary schools
(including four private- two Catholic, Assembly of God and Mt Isa
Christian College) and a special school provide a full range of
services for children and students. There are also three registered
childcare centres located in town. Mt Isa also has a TAFE College
and the Mount Isa Group Apprenticeship, Training and Employment
for further education.
City Library offers free Internet access and the Riversleigh Fossil
Centre, Buffs Club and Mt Isa Newsagency have public access points.
Personal Internet service providers available in town include Telstra
Big Pond, Topend/Eisa, Matilda and TGPIP.
Westpac, ANZ, National, Suncorp Metway, First Australian Building
Society and the Queensland Country Credit Union.
There are over 25 places
providing accommodation in Mt Isa, ranging from the six local caravan
parks, up to the four star Mercure Hotel. If renting, expect to
pay around $150-$170 per week for a two bedroom furnished flat and
$160-$250 per week for an unfurnished house. This is reflective
of the high average wages and the relatively low percentage of houses
that are owner occupied, due to the population being fairly transient.
Facilities include Golf,
Tennis, Bowls, Shooting, Canoeing, Archery and Martial Arts Clubs,
as well as Bike tracks, Ten Pin Lanes, Football, Soccer, Hockey
and Cricket Ovals, two indoor sporting facilities, squash courts
and Two gyms to name a few. Add to that activities such as Skiing
on the lakes, Abseiling and Caving in the National Parks, Horse
Racing and Irish Dancing and it is highly probable that you will
find your favourite sport in Mt Isa
from the NT and is syndicated with 9 and 10), SBS, Seven and the
Hot FM/4LM, Mob FM,
JJJ/ABC, Radio National
The North West Star,
daily deliveries of The Courier-Mail, Townsville Bulletin, The Australian
and Financial Review.