Clermont

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Grey nomads flock to Clermont in Queensland
‘There must be gold somewhere around here!’ Photo: Peter McKenzie

by Peter McKenzie

Clermont is proving to be a popular destination for long and short term ‘grey nomads’ during the Queensland winter months.

The town is situated 106 kilometres north of Emerald on the Gregory Development road. The road is sealed but it’s a bit ‘rocky rolly’, and doesn’t have a good reputation.

Happily, Clermont is well set up to service the needs of travellers, and you can get your vehicle checked over after a potentially rough ride into town. Clermont has all you’ll need for a long term stay, with two IGA stores, four hotels, three service stations, a post office, restaurants, a combined appliance store and hardware shop, a hospital and a doctor. An easily accessible dump point is positioned near the Clermont Bowls Club.

There are two monstrous coal mines just north of town, Blair Athol and Clermont. The latter produces 3,000,000 tonnes of export coal every year. About 70% of the town’s workforce is employed at the two mines. Back in the 1860s, Clermont had 21 huge copper mills but all that is left now is one chimney stack on Ruby­vale Road.

While Ludwig Leichhardt was reportedly the first European to pass through the Clermont area in 1845, the town wasn’t established until gold was discovered in 1861. A great way to learn about the area’s fascinating past is to visit the Clermont Historical Centre, about two kilometres out of town along the Peak Downs Highway.

The majority of ‘nomads’ at the Clermont Caravan Park are recreational gold prospec­tors that stay from May until September, and leave when the weather gets too hot. They mainly come from the southern states escaping cold winters.

The caravan park is so popu­lar; you’ll need to book well in advance. However, it does of­fer overspill camping without water or power at the rear of the park, and you can still use the park facilities.

Happy hour at the park sees groups of fossickers swapping stories about the piece of gold they got, or the sad news they didn’t get any. In the morn­ing, they all get their gear on again and head out to the forests for another ‘scratch’.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife provide nine forestry areas to fossick, all within 24 kilometres of the town. They are known as GPA’s (General Permission Area’s). Isaac Regional Council sup­plies permits and kits for the GPA’s. They cost $59 for three months, You’ll also need the normal Qld Forestry Fossick­ing Permit that covers all the state. There is a detector shop in town, as well.

Theresa Creek Dam, 20 kilometres west of Clermont on a sealed road, is another fa­vourite camping spot for grey nomads. There’s no power, but you pay $10 per night at the kiosk. And, if you didn’t make your fortune digging for gold, you might find you have better luck in finding some red claw in the dam here. Good luck!

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