Mount Morgan

Mount Morgan for grey nomads

The historic Central Queensland town of Mount Morgan offers a unique and fascinating insight into Australia’s mining past, and it is positively brimming with country charm.

Sitting on the Dee River about 40 kilometres south of Rockhampton, it’s hardly a household name any more but Mount Morgan was once home to one of the world’s most productive gold mines.

Having started operation in 1882, over the next century, it declared a total of 225 tons of gold, 50 tons of silver, and 360,000 tons of copper. The town grew quickly and churches, a post office, and court house were built. Before the railway link between Mount Morgan and Rockhampton was created in 1898, everything from the mine was transported by horse teams.

The site of the Mount Morgan Mine and its huge brick chimney – known as the Big Stack – still dominates the streetscape here, and most of the associated buildings are now heritage listed.

But it wasn’t just precious metals that were mined in the area. In order to produce furnace bricks, clay was pulled from a local hill, creating vast man-made caves which are now known as the Fireclay Caverns. Nine different sets of dinosaur footprints from the early Jurassic period were later found in these caves.

To really get to grips with Mount Morgan’s past, a trip to the Historical Museum – and its impressive collection of mining relics, including those horse-drawn wagons, and historic photographs – is a must. Also on the ‘don’t-miss’ list is the timber Mount Morgan railway station, which now operates as the visitors’ centre.

As well as a collection of old rolling stock, it’s got some great audio-visual displays and 3D experiences which allow visitors to discover what it was like aboard the old ‘rack’ system, hauling trains up the steep inclines of the Razorback Range. Rail services between Rockhampton and Mount Morgan stopped in 1987.

While the population here now sits at around 2,000, at one time in its booming past, the town boasted an impressive 27 hotels! Grey nomads who prefer to study history with a glass in their hands may enjoy a trip to the Leichhardt Hotel or the two-storey Queensland National Hotel.

Mount Morgan’s streets are lined with other historic buildings such as the Mount Morgan School of Arts, the Masonic Hall, St Mary’s Anglican Church, and the old court house.

Other quirky points of interest include the Private Victor Stanley Jones Suspension Bridge, which is a replica of an old swing bridge; the Mafeking Bell, which was erected to celebrate the end of the siege against the Mafeking township during the Boer War; the Mine Hooter which was blown to signal different shifts, or serious mine incidents; and the Running the Cutter Statue, which immortalises the old custom of buying beer in billy cans.

That old tradition is also brought to life with a competition during the town’s annual Golden Mount Festival, which is normally held in late April or early May. The No.7 Dam, or Big dam, just out of town, is a great place to have a relaxing dip or throw in a line; and there are also some excellent lookouts in the area, including the Stopford Way Scenic Lookout; the Arthur Timms Lookout; and the Frank Golding Lookout.

To cap it off, the town offers two caravan parks, and there’s low-cost camping at the Dululu Rest Area, about 30 kilometres to the south.

This is one not to miss!

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