Thursday, 12 August 2010

Terry Smith Lookout to Cloncurry then Mary Kathleen

The rain and cooler weather have come to visit for a while. It rained throughout the night at the Lookout but by the time we arrived at Cloncurry it was just a lot cooler than we had been used to but I’m sure the sympathy level is pretty low from you all so I will just go on with our travel tale!
Cloncurry was as quiet as we remembered it, so an uneventful day passed as we caught up on the washing and charging up everything possible. We have been quite a while without power so it was a useful stop.
Last night we stayed only a short distance from Cloncurry at the Mary Kathleen free camp. This is a fantastic stop and is the remains of the township from the Mary Kathleen Mine which has had two lives. Firstly as a bauxite mine and then as an uranium mine. When both of these were discontinued the whole town was either lifted up off the foundations or sold off in what was reported to be the largest auction of its time in Australia in 1983.
What is left is a whole residential estate set out with concrete slabs where the homes, supermarket and every other building to make up a town once stood. The streets are asphalt and the main streets were two lanes still with the white lines able to be seen down the middle of the streets. We drove around the streets until we found a high spot where a previous camper had left a cosy fire burning and set ourselves up for an interesting stay.
We knew there was a cairn somewhere on one of the slabs and set out to walk around the estate and have a hunt for it. You can see Ian with the cairn putting back the information other travellers had left. There is a book to sign to share reasons for visiting and the opportunity to look at a plan of the estate and some other photos. Amazingly we had camped at the pre-school centre and also beside the swimming pool. Many of you will know Ian’s last areas of responsibility before he became a ‘feather duster’ encompassed Pre Schools and the Leisure Centre. As if staying in a ghost town isn’t spooky enough!!
The whole experience of seeing a town completely gone except for infrastructure is quite amazing but is surpassed by the magnificent country surrounding it all. We’re pleased it’s not still a mine because it couldn’t possibly look as beautiful as it does today. A daybreak photo doesn’t even do it justice.
Off to Mount Isa now for the window replacement and a couple of other maintenance issues.

Pete has been pleading for some photos of interesting buildings, really and truly Pete we are trying but it was never going to happen here! In fact the gremlins have struck and I can't seem to load our pics with the blog so I'll try another time.

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