It's Sunday, and not quite tourist season, and that means many attractions are closed. We bought a book by Gary and Wendy Baker called "Cloncurry Trails, A Guide to Off-Road Touring around Cloncurry and Mount Isa" which was recommended by our camping neighbour at Mount Isa, from the Information Centre. Beautiful photos and very informative text and maps. Armed with this resource we set off to spend the day exploring around the Cloncurry area.
First stop was Chinaman Creek Dam, a popular picnic area just a few kms west of town. This dam, built in 1994, is the primary water source for Cloncurry. Water comes from both the Cloncurry River and Chinaman Creek.
Then it was further west for about 60kms to the Mary Kathleen turnoff. The abandoned town of Mary Kathleen is just off the highway, about halfway to Mount Isa. At its peak in 1981 the town was home to about 2,000 residents. The uranium mine at Mary Kathleen was closed down for the last time in 1983 under the federal government's 3 mine policy and all of the infrastructure was sold off. The town is now on private property and visitors are welcome to drive around the vacant streets. The open cut mine site is a few kms further on. There are still some old mine building ruins in the area. The mine pit has a "lake" of blue water, the colour is probably due to dissolved minerals.
Back along the deteriorating road with the partially washed out bridge, to the highway we passed the turnoff to Sunset Mine.
Our next destination is the road to Fountain Springs a right turn not far along the highway back to Cloncurry. The 27km of unsealed road to Fountain Springs takes us past some interesting historical sites. The town of Bulonga was home workers at the nearby Rosebud Dam and Copper Smelter. There are many mines in this area. The Lady Jenny Mine Project is active and there are plenty of signs warning of trucks on the road. Ballara was originally called "Mineral" and was the place where the 3'6'' rail gauge line changed to the 2' tram line to service the Wee MacGregor mine. We saw the rail loading platform and also some of the old machinery left rusting.
Next stop Fountain Springs. If it looks familiar it's because some to the movie Crocodile Dundee was filmed here. It's a permanent water source bubbling up through the quartzite faultline. A cool oasis in the heat of the day - the flies think so too!! The scenery was rugged and photogenic. Watrfalls flow after rain, unfortunately not when we were there though.
Back to Ballara and we turned off to see the China Wall. Some 6kms down the 4WD track we came across this quartzite formation, about 400m long, up to 20m high and only 1m thick in some places
Then it was back to Cloncurry along the highway.
Before we left the following morning, we called in to John Flynn Place Museum and Gallery. It was worth waiting for. The Museum is all about the flying doctors and the flying priests. There's a great display of the technology used, including pedal radios. The Gallery has works by local artists and entries in the local competition.