Mount Isa Australia

Mount Isa is an outback mining town.

Mt Isa is a fairly large mining town in north-western Queensland.

It is an isolated place miles from the coasts, too hot during the summer and too cold during the winter, but it’s a fun place to visit. The whole town is dominated by the world’s largest silver and led mine – the only reason for the towns size and existence.
Mount Isa's Mine Produces 4,000 Tons of Lead Bullion Monthly
The town. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Mt Isa Mine
Whatever you do here – even if you’re just passing through the town, you cannot miss the mines. The tall chimneys tower the city, and everything in the city, including tourism, is dominated by the mines. This means while the miners are working in the huge underground mine, you can go on a tour and watch them working and learn everything about what is mined here and what the miners’ work is like. There are both surface and underground tours, and if that’s not enough, just east of the mines is the John Middlin Mining Display & Visitors Centre where there is more information about mining.

Smoke Billowing from a Smelter Stack with Mt. Isa in the Foreground, Australia
The mine. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

The Old Hard Times Mine and Kalkadoon Tribal Centre

You can buy different tours (you can also have an underground breakfast, lunch or dinner included if you want) to the mines at Outback at Isa. Outback at Isa is the new tourist information centre where there is also the old Hard Times Mine, Riversleigh Fossil Centre, the Kalkadoon Tribal Centre, a souvenir shop and displays about the town's history, background of its different nationalities and information about the surrounding nature. At the Kalkadoon Tribal Centre you can learn about the history of the Kalkadoon Aboriginal People.

mount isa kalkadoon centre
Kalkadoon Centre. ©

Fossils from Riversleigh Fossil Field
At the Riversleigh Fossil Centre you can learn all about the extraordinary fossils taken here from the Riversleigh Fossil Field in the southern section of Lawn Hill National Park 250km north of Mount Isa. Riversleigh Fossil Field is a rare and internationally renowned fossil site where a large amount of megafauna (like huge kangaroos, wombats and other marsupials, and huge flightless birds which were the ancestors of emus) fossils have formed over millions of years thanks to the high concentration of dolomite (calcium carbonate) that happens to be found here and in north-eastern Northern Territory. In the Riversleigh Fossil Centre in the Outback at Isa you can meet scientists who will tell you all about the fossils, and you can walk through a man-made Miocene forest, complete with animals.

outback at isa
Outback at Isa. ©

The Undergound Museum
North of the Outback at Isa is the town’s lookout where you can get some great photos of the mine and the town centre. East of it is the School of the Air, where you can go on a tour and see teachers sitting in front of computers teaching outback children in their homes. And west of the Outback at Isa is the Underground Museum and Arilla Paper Enterprise where you can see Aboriginal artists in the action. In the Underground Museum there are some good displays of old mining equipment and gives you an interesting insight to what the mines were like in the old days.

mount isa underground hospital
Underground hospital. ©

The Undergound Hospital
There is another interesting underground museum – an underground hospital from the days of WWII. Mount Isa was only 20 years old when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese in the WWII. It was feared that Mount Isa could be the next target, and miners volunteered to dig out the rooms for an underground hospital which could be used in case of an attack. Luckily it never needed to be used in the purpose for which it was built, but it’s complete with medical, surgical and maternity facilities and today you can visit it as a museum.

mount isa underground museum
Underground museum. ©

Other Things to See

West from here across the river is the Royal Flying Doctors Service that flies doctors to the outback homes; and south of it is the old tent house. A tent or a house, in the  1930s it was a huge improvement from the old cottages that miners used to live in. It’s got a simple design to keep the heat out, and at the time it was a typical quality low-rent housing. You can pick up a key from the motel reception behind it, and go and have a look inside - it’s very interesting, complete with all the items as if the owners were still living here.

mount isa tent house
Tent House. ©

Lake Moondarra and Accommodation
North of Mount Isa is Lake Moondarra, a great place for fishing in a country so far from a beach. You cannot camp at the lake (the gates to it are closed during the night), but Lake Moondarra Caravan Park is not far from it.

Other places to stay are All Seasons Verona Hotel, Agryilla Tourist Park Big 4, Central Point Motel, Copper City Motel and Caravan Park, Fourth Ave Motor Inn, Outback Mt Isa and Townview Motel.

Smokestacks of Mine and City at Sunset Mt. Isa, Queensland, Australia
Night views. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Mount Isa Rodeo
The town is also known for Australia’s largest rodeos in August each year when horse riders and others come here from the whole world and put on some spectacular rides.

Overhead of Bull Rider from the Stands of a Rodeo, Mt. Isa, Australia
Rodeo. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Here's a map of Mount Isa, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

View larger map 

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