Tropical Coast of Queensland

Mount Morgan

An historic, somewhat eccentric place that is one of the most charming mining towns in Australia. Rising and falling over the hills and valleys, Mt Morgan is full of wooden houses and a history reaching back to the late 19th century.

Where is it?: Mount Morgan is 679 km north of Brisbane; 38 km west of Rockhampton; 240 m above sea-level.

Mount Morgan's rich and fascinating social, economic and engineering history is on display at two of Mount Morgan's cherished local institutions, Mount Morgan Historical Museum and Mount Morgan Railway Museum (1898). The latter operates as the visitors' centre and is the departure point for rail tours. The museum operates fettlers' trolley rides on market days.

The Mount Morgan old mine site is home to a stunning display of decaying industrial architecture, magnificent man made caverns, Michael Durrant's wonderful world of fossils display, 200 million year old Dinosaur Prints, rare bats and one of the world's major mine rehabilitation projects dedicated to removing the beautiful but deadly acidic lake that now lies where the world's richest mountain once stood. The assay chimney, the manager's house, the treatment plant and the mine offices are all of historical significance.

In the 1890's there were six pedestrian suspension bridges (sometimes referred to as swinging bridges) constructed over the Dee River to give pedestrians easy access to the mine and town, especially when the river was flowing. These suspension bridges were constructed with a wooden decking suspended by two long steel cables reaching across the river from one bank to the other. At each end the cables passed over a head-frame and were anchored to the banks.

The Tipperary Point to Red Hill Suspension Bridge and the Far Red Hill Suspension Bridge are the only two suspension bridges in existence in Mount Morgan today and it is believed that they are the only pedestrian suspension bridges in Queensland.These two bridges were classified by the National Trust of Queensland in 1974 and were listed by the Australian National Heritage in 1977.

On the corner of Central St and Morgan St is a statue titled 'Running the Cutter' which recalls the interesting custom of buying beer in billy cans, commonplace at the mine between 1900 and 1918.

About Mount Morgan

Home to one of the world's richest gold discoveries, Mount Morgan's history is a quintessentially Australian story. The town's grand buildings, swinging bridges, museums, massive man made caverns dug out by the early miners and uncovered Jurassic dinosaur footprints all combine to make a visit to this charming place a totally unique experience.

The town borrows its name from Mount Morgan nearby, also known as Ironstone Mountain. The name recalls Frederick, Edwin (Ned) and Thomas Morgan who, on 22nd July 1882, pegged out a goldmining lease on Ironstone Mountain. At the time of their claim the Morgan brothers were all living in Rockhampton.

Brief History

In the 1850s, a local stockman, William Mackinlay, discovered that the Ironstone Mountain was gold-bearing around 1870 but kept his discovery secret, hoping to sell his knowledge. Mining began at Mount Morgan in 1882 when the Morgan brothers pegged out atheir gold mining lease. The Morgans formed a six man partnership with other local businessmen to mine the mountain and they all became fabulously rich. One of the partners was William Knox D'Arcy, who, with the profit he made from selling his share in the mine, went to London and later made another fortune when he financed drilling for oil in Persia (modern day Iran) This led to the formation of the famous oil company, British Petroleum (BP).

Mt Morgan was officially proclaimed in 1890 and in 1898 the railway reached the town. By 1902 gold, silver and copper were being mined. In the 1970s, the mine's production of copper was second only to that of Mount Isa. The result of the mining activity is that what was once a large mountain is now one of the largest artificial holes on earth. It is over 2.5 km long and over 300 m deep. In a century the mine has produced more than 5 million oz of gold, more than 150,000 tonnes of copper, along with zing, lead and silver. The mine closed in 1981 with activities since then concentrating on extracting ore from the tailings.