Riversleigh Fossil Centre – Mt Isa

3/8/14 – We had been to the Riversleigh Fossil site near Lawn Hill on a previous trip in 2012, and to be honest it didn’t mean or do a lot for us. However the Fossil Centre in at Mt Isa helped shine a light, more information and the significance of the Riversleigh site. It would have been beneficial to have seen the Fossil Centre first then see the Riversleigh site, would have all meant a lot more.

Riversleigh-Fossil-CentreAnyway the Fossil Centre is well worth doing. Over 200 different mammals were found at Riversleigh as well as insects, birds etc many of them were ancestors of animals we see today. Like the Big Bird, Crocodiles that lived on land as well as water, meat eating Kangaroos called Fangaroos. Kids will love it, there is a sand pit with buried Dinosaurs fossils for the kids to dig up.

Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-1 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-2 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-3 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-4 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-5 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-6 Riversleigh-Fossil-Centre-7We had planned to give the trailer and ute another wash as it was muddy and dusty once again but the car wash said no trailers, or caravans so we couldn’t. So we headed off once more towards Cloncurry.

We stopped at Cloncurry for lunch at a lovely park called Mary Kathleen, there was a large play area, heaps of trees providing shade, table and chairs and also the info centre and outside museum. Closer towards Mt Isa there is Mary Kathleen ruins, you can buy a map for 50c from the tourist info centre.
Mary-Kathleen-Park Mary-Kathleen-Park-2Mary-Kathleen-Park-1Next stop was McKinlay and the famous Walkabout Creek Hotel as seen in the Crocodile Dundee movie. They welcome, well play on the famous role and invite visitors to stop and look around and maybe buy a pint or two.

Walkabout-CreekAfter Kyunua the area was pretty flat, any rest areas were open and close to the road. We didn’t see anyone using them. About 70km out of Winton were several jumpups with 3 caravans spread around one, we decided it was a good place to stop as well. It was until the wind came up. It howled all night, canvas was flapping continuously, we both had a rough night sleep.


Mount Isa

2/08/14 – We had booked into do the Hard Times Mine Tour, we decided to go for the package tour 1 which included Riversleigh Fossil Centre and the Isa Experience & The Gallery, cost $59 each. Tickets for the Fossil Centre and Isa Experience last until 5pm the following day, so effectively 2 days.
Our tour was at 1pm so we went to the Underground Hospital in the morning after 10am when it opens. The hospital was built during WW2 after the bombing of Darwin when it was feared Mt Isa might be next due to its mining of lead. It was dug out by volunteers from the mine in a record time of 3 months. Beds and equipment were set up ready to be used, it was however never used during the war as a hospital. Nurses used to come down to sleep during the heat as it was nice and cool in the tunnel. Many many years later the tunnels were rediscovered and restored over 2 years to what we can see today.
The-Underground-Hospital Underground-Hospital Underground-Hospital-1 Underground-Hospital-2 Underground-Hospital-3 Underground-Hospital-4 Underground-Hospital-5 Underground-Hospital-bedsIt’s really fascinating in the tunnels and seeing some of the old equipment, beds, nursery, maternity ward, plates etc. Back up top there is also the Beth Anderson Museum which has a wonderful collection of antique medical equipment.
Underground-Hospital-Museum Underground-Hospital-Museum-1 Underground-Hospital-Museum-2 Underground-Hospital-Museum-3There is also a Tent House on site which were built as quick fix housing for miners and their families. At one time 300 of these houses stood in Mt Isa.
Tent-House Tent-House-1 Tent-House-2 Tent-House-3The Hard Times Mine Tour ($49 A) was fantastic. You are given a pair of disposable orange overalls to wear as well as a hard hat, light, boots (bring your own socks) and optional belt. No cameras are allowed on the tour. The tour guides are or have been miners who have worked at the Mt Isa Mine, the tour gives you an insight into what it is like to work in the mines especially back in the early days. It’s a bit hands on with opportunity to operate a rock drill. The mine comprises 1.2km of tunnels (The Mt Isa Mine has over 1,000km of tunnels) the tunnels are 4m x 4m wide big enough for a variety of large drilling equipment. Our guide was Bill who had worked in the mine for 33 yrs now retired and a guide for the last 14 years. He had a wealth of information and told us some great funny stories, great guide. We descended into the mines via an Alimak Cage (mine elevator), at this point your photo is taken which you can then purchase, maybe the reason you can’t take your own camera. The tour runs for 2.5hrs and we even got to have a cuppa in the Crib Room. Lots of fun and very informative, well worth doing.
Hard-Luck-MineWe only had time left to wander around the Isa Experience which is a bit of a look at Mt Isa, present and past.We bought tea and took it up to the Lookout to eat and checkout the town and mine lit up by lights.

Isa-at-night Us-at-Mt-Isa