The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

12 August, 2016

Mary Kathleen

After leaving Camooweal stopped at Mt Isa for fuel and topped up the water tanks, Emptied the 'shitter' and stocked up the fridge with food.  We noticed heaps of people in town as Rodeo started the next day.

Camped 58 km east Mt Isa at Mary Kathleen - in 1954 Uranium was discovered and by 1956 development had proceeded to the extent that a contract for the supply of 4,082 tonnes of Uranium oxide to the value of $80 million was negotiated to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).  Mary Kathleen township was located approx 5 kms from the mine site in a lovely valley at the convergence of two creeks.  Production ceased on 4th October 1963 after the contract tonnage had been produced - the plant and mine were then "mothballed" and placed on a maintenance basis until additional contracts could be negotiated.

Remains of Mary Kathleen town monument and fountain 
In 1970 contracts for the sale of uranium were finally obtained, a complete study of recommissioning was made in late 1971 and early 1972 and showed that a viable operation could be mounted.  In 1982 the contract for Uranium oxide was filled and it was decided to close the mine and disband the township due to oversupply of Uranium on the world market.  Operations ceased and the houses were sold, everything else was auctioned off on Easter Weekend 1984 (was said to be Australia's largest auction)

What was originally the bank site - all that remains are the tiles
This place is unreal as all that remains are part of the road systems, parks & concrete slabs of the once existing buildings which formed part of a community of 1,000 people.  No problems finding a camp site as the area is huge and the scenery is beautiful.




What the houses at Mary Kathleen looked like (this one was transferred to Cloncurry Museum)

Next day we drove out to Mine Site - the size of the open cut is quite extensive, covering at least 1-2kms in length - en-route to the mine we came across a few camels just roaming around.  Back from the mine we drove around the town and with the aid of a township map saw where different buildings were situated incl  Bowling club, tennis courts, basketball courts, school site, library, bank, Town Office, Medical Centre, Fire Station, Police Station, PO (even had small slabs where telephone booths would have been), Wet Mess. Also drove out to Clem Walton Park, through Station gate to Camp Site - very stagnant water.  Had a quick look at Corella Dam and was shocked at the number of vans now camped there!  In the cool of the evening we had a walk around the 'town' and could not believe that so little remains.



Just keeping an eye on us!

Mary Kathleen mine site

Morning Tea stop at ruins of the mine plant

Mine plant ruins - huge concrete foundations as part of the process plant


Had some sad news on our departure as our friend Stephen from Susan River had passed away - cheers to a wonderful man we were so fortunate to meet.

Drove to Cloncurry then travelled on the Burke Development Road towards Normanton, stopping on the way at Burke & Wills Roadhouse for lunch and an icecream!  About 10kms before our camp spot at Bang Bang we came across heaps of termite mounds looking very much like city buildings, maybe another lost city!

City of termite mounds - pity they don't mow the lawn!!


Found a magic camp site out the back of Bang Bang free camp where we stayed for 2 nights.


Campsite at Bang Bang

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