Cloncurry

Cloncurry is a regional and administrative centre in a region where cattle and sheep grazing is a significant industry. Cloncurry is known for being "the hottest town in Australia" which only means that it once had a measured temprature of 53.1 degrees C, and even that was more than a century ago.

Where is it?: Cloncurry is 766 km west of Townsville at the junction of The Matilda Highway and The Overlander's Way.

Things to see and do

Cloncurry's most important museum is that dedicated to Rev. John Flynn. It was at Cloncurry that the Royal Flying Doctor Service was established in 1928. Flynn's choice of Cloncurry was based on its proximity to the mining camps and scattered pastoralists, all of whom were poorly served by any kind of medical services. John Flynn Place gives an excellent overview of the Flynn legacy. It moves progressively from an image of outback conditions at the turn of the century to the history of Flynn himself.

Mary Kathleen

Mary Kathleen Memorial Park and Museum recalls the uranium mining town of Mary Kathleen. When the mine closed and the town folded, its contents were sold off. The Cloncurry museum obtained a number of buildings and some important relics from the site like the town's 'welcome' sign.

The museum also houses an excellent collection of rocks from the area. Its prize possession is explorer Robert O'Hara Burke's water bottle. The museum's mineral and gem collection is ranked by experts as one of the most comprehensive in Australia.

Places of interest: Cloncurry River; The Granites; mining community of Duchess (132 km south); Post office (1885): Courthouse (1898); Chinese and Afghan cemeteries (with the headstone pointing towards Mecca); The Great Australian Mine; Fountain Range (20 km south of Mary Kathleen).


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Brief history

When Burke and Wills passed through in January 1861, Burke named the nearby river after his cousin, Lady Elizabeth Cloncurry. The name was extended to the town when it was surveyed and gazetted in 1876.

The town came into being through the discovery of copper. Ernest Henry first found copper in the area and established the Great Australian Mine, which operated continuously until the 1920s when the bottom fell out of the copper market, ending over 50 years of growth for the town. In time it became a major transportation centre in Western Qld. The railway from Townsville arrived in 1908. The first regular Qantas flight landed at Cloncurry and John Flynn established his first Flying Doctor Base in the town.

The discovery of uranium at Mary Kathleen brought wealth to the community in the 1950s. Until the development of Mount Isa in the 1960s, Cloncurry was the administrative centre of the region.

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