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 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
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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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.