After a quick fun on the jumping pillow, we drive to the Old Pioneers Graveyard.
Within 25 years of gold being discovered, Charters Towers had been growing from bush to a city of over 20.000 people. Over 5.000 of these pioneers died in these early days. Between 1872 and 1895 they were burried on the Pioneers Graveyard, then space was exhausted.
In 2006 the population of Charters Towers was only 7,979 people, some 450 fewer than in the 2001 census. During the last quarter of the 19th century the town boomed as the rich gold deposits under the city were developed. After becoming uneconomic in the 20th century, profitable mining operations have commenced once again.
The town was founded in the 1870s when gold was discovered by chance at Towers Hill on Christmas Eve 1871 by 12-year-old Aboriginal boy, Jupiter Mossman. Jupiter was with a small group of prospectors including Hugh Mosman, James Fraser and George Clarke. Their horses bolted after a flash of lightning. While he was searching Jupiter found both the horses and a nugget of gold in a creek at the base of Towers Hill. A total of ten major gold reefs were eventually mined.
Such were the boom years, between 1872 and 1899, that Charters Towers hosted its own Stock Exchange. A railway between Charters Towers and the coastal port of Townsville was completed in December 1882. During this period, the population was approximately 30,000, making Charters Towers Queensland's largest city outside of Brisbane.
By 1917 gold mining became uneconomic. During World War I labour was hard to find, and as the mines drove deeper, ventilation and water problems arose. This production decline was similar across Australian gold mines, with rising costs and a fixed gold price eroding profitability. The town entered a long period of relative stagnation and little further development has occurred since.
The Charters Towers gold field produced over 200 tonnes (6.6 million troy ounces) of gold from 1871-1917. The gold is concentrated into veins and was Australia's richest major field with an average grade of 34 grams per tonne. The grade was almost double that of Victorian mines and almost 75% higher than the grades of Western Australian (Kalgoorlie) gold fields of that time.
After 89 years the goldfields were reopened and gold was produced again from the Warrior Mine 4 km southeast of the town in November 2006 by Citigold Corporation Limited. Gold is mined from two deposits which are accessed by sloping tunnels. The extracted gold ore is trucked about 10 km south west of the city for processing into gold Doré bars. Citigold has announced plans to open three mines directly under the city to extract gold at a rate of 250,000 ounces per year.
The Northern Miner newspaper was first published in August 1872, just eight months after the discovery of gold. Such was its strength in those gold mining days of the late 1880s that The Northern Miner installed a then revolutionary linotype slug casting machine before Brisbane's The Courier Mail. It was the only newspaper (of five published during the boom gold years) that survives today. In 2000, The Northern Miner was linked for the first time to the North Queensland Newspaper Company and therefore News Limited’s electronic layout system and website.
As we head on to Townsville we see the first clouds since a weeks time! It is funny that such a discovery becomes noticable after a full week of blue sky with not even a hint of a cloud.
In Townsville we visit the Reef HQ aquarium. It is supposed to have the biggest reef in an aquarium.
Joshua experiences the old wear of a diver.
Jonah enjoys touching a Rhino sea star.
Jeremia "swims" with the clown fishes.
And Jonah examins a shell.
Finally we arrive at the campground and the kids enjoy a swim in the pool before the sun sets.
(c) Dirk Frantzen 2012 - Text partly Wikipedia.org — published via iPad