Maybe in the early days Australia lived off a sheep’s back, but in modern times we’ve prospered under a miner’s lamp. And of our mines, Mount Isa is the granddaddy of them all. Copper, silver, lead and zinc are mined here – one of the few places in the world where four minerals are found in close proximity.
It’s the world’s biggest single producer of silver and lead and among the world’s top ten for zinc and copper. While it’s a working mine, Isa boasts a surface tour and you can also tour the mine underground (but book ahead, way ahead). Both tours are led by current or former miners.
In northwest Queensland, the town of Mount Isa is dominated by its mining history and its location in a harsh, picturesque landscape. The surrounding area has ample places to fish, camp, four-wheel-drive or relax. Nearby Lawn Hill Gorge in Boodjamulla National Park and the World Heritage-listed Riversleigh fossil fields are also spectacular side-trips.
Did you know?
Mount Isa is Australia’s largest underground mine. The underground workings extend over nearly six square kilometres.
How to get there
Qantas operates frequent services from Brisbane, while Macair offers frequent flights to from both Brisbane and Townsville.
Queensland Rail operates the Inlander service from Townsville.
Mount Isa is 2038 kilometres from Brisbane. There are sealed roads to the east and west, but variable conditions to the north and south west.
There are also regular Greyhound coach services between Mount Isa and many other towns in Queensland’s central west.
Best time to go
Temperatures are most comfortable between April and October.
Mount Isa City Council website with visitor information
Queensland Government website with visitor info on Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.