Mount Isa

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Mount Isa
Panorama of Mount Isa, Queensland.jpg
Mount Isa
Mount Isa is located in Queensland
Mount Isa
Coordinates:20°44′S 139°30′E / 20.733°S 139.5°E / -20.733; 139.5Coordinates: 20°44′S 139°30′E / 20.733°S 139.5°E / -20.733; 139.5
Elevation:356 m (1,168 ft)
Time zone:AEST (UTC+10)
LGA:City of Mount Isa
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
31.8 °C
89 °F
17.3 °C
63 °F
454.3 mm
17.9 in
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Mount Isa
Panorama of Mount Isa, Queensland.jpg
Mount Isa
Mount Isa is located in Queensland
Mount Isa
Coordinates:20°44′S 139°30′E / 20.733°S 139.5°E / -20.733; 139.5Coordinates: 20°44′S 139°30′E / 20.733°S 139.5°E / -20.733; 139.5
Elevation:356 m (1,168 ft)
Time zone:AEST (UTC+10)
LGA:City of Mount Isa
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
31.8 °C
89 °F
17.3 °C
63 °F
454.3 mm
17.9 in

Mount Isa is a city in the Gulf Country region of Queensland, Australia. It came into existence because of the vast mineral deposits found in the area. Mount Isa Mines (MIM) is one of the most productive single mines in world history, based on combined production of lead, silver, copper and zinc.[2]

With a population of 21,992 recorded at the 2011 census[3] and 33,200[4] in the surrounding district, Mount Isa is the administrative, commercial and industrial centre for the state's vast north-western region. Although situated in an arid area, the artificial Lake Moondarra[5] 19 km north of the city on the Leichhardt River provides both drinking water and an area for watersports, birdwatching and recreation. Locals often refer to Mount Isa as "The Isa".



The land around the present day city of Mount Isa was home to the Kalkadoon aboriginal tribe. The Kalkadoon tribe led a subsistence lifestyle on this land that the white settlers looked at as nothing but poor grazing land, with the odd mineral deposit. As settlers and prospectors pressed further into their lands the Kalkadoon tribe members set out on one of Australia's most successful guerrilla wars in a fight for their lands. Their success continued until at Battle Mountain in 1884, with what some historians have called a rush of blood, the tribe attacked a fortified position in large numbers and suffered terrible losses. The weakened state of the tribe made their land more vulnerable to the settlers and soon much of the land was lost. Armed patrols chasing the surviving tribe members and poor grazing lands for the settlers made times hard in the area over the following decades.

The lone gold prospector John Campbell Miles stumbled upon one of the world's richest deposits of copper, silver and zinc upon during his 1923 expedition into the Northern Territory. While camping on the banks of the Leichhardt River, Miles found the yellow-black rocks in a nearby outcrop reminded him of the ore found in the Broken Hill mine that he had once worked at. Upon inspection these rocks were weighty and heavily mineralised. A sample sent away to the assayer in Cloncurry confirmed that Miles had hit the jackpot. He and four farmers turned miners staked out the first claims in the area. Taken with friend stories of the Mount Ida gold mines in Western Australia, Miles decided upon Mount Isa as the name for his new claim.


Mount Isa at local level is part of the City of Mount Isa, at state level is part of the electoral district of Mount Isa in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, and at federal level is part of the Division of Kennedy in the Australian House of Representatives. The mayor of Mount Isa, after the 2012 Election, is Tony McGrady. The Mount Isa City Council jurisdiction is one of the largest in the world in terms of area and takes in the border town of Camooweal, 188 km to the north-west of Mount Isa and 12 km from the border of the Northern Territory.

Local industry and business

Mount Isa's industry is largely dependent on mining. Xstrata Plc operates the Mount Isa Mines lease adjacent to the city, which comprises the "Enterprise" underground copper mine, X41 underground copper mine, "Black Star Open Cut" silver-lead zinc mine, and metallurgical processing facilities. Silver-lead-zinc ore is also mined 20 km to the north at Hilton from the "George Fisher" underground mine, and the adjoining "Handlebar Hill" open cut, which is trucked back to Mount Isa for processing.

Mount Isa is in the top two of the largest copper mining and smelting operations in the country.[6] Copper and lead are smelted on site, with copper anodes and zinc concentrate being transported 900 km to the city and port of Townsville on the east coast. The lead ingots are transported to a refinery in Britain where the silver is extracted. The mine is the most significant landmark in the area, with the stack from the lead smelter (built 1978), standing 270 m tall, visible from all parts of the city and up to 40 km out.[citation needed]

In 2008 a Queensland Health report found that more than 10% of children in Mount Isa had blood lead levels above World Health Organization recommendations. The mining operator Xstrata denied responsibility and stated that the town has naturally high levels of lead in the soil.[7]


Underground hospital


Mount Isa experiences a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh).

Climate data for Mount Isa
Average high °C (°F)36.3
Average low °C (°F)23.8
Precipitation mm (inches)118.1
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology[9]

Culture and sport

The local theatre group, the Mount Isa Theatrical Society, or MITS, often holds plays and musicals, at least once every few months or so.

Cricket, rugby league, rugby union, netball and tennis are the most common sports but shooting, dancing, hockey, squash, baseball and ten-pin bowling are also present. Mount Isa has a Go Kart Club[10] situated off Duchess Road on the southern side of town.

Mount Isa also has a cinema complex, situated in the inner city on Rodeo Drive, that contains three air-conditioned cinemas, a skate park/aquatic centre and a multi-purpose sporting complex for basketball and other indoor sports. Mount Isa's events complex, Buchanan Park, opened in May 2007, can hold up to 6,000 people and is used for special events such as concerts and expos. It is also the home of the city's annual show and rodeo.

In September 2008, plans were made to build a massive motor sports complex on the city's north-eastern outskirts. This complex was to include a drag-racing track, a BMX track and a mini-stadium that can seat 2,000 people.

The city is known for its annual rodeo and Mardi Gras street parade every August. There is also an annual Multicultural Festival in early September.


Mount Isa City (not including Camooweal) has an estimated population of 22,091 housed in approx. 9,050 dwellings, making the city the largest and most populous in Queensland's vast western interior, and one of the largest centres in outback Australia. The district population is 30,942 and incorporates the Cloncurry, Boulia, Burke, Carpentaria, Doomadgee, Flinders, Mornington and Richmond shires.[citation needed]

The ratio of males to females living in Mount Isa is reputedly five to one. Mayor John Molony drew international press attention in August 2008 when he told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper that Mount Isa's gender imbalance made it a good place for "not so attractive" women to live.[11][12] However, the most recent census found that men actually comprise only 52.6% of the population and that the five-to-one figure is an exaggeration.[13]

Franchises such as McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, K-Mart, Best and Less, Donut King, Coffee Club, Blockbuster, Harvey Norman, Bunnings, BCF and EB Games have established stores in Mount Isa, as well as many smaller locally owned businesses, many in the K-Mart shopping complex and Simpson Central Arcade in the Central Business District.


The Leichhardt River divides the city into areas known as "mineside" and "townside". Xstrata, the power station and the Airport are on the mineside, whilst the majority of the city, including the CBD and Base Hospital are on the townside. In recent years,[when?] population increases associated with the mining boom has increased demand for accommodation and land.[citation needed] The city has begun to spread out, with new suburbs in the south-east and north of the city being planned or developed. It is planned these expansions will cater for more than 40,000 people over the next 10 to 20 [14]

  • Eateries, Bread and Butchers
  • Fast Food/Take Away - McDonalds, KFC, Eagle Boys, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Subway, Burger Chief, Flamenco's Cafe, Sunshine Kebabs, Happy Noodle Box, Chopsticks Palace
  • Bakeries - Brumbies
  • Restaurants - The Coffee Club, The Red Lantern, Livingstone's Restaurant, The Buffs Club, Red Earth Boutique Hotel, Four Seasons Verona
  • Entertainment:
  • Cinema Mount Isa - An independently owned and operated 3-screen cinema
  • Accommodation:
  • The Red Earth Boutique Hotel
  • Four Seasons Verona
  • Burke & Wills Motel
  • Cityside Accommodation
  • Financial Services:
ANZ, Westpac, Suncorp and Commonwealth Banks, and Queensland Country Credit Union all have branches in the CBD
  • Shopping Centres:
  • Kmart Plaza, the location of Kmart Mount Isa, Coles, Menzies Pharmacy, MusicMakers (A record store), Jay Jays (Clothing), Just Jeans, Discount Jeans, Gloria Gean's Coffee, Donut King, Proud's Jewelers, Lenards Chicken, and Mathers Shoes
  • Simpson Central, the location of Loot (Interior decorations) and the Loading Bay Cafe, a Telstra Shop, EB Games and a Leading Edge Group electronics/computer store.
  • Local Government and Council Services:
  • The Council Chambers
  • Civic Centre
  • City Library (Currently under renovations due to repeated roof damage)
All three were made of concrete and rocks excavated during the construction of Lake Moondarra.
  • Automotive:
  • Bell and Moir Toyota - Sales, service and spares for Toyota, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles. Extensive stock, particularly, of Toyota Four-Wheel-Drives such as the Landcruiser Ute and Hilux.


Mount Isa city and surrounds are serviced by a 35 vehicle taxi service. A taxi service known as "Isa-Curry" express transports passengers to and from the neighbouring centre of Cloncurry to Mount Isa and back again, usually for shopping and medical requirements. Additionally, many of the city's clubs have courtesy buses to and from their establishments that run seven days a week and into the early hours of the morning. Greyhound Australia has a depot in Mount Isa, with coach services to and from Townsville, Brisbane and Tennant Creek.

Mount Isa Airport has regular daily services to Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville, as well as once-weekly services to Darwin and the Gold Coast, in addition to other services to remote Outback communities in western Queensland. The primary carriers which service Mount Isa and district are Qantas/QantasLink - Brisbane and Townsville; AirNorth - Darwin and Gold Coast; Regional Express - Townsville. In November 2009, it was announced that Skytrans and Westwing Aviation will commence flights in and out of Mount Isa to and from cities on the coast, commencing in February 2010. Regional Express (REX) also announced flights between Mount Isa and Townsville starting after December2009.

The city is served by QR passenger train The Inlander, which travels overnight to Townsville twice a week in each direction.

Long distance rail services
Preceding station Queensland Rail Following station
toward Townsville
The InlanderTerminus


Mount Isa has eight public primary schools and three private primary schools:

And three high schools:

The residential campus of Spinifex College is unique in the fact that it is the only State-run boarding-type school in Queensland and it caters to all the outlying towns and cattle-properties as far away as the gulf. Mount Isa is also home to the School of the Air, a unique-to-Australia way of schooling isolated students in Australia's vast lightly populated country areas. The city also holds the main campus of the Mount Isa Institute of TAFE, offering courses in a wide range of fields, including mining, agriculture and trades. In addition, James Cook University has a presence, with the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health in the Base Hospital complex.



The following radio stations are available in the Mount Isa region:


Five broadcast television services operate in Mount Isa — commercial stations Imparja Television and Southern Cross7 (formerly known as ITQ Channel 8, QQQ, QTV and QSTV- Queensland Satellite Television), and the Government-owned ABC and SBS. Imparja has a programming affiliation agreement with the Nine Network. Aboriginal focused channel NITV (National Indigenous Television) broadcasts on UHF Channel 35.

Digital Television transmissions have commenced in Mount Isa. New channels provided by the ABC and SBS can be received with a digital set top box or digital television. Additional channels from the commercial broadcasters that are available in most other areas of Australia are expected to commence transmission in 2011-2012. Analogue television transmissions will be switched off by 31 December 2013.

The station is broadcast, on relay to ABC & SBS, the Nine Network programming, indigenous & locally produced programming on Imparja and the programming from the Seven Network as well as Network Ten's AFL & netball coverage on Southern Cross7.


Notable people

See also


External links