Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tyrconnell, Kingsborough and Thornborough

I hinted at what we got up to last weekend on my last post 'A Saturday Drive'.
Did you guess where we went?

The road, what is left of Thornborough, a shack.

Last weekend I got to see a very different side of the North. The side that is the reason Port Douglas and Cairns even exist. It was all about mining, mining history. So there you go, without the early mining history of North QLD maybe those wonderful, thriving, coastal tourist destinations might not have come to into being, or at least so early.

Our first stop was Tyrconnell a gold mine that was established in 1876. Gold did funny things to people in the past causing them to rush to new destinations, engulfed with gold fever and wanting to make their millions. Now what is so special about Tyconnell is that it is still home to an original working battery, the only one left from the 12 that were in the area in its heyday. It is hard to imagine that Tyconnell was once home to 10 000 people especially when now it is home to just 11.

At Tyconnell large chunks of quartz where put through the stamper battery using gravity. The stone was fed through from the top and down to the stampers where it was crushed into smaller and smaller pieces. The gold and gravel were then separated. The battery is still used for demonstrations today and you can see specks of gold dust on the table where it is separated.

Can you see the lighter, brighter specks of gold dust?

The 240+m mine shaft where quartz mined in the hope that it held gold is still intact.
Can you imagine how hard it would be to haul stone like that, mining stone underground by hand?

Tyrconnell unlike the other mines and batteries was operational right through to WWII when it was abandoned after Japanese bombers were seen flying overhead not long after the bombing of Darwin. Due to this there is also a lot of the original equipment and machinery around.In the 80s the mine was resurrected for a short time before being developed into a tourist destination. You can camp at Tyrconnell or stay in one of the cottages or just pop in for a day tour.

After exploring Tyrconnell and Mr Sparky picking up every piece of quartz he walked past to check for gold we headed off. We didn't make it very far, stopping at their dam to cook up some lunch. sausage and salad burgers.

Our next quick stop was to check out the Kingsborough cemetery. Even though I knew that it was the reality of the era and the conditions people lived in it was sad to see that most of the intact graves nestled in amongst the grass were those of very young children and adults.

Once back in the car we were off adventuring again looking for more mining finds. We saw a chimney up in the hills and went to discover but decided not to go past the 'private mining lease do not enter' sign. People are still trying to find their millions in these rocky, unforgiving hills.

We retraced our wheel tracks and headed off in a new direction stopping at Thornborough cemetery. We had passed what remained of what was a substantial town earlier. I found the cemeteries interesting but find it curious how they still hold so much emotion within them. I know that sounds weird but I guess it is that I 'feel' for those families who lost members in such harsh conditions and then you see a grave with the names of five children who all died very young and wonder at why the families stayed and continued. Something that was very interesting though was that all but one of the graves didn't have a birth date but instead had a date of death and and age, most including the months as well.

This was not the end of our delving into history and going back in time.
More soon.
Do you like to delve into history and jump into physical history adventures?
Where have you visited recently?

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There is more on Tyrconnell here and here.
Also more on Thornborough and Kingsborough here.


  1. What a rich documentary of the mining in the area. And I love the old gravestones, obviously untended and forgotten. You live in a fascinating part of the world! I didn't know the Japanese bombed Darwin (or I'd forgotten). Your post is wonderful! I love history :)

  2. Hi Sharon, yes it is all very interesting. Broome was bombed as well but it leaves you wondering why them other than the fact that they were close and north. The first cemetery isn't really looked after but the next is by the Cairns 4x4 Club who tend to it annually. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I love history but seeing it is even better.

  3. Visit to gold mine must have been interesting...

  4. How I wish I was with you on this adventure. Love doing this sort of thing. You photos were amazing, helped me get the feel of the places you stopped at. Thank you so very much for this post.

  5. Thanks Jacana. It was a fun adventure and I learnt about so much about things I had never even heard about. I am glad you liked it and maybe one day you can see it yourself.

  6. How exciting to find an abandon mining town...great captures!!

  7. Hi there upside down, err, down under!

    Thanks for stopping by on a German blog and leaving your comment under my Echinacea post! Always great to meet people who are addicted to photography and who know to hold a camera the right way round! ;-)

    It's always a pleasure to get a read into places that are slightly different from what we have here in Central Europe. Your landscape is definitely not what we are used to have in front of our door sill in southern Germany.

    Whenever my time allows I'll try to cast a glance on your blog - that's OK with you?

    Kind regards from sunny Germany,

  8. Thanks Pride in Photos it was exciting.

  9. Uwe, Thanks for dropping by and I would love for you to read along when you can. I love seeing and learning about different places too. Germany is a lot different to here in Australia that is for sure. I remember when I visited years ago and being amazed by the green. I love seeing other's photos as well.


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