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Big Trip Blog Bigtripblog is a multimedia travel experience capturing the adventures of Kevin and Valerie during their one year trip around the world.

Mt. Isa

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 11 July 2007 | Views [3420]

Val: After cutting inland almost 1000 kilometers, we reached our last stop in Queensland, Mount Isa, the quintessential outback mining town. It's a fitting place to end our tour of this incredibly diverse state, after having already visited rainforest, beaches, cosmopolitan cities and lush hinterland. Mining is a pretty huge deal in Australia's history. When gold was discovered in the 1800's, it had a big hand in developing the entire country and populating it with many of today's inhabitants' European and Asian ancestors. Many towns in the outback are skeletons of what they used to be because all of the buried riches disappeared long ago, but not Mt. Isa. One of the world's largest mines is underneath the entire town, producing copious amounts of copper, silver, lead, and zinc. It was hard to forget the mine, as we were occasionally shaken by loud rumbles beneath our campervan site. Even more frequently a low industrial groan, like the sound of old plumbing, could be heard several kilometers from town.

The town itself is surrounded by rolling red hills dotted with spinifex (prickly desert grass) and scraggly trees. We caught a sunset from a lookout to watch the hills turn from orange to deep red as the smokestacks and mine towered above the small business district and residential areas. It was so quiet, which made it hard to believe this is the center of action for very far flung rural towns. An example of this role is the School of the Air. It's a correspondence teaching facility, broadcasting lessons over the radio to children of cattle and sheep ranchers in rural areas. We tried to take a tour and hear a class, but unfortunately they were closed.

Today we leave Mt. Isa to drive west into hundreds of kilometers of bizarre nothingness. I can't wait.

Tags: ambassador van, on the road


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