Townsville, Queensland, Australia
August 26, 2001
Our first stop was Towers Hill. At the base of the hill is the gold discovery monument commemorating the find in 1871 that led to one of Australia’s most frenzied gold rushes and the formation of Charters Towers. Part way up the hill we passed the seismograph station that records earthquakes over a large area of the Asia-Pacific region. The view from the hill is extensive and tour operator Ted Allan indicated many past and present features from gold rush times.
The next half-hour was spent visiting the site of some of the largest mine shafts and viewing the remains of the huge pyrites works that existed from 1888 to 1892. Unfortunately the huge 167 foot brick smokestack was destroyed in World War II. We drove past restored Pfeiffer House (1880), the Masonic temple (1876), the former German Church (1886) and other historic buildings. Next stop was at the Civic Club, which was originally built as the Londoners Club in 1886. This was once the domain of wealthy and powerful businessmen but now everyone is welcome. Inside the building remains much as it always was with its two full size billiard tables, its private card rooms and old bar. The original pressed iron ceiling and the photographs from the city’s glory days awed us. The club is open to visitors Monday to Saturday 10:30am to 8pm.
After further exploration of the city, the final stop was at Ay Ot Lookout House, a restored private residence from 1886. As we drove back to the central city Ted indicated the wooden bell tower (1876) at St Columbia’s Church, the gracious courthouse (1891) and the School of Mines (1900) as well as several other points of interest.
We were happy with the tour. Perhaps it is not spectacular scenery but you see and learn much about the past, which you would not know just driving by yourself. It should be the first thing you do when visiting Charters Towers.
From journal An Outback Experience