Mt Morgan is an old mining town, located about 40km south-west of Rockhampton. Its prosperity was founded on, and then rose and fell with a huge open-cut gold and copper mine. The mine has been closed for thirty years now and the town is a bizarre but strangely compelling place, a true time wrap and not very far off being a ghost town despite boasting a population of over 2,000 people, a high school and a museum.
Mt Morgan is officially a heritage town and there are several rather striking buildings on the town's main street which is worth a stroll not just for the old architecture (from the scruffy pub called the Grand Hotel to a railway station), but also for the air of desolate but picturesque dilapidation with a quirky twist.
The local historical museum has extensive displays on the history of the mine and the usual small-town collection of "heritage" artefacts (some of them well remembered as normal stuff by anybody over the age of thirty, some more interesting). Not a fantastic value at 6 AUD per adult entry, but still well worth the look, especially if you can't or don't want to take part in the apparently excellent mine tour (which also, intriguingly, includes viewing of real dinosaur footprints in man-made mine caverns).
Peek into a shop, cafe or a bakery on the main street and you will often feel like stepping thirty years back in time too, from the wares on display to the attitudes of the staff.
It's well worth making your way up a steep street at the end of town opposite to the museum and railway station to the Arthur Timms lookout. This offers excellent views of the mine itself and the surrounding hilly area. The mine is huge and one can just imagine how, when it was working, it must have totally dominated the town. High terraces cut into the red earth, pyramids of rubble and a tall chimney still standing among dilapidating buildings, the mine seems to have grown from the hillside and one expects it to recede back into it one day.
Mt Morgan can be reached by several daily Young’s Bus Service buses from Rockhampton.
The town and mine tours depart at 9.30am and 1.30pm and cost approximately 30 AUD per adult.
All in all, a rather fascinating glimpse into the Australian industrial and social history and worth a stop or detour if driving by, and possibly even a bus day trip from Rockhampton if you spending any length of time in the area.