Mount Coolon Heritage Sites

Mount Coolon, QLD, Australia
Est. 577m / 12 mins / Map

Mount Coolon Heritage Sites - Cya On The Road

Mount Coolon, originally known as the township of Koala, first caught the interest of prospective gold miners in the early 1900’s, including the town’s namesake Thomas Coolon, and James Barclay who pegged several areas in what would later become the Native Bear lease. Barclay began the construction of a five head battery in 1914 and began mining gold from the area at Police Creek. In 1917, he erected another 15 heads as he grew his lease. Part of this construction included a 23m tall chimney made entirely out of over 200,000 local bricks. It is an impressive sight which still stands today and is the first thing you see when approaching the old town from any direction. The chimney, much of the machinery as well as the foundations of these original constructions still remain today and are easily accessible to visitors to the town. The town is possibly most well-known for the infamous quadruple murder/suicide by the town’s namesake, Thomas Coolon, himself. In 1918, Bernard Thompson took the title of the mine under forfeiture, a decision that was held up by the court when Coolon appealed. Coolon shot Thompson in retaliation, as well as three of his associates, before turning the gun on himself. It was reported that the morning of the shooting he had ensured his will was current and that Barclay would care for his wife and children. The graves of Thomas Coolon as well as the four men he shot can be found all buried together in modest burials nearby the old house. Mining continued on Mount Coolon for around 30 years, however during the 1930’s there began to be unrest between the workers and the owners. This came to a head in 1935 when workers began a strike that lasted 6 months. Eventually work commenced on the mine after negotiations between workers, unions and employers, however this strike was considered to be one that highlighted the unrest that was felt by all mine workers across the state. It was a case of workers fighting for themselves, even against the unions whom they believed did not have workers best interests at heart. By this point, the mines were already considering closure due to the harsh environmental conditions and the gold running low, and by 1941 all areas had ceased mining at mount Coolon, leaving only the chimney, foundations, and abandoned machinery behind. Today, the almost abandoned town is concentrated around the Mount Coolon Hotel, which remains a gathering place for everyone in the town as well as from the surrounding properties. The School, Police Station, Lyric Theatre and Battery are accessible for tourists to explore, however many of their stories are being forgotten except by those who were alive to experience them. On top of this, the town’s population has dropped rapidly, from 567 in 2011 to 64 in 2016, and most people in the area are either from the surrounding properties, working at the pub or fuel station, or staying at the mining/construction camps that are popping up around the town. The development of these camps is the biggest risk to the town and its heritage at the moment. This is because temporary camps are not the kind of permanent development that encourages growth, but instead could potentially put these heritage areas, as well as the town economy, at risk. This is due to the lack of interest from people staying at the camps and the risk of areas being further cleared to make more room. In order to maintain interest, the council have placed some signs around that give brief histories of the areas and the buildings, but if anyone wants to look further there is not a lot of information readily available.

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