Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 28, 2016 at 06:56
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Chillagoe was named by William Atherton in 1888. The name is taken from the refrain of a sea shanty: "Hikey, Tikey, Psyche, Crikey, Chillagoe, Walabadorie". James Mulligan had explored the area in 1873 and Atherton backed up his reports of rich copper outcrops in the area. Mining pioneer John Moffat sent prospectors to the field in 1888 and quickly monopolised the field. A receiving office opened in 1891 (with W. Atherton as Receiving Office Keeper) but closed in 1893. A post office opened in 1900 with F. Donner as the storekeeper and postmaster. The Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company's line opened from Mareeba in 1901 and a Town Reserve was proclaimed 27 October 1910.




Chillagoe is sometimes remembered for its involvement in the Mungana affair,(The Mungana Affair involved the selling, in 1922, of some mining properties in the Chillagoe-Mungana districts of northern Queensland, Australia to the Queensland government, at a grossly inflated price) a mining scandal which brought down the government. In 1919, after fluctuating fortunes and closures, ownership of the smelter was transferred to the Queensland Government. This acquisition by the Labor Government brought allegations of political corruption which persisted for many years. Closures plagued the smelter again in the late 1920s. When the Australian Labor Party lost power in 1929, the new government ordered a Royal Commission into the incident. The political careers of two former Queensland Premiers, 'Red' Ted Theodore and William McCormack, were ruined by the Commission’s report. Read the famous book by Frank Hardy: "Power without Glory".


Woothakata is a property on beautiful Chillagoe creek named after the early Tableland shire which Chillagoe was a part of. Woothakata is an Aboriginal word which describes the way Aborigines traveled to Ngarrabullgan/Mount Mulligan, an important meeting place.
By World War One, Chillagoe was one of the largest metallurgical developments in Queensland.
In 1903 Chillagoe had a population of 723, swelling to 1,600 in 1907. At it s peak in 1917, Chillagoe had a population of about 10,000 with thirteen hotels, two newspapers, and a hospital. In 1943 the smelters closed, plunging Chillagoe into a decline it has never recovered from. The town became over grown with an introduced plant called Rubber Vine and the only source of employment was from the limited cattle and rail industries. In 1953 tobacco was unsuccessfully trailed down. Electricity and sealed roads only came to Chillagoe In 1970. Today the population of Chillagoe hovers around 150. The only industries in the town are cave tours, and a small gold mine nearby.



The Chillagoe Smelter operated in the early 1900s. At this time it was the centre of a thriving mining industry that brought wealth and development to the Chillagoe area in Queensland, Australia.
By June 1901, when the railway was completed, Chillagoe was a flourishing town. The railway enabled equipment for the large, innovative Chillagoe Smelters to become operative by September 1901. The Chillagoe Railway & Mining Company equipped its work sites with the most up-to-date machinery and the surrounding mines at Mungana, Zillmanton and Redcap worked on a large scale. At times, the mines, railway and smelter provided employment for up to 1,000 workers.
Chillagoe Smelter operated until 1943 and in its 40 odd year lifetime treated 1.25 million tons of ore, yielded 60,000 tons of copper, 50,000 tons of lead, 181 tons of silver and 5 tons of gold. By 1943, other smelters were built closer to the then major ore producing areas such as Mount Isa. Easy access to these areas outweighed the economic usefulness of the state run Chillagoe Smelter. In 1950, the buildings and equipment were auctioned.
Construction of the first section of the Chillagoe Railway & Mining Co (Chillagoe Co.). was the main line from Mareeba to Lappa Lappa (later Lappa Junction, then simply Lappa) commenced in 1898 and the 55 miles were opened on 1 October 1900 though public traffic had been worked to Lappa prior to this date at owner's risk. The line was extended through Almaden to Chillagoe (completed about June 1901) and on to Mungana (completed in July 1901). The 47 miles from Lappa to Mungana being officially opened for traffic on 2 August 1901.

The Lappa Junction to Mount Garnet railway commenced in 1901, the first section from Lappa Junction to Ord. The 16½ miles being opened for traffic by the contractors Wilcox and Overend on 16 November 1901. The remaining 16 miles from Ord to Mt. Garnet were completed and opened by the contractors on 29 April 1902, once again public traffic had been worked over the line prior to the official opening.The first 10 miles of this line were owned by Chillagoe Co. but the remaining 22½ miles were the property of the Mt. Garnet Freehold Mining Co. notwithstanding that the whole line was worked by the Chillagoe Co.
After a number of proposals had been made for the route of a railway to the Etheridge field, construction finally commenced in 1906 from Almaden to Mount Surprise on the Mareeba to Chillagoe line. The railway was opened to Mt. Surprise in May 1908, and through to Einasleigh on 8 February 1909, a total of 101 miles. The final 41 miles from Einasleigh to Forsayth were not opened until 5 February 1911, construction having proceeded slowly due to union unrest and uncertainty within the mining industry generally. The company bought six B-15 class 4-6-0 locomotives between 1900 and 1909. The line was taken over by the Queensland Government in 1919.
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 28, 2016 at 08:49

Sunday, Feb 28, 2016 at 08:49
Thanks Doug

That is an interesting part of the State

Alan
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 16:31

Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 16:31
Really enjoyed this week's "issue" Doug, probably because I'd travelled the Mareeba - Almaden section last Easter, and then in June. Still haven't got up to Chillagoe yet, but did return home via Mt Surprise and Einsleigh in June.




Doing a bit of a search earlier and found a couple of items that might interest you Doug, and the SHP readers. This one first and this one.

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Bob
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 18:01

Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 18:01
'
I see it is still in need of a paintbrush Bob. lol

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 19:11

Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 19:11
Ha ha, Allan.

Don't think the Petford Bunnings sells paint in small tins, that would be a sensible size for this contract. :-)

The smallest railway station in Australia...........surely the National Trust would be onto it, eh? Looks much better in sepia Allan, rather than colour.

Bob
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 19:21

Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 19:21
'
The interesting thing is Bob, those poles and cabinets were not there when I took my photo in 2010. Are they railways comms and is that line still in use? Surely not!
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 22:07

Monday, Feb 29, 2016 at 22:07
The line certainly doesn't appear to get much use, Allan.

In that first link I added above, it shows a railmotor in 2011, so perhaps that still runs up to Almaden or Chillagoe?

Bob

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