fossicking

The Ghosts of Charters Towers

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Gold was discovered in Charters Towers in 1871 by an Aboriginal horseboy, Jupiter, who was travelling with prospectors looking for gold. He came across it by chance whilst rounding up their horses which had bolted in fright during a thunderstorm. This find was the beginning of a huge influx of gold miners and associated businesses that made Charters Towers the second largest city in Queensland at the height of the gold rush, it was even given the name ‘The World’,  as it was believed the city had everything a civilised person could want! The town today has retained many of the beautiful heritage buildings built in that era and also the oldest surviving gold battery in Queensland as well as lots of ‘friendly’ ghosts from its mining past.

The Miner’s Cottage owned by Alan Silverwood has been refurbished to show how the house would have looked during the gold rush days, and also houses a fascinating collection of household and mining items from that period.

Alan at the Miners Cottage Charters Towers

While we were here we met Tony who gave us a lesson in how to pan for gold, but unfortunately we only found a few flakes, not even enough to buy a coffee!

Panning for gold!

Venus Gold Battery was built in 1872 by Mr E Plant, as an ore crushing facility to extract the gold from the ore dug out by the miners. We had an excellent tour of the huge building by Peter Bagley who explained the process and described each piece of the machinery and it’s function in the extraction of gold. It is a magnificent piece of engineering history and you could imagine the hustle and bustle there with the miners eagerly watching the extraction of their gold from the ore before they took it to the the Assay room for valuing, then to the Stock Exchange in the town where it was sold. Peter also told us about the ghost of Mr. Plant who still takes an interest in the battery and keeps a friendly eye on things today!

Stock Exchange Charters Towers

Watching over Charters Towers is Towers Hill where the gold was first discovered, from the lookout at the top there is an wonderful view over the town and surrounding countryside. From up here in the evening Peter presents ‘Ghosts after Dark’ a film with special effects, which introduces lots of the stories about the characters who lived here in the gold rush years and whose ghosts still visit the town today. It is a great evenings entertainment in a super location.

10k out of Charters Towers, Michael and Lynda Bethal own Leahton Park, a cattle station where they breed Texas Longhorns, magnificent beasts whose horns can grow up to 9ft from tip to tip. You can book a tour to see them on a canvas covered wagon drawn by two beautiful draft horses and enjoy billy tea and home made damper.

Texas Longhorn from the Wagon Tour

As well as breeding cattle, Michael is a very talented, professional saddle maker and a guided tour of his excellent workshop is included in the visit. He showed us a completed saddle and we were blown away by the beautiful craftmanship of his work, and the wonderful smell of new leather. Michael and Lynda also own a wonderful, gleaming, white 6 seater Landau which is drawn by the draft horses and can be hired for weddings or special occasions and makes a magical way to arrive for your celebration.

Michael's Saddlery Leahton Park

Whilst we were at Charters Towers we stayed at BIG4 Aussie Outback Oasis owned by Marnie and David, a spacious attractive park where everyone receives a warm welcome and is a most enjoyable place to stay. They regularly hold live country music evenings and Tom and Patsy were playing while we were there. It was also pizza night, when you can buy a delicious homemade pizza freshly cooked in a wood fired oven and we had a great evening sitting by the firepit listening to the great music and enjoying our supper with the other visitors.

BIG4 Aussie Outback Oasis Charters Towers