The city of Mount Isa is the most important industrial, commercial and administrative centre in north-west Queensland, an oasis of civilisation in outback spinifex and cattle country. But before John Campbell Miles first discovered a rich silver-lead deposit in 1923, the area was undeveloped. Today Mount Isa Mines operates one of the world's largest silver-lead mines. Mount Isa is also one of the world leaders in rodeos, holding the third largest, which attracts rough-riders from all over Queensland and almost doubles the town's population.
Outback at Isa, 19 Marian St; (07) 4749 1555
Nearby national parks
Outback at Isa This modern complex shows the splendours of Queensland's outback country. Don a hard hat and take a guided tour of the 1.2 km of underground tunnels in the Hard Times Mine. The Indigenous, pioneering and mining history of Mount Isa is explored in the Sir James Foots building, and the Outback Park offers a scenic lagoon and informative walking trail. Marian St; 1300 659 660.
Riversleigh Fossil Centre This award-winning centre explores the significant discoveries of the Riversleigh Fossil Site (267 km NW). Through colourful displays, the ancient animals and landscapes come alive. The theatrette shows an excellent film on the fossil story so far and a visit to the laboratory with a working palaeontologist brings fossil discovery up-close as precious material is extracted from rocks. Adjacent to Outback at Isa.
Kalkadoon Tribal Centre and Cultural Keeping Place:
Kalkadoon Tribal Centre and Cultural Keeping Place:preserves the heritage and culture of the Indigenous Kalkadoon people. There are displays of artefacts and guided tours by Kalkadoon descendants; open weekdays; Centenary Park, Marian St.
National Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre: informative video, historic and modern memorabilia and photo display; open weekdays; Barkly Hwy.
Trust Tent House: an example of the housing provided for miners in the 1930s and 1940s that was designed for good ventilation in extreme conditions; open by appt only; Fourth Ave; (07) 3229 1788.
School of the Air: discover how distance education works in the outback; Abel Smith Pde.
City Lookout: overview of city and mine area; Hilary St.
Underground Hospital: tours of hospital built in WW II; Deighton St.
Rodeo Walk of Fame: walk the road paved with the names of Mount Isa rodeo legends; Rodeo Dr.
Mount Isa Mine: the mine's lead smelter stack is Australia's tallest free-standing structure (265 m); informative surface tours available; details from visitor centre.
Donaldson Memorial Lookout: lookout and walking track; off Marian St.
Lake Moondarra: artificial lake for picnics and barbecues, swimming, watersports and birdwatching. Home of the Fishing Classic in Sept; 20 km N.
Mt Frosty: old limestone mine and swimming hole (not recommended for children as hole is 9 m deep with no shallow areas); 53 km E.
Lake Julius: canoe at the lake or see the Aboriginal cave paintings and old goldmine on the nature trails; 110 km NE.
Station visits: feel the outback spirit at one of the stations in the area; details from visitor centre.
Safari tours: to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park and Riversleigh Fossil Fields; details from visitor centre.
Air-charter flights: to barramundi fishing spots on Mornington and Sweers islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria; details from visitor centre.
Caravan parks around town
Find out more
Find out more
Rest areas around town
WW II Site rest area 46 km
54km NW of Mt Isa (L) or 136km E of Camooweal (R)
Just off the highway at the site of a WW II memorial.
61km W of Cloncurry (R) or 60km E of Mt Isa (L)
Just off the highway among a few trees.
David Hall rest area 86 km
99km W of Mt Isa (R) or 91km E of Camooweal (L)
Just off the highway.
Quamby rest area 88 km
45km N of Cloncurry (L) or 137km S of Burke and Wills (R)
Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.
What's on around town
Market: Library carpark, Sat.
Mining Expo: Apr.
Mount Isa Cup: horseracing; June.
Mount Isa Show: June.
Isa Rodeo: Aug.
Mardi Gras: Aug.
Fishing Classic: Sept.