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Charters Towers

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Charters Towers was once Queensland's second biggest city outside of Brisbane, having grown fabulously rich during the goldrush of 1872-99.

Gold was originally found in 1871in a creekbed at the foot of Towers Hill in what is now Charters Towers. The person who found it was an Aboriginal boy named Jupiter Mosman. Within a year the whole area was swarming with more than 3,000 prospectors. In fact there were so many prospectors from so many countries that Charters Towers was popularly known as "the World".

Charters Towers grew quickly into an established and prosperous town. By 1900 it had a population of around 30,000 and the number of mines there was almost 300.

Stock Exchange Arcade image

The Stock Exchange Arcade building (in which the Stock Exchange used to be located), Charters Towers
(Photo: Rob and Stephanie Levy)

Many impressive commercial buildings were built. Many of these still exist and include the Stock Exchange (yes, Charters Towers had its own stock exchange!), the Northern Miner newspaper offices, the Post Office and the so-called World.

Many private dwellings were equally impressive and featured wide verandahs and elaborate lacework. One of the most splendid of these was the house of Frederick Pfeiffer, a goldminer who became Queensland's first millionaire. It still exists and may be viewed in Paull Street -- but only from the outside as it is now a Mormon Chapel.

Charters Towers has several museums, including the Mining Museum and the Zara Clark Museum, which displays items relating to early life and transport in this town.

The Venus Gold Battery, 5 kilometers (3 miles) out of town, was a gold battery that crushed and processed gold-bearing ore until 1972. The battery and its machinery are now restored to working order and are open for inspection.

The gold in the Charters Towers area was exhausted in the 1920s. However, unlike other nearby gold mining towns such as Ravenswood which became a virtual ghost town, Charters Towers survived by as a center for the local cattle industry. In the 1980s the wheel of fortune turned again, when gold mining companies began exploiting previously uneconomic gold ore deposits through the use of new technologies and techniques.

Charters Towers hosts a Country Music Festival (every May Day weekend), an Easter rodeo, and the Goldfield Ashes Cricket Competition (each Australia Day weekend).

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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)

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