It was a flash of lightning on Christmas Eve 1871 that led to a young aboriginal boy named Jupiter discovering gold in Charters Towers.
Jupiter was prospecting for gold with a group of men when a thunderstorm scared off the group’s horses.
While searching for the startled animals Jupiter spotted a specimen of quartz studded with gold.
The gold find was then reported to the mining warden of the time – William Ewbank Skelton Melbourne Charters, and the town found its name.
This event was the start of a gold rush in Queensland’s North and what followed was a peak mass migration of about 30,000 miners, investors and entrepreneurs looking to cash in on the action.
Over the years of the gold boom, Charters Towers became affectionately known as ‘The World’ meaning that anything in the world you could want was available in the town.
Author Colin Hooper wrote in his book, North Queensland Deserted Towns, Charter Towers – Ravenswood – Cape River, about how the rush also brought about a change in the way that mines were run.
In 1895 the Labor leader of the time Tom Glassey lobbied for state ownership of the mines.
This led to locals becoming employees of the mines and the days of local ownership began to disappear.
Mr Hooper said this move by Mr Glassey marked the end of a generation of freedom.
“In 1896 in other fields, a miner could both own and work his own mine,” he said.
“Here was someone trying to take this freedom away in the name of the state rather than a capitalist or overlord.”
Despite the changes, Charters Towers continued to grow and prosper.