Jul 20, 2016

Memories of Mary Kathleen

Memories of Mary Kathleen The former Mary Kathleen open-cut mine.

Between the years 1956-1963 and 1974-1983 Mary Kathleen was a bustling mining town and popular social spot.  Now all that remains is bitumen road and the concrete slabs where car ports once were.

The once thriving uranium town, was founded by Clem Walton and Norm McConarchy in 1954 during a time when everyone was searching Queensland for the commodity.

The ore was to be sent to Great Britain for their nuclear program and so Mary Kathleen Uranium Limited built up the infrastructure including the mine, treatment plant and township

The town’s first uranium stint ended in October 1963 after the contract tonnage had been produced and so the plant was ‘mothballed’.

Col Hooper-018

Author Col Hooper.

Author of Angor to Zillmanton, stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns, Col Hooper tells of how the mine was later re-started.

“Late in 1974 the town was rehabilitated and the mine and plant commenced work again and the concentrate started flowing again in 1976,” he said.

“But then in October 1983 the last production was completed and in 1984 the town and plant were sold off.  Nowadays, there’s very little left, it’s been cleaned and rehabilitated.”

Cloncurry Unearthed Visitor Information Centre & Museum manager Gail Wipaki said during its times of operation, Mary Kathleen was a popular weekend destination for residents from the nearby Cloncurry.

“It was just a lovely little community and I used to go out there quite a lot, a lot of people did.  Mary Kathleen at the time had ample water whereas Cloncurry always had a shortage of water,” she said.

“They had beautiful gardens, they had an orchard out there, a hospital, a school, two churches, everything was there that the community needed and there was picnic tables and a BBQ so a lot of times people used to go out from the Curry to have a picnic there.”

Although the town now sits dormant Ms Wipaki says there are still those who drop in to reminisce about what once was.

“We get a lot of people driving through that either their parents lived there or maybe they lived there when they were young and we get some tourists that just go to have a look and say that it’s eerie,” she said.

“When I go and see it today I like to remember it how it was because it was a lovely, very community minded town.”


Thickeners being demolished

Thickeners being demolished at the Mary Kathleen operation.


The abandoned pit today.