There are scores of small towns that came about due to the mineral boom of Far North Queensland in the late 1800’s created by the Palmer River Gold Rush sparked by J V Mulligan. Most have simply vanished, but a few remain for various obscure reasons. We pass through the tiny town of Almaden on our way to Chillagoe on my Two Day Outback Tour along the Wheelbarrow Way and guests are amazed that such a town still exists as there were no significant mineral deposits. Locally know as ‘Cow Town’, it consists of just a few buildings and most living there would make claim to being the unofficial Mayor. The Railway Hotel represents the petrol station, post office, shop and town hall and the school is now a small Caravan Park. The pub is also in control of what television station (singular) is watched in the town with the transmitter located in a locked room at the Railway Station. Did I say Railway Station? Now you are picturing a larger town but the train only comes through Almaden twice a week – same train, different direction. It’s the historic Savanahlander and the railway line is directly related to the creation and survival of the town. A private railway completed in 1901 was constructed to service the nearby Chillagoe smelter and for a few years Almaden became a Cob & Co stagecoach stop until a rail branch was completed to the south in 1908 to access further minerals. The line was subjected to flood damage and bush fires often destroying the timber trestle bridges. Almaden was the obvious base for the railway repair crews and junction for the transfer and control of rail traffic.
In 1927 a cyclone caused all sorts of damage and in 1931, flood damage was so bad that consideration was given to close the line to the South but Almaden continued to survive. Almaden’s other claim is the home of infamous Vince Kinnear who became the first Ranger and Post Master at nearby Chillagoe and is one of the stops during the Great Wheelbarrow Race.
More information can be found at http://www.whereis.com/QLD/ALMADEN#session=MTQ=
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