The Mount Carbine hotel is often a meal stop during the return journey along the inland road back from Cooktown. Mount Carbine consists of nothing more than a pub and a Caravan Park. An open cut mine and small processing plant are the only indications of its past history where the population twice grew to over 400 and was determined by the price and demand of tungsten.
Tungsten is very rare and heavy stone (formally known as wolframite) and has many uses including steel hardening, in the military for penetrating projectiles and light bulb filaments due to its very high melting point. These days it’s most commonly associated with high-speed cutting tools such as drill bits and the balls in the end of ballpoint pens.
It is said that a miner by the name of Carroll Walsh named Mount Carbine after the 1890 Melbourne Cup winner – Carbine. Wolframite was officially discovered in the area in 1891 and by 1900 there was a substantial community of over 400 as miners came from the failing Palmer River and Hodgkinson gold fields. The Mount Carbine deposits were mined by John Moffatt who had many mining ventures in the area including Irvinebank and Chillagoe. In 1906 Wolframite prices crashed and like so many remote mining towns, Mount Carbine vanished until mining was recommenced in 1971 with about 60 men. The mining camp again grew to about 400 and boasted an Olympic size swimming pool opened by Dawn Fraser with the mine producing exceptionally high-grade concentrates but again in 1980 prices began to fall and by 1993 the mining camp and equipment was auctioned to the highest bidder – the swimming pool was emptied.
Mount Carbine today (2014)
With deposits still relatively unexplored and quality comparable with other large deposits around the world, in 2011 due to new technology operations began yet again extracting minerals from the old tailings with the intentions of future hard rock mining. Perhaps the swimming pool will again be used. There have been plenty of interesting happenings when I’ve called in – once a patron had a 2 mtr python at the bar and there always seems to be a friendly Blue Heeler out front.
More information can be found at http://troyspro.com.au/mining-towns-in-australia/queensland/mining-towns-in-queensland-mount-carbine-australian-mining-towns/
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