Introducing Mt Isa
If you want a taste of life in ‘big town’ outback Queensland, Mt Isa has all the rough-around-the-edges cowboy flavour adventurous travellers crave. Plus it’s about as authentic as the outback gets. Locals stroll across the pedestrian crossings with absolute certainty that the cars will stop for them, and honking horns are usually from drivers waving hello.
At 121km west of Cloncurry, ‘the Isa’ is a long way from anywhere. Once you arrive, however, you’re bound to be impressed by the beauty: stark red ridges meet cerulean skies, and bump up against olive-green clumps of spinifex.
Mt Isa owes its prosperity to immensely rich underground lead, zinc, silver and copper ore bodies west of the city. The mine’s job opportunities have attracted people from about 50 different ethnic groups, most of whom are men (there are supposedly three males to every female!). The sandy Leichhardt River divides ‘townside’ from ‘mineside’, and home from work.