Mt Mulligan

Far North Queensland

We first went to Mt. Mulligan in 1995, because we had recently purchased a 4 wheel drive car, and I had been interested in the history of the far north for some years. This page has come about because the past six weeks the subject of Mt Mulligan has been discussed twice by different groups of people. In searching the internet, I discovered that very little information is available on the WWW. So here is what I know......

Mt Mulligan is named after an Irishman, James Venture Mulligan, who unwittingly encouraged the 1873 gold rushes in Far North Queensland. It is situated about 50 km north of Dimbulah.

Mulligan set off from the Etheridge Goldfields in June 1873, headed for the Palmer River area. In 1874, he headed north of Dimbulah and named the Hodgkinson River and Mt Mulligan. After gold was found, the townships of Kingsborough and Thornborough were quickly established. The gold finds were not as profitable as those on the Palmer and the population soon dispersed. 

In 1907, Bill Harris was fossicking for opals just north of Thornborough, when he discovered coal seams at the bottom of the Mt Mulligan cliffs. Irvine mining company took over the lease, and later sold it to the New Chillagoe Company in 1910. This is when it was developed. The township of Mt Mulligan was established for the miners and the railway construction workers. The railway from Dimbulah to Mt Mulligan was completed in 1914. 

On Monday morning, September 19, 1921 an explosion rocked Mt Mulligan, and was heard up to 60 km away. At 9.25, in the main tunnel, an explosion occurred. A Royal Commission found the cause to be 'accidental or otherwise firing of an explosive.' the commission also found that the explosives were stored and carried carelessly. The shift was to have 83 men, however, only 75 turned up for work. All but one of the bodies were recovered, although most were badly burnt. The miners either died immediately or died in hospital of their injuries. Volunteers from Mareeba, Dimbulah and Cairns boarded trains to assist at Mt Mulligan

When the mine reopened, 5 months later, the last body was found. 

Two years after the explosion, 1923, the Queensland Government bought the mine. The mine was closed in 1957. Soon after a public auction was held and all the buildings were sold for removal except one, the hospital, which was bought by a local grazier. I believe this is now known as Mt Mulligan Station and the owner has accommodation packages. See link




Passages of Time, by Alec Martin, Cairns Post

River of Gold by Hector Holthouse

Old Mining Towns of North Queensland by Frank Dempstey

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Created January 2003                    Updated 10 April 2007

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