Cairns conjures up images of the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, Port Douglas and endless water activities. But there is another side Getaway headed west to find out about Mount Mulligan.
Now just a ghost town with a few buildings and remnants from the past, Mount Mulligan was the site of Queensland's worst mining disaster. It was a coal mining town from 1910 until September, 1921, when an underground explosion took the lives of the town's 75 miners. The mine closed but reopened in 1923 and continued production until 1957, when a hydro-electric scheme negated the need for coal.
Our crew took a Downunder Helicopter out to Mount Mulligan. Viewing the site from the air is quite an experience. It is a rock face roughly 10 times the size of Uluru. It is often referred to as the Ayers Rock of the north but for some reason remains virtually unknown. The sandstone bluff is Queensland's oldest Aboriginal site and is owned by the KuKu Djungan people. It is 18 kilometres long and 300 metres high.
The helicopter landed at Mount Mulligan Station, home of Owen and Roma Rankine. The 28,000-hectare property is at the foot of Mount Mulligan, a truly outback setting. Average rainfall is 76 centimetres from August to December it is very dry. During that time, feed has to be distributed to the livestock.
The station has around 2000 head of free-range cattle which are mustered three times a year with the help of horses, dogs and a helicopter. The homestead was built in 1936 as a hospital and while it has been modernised, it retains much of its original charm and character.
Stay for a couple of days or a week and soak up the outback and warm hospitality.
Accommodation is simple but very comfortable, suitable for families, couples, groups or individuals. Guests stay in the old homestead where there are five bedrooms and shared bathroom facilities. Some visitors enjoy the option of sleeping in true outback style in a swag by a campfire under millions of stars.
The homestead's large verandah is a good place to take a nap in a hammock and spot local wildlife. You can take a horse ride in the cool of the late afternoon all rides are guided and all levels of rider catered for. Helmets are provided.
There are several wonderful walking trails, ranging from a one-hour easy stroll to three hours of strenuous hiking. Visitors are welcome to go on the 4WD cattle-feeding tour. You can explore the remains of the old town and fish or swim in the Hodgkinson River and Mulligan Weir.
There is a large television room with pool table and an al fresco dining area where homemade meals and freshly baked treats are served.
2.5 hours west of Cairns.
Downunder Helicopters has an overnight tour leaving Cairns for $725 per person, with a minimum of two passengers. For four passengers the cost is $600 per person and for six, $510 per person. Flight, accommodation, meals and scenic drive back to Cairns are included. Horseriding sessions are $25 per person.
Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Cairns.
One-way fares from;
- Brisbane, $129
- Sydney, $159
- Melbourne, $165
- Adelaide, $199
- Darwin, $275
- Perth, $325
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at October 05, 2006, and are subject to change.
Prices quoted are correct on October 5, 2006.
Mount Mulligan Station
Mount Mulligan Road
Ph: (07) 4094 8360
PO Box 1071N
Ph: (07) 4034 9000
Fax: (07) 4034 9001
Ph: 13 6789