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Gold mining town
Gold mining town
Country accommodation


Thursday, October 30, 2003
David has his very own outback adventure in an old deserted gold mining town.

Tyrconnell offers visitors a very special experience — they can step back and enjoy a piece of Australia's goldmining history in outback Queensland. The rugged tree-studded hills were once home to 10,000 people, all hoping to strike gold, and Tyrconnell was the most famous mine on the Hodgkinson goldfield.

Tyrconnell is the Gaelic name for an ancient kingdom in the north-west of Ireland, now known as Donegal. Tyrconnell was also the name of a horse which won the Queen's Plate race in 1876 and the property may have been named after that thoroughbred.

Now, 120 years on, it is a bush retreat and several original buildings and machines remain as reminders of the bustling gold era, but are now in tranquil and beautiful surroundings. It is also a haven for orphaned and injured wildlife, and for that reason, those taking their dogs with them are asked to keep them restrained.

Andrew Bell's family mined for gold there in the 1980s but these days he and Cate Harley are focused on restoring the heritage assets and sharing it with up to 12 visitors.

Nights spent there are those of crackling campfires and skies filled with stars. You can choose whether you stay in one of three heritage-style cottages, or alternatively you can camp.

The three cottages are privately placed in the 45 hectare property. The restored timber and iron mine manager's cottage is rich in charm and character and has three bedrooms — one queen, one double and one twin. There is a bathroom, a lounge, verandah and kitchen.

The two new cottages each have a central lounge/kitchen and two bedrooms — one queen, one twin — each with ensuite. They have wide front and back verandahs, a bar refrigerator and overhead fans.

The campground is near the seasonal Tyrconnell Creek and is grassed and tiered and there is a central barbecue for everyone to enjoy. Tents, mattresses and other camping equipment are available for hire. The large shower blocks are made from timber and iron and have hot showers and flush toilets.

Lunch platters, gourmet barbecues, traditional roast dinners and Thai curries are available to all overnight guests and are served in Andy and Cate's miner's cottage. It has a deck with 180 degree views of the surrounding hills.

No visit is complete without a tour of the site, either as a short trip or for an overnight stay. The two-hour tour includes commentary about the history of the area and the gold mine and includes a demonstration of the 120-year-old quartz crushing machine in operation.

Cate and Andy offer a side trip to Mount Mulligan, 25km north-west and known as the "Ayers Rock of the north". The sandstone bluff is 18km long and 300m high.

There are a number of creeks in the immediate area which are suitable for some panning. Who knows — you may strike it rich. Pans, sieve and pick are free of charge to guests and Andy will show you how to do it.

There are two dams on Tyrconnell suitable for swimming. There are other swimming spots, but by the end of the dry season — around September — they can be pretty low on water.


Two-and-a-half hours west of Cairns in North Queensland


Tyrconnell two-day, one-night self-drive packages start at $206 per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

PO Box 41 Dimbulah 4872
Ph: (07) 4093 5177
Fax: (07) 4093 5947

Qantas: 13 13 13

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