6/06/2015 The Diamantina Development Road took us from Boulia to Mt Isa. We lost count of the numerous grids and creeks we crossed on the 300km single-lane bitumen road. As we travelled, the country seemed to be constantly changing from one hill crest to the next. Long stretches of grazing land were broken up by rocky outcrops. Mitchell grass plains would change to rocky expanses of spinifex and then to Gidgee and Mulga trees and back again. We saw that this stretch had much more feed in the paddocks than on the other side of Boulia, with more head of cattle in the broad unfenced paddocks and we had to keep a steady eye out for livestock near the road.
This flat Channel Country must be a spectacular sight in the wet. The runoff from rivers and creeks breaks the banks and spreads out for thousands of square kilometres, turning much of the country into an inland sea for a period of time. While it would be great to see, I wouldn’t like to be here when it was like that.
After being used to the flat plains for the past few days, we were pleasantly surprised to come across mountain ranges and spectacular rocky hill formations around Dajarra, the small town half way to Mt Isa.
We didn’t know quite what to expect of Mt Isa. We knew it was a big mining town and a major centre in the West, but had no idea beyond that. The mine was absolutely enormous. It loomed next us on our left as we drove into town, with mountains of mined rock, gantries everywhere, high tension power lines and towers, smelting works, tall smoke stacks, and enormous blackened buildings. We viewed the town from Hilary Lookout at dusk to appreciate the size of it and particularly the Mount Isa Mine complex that was lit up like Mad Max’s Thunderdome, complete with belching steam and smoke. It stretched from one end of town to the other and made you appreciate that this was, above all, a mining town, and it stuck us just how physically close the mine was located to the everyday life of Mt Isa. It was just right there, hard up against the rest of the buildings and the everyday goings-on of the town.