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Mount Isa
Panorama of Mount Isa, Queensland.jpg
Mount Isa
Mount Isa is located in Queensland
Mount Isa
Mount Isa
Location in Queensland
Population 18,588 (2018)
 • Density 295.99/km2 (766.6/sq mi)
Established 1923
Postcode(s) 4825
Elevation 356 m (1,168 ft)
Area 62.8 km2 (24.2 sq mi)(2011 urban)
Time zone AEST (UTC+10)
LGA(s) City of Mount Isa
State electorate(s) Traeger
Federal Division(s) Kennedy
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
31.9 °C
89 °F
17.3 °C
63 °F
461.8 mm
18.2 in

Mount Isa ( EYE-zə) is a city in the Gulf Country region of Queensland, Australia. It came into existence because of the vast mineral deposits found in the area. Mount Isa Mines (MIM) is one of the most productive single mines in world history, based on combined production of lead, silver, copper and zinc.

With an estimated urban population of 18,588 as of June 2018, Mount Isa is the administrative, commercial and industrial centre for the state's vast north-western region. Population has decreased moderately at an average annual rate of -2.66% year-on-year over the five years to 2018. Although situated in an arid area, the artificial Lake Moondarra 19 kilometres (12 mi) north of the city on the Leichhardt River provides both drinking water and an area for watersports, birdwatching and recreation. Locals often refer to Mount Isa as "The Isa".

Due to the lead production in the city, Mount Isa has one of the most intensive air quality monitoring systems in Australia. Concerns have been raised over childhood lead contamination and air pollution within the city. The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) in particular are a source of significant lead pollution.


StateLibQld 2 239722 Greeting the officials train at Mount Isa, western Queensland
The Attorney General of Queensland, John Mullan, officially opened the railway line on 6 April 1929
StateLibQld 2 256762 Blast furnaces 1-2, Interior view of part of the smelter at Mt. Isa Mines, 1932
Smelter interior, 1932
StateLibQld 2 256694 Elevated view of the mining town of Mt. Isa, 1932
Township, 1932
StateLibQld 2 242577 Main street in Mount Isa with Smiths Hotel on the left, ca. 1936
Main street, ~1936

The land around the present day city of Mount Isa was home to the Kalkadoon aboriginal tribe. The Kalkadoon tribe led a subsistence lifestyle on this land that the white settlers looked at as nothing but poor grazing land, with the odd mineral deposit. As settlers and prospectors pressed further into their lands the Kalkadoon tribe members set out on one of Australia's most successful guerrilla wars in a fight for their lands. Their success continued until at Battle Mountain in 1884, with what some historians have called a rush of blood, the tribe attacked a fortified position in large numbers and suffered terrible losses. The weakened state of the tribe made their land more vulnerable to the settlers and soon much of the land was lost. Armed patrols chasing the surviving tribe members and poor grazing lands for the settlers made times hard in the area over the following decades.

It is said that a lone prospector, John Campbell Miles, stumbled upon one of the world's richest deposits of copper, silver and zinc during his 1923 expedition into the Northern Territory, but many people do not know that he was taken to the deposits by a young aboriginal man by the name of Kabalulumana (for whom an Indigenous person's hostel in Mount Isa is named). When Miles inspected the yellow-black rocks in a nearby outcrop, they reminded him of the ore found in the Broken Hill mine that he had once worked at. Upon inspection these rocks were weighty and heavily mineralised. A sample sent away to the assayer in Cloncurry confirmed their value. Miles and four farmers staked out the first claims in the area. Taken with friend's stories of the Mount Ida gold mines in Western Australia, Miles decided upon Mount Isa as the name for his new claim.

Mount Isa Post Office opened on 1 August 1924.

A location for the town's hospital was chosen in 1929, with a small building completed the following year. In 1931, a larger structure was moved to the site from the closed mining town of Kuridala.

Heritage listings

Mount Isa has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Mount Isa experiences a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh). The summer/wet season is very hot with highly variable rainfall and humidity owing to the erratic influence of the monsoon. This can be almost non-existent in years like 1985/1986, where as little as 83 millimetres (3.3 in) fell from December to March, or extremely intense as in 1973/1974 when 789 mm (31.1 in) of rain fell over the same period. A typical summer includes numerous hot windy days over 40 °C with clear skies and low humidity, a few weeks of 35-40 °C temperatures with higher humidity and spectacular thunderstorms and a few days with heavy monsoon rain and cooler conditions below 30 °C.

The winter or dry season is warm and almost completely rainless with median monthly rainfalls from April to September below 2 mm (0.08 in), though nights can be quite cool and about once every three years a minimum below 0 °C (32 °F) is recorded. On rare occasions winter rain-bearing systems may bring heavy rain for a day or two, such as in June 2007, when 111.8 mm (4.40 in) of rain was recorded; however, such occurrences happen only every 5 years or less. The lowest temperature recorded at Mount Isa is −2.9 °C (26.8 °F) on 7 July 1984 and the hottest is 45.9 °C (114.6 °F) on 29 January 1990. The wettest 24 hour period on record was 213.0 mm (8.39 in) on 15 January 2004.

Climate data for Mount Isa
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 45.9
Average high °C (°F) 36.4
Average low °C (°F) 23.7
Record low °C (°F) 15.4
Rainfall mm (inches) 117.4
Humidity 35 38 32 27 29 28 25 20 18 18 22 27 27
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 7.8 7.2 4.0 1.4 1.2 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.9 2.3 4.0 5.9 36.6
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Culture and sport

Athletics, Gymnastics, Rugby League, cricket, netball, soccer, field hockey, Rugby Union, Australian Rules Football and tennis are the most common sports but Shooting, Squash, Softball, Basketball, BMX racing, and Ten-Pin bowling are also present. Mount Isa has a Go Kart Club situated off Duchess Road on the southern side of town.

Mount Isa also has a cinema complex, situated in the inner city on Rodeo Drive, that contains three air-conditioned cinemas, a skate park/aquatic centre and a multi-purpose sporting complex for basketball and other indoor sports. Mount Isa's events complex, Buchanan Park, opened in May 2007, can hold up to 6,000 people and is used for special events such as concerts and expos. It is also the home of the city's annual show and rodeo.

In 2008, plans were made to build a massive motor sports complex on the city's north-eastern outskirts, but as of 2016 it had not been built.

The city is known for its annual Rodeo and Mardi Gras street parade every August. There is also an annual Multicultural Festival in early September.

The local theater group, the Mount Isa Theatrical Society, also known as MITS, often holds plays and musicals, at least once every few months.

In July 2015, Mt Isa formed its own Symphony Orchestra, acclaimed as the "most remote in the world". Inaugurated on 23 July, the event attracted several stars of the music world, including world-famous jazz musician James Morrison. Morrison also figured in the premiere of Matthew Dewey's 'Symphony of the Inland Sea', composed for the occasion.

On 5 March 2017, Mount Isa was chosen as a host city of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay, along with Cloncurry, Hughenden, Winton and Birdsville. The baton will pass through the CBD and suburbs and regions en route before the opening ceremony on the Gold Coast.

Mount Isa parkrun

The Mount Isa parkrun is a 5 km run in Mount Isa. It starts at 7am every Saturday and is free. The event started in 2018 and has attracted tourists from across Queensland and more. The event starts at Tharrapatha Way. As at April 2018, the largest attendance is 102. The event caters for all types of runners of all standards.


Mount Isa had an estimated resident population of 18,588 people in 2018, housed in 6,285 dwellings, making the city the largest and most populous in Queensland's western interior, and one of the largest centres in outback Australia. The district population is 30,243 and incorporates the Cloncurry, Boulia, Burketown, Carpentaria, Doomadgee, Flinders, Mornington and Richmond shires.

The 2011 census found that 52.8% of residents were male and 47.2% were female. However, a rumour has circulated that the ratio of males to females living in Mount Isa was five to one. Former Mayor John Molony drew international press attention in August 2008 when he told the Townsville Bulletin newspaper that Mount Isa's gender imbalance made it a good place for "not so attractive" women to live.


StateLibQld 2 273587 Mines in Mount Isa, 1954
Mining in 1951
Mt Isa Street Scene in June 1962
Mt Isa Street, 1962

The Leichhardt River divides the city into areas known as "mineside" and "townside". Xstrata, the power station and the Airport are on the mineside, whilst the majority of the city, including the CBD and Base Hospital are on the townside. In recent years, population increases associated with the mining boom has increased demand for accommodation and land. The city has begun to spread out, with new suburbs in the south-east and north of the city being planned or developed. It is planned these expansions will cater for more than 40,000 people over the next 10 to 20 years.

  • Happy Valley, Queensland - includes Happy Valley State School, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, and Captain James Cook Park
  • Kalkadoon - includes Mount Isa Airport and Kalkadoon Park
  • Mica Creek – includes CS Energy Mica Creek Power Station
  • Miles End - includes Mount Isa train station
  • Parkside – Mount Isa's largest and oldest suburb. Contains the Irish Club, Parkside Flats complex, and Playway Park
  • Soldiers Hill – All streets and parks named after war locations and soldiers, such as Kokoda Road and Gallipoli Park
  • Hilton - More commonly known as Mineside, on the same side of the railway line as Mount Isa Mines and the Incitec Pivot Sulphuric Acid plant. Employee housing, particularly for managers and visiting staff from Xstrata, Casa Grande; a white brick mansion built for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II; now used for the annual Casa Grande Ball, and some mine operations.
  • Breakaway Estate - Semi-rural acreages
  • Fisher
  • Healy - Residential suburb, site of Healy State School
  • Healy Heights - New suburb, development ongoing, with several houses finished.
  • Lanskey
  • Menzies – includes Buchanan Park events complex, Stables and Racecourse.
  • Mornington
  • Mount Isa City - The Central Business District
  • Mount Isa East – has own post office and smaller shopping centres
  • Pioneer – includes a campus of TAFE Queensland North, Spinifex Senior Campus and Ten-Pin Bowling complex
  • Ryan – mostly industrial, includes army and State Emergency Service barracks, home to one company of the 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment
  • Spreadborough - mostly bushland and light industry. The notable Spreadborough family still resides in the area.
  • Sunset - Home to Sunset State Primary School, and some shopping facilities
  • The Gap
  • Townview - Home to Townview State Primary School
  • Winston


Mount Isa city and surrounds are serviced by a 35 vehicle taxi service. A taxi service known as "Isa-Curry" express transports passengers to and from the neighbouring centre of Cloncurry to Mount Isa and back again, usually for shopping and medical requirements. Additionally, many of the city's clubs have courtesy buses to and from their establishments that run seven days a week and into the early hours of the morning. Mount Isa Coaches is a locally owned and operated coach company that provides tours and charter services to the local community as well as mining, sporting, school and airport transfers. Greyhound Australia has a depot in Mount Isa, with coach services to and from Townsville, Brisbane and (closed due to COVID-19) Tennant Creek.

Mount Isa Airport has regular daily services to Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville, in addition to other services to remote Outback communities in western Queensland. The primary carriers which service Mount Isa and district are Qantas/QantasLink - Brisbane and Townsville; AirNorth - Darwin and Gold Coast; Regional Express - Townsville. In November 2009, it was announced that Skytrans and Westwing Aviation will commence flights in and out of Mount Isa to and from cities on the coast, commencing in February 2010. Regional Express (REX) also announced flights between Mount Isa and Townsville starting after December 2009. Virgin Australia (VA) began services in August 2012 and offers return services from Brisbane on weekdays.

The city is served by QR passenger train The Inlander, which travels overnight to Townsville twice a week in each direction.

Preceding station Queensland Rail Following station
Long distance rail services
towards Townsville
The Inlander Terminus


StateLibQld 1 109596 In the schoolyard of the Mount Isa State School, 1929
Mount Isa State School, 1929

Mount Isa has eight public primary schools and three private primary schools:

  • Happy Valley State School
  • Healy State School
  • Townview State School
  • Barkly Highway State School
  • Central State School
  • Sunset State School
  • Mount Isa School of Distance Education
  • Mount Isa Special School
  • St Kieren's (private)
  • St Josephs (private)

And four high schools:

  • Good Shepherd Catholic College (private)
  • Mt Isa Flexible Learning Centre (private)
  • Mount Isa School of Distance Education (to grade 10)
  • Spinifex State College - Three campuses, Junior from grade 7 to grade 9, Senior from grade 10 to grade 12, and Residential; for students who don't have a high-school in their region and need to leave their place of residence to access years 7–12. Spinifex State College opened on 1 January 2003. The Junior campus is located at the former Mount Isa State High School. The Senior campus is located at the former Kalkadoon State High School. The Mount Isa Education and Training Precinct campus is an amalgamation of Kalkadoon State High School and Mount Isa State High School to form Spinifex State College Precinct.

And Early Childhood Education: Mount Isa is also home to the School of the Air, a unique-to-Australia way of schooling isolated students in Australia's vast lightly populated country areas. The city also holds the main campus of the Mount Isa Institute of TAFE, offering courses in a wide range of fields, including mining, agriculture and trades. In addition, James Cook University has a presence, with the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health in the Base Hospital complex.

Notable people

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Mount Isa para niños

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