Full of gold legends and ghost stories, this is a destination that is sure to lift your spirits.
The outback town of Charters Towers, once Queensland’s second largest city, stands as an impressive monument to the struggles and successes of the gold seekers who came to try their luck during the 45 years of the gold rush.
The Venus Gold Battery is Australia’s largest surviving battery relic and offers insight into the incredible real-life gold rush of the late 19th century.
Constructed in 1872, it was a public or custom mill in its heyday and became a state battery in 1919 to provide ore-crushing facilities for small miners long after other mills had closed. Between the gold rush years of 1872 and 1916, the Venus Battery produced over half a million ounces of gold.
The kids can have a go at gold panning at the historic miner’s cottage in the centre of town, where a small fee is charged. Take the family up Tower Hill for great panoramic views and watch the Ghosts After Dark film, which is screened nightly in the amphitheatre.
Pay a visit to the Gold Discovery Monument in Centenary Park or head to Lissner Park for the afternoon where a children’s playground, duck pond and fountains will entertain the kids for hours.
Rumours go that the town is home to a number of ghosts. During our one-week stay we didn’t meet any but this is not to say that they don’t exist. A volunteer at the visitor information centre seems to think one of the motels has a ghost, but who know’s for sure?
Make a day trip along the Heritage Trail to Ravenswood and Burdekin Falls Dam. Heading out of town in the direction of Townsville, you will first come across the impressive Burdekin River flood marker. In 2009, the water rose to 20.75m, only beaten by the flood of 1946 when the flood waters reached 21.79m.
The Imperial Hotel has a fascinating history and a couple of ghosts, so the story goes.
It was built in 1902 by Jim Delaney and managed successively by his widow Annie and their daughters Tess, Jo and Maisie. The sisters filled the hotel with music and their ghosts have been heard playing the piano downstairs even though the lid was closed.
Other ghost sightings include a man dressed as a miner at the foot of a bed. Or the times people heard publicans whispering at the top of the stairs but upon opening the door, there was no one there.
The old miner’s cottage is definitely worth a look. The story goes that the original owner, John Stuttard, was a man of many talents. He was an engine driver, miner, undertaker, publican, grazier and handyman. He brought up nine daughters and 10 sons.
From Ravenswood, drive another 88km to get to Burdekin Falls Dam; the road is sealed all the way. An incredible 630,000 cubic metres of concrete was used in the dam, which has a wall 876m wide with a 504m spillway dropping 40m to the riverbed. The lake holds four times the amount of water of Sydney Harbour.
- Charters Towers is 133km west of Townsville in Far North Queensland, accessible via sealed road.
- Panning for gold: Visit the old miner’s cottage in town and try your luck.
- Lissner Park: If you need a relaxing afternoon, the playground, duck pond and fountains will keep the kids entertained for hours.
- Burdekin Falls Dam: Take a drive along the Heritage Trail to the impressive dam.