Hidden Remnants

Australian Landscapes #35
Destination: Kilkivan, Queensland

Copper was first discovered in the area west of Gympie in the 1870s, at a time when it was selling for up to £95 a ton. The value of the ore more than compensated for the remote location and difficult terrain, and several mines and smelters were quickly established around the base of Mount Clara.

But after such a successful beginning, the mines were closed by the end of the decade and the hundreds of men employed by the companies had moved on.

All that remains to show for their effort is a hand built stone chimney surrounded by the ruins of a smelter which once processed ore from the mines. Thought to be one of the first of its kind and also the oldest surviving mining chimney in Queensland, it is now listed on the state’s Heritage Register.

Built in 1872, the Mount Clara smelter chimney was constructed of local bluestone and mortar made with sand from Fraser Island. The skill of the stonemasons is evident in the intricacy of their work, with stones of varying shapes and sizes neatly placed together. Iron bands, although rusted with age, still provide support for the chimney’s walls.

Did the stonemasons work with the stones in their natural state, building the chimney as if they were assembling a puzzle? Or did they deliberately create the unusual shapes to give extra strength to the structure?

We’ll never know.

39 thoughts on “Hidden Remnants

  1. Very interesting, and I LOVE the stone work. I am always humbled by our ancestors and their craftsmanship especially when I think about all the tools we now own and hardly use. They used their heads and their hands to create something that lasted hundreds of years to quietly remind us of their contributions to society.


  2. Beautiful stonework, I wonder whether Cornish miners were involved as we see similar stonework on some of our houses – though not the engine houses as far as I know. Lovely shadows in that second photo too!


  3. The relics of long gone mining towns are always fascinating places and Australia is definitely the place to find them. A chimney stack here, an old quince tree or stone fruit tree, a glade of cottage garden plants that have self seeded year after year from a garden long gone. The remains that inspire the imagination!


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