An Amethyst Bonanza at Kuridala


By EK

The vast majority of rockhounds who have passed through Kuridala to the amethyst site would probably know very little about the history of Kuridala. Through some Cloncurry locals, and the internet, I have collated some information that will hopefully give future visitors to Kuridala a better appreciation of the historic value of the area.

In 1884, copper was discovered on the Eureka Pastoral Lease by William McPhail and Robert Johnson, who at that time held title to the lease; this spot eventually became the site of Kuridala.It wasn’t till 1897 that the Hampden Mining Company started serious mining and by 1905 the mine was in full production. In 1913 there were 1,500 inhabitants in the town and this number increased to 2,000 by 1920.

When the railway line from Cloncurry reached the town in 1910, the smelters were erected and stayed in production, day and night, till 1920, when the price of copper collapsed. The smelters then shut down and within 12 months the population had dropped to 800.During the boom times, prior to the 1920s, the town supported six hotels, three dance halls, six stores, five billiard saloons, four churches, two ice works, a printer, a baker, a cinema, a big hospital, a police station and court house, a post office, several banks, a timber merchant and a school catering for 280 pupils. As with most early towns, the Chinese had extensive market gardens.

Originally the town was called Gulatten but when surveyed in 1910, its name was changed to Hampden. In 1912 it was renamed Friezland but in 1916 the anti-German sentiment of the First World War resulted in its final name change to Kuridala, which is aboriginal for ‘eagle hawk’.By 1923, the bakery, ice works, cinema, hospital, police station and court house had gone. In 1924 the town of 700 still supported five hotels but decay was setting in rapidly and by 1933 there were only 64 people left. With the school closing in 1935, the railway in 1961 and the post office in 1975, the town’s demise was completed in 1982 when the last inhabitant, Lizzie Belch, moved to Cloncurry.

The full article can be found in the September 2010 issue of Gold Gem and Treasure. Subscribe now.

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