Australia: Clermont QLD

The bush town of Clermont was well worth a two day stop over. We stayed at the Clermont Caravan Park, surrounded by fossickers who were trying their luck on the nearby gold fields.

Each fossicker seems to have their own unique method; some dig deep, others look for glints on the surface in the early morning light and dew. All have metal detectors and bucket loads of patience.

Fossicking is hard work, and with winter temps set at 28 celsius, it’s also hot work. But the rewards can be high, as our friendly camper neighbour revealed to us. Each year, he spends 3 months in Clermont digging with his pick, listening for solid sounds from his metal detector. His cache of gold is impressive. His 7 days a week work ethic even more so. For fossickers here, their drums are steadily beating to the sound of cha ching.

Clermont Caravan Park is a quick walk from Capella St, the main street. We drank and ate at the Commercial Hotel in its spacious beer garden (feature photo), admired the art murals on the rail carriages, walked on the widest streets I’ve ever seen, soaked up some of the town’s past highs and lows and enjoyed coffee in the revamped Clermont Club.

Clermont – staking its future on mining
Cattle – an important industry
A packed lunch is needed to cross Clermont’s wide streets. The Leo Hotel is on the market for a cool $1.1 million.

The Clermont Club established in 1887 as a gentleman’s club is now a popular cafe. Once the domain of well to do pastoralists from prosperous stations like Wolfang, Kilcummin and Glenmore as well as prominent townspeople, this was the place for men to relax away from problems like crippling droughts, falls in wool prices and unsaleable cattle. Today, the billiards table is still hailed a show piece, coffees and meals are flying out the door and its owners have listed it for sale.

Clermont Club
The Billiards Room

When Clermont had a catastrophic flood in 1916 and 21 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, the townsfolk finally understood the indigenous warnings not to build on the flats. Sixty five people perished and this avenue of trees remembers them.

Row upon row of trees to remember the flood victims

A short drive from Clermont is Theresa Creek Dam which has a very scenic  camping ground and day drive area. Nightly rates are $15 . There is no power, but there are toilets and showers. An on-site kiosk rustles up good coffee.

Birds galore at the dam
Copperfield Chimney, the last of 21 that operated at the Peak Downs Copper Mine from 1874 to 1907.
Even in isolated places, Education QLD makes education a priority by bussing kids to school
Coffee stop in Capella enroute to Clermont. Camper trailer is faring well and we have adapted quickly to setting up and taking down.

If I return to Clermont, it will be to fossick for a couple of weeks. I’ll hire a metal detector, buy a licence (can apply online, 1 month is $8) and get amongst it. Never done it before, but after listening to some camp talk, I think I’d like it.

Next stop: Charters Towers

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