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 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 town 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.
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 cafe does a brisk trade in coffees and meals.
Clermont had a catastrophic flood in 1916 when 21 inches of rain fell in 24 hours . The townsfolk took little notice of indigenous warnings not to build on the flats such was their desire to be close to gold deposits. Sixty five people perished and this avenue of trees remembers them.
A short drive from Clermont is Theresa Creek Dam, a very scenic camping ground and day drive spot. Nightly rates are $15 . There is no power, but there are toilets and showers. An on-site kiosk makes a good coffee and salad wraps.
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