Talk about being caught by surprise at the 9,000 strong town of Charters Towers. Big dividends are certainly being delivered to visitors who venture to this once gold mining giant. Charters Towers’ glory days are well and truly over, however, a number of grand structures from that era still stand proudly, preserved in their original condition.
The town’s rich gold veins galvanised 30,000 miners, investors and entrepreneurs to flock here in the years 1871 to 1917 and unearth a whopping two hundred tons of gold. The boom town went on to dub itself ‘The World’ with good reason.
Word is that Charters Towers did not run out of gold; the war and a downward turn in gold prices spelled the end. Today, Citigold is investing heavily, firm in the belief that there’s still much gold to be recovered.
There is a story of course as to why we’ve parked ourselves in Charters Towers for a few days; we are attempting to connect with family history.
My husband’s father Harry, was born here in 1926. His father Fred, who originally hailed from Ravenswood Junction, owned the Enterprise Hotel and had licences for other hotels.
The youngest of 7 children, Harry was dealt a triple blow when aged 2, his father died; aged 3, his mother died and aged 5, his eldest sibling died. He was brought up by his sisters who later married, left Charters Towers and sold the family hotel in 1938.
The Enterprise Hotel is still going strong. It never met the fate of many hotels in this boom and bust town by being demolished to make way for another structure. However, it looks vastly different. In 1971 a fierce storm damaged the top storey and in 1976, a fire saw the top storey destroyed. We enjoyed a few drinks here, raising our glasses to Fred and his wife Jane Elizabeth, both of whom departed this world for the next far too early.
Next stop: Ravenswood