ETHERIDGE Shire is the stuff of which adventures are made gold fever, Cobb and Co tracks, historic railway lines, spectacular gorges and the outback beauty of savannah lands.
The administrative centre of this adventure shire is Georgetown, which is accessible along the fully sealed Gulf Development Road, known as the Savannah Way.
The town was first settled in 1870 and was then named Etheridge. Gold had been discovered at Gilberton Field, which was open for only a short time and was quickly replaced by other goldfields.
While in Georgetown, visit the remnants of Cumberland Mine about 20km west of town. A chimney stands as a lone relic from the crushing plant that was built by Cornish miners.
A major Georgetown attraction is TerrEstrial, which incorporates the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection, a fully accredited tourist information centre, internet cafe, library and an art display. The TerrEstrial Centre has won a number of awards since its inception, including the 2005 Gulf Savannah Business Awards Business of the Year. This should be your first stop in Georgetown. The whole complex is of interest, including the exterior. For instance, the courtyard pebbles are of glacial origin and the slate contains fossil-like patterns!
The Ted Elliott Mineral Collection is considered the most comprehensive privately owned collection in Australia and has more than 4500 specimens. It is presented in nine themed rooms including one on the Etheridge region featuring agates from Agate Creek and petrified wood from Mount Surprise. There are also displays of gold and precious minerals, fluorescent minerals, overseas minerals and a room showing how minerals can be polished to great effect in the display named ‘Rough to Smooth’.
Places of historical interest in town include Savannah House, originally a residence for the mining warden of the district. In Greens Park on the eastern entrance to town is Nugent’s Battery, a five-head stamp battery. The Etheridge Shire Hall, in St George Street, dates back to 1908.
Gold can still be found in the area. Fossicking is one of the great attractions of the shire for visitors. You need a licence, so start by visiting the Department of Mines Office in Georgetown to sort out the paperwork.
Among the designated fossicking areas are Agate Creek, O’Brien’s Creek and Moonstone. Agate Creek is famous for its world class agates in beautiful colours. At O’Brien’s Creek you can fossick for a whole range of gemstones, including topaz, citrine, beryl and aquamarines.
Back in Georgetown, take a walk that will not only let you stretch your legs but also give you an appreciation of some of the birds in the area.
Georgetown has a walking track right around town. It goes along the banks of the river, across the top of town and down the banks of Sandy Creek all the way to the golf club.
Various gates have been set up so you can leave the trail and walk back to town if you don’t want to do the whole 6km circuit. There are spots with tables and benches along the way, too. You can also start your walk from any of the gates, including the one near the information centre. Don’t forget to pick up a birdlist from the info centre before setting off.
Georgetown’s facilities include a golf course, tennis court, free entry pool in Greens Park (you need to pick up a token for the gate), Heritage Park with free electric barbecues, shaded tables and children’s playground.
|Midway Caravan Park and Service Station
North Street, Georgetown Qld 4871
Phone (07) 4062 1219 Fax (07) 4062 1227
Open seven days - cabins, van and campsites, pool with spa, restaurant, fuel and oils, groceries
A number of businesses offer meals and accommodation. Right in town is the Midway Caravan Park and Service Station, which has air-conditioned units and on-site vans, along with powered and unpowered sites. The complex has washing facilities, a saltwater pool, gold phone, fuel, takeaway meals and a restaurant.
Drop in for a drink, a counter meal and air-conditioned accommodation at Wenaru Hotel. You can also stock up on ice from the hotel.
Cnr Normanton and George Streets, Georgetown Qld 4871
Phone (08) 4062 1208 Fax (07) 4062 1271
Cold beer, counter meals, air-conditioned accommodation
Fuel up and buy a meal at the Georgetown Roadhouse. The restaurant is licensed, so enjoy a beer with your meal. If you’re running on autogas, you’ll be pleased to know they can refuel your tank.
Part of the roadhouse complex is a supermarket which is open from 7.00am to 9.00pm seven days, along with the roadhouse. The supermarket has a comprehensive line of fruit and vegetables.
Situated on the corner of St George and Short Streets is the Goldfields Caravan Park, which offers units with en suites and kitchenettes as well as sites for caravans. And it truly lives up to the ‘park’ part of its name. You’ll be impressed by the manicured parkland look, and it’s a nice quiet place to stay. You’ll probably see a family of tawny frogmouth owls, too.
PO Box 32, Georgetown Qld 4871
Phone (07) 4062 1999
Autogas, fuel, oils, Avgas and Jet A1, supermarket, licensed restaurant
Goldfields Caravan Park
Cnr St George Street and Short Street, Georgetown Queensland 4871
Phone (07) 4062 1269
Quiet, shady park, air-conditioned en suite units, drive-through powered sites, birdwatching, pets allowed (conditions apply)