Mount Isa

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Mount Isa made national headlines in 2008, when the local mayor suggested that even “not-so-attractive” girls could find a partner in the friendly north-west Queensland town – such was the abundance of single mining blokes.

Not necessarily a great recommendation (and not even true given that about 47 per cent of the population is women) but certainly an innovative way to get your town’s name on the map.

If you’ve already got a bloke in tow, don’t despair. 'The Isa' has much more to offer than desperate single men.

Mining began here in the 1920s, with Glencore now operating Mount Isa Mines and employing thousands in two separate mining and processing streams: copper and zinc-lead-silver.

The mine has been the mainstay of the city ever since, with the district population now at 30,000 and supporting an array of hospital facilities, retail outlets and all the major sporting codes.

Franchises such as McDonalds, K-Mart and Harvey Norman have set up shop, there’s a large taxi service, a cinema and skate park/aquatic centre, and passenger trains, buses and airlines offer regular services.

There are eight public primary schools, three private primary schools and three high schools. There’s also Mt Isa Hospital, an 80-bed facility offering a host of specialist services including anaesthetics, medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology.

The rodeo is also pretty huge – it’s apparently the richest rodeo in the southern hemisphere and attracts upwards of 10,000 visitors every year in August.

For distance boffins, Mt Isa is 900km from Townsville and 1900km from Brisbane.

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"Mount Isa was the first place where I had moved away from my support networks of family and friends, and all that I was familiar with.  Although initially struck by the feeling of the town's remoteness, not to mention the heat (I arrived in summer) I made a decision to do what I could to give it a fair go.  AND I am so glad I did!  Within the first week, I had been invited out to drinks and to barbecues.  I figured I wasn't going to meet anybody in my lounge room so I opted to get out of my comfort zone and go along.  While you have many "born and bred" locals, Mount Isa is a transient community and as such many of the people arrive into town in the same position and so go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome and to help them settle in.  Within no time, I had established my own network of friends (many of them I still keep in contact with), joined some sporting teams and found so many things to do on weekends. Summer was spent at Lake Moondarra skiing and there were trips to the Gregory River (annual canoe race), Lawn Hill National Park, and Alice Springs. A few of us girls even got involved in the local motorcross club and started a girls' division (none of us had ever ridden before!)  On reflection, Mount Isa was an extremely positive move for me personally and I thoroughly enjoyed the town and the people." 

- Dee, now living in Brisbane

"We lived in Mt Isa from 2000-2004, with three children aged from three to seven. Like everywhere it had its pros and cons. The pros first: it has two really good clubs (the Buffs Club and the Irish Club). It has every sport you can think of for men, women and children, and also a good gym, with a special women’s workout area and child minding. There are lots of groups like pottery, sewing, crafts and the horse racing club has regular race days. Lake Moondarra is a 15-20 min drive and has fishing, picnic facilities (shelters and BBQ) and playgrounds. Good daycare, kindies and primary schools (don’t know about high school). The best way to meet people is to join a club or committee and get involved. We found people friendly and open to newcomers, as the town constantly had people coming and going. Woolies and Coles are good for groceries. Then there are the cons: at Christmas all sports, groups etc close up or have a break, it is very hot and there's not much to do, so most people get out of town. You can't just go off for a weekend away (the nearest place is Karumba and it's a six-hour drive, Townsville is 10 hours). The only department store is Kmart (shopping on the internet is popular). It's really hard to get into a private doctor (up to two-weeks' wait) so we used to end up waiting in line at the hospital emergency."

- Jodi, now living in Brandon, Qld

Ever lived in 'The Isa'? Tell us about it...