Location - Paluma Range National Park, North Queensland, Australia
Distance - 5 km return
Time - allow 1-2 hours
A Wolfram mine, not to be confused with the former wolfram mining town west of Cairns, was a tungsten mine at the base of Paluma near Wolfram Creek. The first discovery of tungsten (as wolframite, known locally as wolfram) at Ollera Creek was in 1895 and was being worked for bismuth and molybdenite.
Henry Bell established a store near Moongobulla (Ollera Creek) in the 1890s. His sons operated pack teams back into the ranges. Hundreds of men walked into the Range with stores and tools on their backs. It was an area of loneliness and privation. Bells Track goes up the range to the wolfram mines and is thought to be named after Henry Bell.
Mining for wolfram was recorded at nearby Saltwater Creek (now called Crystal Creek) in 1898. Wolfram really only became payable after 1900. In the early 1900s, a ten-head battery was crushing at Ollera Creek. Alluvial deposits were worked in the early years, then lodes were mined. In this area, wolfram is:
contained in short irregular high-grade shoots in near-vertical chloritic lodes and quartz reefs occupying fissures or joints mainly in granite.
In 1904, there was a new rush at Ollera Creek, with 200 miners working for wolfram in two main camps. One mine on upper Ollera Creek (120 feet above sea level) had about fifty men working it. The main camp was on the eastern branch of Crystal Creek. In 1905, a township was surveyed and a tender for the construction of a school was accepted. The year 1905 was the peak of the boom for the whole district, with mining for all minerals declining after that. The mining of wolfram and associated metals was wiped out by a slump in prices in 1920. Some small-scale operations resumed from 1937 to 1957, but total production of wolfram for these twenty years was only 81 tons compared with more than 400 tons from 1903 to 1920. Reference "Paluma The First Eighty Years"
In this area was Birthday Gift Mine (molybdenum and tungsten mine), Kandover Mine, Greenhouse Mine, No 1 Boundary Mine, Sea View Mine, Better Lick Extd Mine, Lucky Fern Mine, Fernery Mine, Wolfram King Mine, Bonnie Jean Mine, Erskins Mine, Surprise Mine, Bells Wolfram Prospect, Belle Vue Prospect, and Wild Irishman Mine.
How to get here
Head up the Paluma Range towards the township via Mt Spec Road. Halfway up the road to Little Crystal Creek Bridge is Wolfram Creek. If you look closely, you will be able to make out a overgrown road off to the left just before the creek. Park your car off the the side of the road. If you continue along this dirt road, you will find the mines. Its best done after the area has been burnt off in the cooler months of the year.
The mines themselves are unstable and partially collapsed. I would highly recommend not to adventure down into them. Also, as this is an old mine site, you must be wary where you walk as there may be open mine shafts around this area. Please use caution when around mines.
There is also wolfram mines near Miners Creek on the Bluegum Circuit.
What to see in the area
- mine shafts
- collapsed mine tunnels
- old miners hut
- old rusty battery/pump station
- an old rusty car
- overgrown roads
Here's an interactive map of the area with points of interest marked.