Cloncurry History Cloncurry History

Cloncurry, the Friendly Heart of the Great North West, possesses a distinct and distant individuality that has never been advertised to the wider world. Cloncurry has never received recognition for the great contribution the district has made to the development of the whole of North West Queensland. It is also appropriate to pay tribute to early pioneers who laid the foundation on which the Shire has grown. Careful investigation leads us to believe that aboriginals of the Mitakoodi and Kalkadoon tribes wandered over the district. Explorers Burke and Wills passed by in 1861 when Burke named the river after Lady Elizabeth Cloncurry in Ireland.

Credit for the real practical discovery of Cloncurry Shire belongs to its founder Ernest Henry. This adventurous grazier became optimistic about the grazing value on the black and red soiled plains and the possible mineral content in the rough rugged ranges. The enthusiastic Henry found copper and gold near Cloncurry in 1867 shortly after he settled pastoral land to the north and west of the town.

The discovery of gold and copper soon attracted our early settlers including European miners, Chinese gold diggers and Afghan camel drivers to endure loneliness, heat dust and flies to erect homes and build industries in the lonely bush with none of the amenities of modern civilisation taken for granted today.

From our pioneering days Cloncurry has become the centre of the largest mineral field in Australia together with a major pastoral industry feeding the live export trade and southern domestic market. The Shire is well known as a gem hunters paradise.

As credit for the real discovery of Cloncurry belongs to our founder Ernest Henry so the credit for pioneering and development of this Great North West Inland should go to succeeding generations of our early Cloncurry Settlers.