Monday, 14 May 2012

Charters Towers

When Hugh Mosman and a party of prospectors stopped to water their horses on Christmas Eve, 1871, they found that all that glittered was indeed gold.  That was the beginning of Queensland's Charters Towers.  An Indigenous boy named Jupiter found the first gold as he bent down to take a drink from a stream.  The party then collected 45kg of gold from the surface of the Washington Reef.

View of Charters Towers, taken from Towers Hill, 2012. Image: T. Fielding
 The city of Charters Towers was born out of the frantic rush for gold that ensued.  In 1899 the city was home to 30,000 people and was the second largest city in Queensland.  Known locally as 'The World', possibly for its cosmopolitan population than for anything else, it boasted 90 hotels, 7 newspapers and a stock exchange.  A staggering 193,000kg of gold was produced between 1872 and 1911.

Despite the fact that just over 140 years have passed since the first gold was discovered there, reminders of her glory days are all around. 

Stock Exchange Arcade, Mosman Street, Charters Towers, 2012.  Image: T. Fielding.
 Nowhere is this more evident than in the city's heritage buildings.  The Stock Exchage Arcade is a notable feature of the streetscape, due in part to its impressive arched awning and glazed roof.  Built for Alexander Malcolm, a Scottish miner, in 1887 as a shopping arcade, its original name was the Royal Arcade.  It came into use as a stock exchange in 1890 and each day there were three 'calls'.  The evening call was held in the arcade gallery and was open to the public.  Most of the population turned out for the Saturday evening call.  The building has retained much of its original character and is a stunning piece of north Queensland architecture.

Stock Exchange Arcade, 2012. Image: T. Fielding

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