The Herberton Mining Museum is built on a part of the original Mining Freehold purchased by the men who discovered payable tin mineralisation on this site 19 April 1880. Between our carpark and the museum entrance, there’s an array of artefacts and mining equipment waiting to be discovered, including the Five Head Stamp Battery. This impressive piece of equipment was donated and erected by Don Fry A.O., owner of NQEA, Cairns. It’s similar in pattern to the first ever stamps (ten head) erected on the Herberton Mineral Fields. This donation helps to keep alive the historic connection between early Herberton and its seaport Cairns. The carpark is also the start of the Great Northern Mine walk, an interpreted trail through the original mine workings and the start of the Herberton Fire Trails which range from 1.3km to 12km. Scroll down to see what you can explore outside the museum.
The Explorers Way was built to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the death of James Venture Mulligan, the man who first discovered tin in the area. This short walk puts in context early white exploration in the north that ultimately led to the settlement of Herberton and the development of the Herberton Mineral Field.
A short walk along formed tracks outside the Museum takes you past the relics of the mines that made up the Great Northern Freehold – one of the richest on the tinfield. The surface winding plant is described as ‘the most intact in North Queensland’. The whole of the site is heritage listed.
In the carpark there’s a timeline (pictured) which is a correlated linear history of the Earth. The black line at the end of the timeline represents present time in relation to past time. It is quite insignificant!
George Gordon was an early assayer in Herberton. His son grew up in the town and in later life returned to see out his days. He assisted with the construction of these gardens which display a selection of plants, including examples of some of the plants the early settlers brought with them to remind them of home.
The Risley sculpture interprets rolling hills, waterfalls and through its colour, the outback. It is the largest extant metal sculpture of internationally renowned artist Tom Risley who made Herberton his home in his later life. It was relocated here after previously being situated at Malanda.
There’s also a Miners Memorial near the carpark. The Miners Memorial is a single two metre tall granite rock that bears the names of seventy four miners who have killed in mine related accidents in the one hundred plus years of the Herberton Mineral Field.
There is a good case to be made that industrial use of water power in North Queensland began in Herberton.
A leffel turbine was used at the Monarch Mill on Wondecla Creek in 1881. An example was also used at the Bischoff Mill at Watsonville.
Water wheels were used to generate power for mining.
© Herberton Mining Museum History Association 2023