About Herberton Mining Museum and Visitor Information Centre
The Herberton Mining and Visitor Information Centre is situated in Herberton , the oldest town on the Tropical Tablelands. The town sits on a hilly landscape with streets dotted with jacaranda trees.
Herberton's main claim to fame was Tin Mining.
Tin had been reported in the district by James Venture Mulligan in 1875 but Jack's follow-up prospecting party in 1879 could not find commercial quantities. On their second trip, Willie Jack and John Newell found tin in payable amounts in Prospectors Gully, where the town of Herberton now stands, and smelted some in a tree stump to prove it actually was tin. This was in April, 1880.
John Newell rode overland to Thornborough to register the discovery. Further finds came rapidly, resulting in the founding of new towns such as Watsonville, Irvinebank, Montalbion, and many more. The tin boom also sparked closer settlement and paved the way for the modern towns of Atherton, Mareeba, Malanda, Ravenshoe and confirmed Cairns as the major port in far north Queensland.
The Herberton Mining and Visitors Information Centre seeks to interpret the mining history, and to showcase the present town and its beautiful surroundings.
The Mining Centre
The Herberton Mining and Visitor Information Centre is built on a part of the original Reward Claim purchased by the men who discovered payable tin mineralisation on this site 19th April, 1880.
It was fortuitous for Herberton, Cairns and North Queensland, that this discovery occurred just as the gold fields further north were petering out, leaving a struggling economy and destitute miners in their wake. Herberton was a Godsend.
The Great Northern Mine, as it was named, developed rapidly. First, the surface and easily worked outcrops were stripped of tin ore. Then shafts were sunk to work deeper deposits.
The first was the Gully Shaft which at one stage was powered by a horse whim. The Eastern Shaft followed quickly and ultimately reached a depth of 600 feet (200 metres). The No. 3 Shaft began in 1907. However, the whole claim is pock-marked by smaller shafts driven to follow tin wherever it occurred.
Much of the original haulage machinery is still here at the shaft heads. Some items are the only known examples of their kind in Australia. All can be seen on a short interpreted walk on the site.
The Herberton Mining Centre seeks to present and interpret to visitors information about the Great Northern site, the history of tin mining in the district and how the town of Herberton developed.
Inside the Centre
The reception area has a range of brochures, maps and souvenirs for the visitor. Helpful volunteers give that friendly touch.
Tells a story of how the age of metals began, leading up to the timeline for the discovery of tin at Herberton.
The Mining Room:
Some information about alluvial and hard rock mining. Larger mining equipment can be visited on a walk outside the Centre
The Herberton Room:
Vignettes of information about Herberton, the mining town that grew up to service the tinfields.
The Minerals Room:
A Mining Centre must have a mineral display! The Centre has several collections for your inspection.
The Centre also has a small theatrette where multi-media presentations can be shown. It is also used for informative lectures thus keeping alive an old miners' tradition of learning.
There is also a Documents and Research Room aimed at collecting, preserving, and making available for study, documents about Herberton and tin mining. Many of these have been donated to the Centre.
How to get to Herberton Mining Museum and Visitor Information Centre
Herberton is a pretty little town set in rugged hills on the western edge of the Atherton Tablelands. It seems to stretch out along the hills and meander across the ridges. Located 122 km from Cairns and 915 metres above sea-level, it is now a quiet town with a population of about 950. There are only hints that it was once the most important town on the Tablelands.