Charters Towers was once said to have anything anybody would want, so there was no need to ever leave the town. The town today is a perfect example of the 'real Australia', surrounded by sprawling cattle stations. It is surrounded by the huge Dalrymple Shire, that has an approximate population of 3,500 and covers an area of almost 70,000 square kilometres. That's the size of the Republic of Ireland!
Gold was discovered by chance in nearby Towers Hill on Christmas Eve 1871 by an Aboriginal boy named Jupiter, while he was searching for his runaway horse. Jupiter couldn't have known that his discovery would be followed by an influx of over 30,000 hopeful souls to what was soon to become one of the richest regions in the country, and Charters Towers was, for a while, the second largest city in Queensland outside Brisbane. The enormous gold reserves (between 1872 and 1916 total gold production was nearly 200 tonnes) prompted the building of Australia's first regional stock exchange in 1890 to raise capital for the area's deep reef mines.
However, the town started to decline in 1912, when the production of gold dropped from a high of around 9 tonnes in 1899 to a mere 2.7 tonnes. This decline was accompanied by a drop in population, from almost 30,000 in 1899 to 16,000 in 1915 and no more than about 10,000 nowadays.
Charters Towers is now renowned for its historic character and appeal, its sprawling cattle stations, astonishing sunsets, a friendly atmosphere and for the collection of beautifully preserved 19th and early 20th century buildings that are now restored and used for everyday business. The magnificent heritage pubs, shops, museums and houses provide a treasure trove for visitors to experience and learn of life in these early pioneering days of outback Queensland.
With the modern methods of gold extraction, the Towers is now experiencing a second gold boom, bringing renewed prosperity and wealth to the city. The area's gold reserves are estimated at 283 tonnes.
In recent times Charters Towers achieved a brush with fame when it became the subject of one of the songs on JOHN WILLIAMSON'S hugely successful 'Warragul' album. The Cattleman's Rest Motel and the local Caltex dealer come in for special praise in the song, which is evocative of the town and the area.