Another Town Off The Map

February 9th, 2013

Sitting on the swings of a playground, watching the sun go down, it occurred to me that this nicely-kept park was the last thing I expected to see at the remnant of this Queensland mining town. Not that I knew at the time, but it’s the pride and joy of the town’s last resident, who did walk by and wave. We waved back, not realising the man was the only reason the town hasn’t yet been swallowed by the open pit mine that borders it.

When playing decay tourist, it’s easy to focus on the physical aspects – collapsing buildings, mouldering curtains, and all the other elements that feed into that aesthetic.  But, sometimes we’re fortunate, and find some insights into the human history that fleshes things out and make it more than just a movie set.

Somewhere, I have photos of the stickers on some kitchen cupboard doors: Masters of the Universe, Magic Mountain, Samboy, Beware of Strangers.  There isn’t much of a floor left in much of the house that held them, and the back yard is a slope of long grass and angular prickly pears, crowned with a bent Hills Hoist.

Reading into the history of a dying town is sobering, though.  It’s easy to pass through unaware of the despair and heartache, and the stress that drove people to departure and suicide.  It’s inevitable that coming to appreciate just a touch of the reality is a humbling thing.

To the guy who dutifully maintains the facilities I enjoyed for an afternoon: you do fine work.  I hope you have the chance to continue to do so for a long time to come.

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