Lode tin was first discovered here by Anthony Linedale in August 1888. Linedale, from John Moffat’s party discovered tin while searching for a dray road to Herberton. Koorboora was named from an Aboriginal word for ‘a barren place’. The original camp was on Koorboora Creek just south of the Ironbark mine and close to the Shakespeare mine, discovered by Bill Alexander. A dam and battery were erected on the creek with a tramline to the Shakespeare. The bottom of the creek was such that the dam would not hold water and the battery was relocated to Crooked Creek.
The town near Crooked Creek was surveyed on 12th October 1899 by M. Amos, though most of the town buildings were south of the railway. It is pronounced Korr-bra. The town was established in 1889, to serve the nearby tin and wolfram mines and the first hotel was John Leaky’s Mining Exchange. By 1894 the population had shrunk to nine.
With the metal price revival of the late nineties, the town was surveyed and boomed to between 300 and 500 people. The town had four hotels W. Coghlan and J. O’Brien’s Range (valued at £200 in 1905) Arbouin’s (later Pendergast’s) near the dam and tin battery; the Railway Hotel run by Cameron. O’Brien’s Hotel run by Mick O’Brien burnt down on November 13, 1920. There were two stores, Jack and Newell’s and N. O’Brien’s, and Lewis’s cordial factory and refreshment room, a butcher Hughes, a baker Thompson, a blacksmith Judge, and saddler. Yen Lee had a store at the railway siding. In 1903 A. Prenderohust had the Koorboora hotel on MHL 546 while in 1907 E. Mitchell ran a hotel valued at £300 on MHL 1087. By 1911 Mrs Mitchell ran this hotel while A. J. Gunther had the other hotel, a butcher shop and a hall all valued at £1000. In 1913 Christina MacLellan was the manageress of Mitchell’s hotel. Yen Lee was the market gardener. In 1914 D. Mackay had a store, which was bought by Mrs O’Brien in 1918, Arthur Hill in 1922, and by Ernest White in 1926. Later storekeepers were Ernie White and Arthur Hill. Butcher shops were run by Denford (later Woodhouse) and George Taylor. Bakers were Simmonds, later Mills, followed by Thompson.
There was a skating rink at the railway siding and a rifle range out near the cemetery. The school closed in 1926.
The Irvinebank Mining Company and W. & J. Lempriere had ore buying agencies here. A post office operated between 1889 and 1943. The mill from Ord was established here in 1897. By 1912 there were two mills of 15-heads capable of treating 26 tons a day. Mine strikes in 1911 and 1913/14 helped ruin the town.
After the first World War the battery operated irregularly and finally closed in 1927 when the dam was washed away after 7 days of heavy rain. Today all that remains is the rail siding and fettlers camp, the remains of Dick Rummings and Otto Kohn’s (the last residents) huts, mango trees, and battery foundations.
News item from The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, June 8, 1908
WOLFRAM IN QUEENSLAND.
Wednesday's London market cable news stated that wolfram was in plentiful supply; and quoted at 16s to 17s per unit. It might be interesting to explain that by far the larger proportion of the wolfram produced in Queensland comes from the Herberton and Hodgkinson districts. The principal localities within those districts where payable wolfram is being mined are:-Wolfram Camp, 14 miles north-west from Dimbulah; the Neville mine, Koorboora; Bamford, four miles north from Petford; the Strathmore lease near Boonmoo; Emuford, Butcher's Gully, six miles east from Coolgarra; and Mount Carbine, 22 miles north-west from Mount Molloy. The great wolfram mine of the State (says the "Mining Journal") is the Neville, at Koorboora, where an extensive but irregular lode, originally worked by open cut but now by shafts, of which the deepest is 140ft, last year produced ore valued at £18,000.
News item from the Townsville Daily Bulletin, Monday, December 6, 1920
FIRE AT KOORBOORA.
CAIRNS December 5
The police have been advised that the hotel at Koorboora was destroyed by fire.
A store alongside, owned by Burns, Philp and Co. was also burnt.
The police from Chillagoe have gone to the scene.
Text taken from:
1. 'Angor to Zillmanton: stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns’ by Colin Hooper (2002).
Deserted Towns Website
2. ‘Memories of Koorboora’, Gaynor Watters, 7 pages.
Qld Historical Atlas - Mining- Town Koorboora
3. Newspaper Articles: State Library of Qld - Digital Newspapers