The town was surveyed by the Mines Department around the first World War. The town is named after Wolframite, the ore of the metal tungsten, first found there around 1888 by Willie Joss. Willie Joss had been amongst the first at Charters Towers and was with Palmerston on the Russell River. The area was first worked for detrital deposits until 1906 when they were exhausted. Then the underground mining took over.
The first settlement was around the Upper Camp but in 1907 a building boom ensued at the Lower Camp which became the town. A 15-head battery was erected by the Irvinebank Mining Company in 1908 and worked until 1917 when it was taken over by the Thermo Electric Ore Reduction Corp. Ltd until the price collapse of 1920.
In 1910 the mine winding gear from the Queenslander at Woodville was erected on the McIntyre. In 1912 the boiler, winding plant and accessories from the Airlie mine at Towalla was installed on Leisner’s block. In 1912 the Societe Francaise des Metaux Rates set up a 100-tons per day blast furnace with wet and magnetic separation to treat the wolfram, molybdenium and bismuth. The company had experienced its first strike before the plant even started. In 1926 a short revival was made by the Queensland Rare Metals Co. The Queensland government took over the battery from 1942 until 1956. Kensington (Qld) Pry Ltd took over for a short while in 1958. Mount Arthur Molybdenium worked the camp from 1967 to 1979.
Wolfram’s first hotel Wolfram was Keatings. In the 1930’s Carrol’s hotel was at the top camp. The town at its peak during the first World War had four hotels (Wright’s Commonwealth, Blakney’s Miner’s Home, Cumming’s Exchange, and Petersen’s Wolfram). There was a butcher, two stores (Comerford’s and Markham, and Simpsons), a stationer (Barr’s), Mrs Gilmore’s refreshment rooms, and an ice works. There were three ore buying firms: the Irvinebank Mining Company, W & J. Lempriere, and Blackwell & Sons. A post office existed from 1899 until 1958.
The town soldiered on after the second World War and all that remains today is the smelter foundations, mango trees, footpath and a few telegraph poles surrounded by those hills. Local tradition has it that wolfram is only found on hills a goat thinks twice about climbing.
1899 – 40
1910 – 800
1915 – 1200
1924 – 600
1926 - 2000
1927 – 100
1936 – 200
1938 – 2100
1939 – 200+
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.
Text taken from:
1. ‘Angor to Zillmanton: stories of North Queensland’s deserted towns’ by Colin Hooper (2002).
Available for Purchase Online
2. Newpaper Articles: State Library of Qld - Digital Newspapers