Mount Perry - Historical and Cultural
Who would have thought that at the end of a small dirt road there would be an unlined and unsupported hard granite rock historic tunnel tucked away at the back of Bundaberg and approximately 11km north-west of Mount Perry? Marvel at the man-made Boolboonda Tunnel, built in 1883 for the railway line between Bundaberg and Mount Perry to service the copper mines. It extends 178m through solid rock. making it one of the longest unsupported tunnels in the Southern Hemisphere at the time of construction. Today it’s home to a colony of bent-winged bats and used to access residential properties.
The district surrounding Mount Perry was settled by shepherds in the 1840s. Copper was discovered at Mount Perry in 1867 with the Mount Perry Lode opened by the Mount Perry Copper Company shortly after. Over a short period of time, Mount Perry grew to become an important Queensland mining centre, rapidly expanding to a population of approximately 3,200 people. The Mount Perry township boasted some 20 hotels in its heyday. Many of these would have been no more than a bark humpy with a keg set up on a rough counter. Naturally these did not last and by 1876 the town had settled down to six regular hostelries. In 1884, the Bundaberg to Mount Perry railway line opened promoting new growth of the town, but closed in 1960. The original rail head in Flora Street can still be seen.
Traces of gold were found since early settlement but for years the main mining income came from copper ore. Copper mining ceased in 1913, however the remains of smelters can still be seen today. Mount Perry still has a mining-based economy with its gold mine at Mt Rawdon. The mine has a long and chequered history as a gold mine, changing hands several times since 1946. The first gold was found on "Swindon" cattle station, which Mt Rawdon is part of, one of six large cattle properties operating since early settlement.
As land was cleared for mining operations, it spawned another industry - timber, which was used by the mines and for housing. Good stands of pine, cedar and hardwoods attracted many timber-getters who used their horse and bullock teams to snig out and haul the logs that had been cut from the ranges. Mount Perry is woodchopping heartland and the woodchopping events at Mount Perry Show are hotly contested.
The Pat Augustine Cultural Centre houses a historical display, art gallery and pubic Library. The historical display was put together by local historian Pat Smith, who can occasionally be found at the family history centre in the building. The display includes photographs of Mount Perry district dating back to the late 1800s and information relating to businesses and families. The Art Gallery is operated by the Mount Perry Fine Arts Group and artists from around Queensland hold exhibitions in the gallery.
Reflect on the past at the Mount Perry Bicentennial Museum which features a working blacksmith’s shop, a variety of memorabilia including an old fire engine, cart and proudly boasts one of only three known Queensland restored and working three pole stamper and curvilinear concentrator tables. Located next door is the historic Madsen’s Kitchen which shows just how different life used to be.