Blackwater was originally just a ‘whistle stop’ on the railway line but has grown to become an important service centre with exceptional facilities for visitors and its 5000 residents. Blackwater is unabashedly a coal mining town and earns its title as the ‘coal mining capital of Queensland’ by its central location and substantial export earnings.
Ludwig Leichhardt, one of our earliest pioneering explorers, first saw the potential for coal exploration in the region back in 1845. Passing through on his way to the Northern Territory, Leichhardt wrote in his diary how the coal here resembled the rich seams of Newcastle. It turned out to be a prophetic statement.
Although modern technology has improved working conditions and made coal mining safer, unearthing the ‘black gold’ still takes people of determination, dedication and real grit.
In Blackwater you will meet locals who work hard, play hard and encapsulate an almost forgotten image of a ‘dinkum Aussie’.
Before exploring further, drop into the Visitor Information Centre (Blackwater International Coal Centre) on the Capricorn Highway. The friendly staff are happy to chat to you and give advice on the best way to explore and enjoy the region’s attractions.
Opened in 2008, the one-of-a-kind Blackwater International Coal Centre showcases the Australian coal industry and provides an interactive learning experience. Incorporating over twenty separate exhibits, the BICC explores the past, present and future of the coal mining industry. Facilities include a cafe, cinema, picnic area, Japanese and Timeless Gardens.
The Centre is crammed with historical mining displays, arts and crafts. Much of the mining equipment dates back to the 1920’s, before the tragic gas explosion of 1934. The memorial in Mackenzie Street stands as a stark reminder of the past perils of coal mining. The monument is called ‘At the Coal Face’ and was erected in honour of the miners who lost their lives on the job. Visit www.bicc.com.au for further details.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the facilities at Bedford Weir on the Mackenzie River, which is a popular spot for skiing, boating and fishing. The Weir has been stocked with several angling species including barramundi, murray cod, golden perch, saratoga and redclaw crayfish.