Wolfram, a former mining town, is 90 km west of Cairns. It is situated 15 km south of Thornborough, the centre of the former Hodgkinson gold field.

The official wolfram discovery was made in 1891 and by 1900 there was a substantial community as miners came there from Thornborough and the Palmer gold field. The metal was in demand as a source of tungsten for hardening metals for engineering and armaments. Most of the activity was managed by Irvinebank mining interests, until taken over in 1915 by the British Thermo company.

Set in a valley, the town (known as Wolfram Camp) had a substantial school, a hospital, reticulated water from a local dam, a bakery, several stores and several hotels. Unionisation of the mining workforce was strong, and there was an Australian Workers' Union hall. A strike in 1926 led to a mine stoppage and a sharp loss of population, but mining resumed in 1936 and continued for wartime production. By then, any unwanted building material had been removed by the growing tobacco-farming community at Dimbulah, and steel work was dismantled during the war for reuse.

There was a brief revival of mining during 1964-67. Evidence of the town includes scanty concrete foundations from which steel work has been cut, a row of old mango trees where the school had been and remains of rubble.

Wolfram's census populations were:

Census Date Population
1911 616
1921 296
1933 22

Thelma Marini, Child bride in the mountains: an autobiography, with memories from Wolfram camp, an old N.Q town, Mareeba, Pinevale Publications, 1994


Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2018. All rights reserved.

UQ Logo