Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
6-8 August 2011 - Clermont
Clermont is a pleasant rural township (population 1854 in the 2006 census) at an elevation of 278 metres in the Queensland Central Highlands. Clermont prides itself on being one of the oldest inland settlements in Queensland with a long history of mining (gold, copper and coal) as well as agricultural production. The railway from Emerald was built in 1884 but passenger services no longer run. Clermont is a neat town; while driving around the residential area we noted most buildings were looked after and the streets were clean and tidy in a manner not always seen in similar size townships.

The town was founded after the discovery of gold in 1861; this was alluvial gold attracting many diggers. Gold mining around Clermont (mainly for alluvial gold) continued profitably for many years peaking in 1898 but declined after 1910 and had just about ceased by 1920. Thereafter small scale gold mining continued, at least into the 1990s.
Commercial Hotel Commercial Hotel

After gold, copper was discovered nearby in 1863 and 17,000 tonnes of copper is reported to have been produced at the Peak Downs Copper Mine until 1877. The town of Copperfield grew around this mine which suffered badly when the price of copper fell in the 1870s and additional competition came from new mines at Cloncurry.

There is some evidence of remaining copper deposits and the Clermont Copper Project mounted by Diatreme Resources Limited is drilling and investigating in the area with hopes of finding copper, gold and molybdenum. Diatreme's 2010 annual report cautiously notes the source of alluvial gold recovered around Clermont in the past has not yet been found, they believe there is some chance of finding that gold.

Coal was discovered in 1864 but not mined until 1890. Underground mining continued between 1920 and 1945, then current open-cut mining began in 1984.

Coal mining remains an important element in Clermont's economy. The Blair Athol mine, operated by Rio Tinto, opened during the 1980s and Clermont's economic prosperity quickly grew to rely on that mine to the extent that twenty-two per cent of Clermont's workforce relies on coal-mining. Blair Athol is expected to close in 2016 when its reserves are exhausted but Clermont Coal Mine (also operated by Rio Tinto) has recently opened and the first coal shipment left in April 2010. This mine will reach full production in 2013.
Main Street Clermont main shopping street

Clermont - page 2
Gold mining has ended but gold fossicking remains a significant activity with several areas around the town designated as public fossicking areas. A gold detector business (Clermont Detectors) operates at the caravan park selling gold fossicking kits and the caravan park has a display board showing which public fossicking areas are open. Metal detectors are frequently offered for sale on notice boards around the park.

Clermont was initially built beside the lagoon but was subjected to several serious floods between 1864 and 1896. In 1916 an even more serious flood swept away parts of the town and killed 65 people. After that flood the remaining buildings were moved to higher ground.

Despite the emphasis on mining activities, agriculture remains an important activity of the Clermont region. About 50,000 head of cattle a year are despatched to the coast by rail and dryland agriculture is widespread with sorghum and sunflower popular winter crops, with some cotton being grown. Clermont hosts a range of agribusinesses relevant to cattle and dryland agriculture.
Mural Clermont's mural on railway trucks represents the main agricultural and mining themes of Clermont's history and the present day.

Clermont receives average rainfall of 663 millimetres a year. Mean maximum temperature in August is 25.3°C and mean minimum is 8.2°C. During our time in Clermont the temperatures were about average for August but there was considerable variability. We had one day of full cloud cover in the morning with a threat of rain, but none fell. Another day was bright and sunny all day and fairly warm by mid-afternoon. Our last day was bright and sunny but there was a strong and gusty wind in the afternoon.
Mine overburden A neat pile of overburden removed from one of Clermont's coal mines.