Mount Morgan

Mount Morgan
S 23’009.79, E 142’29.761

Gold makes up only five ten-millionths of the Earth’s outer layer, however, incredible quantities of this precious metal have been mined on Queensland’s Tropic of Capricorn. Mount Morgan is home to one of the oldest mines in Australia, and provides evidence of the richness of the regional deposits. But how did the gold form, and why did it form here? Discover Mount Morgan’s incredible geo journey…

Mount Morgan’s Geo-Journey:

Hundreds of Millions of Years Ago… gold was brought to the outer layers of the Earth’s crust by ancient volcanoes along Australia’s eastern states. The drastic climate changes that followed weathered these primary gold deposits.

170 million Years Ago

Dinosaurs lived in the Mount Morgan area during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. Plesiosaurs were powerful aquatic reptiles that propelled themselves through the area’s deep lakes, while three-toed theropods roamed the surrounding muddy terrain.


William Mackinlay was the first to discover that the ironstone outcrop of the mountain was gold bearing.

Prospectors fossicking for alluvial gold in nearby gullies were unaware the source of their treasure waited not far away. Mackinlay had hoped to sell his knowledge.


When the Morgan Brothers learnt of Mackinlay’s secret, mining began and Ironstone Mountain was renamed. Mining at Mount Morgan was to continue for around 100 years and included staggering gold, silver and copper excavation.


Formations on the ceiling of the Mount Morgan caves were found to be 150 million year old theropod footprints. The footprints were originally made in soft mud which was then covered by fine sandstone. Erosion then removed the shale layer containing the footprints and exposed the casts of the feet in the overlying sandstone.


Plesiosaur fossils were discovered 150 metres north of the Mount Morgan mine. They are the only known fresh-water Plesiosaur fossils that have been found in Australia and the size of the vertebrate suggests the reptiles were around 4.5 metres long.


After exhausting the ore body the mine closed, having produced 225 000 kg of gold, 50 000 kg of silver, and 360 000 tonnes of copper in total.


What was once a large mountain is now one of the largest artificial holes on earth. It is over 2.5 km long and over 300 m deep. The Mount Morgan site now retains important heritage status and the surrounding area, including the river, is undergoing rehabilitation.

How can I experience Mount Morgan?

Explore the Mine and Fireclay Caverns:
Take a tour through the old mine site which has a number of heritage listed historical buildings, and see the massive fireclay caverns. Keep an eye out for rare bats as you admire the stone pillars, the ancient layers of the walls, and the sandstone roof. How many dinosaur footprints can you count?

Mount Morgan Historical Museum:
Explore the collection of memorabilia and photographs that depict the booms and busts Mount Morgan has experienced. Casts of the plesiosaur fossils found in the Mount Morgan caves are also on display here.

3D movie carriage at the Mount Morgan Railway Museum:
Discovery of gold in Mount Morgan necessitated the introduction of a rail system up over the razor back. With a gradient of 1 in 16.5 the ABT system proved to be ideal. The rail carriage at the end of the platform is now home to a 3D movie that tells the story of the rack rail and its benefits to the new gold mine.

For more information

For more information about activities in Mount Morgan head to the Mount Morgan Historical Railway and Visitor Information Centre (Phone: (07) 4938 2299).


Heading West
Fossick for 120 million year old thundereggs or ‘volcanic birthstones’ at Mt Hay. See the breathtaking sandstone plateau rising above Central Queensland’s plains at Blackdown Tableland National Park. Stop at Blackwater, the Coal Capital of Queensland and home to the International Coal Centre. Enter the Central Highlands and see Emerald’s fossilised tree trunk estimated to be 250 million years old, and then carry on to the Sapphire Gemfields.Your next geo-stop, heading west:
Mount Hay Thundereggs
Heading East
Rockhampton is the gateway to the Capricorn Coast. Admire the picturesque headlands at Yeppoon and the twin peaks of Double Head, dramatic examples of ancient volcanic plugs. Take a walk to Fan Rock, an unforgettable site showing the effects of cooling on a plug; and explore the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s seven wonders.Your next geo-stop, heading east:
Capricorn Caves, The Caves