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Mount or Mt – What’s in a Name?

January 21st, 2017 by Outback Queensland

Is the town Mount Isa or Mt Isa? It is an ongoing controversy that is not easily resolved.





Mount Isa, many assume is named after a mountain. Why else would they abbreviate the name to Mt Isa? If you’ve visited this citywhen travelling the North West Outback of Australia you’ll know that there ain’t no mountain – (a few hills perhaps but not a mountain in sight!). The shortening of Mount to Mt hardly seems justified. So Mount Isa it is!


Controversy also surrounds the origin of the name Mount Isa! Let’s look at the theories…..

It is well documented that lone prospector, John Campbell Miles, during his 1923 expedition to the Northern territory, happened across one of the world’s richest deposits of copper, zinc and silver!


Theory No. 1

  • John Campbell Miles named Mount Isa after Mount Ida Gold Mine in Western Australia after hearing stories from his friends about this mine. He simply changed the ‘d’ to an ‘s.’ He claimed that liked the sound of the name.
  • Gordon Sheldon in his book ‘Industrial Siege’ also supports this theory. He claimed that in his old age, Miles denied that Mount Isa was named after his niece.
  • Mount Isa Mines Limited has also endorsed this theory and the proof is in their paper ‘A Short History of the Company’.
  • Many residents of our town also swear that a family member or someone close to them has confirmed this version.


Mount Isa Region-min
Although no mountain in sight, you’ll still be in awe of the natural beauty offered by its surrounds!


Theory No. 2

  • Mount Isa was named after Miles’ niece, Isabel (generally accepted spelling in this case). A story in the Mount Isa Mining magazine (MIMAG) claimed that the woman after whom Mount Isa was named had been found. In a letter from Mrs Isobel Tracey of Murrumbeena, Melbourne, she advised that indeed Uncle Campbell’s lease and the town was named after herself.


According to Geoffrey Blainey who authored the book, Mines in the Spinfex, “it was invariably written that Miles had in mind a sister or niece named Isobelle, and in fact one of his nieces has a similar name. But her name is Isobel, and her claim that the mine was named in her honour was laughingly denied by John Campbell Miles himself.”


So what do you think? Our money is on theory number one and as for the abbreviation; we in Mount Isa proudly stick to the full name of this great #OutbackQueensland town! 


For more information about Unique Mount Isa Experiences you can visit our mates at Outback At Isa! Tours and Experiences at Outback at Isa include the Hard Times Mine Tour, the Isa Experience Museum, Outback Park and the Riversleigh Fossil Centre. See you there!


Outback At Isa Mine Tour-min


Website: http://www.mietv.com.au/Outback-at-Isa.aspx

Phone: (07) 4749 1555

Email: info@outbackatisa.com.au



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