John Moffatt of Irvinebank (BOOK)




John Moffatt of Irvinebank (BOOK)

This is not a railway history as such, but a history of an Australian mining magnate who was very much involved with associated railways and tramways. John Moffat succeeded in developing North Queensland by bringing both public and private capital to the region. Wild Cat of the Sydney Bulletin hailed him as the "Carnegie of the North" for his fearless speculations and enterprising investments employing over a thousand workers in mineral production.

John Moffatt was involved in the establishment of mines in North Queensland, notably at Chillagoe and Irvinebank. He was unusual in looking after the interests of his workers and was seen as a "monument to honesty". This is a very well researched biography of the man and his work. It covers a very interesting, rugged and remote part of Australia.

It includes information on construction and early operation of the Chillagoe, Mount Molloy, Mount Mulligan, and Mount Garnet railways, and the Irvinebank and Stannary Hills tramways. It also includes information on the tramways in the Chillagoe area.

Most of this has not been published before.




His projects crystallised the faith of the local miners in his ability to sustain the North Queensland regional economy. Between his arrival in Queensland and his retirement in 1912, Australia had produced £86 million of base metals and the Herbert infields, which Moffatt controlled through his monopolistic policies, produced two-thirds of Queensland's total of £22 million worth of base metals up to that year.

Moffat built up the mining industry as a key foundation of the North Queensland economy from 1880. His influence was so pervasive that the economy of Cairns and its hinterland rode on the prosperity of Might's ore wagons. For a generation, the Irvinebank Mining Company controlled its economic and cultural character, promoting every mining town (many now long disappeared) Herberton, Irvinebank, Watsonville, Stannary Hills (Eureka Creek), Glen Linedale (Thompson's and Emu Creeks), Coolgarra (Return Creek), Mount Garnet, Nymbool (Smith's Creek), California Creek, Gilmore, Gurrumbah, Sunnymount, Montalbion, Emuford, Petford, Silverfield (sometimes called Victoria), Lappa, Bamford, Wolfram Camp, Mount Carbine, O.K., Tartana, Cardross, Chillagoe, Mungana, Zillmanton, Redcap, Calcifer, Muldiva, Tate Tin Mines, Koorboora, Almaden, Percyville, Ortona, Northcole, and other short-lived rushes.

These towns all developed social infrastructures and their prosperity depended on the mines. Those which were railway centres in association with other industries such as dairying and timber Mareeba, Atherton and Ravenshoe survived succeeding economic cycles. The measure of Moffat's success in developing North Queensland was that he was revered in the eyes of Northerners for demonstrating the four characteristics of Scottish entrepreneurs in Australia - imagination to conceive development schemes, practical ability to implement them, managerial energy to pursue his goals, and tight budgetry control. The hallmarks of John Moffat's character were his honesty in business, his deep religious faith, his financial independence, and his brilliant promotional abilities.......


296 Pages



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