The year 1999 began with the unveiling of a bronze statue outside the Riversleigh Fossil Interpretative Centre to mark Mount Isa’s 75th anniversary. The idea was mooted by former resident John Moran and embraced by the 75th anniversary committee. Artist Scott Maxwell designed the statue of a miner in work pose with helmet and light. Mount Isa mayor Ron McCullough said the statue encapsulated the spirit of the city.
The Mayor was also on the record saying the threat of the Y2K bug was overstated and council was in the “box seat” to deal with any problems as they arose. Cloncurry Mayo Noel Robertson agreed saying they would have completed all their computer work well before the end of the year.
The Mount Isa skyline changed in 1999 when WMC fertiliser opened its $700m sulphuric acid manufacturing operation on land subleased from Mount Isa Mines. The acid plant was expected to convert sulphur dioxide from the copper smelter to 400 tonnes a day of sulphuric acid to be railed to Phosphate Hill. The facility opened on September 28.
Brett Peterson made history as the first male to enter the Mount Isa Rodeo Quest, raising money for the Gary Nixon Memorial Trust Fund saying he would wear a chambray shirt rather than a queen sash. Mr Peterson went on to win the fundraiser title and overall honours in August, attracting international attention including a BBC interview.
Steve Jenje won his fourth gold medal in the Gregory River paddle Marathon in a time of 3:09:05. it was his 15th race at Gregory.
Mount Isa’s Casa Grande was saved from demolition in 1999 as it was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register. The house was built as a home for mine manager Julius Kruttschnitt in 1949.
In July 1999 Merilyn Harding became the first woman to head a north west Rotary Club when she was named president of the Mount Isa West Rotary Club. Merilyn said she wanted to shake up “the boy’s club”.
The threat to close MITEZ was averted in August when the body received more than $100,000 in corporate sponsorship. MITEZ ran out of federal funding in June.
More than 450 Cloncurry residents signed a petition against the proposed Woolworth’s petrol outlet. Residents said the town already had two roadhouses, a service station and two fuel depots. The servo went ahead over their objections.
Mount Isa mayor Ron McCullough said the future was bright as he inspected the developments at the North Ridge industrial estate. A report identified Mount Isa as an “opportunity town” with a high-paid workforce and export-oriented industry.
In September 1999 Mount Isa tourism launched a new campaign with a billboard proclaiming “You’re not a real Aussie until you’ve been to the Isa. They were seeking for a man with “rugged looks and plenty of sex appeal” to front the campaign to be the face of Mount Isa, to be decided with a Face Off competition.
A 1930-vintage Melbourne tram was hoisted into place at Mount Isa Irish Club in October 1999. The tram is the centrepiece of Irish Club renovations.
In November 1999 Gregory John Harding, 42, was found guilty of murdering Darren Joseph Stagg on February 14. The court heard Harding cycled to a house on Old Mica Creek Rd where Stagg and Harding’s estranged wife were in bed together. A struggle broke out before Harding stabbed Stagg three times as Harding shouted out “here’s your Valentine’s Day present.” He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Troy Holdsworth and Philippa Sloman hoped the entire population of Mount Isa would be present as they got married. They were planning to get married at midnight on New Year’s Eve on stage at Kalkadoon Park as thousands gather to welcome in the new century.
On January 1, 2000 there was fireworks, large crowds and of course, Philippa and Troy’s wedding. The crowd was well behaved, with buses running people to and from the venue all night. The biggest fizzer was the Y2K millennium bug which caused very few problems at the turnover of the century.
Four Mile Hill (otherwise known as Telstra Hill) was to be locked up after the area was strewn with rubbish including smashed beer bottles, drugs and nappies.
Mount Isa’s citizen of the year 2000 was Sandy Lennox recognised for her involvement in community organisations including St Vincent de Paul and Kalkadoon Aboriginal Sobriety House and her community spirit. Singer Megan Sarmardin won young citizen of the year.
Soaring outback fuel prices was the worry in March 2000 with the bowser price rising to 90.2 cents a litre at Camooweal while Boulia was charging 95.9c. Birdsville was about to top the dollar at 99.9c.
On March 25 voters went to the polls in council elections. Ron McCullough held on to the mayoralty defeating Roy Collins collecting 68% of the vote. The Cloncurry poll was delayed when the returning officer was taken to hospital.
On March 28 a seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital after a freshwater crocodile attack at Lake Moondarra. Dominique Larkin needed 18 stitches in her right arm after she was attacked while playing rockpools below the spillway. The parks manager said the attack was “very unusual” and that perhaps some crocs had been washed over the spillway in recent floods.
On June 9, 2000 Mount Isa became the Sydney Olympics flame's first stop in Queensland, when Frank Daisy, a rugby league football legend, became the first to carry the torch in the state. Citizens turned out in droves to greet the flame in wet weather, the crowds larger than for the rodeo.
New data showed Mount Isa’s population had dropped 1.1% between 1994 and 1999. The population was now 21,901. Council said new projects like the Underground Mining World and Kruttschnitt Park were attracting millions of dollars in state funding, while the CBD was also being redeveloped. “If an announcement is made the Melbourne to Darwin rail line will go ahead, it will start attracting people to the area,” Mayor McCullough said.