In the 1950s anyone who lived North of Capricorn regarded themselves as special.
If they lived in Mount Isa, they were even more distinctive because in those days Mount Isa was truly the last old fashioned rip-roaring pioneering outback town in Australia.
This was an observation made by Harry Waldegrave, a raconteur, writer, 'sticky-beak' and later newspaper publisher.
Although initially employed as an engineer in the mine powerhouse in 1945, it was during his spare time that he honed his writing skills which resulted in him freelance writing for the Townsville Bulletin, Brisbane Telegraph and Sydney Mirror.
In turn, it was those writing skills and a natural inquisitiveness which were to lead him to publish the Mount Isa Standard newspaper with the financial backing of local businessman and Labor stalwart, Norm Smith.
That support was extended to include a smallish office in the foyer of Smith's Star Picture Theatre from where Waldegrave had firsthand contact with the characters that would later feature in his 1985 book "Ya Gotta Be Jokin!"
This is an extract from his chapter titled - 'Uranium Fever'.
Late in 1953, Bill Nester came into my room, amused about something.
"Do you know", he said, gleefully, "there are some silly buggers out in this heat looking for uranium?"
"No, I didn't". I confessed, looking at the others who were seated in my room: Frank Hart, Jim Bowden and Ray Williams.
"Somebody told them", explained Bill, "that the final result of uranium is lead!
Everybody knows that Australia is some of the oldest land in the world, and there's plenty of lead here, at Mount Isa."
"You never know! They chucked off a lot at old Len Winters, Con Davidson and later Campbell Miles when they were looking for lead. Well, you know the rest. Just look around you!"
"Good luck to them!" said Bill, frowning. "But I'm not keen on uranium. It's too dangerous!"
"It's going to have too many problems, in more ways than one!" Bill continued.
"For a start it's getting down to the basic structure of like itself and the outcome of nuclear fission far from being under man's control! Besides, look what happened at Hiroshima!
"Then you don't like the idea of atomic power?"
I was visiting friends on the Mineside, when the real uranium bombshell began to explode!
Reg Norris was quite casual about it.
We were seated in his house, with his family and some of their friends present.
"See young Dave Hicks and his mates have found something pretty good!" he said.
"He went out over the weekend with John Walton and young Dilla Patterson and they found radioactive ore in a dry creek-bed, somewhere between the ghost towns of Ballara and Rosebud."
"How did you find this out?"
"From young Moyna, here." Reg pointed to Dave Hick's sister, who was a friend of his daughter.
"She told us tonight. The boys had gone up this dry creek as far as they could before it got too dark."
"Young Walton was going to see his father about it, to see if he would carry on."
A few days later Clem Walton and his partner, Norman Maconarchy, registered applications for leases.
The area they had pegged out was considered by mining men to be the Mother Lode everyone was looking for!
The partners had pegged out leases for themselves; Walton's sons and some friends.
A few weeks later I met Norman Maconarchy and I asked him if I could come out and see the new field.
Southern newspapers were very interested and wanted pictures.
"Of course!" he said, "Glad to have you. I'm going out on Saturday to see how the men are going, you could come with me."
We drove out in Maconarchy's utility early on Saturday morning.
After leaving the bitumen surface of the Mount Isa-Cloncurry road, the countryside was fairly rough.
The track to the site was a winding one, twisting and turning through stoney gullys, which, in places, were heavily encrusted with anthills.
Some of these had been pushed over by the traffic to the new field.
We had to go slowly, so there was plenty of time to talk.
The countryside, in which all this activity was taking place, was not inviting.
It was rugged and arid.
For nine months of the year there was next to no rain.
During the wet season it was quite dangerous.
Heavy, torrential rain, over a wide catchment area, could fill watercourses and gully with alarming rapidity, menacing camps and trails, and cutting off supplies.
Although springs and waterholes were few and far between, it would appear that this place was put there for somebody to find.
In the creek bed, below the fabulous radioactive hill, was plenty of water.
There was a pond of cool, crystal water several yards across and at least six feet deep.
According to those who knew of it, no one had ever seen it empty!
After inspecting the costeaning, Maconarchy and I sat in the shade of a bough shelter near the pool.
"Have you a name for this place? I asked.
"Yes, we have", he replied, a little self-consciously I thought.
"We were a long time deciding on a name, and we did it right here!"
"Clem was very kind over this. You see, I lost my wife a little while ago and he thought it would be nice to use here name. I was feeling pretty sad at the time, And it really bucked me up! It was a fitting memorial. She could still be with me and our four kids, even though it was in name only."
"What was her name, Norm?"
"A simple Irish name - MARY KATHLEEN!"
Researched by Kim-Maree Burton www.kimmareeburton.com
Photographs on file.
This is an extract from Harry Waldegrave's memoirs "Ya Gotta Be Jokin" published by The Book Guild in 1985.