Europeans have been in Australia for less than 250 years so there are no ancient settlements outside of the Indigenous context. But even by European standards, Mount Isa is a very new settlement and did not exists on maps produced around the time of the First World War.
The region was one of the last to go through the frontier wars and its fearsome warrior Kalkatunga people resisted invaders until they were finally defeated at Battle Mountain in 1884.
Then one day in the steaming hot February of 1923, an itinerant mining prospector named John Campbell Miles wandered in to this inhospitable desert, "fit only for reptiles, horses and bearded men with Quixotic dreams." Miles camped near a pool, brewed a billy of tea, pulled on his gnarled pipe and lay back.
He exhaled the last lungful of smoke and glanced around. On the tip of one jagged outcrop his eyes blinked at a silver shaft of light. He plodded 800 yards to the rock which he smashed down with a farrier's hammer and shattered it into a honeycombed pattern of black and grey.
The weight of those fragments surprised Miles, He sent 10 specimens for evaluation to the Cloncurry assayer. The analysis showed the poorest contained 49pc lead and the richest 78pc. He pegged out the first leases on the field. The first load of ore left in two drays to begin the arduous journey to Duchess, where it was loaded onto a train for Cloncurry. He named the area Mount Ida for a Western Australian gold field, and but changed the "d" to "s" because he liked the sound of the name.
Mount Isa Mines began in 1924 and with it the story of one of the great mining cities of Australia, producing untold riches in lead, silver, copper and zinc.
Now 98 years old in 2021 Mount Isa is still a mining stronghold and is looking towards its 100th birthday in 2023.
There are plans for a year of centenary events in 2023 and the mayor has suggested a visit by a member of the Royal Family.
But the most appropriate suggestion would be a new mining memorial to commemorate the 150 or so people who died over the years bringing the mineral wealth of the ground to the Mount Isa surface.
The proposer wants a memorial consisting of an architect-designed semi-circular wall with the names of deceased workers on plaques and a statue of an underground worker with a miner`s helmet and cap lamp which would be illuminated and seen from any angle of the city.
It would be a costly but bold proposal that would offer not just a fitting memorial to dead miners but also provide a major tourist boost to a remote region.
I can't help wonder but John Campbell and the ghosts of the Kalkatunga warriors on Battle Mountain would approve.