The Underground Hospital and Museum is one of the great gems of Mount Isa tourism.
Run entirely by volunteers under the tireless direction of volunteer coordinator Erica Shaw, the hospital and museum offer a unique perspective for visitors looking for something different to do in Mount Isa.
While there have been hospitals in Mount Isa (mineside and townside) since the 1920s, the Second World War changed thinking on patient safety especially after the Darwin Hospital was bombed in the attack on that city in February 1942.
Authorities began to look at what precautions needed to be taken to protect the Mount Isa district hospital in the event of an air raid.
After a discussion between the regional District Hospital Director and superintendent of the mines they came up with the idea of the Underground Hospital carved into the hills behind the base hospital.
For 15 weeks, miners drilled, blasted and mucked out a series of four timbered tunnels into the side of the hill.
The completed hospital included separate male, female and children's wards plus a surgical theatre, delivery room and dedicated maternity ward - all fully stocked with linen and medical equipment.
However the anticipated air raid never happened and after Kokoda in late 1942 the Japanese forces retreated and the air raid drills ceased. The shelter became a temporary dormitory for nurses, a store room for hospital equipment before eventually closing in the 1960s.
In 1996 a Steering Committee was formed to manage the future of the underground hospital and it was eventually reopened in conjunction with the Beth Anderson Museum, with the 1930s Tent House completing a fascinating history trail.
I was there last week to see work done to put new timber frames up in the tunnels and they look fabulous.
The work was done with a Glencore grant and funding from the Rotary Club of Mount Isa, and more work is to come during the summer shutdown.
I strongly encourage Mount Isa residents to check the facility out before it closes for summer at the end of the month.
It's a great story and a great asset for the city.