Captains Flat Things to Do

  • Captains Flat, Australia
    Captains Flat, Australia
    by victorwkf
  • Things to Do
    by victorwkf
  • Things to Do
    by victorwkf

Most Recent Things to Do in Captains Flat

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    Memorial at Wilkins Park

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Memorial at Wilkins Park, Captains Flat
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    There is a memorial at Wilkins Park (next to the Molonglo River, along the main road) which commemorate the former mining activities of Captains Flat and surrounding areas. The town was formed as a result of mining for gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and iron pyrites in the hills surrounding the upper reaches of the Molonglo River. The town boomed from 1881 to 1899 then went into a rapid decline until 1939 when rail access revived mining activity for another 23 years.

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    Reservoir

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Reservoir and surrounding hills, Captains flat

    When you are on top of the old mining hill area of Captains Flat, you will have good views of the surrounding areas, especially the rolling green hills.

    From here, you will have a great view of the entire town of Captains Flat, as well as the nearby reservoir.

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    Old railway area

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Old railway area, Captains Flat
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    Next to the old mining area is the old railway area, which you can still see the remains of the old railway tracks as well as an area where the minerals are loaded onto the trains to be sent to other parts of Australia.

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    Old Mine Area

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Old mine hill area, Captains Flat
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    Reverend W. B. Clarke, a geologist, discovered gold in the Captains Flat area in 1852. He reported his discovery to the local landholders who, not wanting thousands of prospectors all over their land, managed to keep the news quiet until 1874.

    By 1881, substantial deposits of reef gold was found, and major mining operations opened up the area. The following year copper was found and by the late 1890s the town was booming. It was around this time that the town's population reached 3,000 and it boasted five hotels, an oyster bar and a jeweller.

    By 1899, the mines were closing down and the town, like so many mining settlements, started to disappear. By the 1930s there were only about 150 people living in the town and most of the equipment which had been used in the 1890s had been removed. Then, in 1937, Lake George Mines built a 39 kilometre railway to Bungendore and with new drilling techniques and flotation plants reopened the whole area. Once again Captains Flat was successful. By 1962, the mining activities were over.

    The remains of the former mining activities are still present today, and you can visit it and walk around the area. There are signages and information boards which tell you all about this mining history of this place. More photos of the old mine area are at the travelogue section of this VT page.

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    Captains Flat Hotel

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Captains Flat Hotel, Australia

    The Captains Flat Hotel was built during the second mining rush of the 1930s. This hotel is a reflection of the prosperity of this town at that time. The Captains Flat Hotel once boasted the longest bar in the Southern Hemisphere (it is still there). The location and contact details of the hotel is as follow:

    Captains Flat Hotel
    Foxlow St
    Captains Flat, New South Wales 2623
    Telephone: (02) 6236 6201

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    Captains Flat Town (Part 2)

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Captains Flat, Australia
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    Captains Flat was formed as a result of mining for gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper and iron pyrites in the hills surrounding the upper reaches of the Molonglo River. The town boomed from 1881 to 1899 then went into a rapid decline until 1939 when rail access revived mining activity for another 23 years.

    There are more tips of the remains of the former mining glory days, so please see my other tips at this VT page for more information.

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    Captains Flat Town (Part 1)

    by victorwkf Updated Dec 11, 2009

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    Captains Flat, Australia
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    Why is this town called Captains Flat? Well, this is because there was a bullock named "Captain" from Foxlow station (12 km away) which grazed here, and hence the place name. It has nothing to do with Captain Cook or any other human captains :-)

    Currently, the population of Captains Flat is about 400 people. Historically, this area was originally inhabited by Ngarigu Aboriginals prior to European settlement.

    More information and photographs are at part 2 of this tip.

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    Follow the old railway to The Flat

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 2, 2007

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    The last train is long gone!
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    With the closure of the mine, the Captains Flat railway also closed in 1968. But there was one last hurrah – twelve months later, the very last train steamed along the line as part of the film Ned Kelly and a cardboard “Glenrowan” was built alongside the tracks at The Flat. From all accounts the film (featuring an unlikely Mick Jagger as Ned Kelly) is rather dire, but you’d have to salute the choice of locale! As you drive from Canberra and Queanbeyan, shortly after passing the old buildings of Foxlow Station (nearly obscured by trees planted long ago) you will notice the railway not far away to the left of the road. After this point you also will notice the countryside changing and the hills closing in.

    The former railway surely must have been one of the more scenic lines as it weaved and meandered through the countryside – though somehow I suspect few saw its scenic appeal as it mainly carried freight and bulk ore! Passenger services ceased in 1960. From time to time there have been suggestions of using the former railway for a cycle trail, but that seems unlikely as much of it has reverted to farmland and would need to be resumed. Still, this is something to ponder as you drive toward ‘The Flat’, watching for the railway to re-emerge from time to time.

    The railway eventually terminated at a station to the right of the road (now a private residence), just before you take a hairpin turn from the former mine site and follow around the tailings heaps (separate tip) before crossing the Molonglo River. Cross the river, turn right into Foxlow Street and there you are – in the main street at about GoogleEarth position 35.5885 S 149.4474 E! The War Memorial is immediately to your right on the corner.

    Main photo:The last train is long gone!
    Second photo:Railway to the town (in drought)
    Third photo:Remains of railway weighbridge
    Fourth photo:Heritage Trail sign with old photos.

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    Look at the old buildings

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 2, 2007

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    Old Captains Flat Post Office
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    If you cast back my ‘Intro’ page, you will remember that the town had an initial main period of growth in the 1880s-90s. Consequently, the main ‘official’ buildings date from that period. Here are some of the public buildings.

    You’ll find the former Post Office (now a residence) just near the pub. It dates from 1898 and is an excellent example of the type of building being erected in many country areas at the time. Oh, if you wish to post something now, the new Post Office is in the shop.

    From all accounts, back in the 1800s, The Flat was a roaring frontier town, so there was a need for a police station and court house. I don’t know what became of the police station from that period but the court house, built in 1896, is now the police station. It’s no surprise that, over the years when the town boomed, there were complaints about the size of the court!

    In the pre-TV days, there was a need for some kind of entertainment in the town, so the mining company built a 400 seat theatre in the 1950s. After the demise of the mines and subsequent drop in population, it was converted to a community hall in 1975.

    Main photo:Former Post Office, now a private residence
    Second photo:Court house, now the police station
    Third photo:Community hall, formerly a theatre
    Fourth photo:View from the mines area,showing the community hall (rounded rear section) and the back of the hotel.

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    Have a beer at the pub

    by tiabunna Written Apr 1, 2007

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    Captains Flat Hotel
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    The Captains Flat hotel was opened in 1938 when the mine was newly reopened and, I guess, the possibilities for the town seemed endless. So it seems to have been made for a substantial population. When it was built, it was claimed to have the longest bar in the Southern Hemisphere (that title now rests in Mildura) at over 31 metres.

    The pub is typical of many urban pubs erected in that period and there have been suggestions that it would have been far more at home in Bondi, Sydney! One standard feature of this building style is the tiled façade at street level, seen well in the second photo.

    I have never inspected the rooms, so don’t feel that I can realistically give an accommodation tip, but this is the main accommodation house in The Flat. The fitout of the 20 guest rooms apparently is in ‘period’ 1940s style.

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    See Keating’s Collapse

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 1, 2007

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    Keating's Collapse

    Australians will remember our former Prime Minister Keating, who famously made a comment about “…the recession we had to have”. The main photo for this tip shows ‘Keating’s Collapse’, which has nothing to do with the Prime Minister, but rather shows the recession left in the ground when one of the major mine shafts completely collapsed in 1961, taking large areas of hillside down with it.

    In this case, the name Keating comes from the designation of the mineral band on which the mine shaft was centred. Fortunately the collapse happened late at night when no shifts were working, and there were no serious injuries. This seems a good point to mention that the mine shafts went down to a depth of something like half a mile/2600 ft (metrics weren’t around when the mine operated).

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    The Outsider Gallery (and Coffee Lounge)

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 1, 2007

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    The Outsider Caf�� and Gallery
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    It isn’t very often that I feature a place in two different ‘tips’ categories, but ‘The Outsider’ definitely is a deserving exception.

    Gunther Deix is an interesting bloke. The brochure for his gallery says that he “is overtly eccentric”, and that’s probably a fair comment – suffice to say I suspect he’d have been at home in San Francisco about 1970! He, and his partner Christine, have transformed two old buildings, one from each period of the mine’s operations, into a very different gallery which combines with a coffee lounge/restaurant (separate tip). Between the two buildings is a pleasant open courtyard (heated in winter) which has more artworks. There’s nothing subtle about the overall colour scheme, it’s mainly purple!

    Perhaps the best way to describe Gunther’s art is to say that it’s highly personal and individual in style. It ranges from etchings to paintings in a range of materials, and to assemblages and sculpture. The walls of the restaurant and gallery are covered in art, it even covers the ceilings in the mezzanine above the restaurant area. Paintings range from simple sketches to heavily built-up impasto works. Many feature nature themes and many more involve figures. While many are allegorical, others, I must say, are quite disturbing. Without question, you’ll find yourself drawn into Gunther’s world!

    Open Friday to Sunday and public holidays, 0900 – 1700 (and Friday and Saturday evenings on reservations only).

    Main photo:The Outsider Café and Gallery
    Second photo:Gunter “mine host’ and some artwork behind
    Third photo:Interior of Outsider Café: artworks and heavy duty heater
    Fourth photo:Mosaic on the floor of the second “gallery” building
    Fifth photo:Facade of the ‘Outsider’

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    Tailings Heaps

    by tiabunna Written Apr 1, 2007

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    Looking north to old tailings heaps
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    When the mine operated, tailings heaps containing millions of tons of rock were left behind – near the road, these tailings heaps were over 40 metres high! Needless to say, they were unstable and leaching minerals. Consequently, the Molonglo River was a polluted aquatic desert downstream as far as Canberra, where it entered the new Lake Burley Griffin as the centrepiece of the National Capital. And that was what really focussed the need to do something about the environmental situation! The tailings heaps were stabilised at Government expense and the worst of the environmental problems were remedied. The first photo shows the tailings area to the north of the town, with green grass following recent rains, while the second shows the same area some years ago on a Heritage Trail sign.

    I heard not too long ago that fish have now been found in the river not too far downstream, so the environmental situation certainly has improved though minerals continue to leach from the rocks, as seen in the final photo.

    Main photo:Looking north across the old mine area to former tailings heaps
    Second photo:The same view in days gone, from a Heritage Trail sign
    Third photo:Driving past the tailings heaps on the way into town
    Fourth photo:Stabilised tailings heaps to the south of the town, from the original 1880-90 period
    Fifth photo:Water still draining from old workings

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    Tour the old mine area

    by tiabunna Updated Apr 1, 2007

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    The entry to the former mine
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    From the mine reopening in 1937 until it closed in 1962, the Lake George Mine produced substantial amounts of zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold, from over four million tonnes of ore. I estimate that the minerals extracted, on current (2007) values, would be worth over $2 billion US dollars.

    Most of the old mine buildings were removed when the mine closed, but the workings are still very much in evidence – and probably will be for far into the future, because nothing much will grow in the exposed rock areas. The Heritage Trail takes you through the old mine areas and there is a lookout at the top of the hill near the original mine head, giving excellent views of the town and the area.

    Main photo:The entry to the former mine
    Second photo:Where the minehead stood for the mine
    Third photo:Heritage Trail sign with old photo of mine entry.
    Fourth photo:View from the lookout area across the town

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    Follow the Heritage Trail

    by tiabunna Written Apr 1, 2007

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    Heritage Trail sign and brochure holder
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    The good folk of the Captains Flat Community Association have created a Heritage Trail around the little town, taking in the main buildings and also the old mine workings. While the old buildings are interesting and, indeed, are some excellent examples of period architecture, the mine and its derelict workings will always be the main focus of interest. Although it is possible to walk the town, I think most would find driving the most convenient to tour the old mine areas.

    You can pick up a copy of fact sheets and the Heritage Trail brochure from businesses around ‘The Flat’, as well as from the holders on the Heritage Trail sign. Fortunately the Community Association in ‘The Flat’ is not only active, but also right up-to-date with technology. They have an excellent website (see below) where you can not only learn more about the township but even download the Heritage Trail brochure before you make your visit. Maybe that’s not a bad idea, then you can be sure you’ll have one!

    Main photo:Heritage Trail sign and brochure holder
    Second photo:Heritage Trail brochure
    Third photo:Heritage Trail information with old photos
    Fourth photo:The directions are well signposted.

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