Hard Times Mine

Isa Experience Heritage Display - Mount Isa Mine Tour

Useful Information

Location: Mount Isa.
In the center of Mt Isa, right south of Mt Isa Lookout. At Maryan Street/A2/Highway 83/Barkly Highway.
(-20.726345, 139.498114)
Open: All year daily 8:30-16:30.
Mine tours at 9, 13.
Closed 25-DEC, 01-JAN, Good Friday and Boxing Day.
Fee: Mine Tour: Adults AUD 85, Concessions AUD 68, Children (9-18) AUD 50, Family (2+2) 220.
Isa Experience Heritage Display: Adults AUD 22, Concessions AUD 18, Children (9-18) AUD 14, Family (2+2) 58.
Classification: MineCopper mine, MineSilver mine, MineLead mine, MineZinc mine.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=2,5h, Min=3, MinAge=7.
Isa Experience Heritage Display: self guided, D=1-2 h.
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Outback at Isa, 19 Marian Street, Mount Isa, Qld 4825, Tel: +61-7-4749-1555. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1923 discovery of silver-lead ore by prospector John Campbell Miles leads to the formation of Mount Isa Mines.
1929 Mount Isa founded as a miners town after the discovery of ores.
1953 beginning of copper mining.
1960s heydays of the mine.
1970 purchased by MIM Holdings and neglected.
1980s revitalisation started.
2003 MIM taken over by Xstrata.
2013 acquired by Glencore.


The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) fetch numerous metals from the rich ore body of the area. This ore was the reason the town was founded in 1929, after the ore was discovered in 1923 by prospector John Campbell Miles.

The ore mineralisation is stratiform, occurring in the 1,600 Ma Lower Proterozoic Urquhart Shale sequence. At Mount Isa the Urquhart Shale is 1,000 m thick and dips at 65°, the ore bodies lie within the upper 650 m. Boundaries of the ore are the Mount Isa fault on the west and volcanic greenstones to the east.

The lead-zinc-silver ore comprises galena and sphalerite with pyrite and pyrrhotite. The ore bodies are concordant with carbonaceous dolomitic sediments, interfingering with the silica-dolomitic mass hosting copper. There are over 20 ore zones which are mineable, each up to 1,400 m long, 800 m deep and between 4 m and 48 m wide.


The Hard Times Mine is a sort of artficial mine, which sounds strange as mines are always artifical. We try to make clear, that this never was a operational mine. Former Mount Isa Mines Underground tours was one of Mount Isa's big tourist attractions. It was operated by the mining company Mount Isa Mine (MIM). When they closed, several locals, led by Mount Isa's Mayor, Ron McCulloch, invented this to replace it. They built this tourist mine for some AUD 5 Million.

The Hard Times Mine gives visitors a real mine experience by kitting them out in overalls, boots, helmet with headlamp and earmuffs. The group descends in the Alamac cage, the mine elevator, to the floor of the mine. Here large mine equipment can be seen at work with an opportunity to work a mine drill yourself. The mine has been constructed using the regional mining techniques. The tours are guided by past and present Mount Isa Mine miners.

Additional offers are mine tours with breakfast, lunch or dinner included. After a full underground tour the visitors enjoy a meal in the crib room just as the miners do. Dinner Under Isa has become very popular. This tour starts at 17:00 and finishes at approx 20:30, including a three-course dinner. The visitors are entertained with the stories of the miners whilst eating.

Nearby is the museum Isa Experience Heritage Display with display on the 90 years history of Mount Isa. Obviously this means mostly the mining history, including displays of mining machinery, tools and documents. Allan’s Outback Gems is the rock collection of the ‘Rock Man’ Ian Leslie Allen (*1931–2017). It is considered one of the most comprehensive private collections of crystals, rocks and minerals in Australia. The Outback Park is a sort of diorama with a central lagoon surrounded by lush naive plants and a relaxing waterfall, inspired by nearby oasis Lawn Hill Gorge. The Rodeo Hall of Fame gives insight into the history of the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere. It is also a sort of Visitor Center where you buy the tickets for the mine tours and the museum, and it is also the location of the Riversleigh Fossil Centre. Since Corona [2022] tickets for the tours and the museum must be booked online in advance, but still it is best to start here.