Malbon
Collage of Malbon.

The tiny north west Queensland town of Malbon could almost pass for a ghost town except that it is actually growing. There are no services at Malbon just a collection of dwellings, old sheds, abandoned cars and a rubbish tip to the rear of the townsite.

It's home to half a dozen old-timers who prefer the solitude of the bush to the hustle and bustle of town. That may be about to change with nearby Cloncurry releasing 10 blocks of land for sale and selling the lot. Malbon falls within the jurisdiction of Cloncurry Shire Council and the blocks were originally for sale by tender with all eventually being sold for about $10,000. Malbon is only 58km from the town of Cloncurry, on the Selwyn Road, near the abandoned mining town of Kuridala.

Malbon began life as a railway camp on the Cloncurry-Duchess line in the early 1900's, with the rail workers living in a tent city. Life as a ganger at the turn of the 20th Century must have presented workers with some unique obstacles and apparently conditions at Malbon were particularly uncomfortable. Eighty "navvies" (labourers) arrived at Malbon in 1912 and they were publicly congratulated for their sober habits after enduring the "flies, wet season, Barcoo Rot and fever." At one stage six men were struck by lightning during a particularly bad storm, with one man dying. A horse was also struck.

Malbon Provisional School, opened as a "Tent School" on 7 November 1911 when Nellie Sweeney was transferred to the school as its first Head Teacher. In 1916 the school became a State school, and closed on 8 August 1969 due to low attendance.

The 1930's saw Malbon in full-swing. Refreshments in the town could be enjoyed at the Railway Hotel, the Malbon Hotel or Doherty's Bar and a racetrack entertained the residents on a Saturday afternoon. Up to five bookmakers paid one pound each for the privilege of calling odds at the Malbon Track which presented riders with a few nasty experiences due to the sharp bends.

If you're in the Malbon area chances are it's because you're heading somewhere else. It's an out of the way place and navigating down the only street will normally result in you seeing absolutely no one. The nearby 'town' of Duchess at least offers accommodation and a working hotel while further on down the road the ghost town of Kuridala has an interesting cemetery and the ruins of an old copper smelter.


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