A town in north-western Queensland, Mount Isa lies 2,309 km by rail from Brisbane. The town was built to accommodate workers at the large lead and copper mines in the district. The extensive mineral reserves, operated by Mount Isa Mines Ltd, make the area Australia's largest producer of silver, lead and copper.
Because of its isolation in an arid region, most food must be brought long distances to Mount Isa. Milk is supplied from the Atherton Tableland, more than 1200 km distant, and beer is sent from Cairns and Melbourne. The water supply is obtained from Lake Moondarra which was created by building a dam on the Leichhardt River. The town is also the centre of the School of the Air.
Minerals were first discovered at Mount Isa in 1923 and mining began two years later. However, it was not until 1947 that sufficient return had been obtained to repay the initial loans needed to develop the area.