4721 Clermont

When shepherds found gold beside Clermont’s Hoods Lagoon in 1861, the central highland’s town gained instant fame.  Inundated with prospectors it became the first inland settlement north of the Tropic of Capricorn.  With a colourful past spiked with drama and tragedy, the town was built on gold rushes, copper and coalmines, timber-getters, shearers, stockmen and squatters. In 1916 a flood swept away Clermont’s business district and claimed more than 60 lives.  Buildings that survived the torrent were moved to higher ground and the town rebuilt.  A replica piano wedged in a eucalypt tree stands as an unnerving reminder. Today, with thriving mining, agricultural and service industries and resources still to be unearthed, this country town with a population of more than 3700 continues to grow.  With its rich history, steadfast close-knit community and diverse economic activity, its future is solid.  From any approach in to town, the road cuts through vast cattle and grain country and, depending on the season, can include a vibrant patchwork of produce from oats, wheat and sunflowers to red sorghum, cotton crops and beef cattle.  

Pictures & words by Paula Heelan. Her pictures (and links to her great books) can be found here www.paulaheelanphotojournalism.com and her pictures on Instagram are here @paula_heelan