Destinations

Dead Queensland uranium mine an Instagram hotspot for local tourists

An abandoned uranium mine with outstandingly blue waters in outback Queensland is being given a new lease on life as a tourist attraction.

According to multiple media reports, the old Mary Kathleen mine has been brought out of a staid retirement and turned into a local tourist spot, with the region reportedly popular with grey nomads, thanks in no small part to its unnaturally blue and photogenic waters.

The slightly radioactive dam and abandoned mine site is becoming somewhat of a hit on Instagram, with dozens of tourists posting shots of adventures at the site, which is a short trip from the now abandoned mining town of Mary Kathleen.

Although swimming isn’t advisable, thanks to an unstable cocktail of chemicals that consequently cause the unnatural colour of the dam’s water, the destination is proving to be the perfect backdrop for travellers visiting from Mount Isa 53 kilometres from Mary Kathleen, and further afield.

Gary Murray, chairman of the Mount Isa Tourism Association and owner of North West Tours, told The Courier Mail interest in Mary Kathleen was “growing rapidly”.

“We only started doing tours there last year but they are already proving really popular,” he said.

“One of our major focuses out here has been to come up with new products to keep people in the area an extra night or two and this certainly ticks the box.”

Retired cricketer Lee Carseldine has been one of the visitors to the Mary Kathleen mine, posting a shot at the site to Instagram with the caption “Don’t quarry…be happy..”

But while taking pictures of the destination is “safe”, experts warn that travellers ought to avoid contact with the water, which happens to be radioactive but not to the levels of a “nuclear power reactor”.

“[T]he general levels of that radiation [are] above background levels but they’re not acute,” Gavin Mudd from the school of chemical and environmental engineering at RMIT told ABC News.

“There are risks to skin, risks to ingesting that water, and if you do happen to ingest some water, that may be an issue.

“I wouldn’t describe the risks as acute, but I certainly wouldn’t be swimming in that old mine pit.”

In other destinations around the world, tourists are flocking to similarly abandoned mines and chemical dumping sites with unnaturally beautiful water.

This came at the risk of tourists to a blue Siberian “Maldives” lake, which was found to be a chemical dump site.

Featured image: Instagram/@kooleahnoel

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