The stock exchange at Charters Towers Australia

This arcade in Charters Towers is the site of the stock exchange that was created here during the gold rush.

The arcade

The stock exchange

Charters Towers does an amazing job preserving and presenting the historical places in the town. Everything is in pristine condition and the visitor’s office has volunteers there seven days a week.

Stock Exchange explanation

The Stock Exchange Moves In

“It was a grand moment when the ‘change’ moved into the Arcade. The courtyard was the pulse of “The World’ — the most important place in town.”

Ghost of Joe Millican, Stock Exchange Secretary.

Before the Stock Exchange opened, all wheeling and dealing was done by mining agents scattered throughout the town. By the mid 1880s, agents had combined into an exchange on Mosman Street, where smartly dressed kerbside brokers bustled about drumming up business. Agents peddled shares in dubious mines and secretaries often fled town with the takings. To keep control over what had become a wild and speculative market, a Stock Exchange was formed in May 1890 and shifted into the impressive Royal Arcade.


Scams, rorts and skulduggery

“Some of the mines floated had no hope of success — the promoters could not have expected to strike a reef if they penetrated the earth to its centre.”

Ghost of Warden Selheim, mining official who lobbied for a Stock Exchange to curb growing corruption.

Such a chaotic and speculative market attracted many rogue promoters and opportunists. People eager to share a slice of the Towers’ riches often found they had snapped up shares of worthless claims or ‘wild cats’ as they were called. Money invesed to develop mines frequently lined shareholder pockets rather than flowing into capital improvement. The Stock Exchange floor was a place of high jubilation for many, but also a place of crippling disappointment.

Charters Towers 3, the streets

Given that Charters Towers is inland (from Townsville), behind a mountain range and in the outback, I expected a desert city. The town is filled with trees, though, a lush oasis, though the outback in this area is also dotted with trees, filled with grass and fed by a huge river (the Burdekin River), so it is not quite right to call Charters Towers an oasis either. But the trees are larger and there is a wide variety of them.

The visitor’s center is open 7 days a week and the town has preserved its historic downtown.

I think my favorite thing about Charters Towers was seeing contemporary people living in this historic town — the mix of the old and the new. It is a charming place where I could well imagine living!

We parked across the street from the visitor’s center. This is looking down the main street. Our little white rental car is in the foreground on the right.P1060021

Another street shot:


Some of the historic buildings:


The bank:P1060029 P1060036

The police station:


And every day life:

A tavern:


Modern stores in old buildings:


A pub:






An open lot with a park behind it, showing some of the trees.


Great Barrier Reef

You have to get up early to get to the reef from Townsville.


It’s a long boat ride, but it’s worth it! The dark patches are the reef.


The environment is very peaceful. I saw 3 big, kind of flat (vertical) fish hanging motionless in the water near the reef. They were so still! And there’s not much sound, just your own breath. Gazing down at the life below from the surface was really peering into another world.

The captain suggested I shoot some pictures through his polarized sun glasses. They allow you to see more deeply into the water.

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