Live Charters Towers ambassador, Catherine McCabe, chats to Rob and Neil from 2 Blokes Chatting Radio Show to talk all things great about Charters Towers!
On January 28th, 2023, our Live Charters Towers ambassador, Catherine, was lucky enough to chat to Rob and Neil from 2 Blokes Chatting Radio Show in Geelong about all the incredible things Charters Towers has to offer. Featuring in their 'Regional Roundup' segment, Catherine and the boys talk mining, education, housing, and more.
"My husband and I moved back here five years ago and the reason we made the decision was just the whole package."
Charters Towers offers opportunities in spades - particularly within the mining, education, housing and tourisms sectors. To hear more about the town, you can listen to Catherine's interview here:
Neil: Today we are very fortunate to be heading very very North - in fact, far North in Queensland, Rob, to the town of Charters Towers, and we find ourselves talking to Catherine McCabe. Good morning Catherine.
Catherine: Good morning Rob and Neil, it's nice to be with you.
Neil: It's nice to chat to you. I'm trying to remember the last time I chatted to you... yesterday.
Rob: It's a long way - a long, long, long away from Geelong is Charters Towers, but it seems like we're now having similar very weather patterns. We might even be hotter than you today.
Catherine: Yeah I think so. I was just saying we're getting a nice shower here at the moment and it's just been unusually, unseasonably cool in January - I wouldn't say cool, but I would say for Charters Towers we've had lots of rain and it's very green here at the moment, so it keeps everyone in a really good mood when things like that are happening, rather than having some hot summer days.
Neil: Well help the good folks who've heard of Charters Towers but have never quite been there. It's on the pointy bit of Queensland as I understand it, but be a little more specific if you can.
Catherine: Look, where we are - so Charters Towers, for those people who have heard of us, it might be because we are known as a gold mining town come country town. So we have about ten, eleven thousand people who live here but we're located 90 minutes inland from Townsville which more of your listeners may have heard of. Of course, Townsville is on the coast and it's home of the North Queensland Cowboys football team - though I know you're AFL country down there.
Neil: Oh no, we're very good on Rugby League because we've got the Melbourne Storm and we win so we care about it now. We didn't before.
Catherine: A few Queenslanders I think have come down to that team.
Neil: How to upset a Queenslander - tell them that Billy Slater and Cameron Smith come from Victoria and just watch them jump up and down. It goes an absolute treat.
Catherine: Billy's from just a few hours North from us! So people will know Townsville for the home of the North Queensland Cowboys and of course they've held a couple of really great footy games their recently will the Covid stuff that went on, but we're 90 minutes inland from that. Townsville is sort of affectionately known as the capital of North Queensland up here - it's got over 200,000 people - and I only mention that in the context of Charters Towers because it's a really great asset for us. Charters Towers is sort of a really relaxed country town / heritage mining town / still is a mining town and it's just got this, like I said, a really relaxed country lifestyle, but then we can really tap into those services that are offered in Townsville down the road. Like if you want to jump on a plane and dart around anywhere in Australia, or if you've got specialist appointments, or you want to tap into the sporting extra-curricular stuff that happens on the weekends with clubs and that. We've got so many teams here that tap into that and it still offers all those great opportunities. So if anyone's heard of us it might be because it's known as that mining town, but since the late 1800s when that happened, you know, the town has evolved and we've now got other things that we're certainly well known for up here like our education sector. We've got a lot of boarding schools here, so chances are someone you know has gone to school in Charters Towers.
Neil: I have a podcast that you'd be familiar with Catherine - in fact, you're going to become very familiar with it during the next 7 days as I recall - but it's called the Regional 250. I interview people who live in regional Australia - you can check it out in all good podcast stores - and people who live in places like Boulia and Longreach and those sort of places which are seriously a long way away from anywhere - a lot of them do head towards Charters Towers for their schooling.
Catherine: That's right. I've got a very good friend, Bobby, who lives out in Boulia, who was my boarding school friend - I was a day student and she was a boarder that came in from Boulia - and a couple of others too, and Longreach yes absolutely. Like I said, the town has around that ten, eleven thousand people population, but when the boarders come to town, that swells. And there's always a great vibe when the families come in and they drop off or pick up, or when the families are all in town for awards nights and things like that. Because we do, we have three boarding schools that offer from kind of like pre-kindy right through to year 12 - obviously the boarding just in the higher years - as well as a state high school, as well as three state primary schools.
Neil: That's a lot for a town of eleven thousand.
Catherine: Yeah that's what I mean, it's quite incredible when you sort of do the numbers on that. And what that also means is we have -it sort of starts to paint a picture of Charters Towers - of what we have outside of the gold mining which is a huge employer, but education is just a massive employer. And the teachers that come with that - so we have a really strong professional sector of teachers, and with that comes their families. It's a really lovely little community.
Rob: Catherine, the servicing of the staff for the mining industry - is it done from locals or have you got a large fly-in-fly-out component?
Catherine: It's a mix. I've been talking, as you know Neil, I've been working on a campaign to promote Charters Towers called Live Charters Towers so I've been talking to some of the large employers around town in the mines and other areas, and everyone I talk to they say look, we employ probably everyone we can locally but there's just not enough to service their needs so they do have that fly-in-fly-out sector as well.
Rob: So on the other side of that ledger, if I was in Geelong looking for a change of life and employment, I come to Charters Towers to work but there is, sounds like, you've got a really good infrastructure to make life pretty good fun.
Catherine: That's right, and I think that's what happens. People do come up here - they see this fly-in-fly-out job and they're like oh, wow, we could actually be based here - we could actually afford a house here. Housing is very affordable compared to- I'm not sure about Geelong, but I know for down south just generally speaking - you'd be surprised at the prices up here. "So is that for the whole two acres, three bedroom house with the shed or is that just for the shed?" It's very affordable. It is, it's a bit of a package and I guess for me personally, like my husband and I moved back here five years ago and the reason we made the decision was just the whole package. We've got a 10 year old and a 3 year old. He works in the mines, he's a fitter, and he has a choice of employers so there's always work for him, and the last two years he's been home every night whilst working in a mining job which has been great for our young family. And then we've also got - we're living on 50 acres here that he had bought, because he grew up here as well, so he'd bought that when he was nineteen - a long time ago. So it's a great lifestyle for our little family. Then our son is at one of those boarding schools and the fees are just incredibly low. I'm quite happy to say it - we're paying under two and a half thousand dollars a year for those fees. I think any parent out there knows what that means, that's a very good price.
Neil: Well I've just called for the station defibrillator because I used to pay that per month for my son. Ah, yes, thanks for doing that to me.
Catherine: That's right - and they're really high performing schools with lots of opportunities as well. I think people sometimes say oh wow, well you know, it mustn't offer what some of the other schools do but they do. It's just we have this infrastructure left over from those goldfield days where Charters Towers was actually the second largest town in Queensland to Brisbane. We had our own stock exchange and we've got all these beautiful, grand buildings down our main street and what not that still exist and some of those are the schools. You know, a lot of places can't have that many schools and offer that because to put that sort of infrastructure in these days is a big project and a lot of lobbying, whereas we have it - we just need the people to come here and utilise it and enjoy it like the locals do. And on that note, with all of the lovely architecture and what not, tourism is another industry for us here. Particularly, like you mentioned, the difference in our climate normally - you know, we really start seeing around Easter time a lot of caravaners coming up from down your way, and just enjoying that beautiful weather - it's like summer. It's like a gentle summer, our winter. And that's the feedback we get - it's those beautiful heritage buildings, and they're all there taking photos in front of the Post Office and Stock Exchange etc.
Neil: No one takes a photo out the front of the Geelong Post Office anymore. Catherine, we better get going because we've got another program about to start. How very nice to talk to you and hear about your lovely town of Charters Towers. You and I will chat very soon on another forum, but thanks for joining us this morning on Regional Roundup.
Catherine: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my hometown.
Neil: No worries. Thanks Catherine.
Rob: Thanks Catherine. All the very best.