The Mount Isa Underground Hospital, constructed during March/April 1942 in the grounds of the Mount Isa District Hospital, was built by off-duty miners from Mount Isa Mines. As a wartime underground civilian hospital, built by civilians, it appears to be unique in Australia.
The underground hospital occupies an area roughly 20m square in the southeast corner of the Mount Isa Base Hospital grounds, and entry is via the Beth Anderson Museum building, which is accessed from Joan Street.
The layout of the underground hospital consists of three parallel east-west tunnels cut into shale rock, joined at their eastern ends by a 20m crosscut tunnel running north-south, forming a large reversed 'E'. A ventilating raise is located in the intersection of the crosscut and the north tunnel, and at the rear of the crosscut opposite the north and south tunnels are two recesses for cupboards. The tunnels are of varying widths, between 2.6 to 3.5m. The south tunnel is now the entrance for visitors, while the middle tunnel is now the exit. The north tunnel is still sealed.
Before restoration, little remained of the original furnishings and medical equipment. However, between 1997 and 2001 the internal fit out was reproduced, based on photographs from 1942.
The Beth Anderson Museum is full of wonderful memorabilia from the 1930's through to (almost) the current day.
You will find an extensive range of antique (or at least quite old) medical equipment, including a hand written First Aid Manual, large posters of the human anatomy and real skeleton that was used for educational purposes.
As well as medical paraphernalia, there is some interesting World War II items, and some geological exhibits. It is important to note, that many of the items within the museum were donated by families still residing in Mount Isa.
The Tent House, Museum and Underground Hospital are open during the cooler months of the year (April to September) and run by a dedicated team of Volunteers, it really is worth a visit, whether you are a traveller to town or local.
Housing was scarce in Mount Isa after MILES' discovery of Lead and Silver. Men came in droves, and some brought their families with them. Accommodation was needed, and it was needed fast. Canvas was a fairly readily available product and so it was used to make "Tent Houses".
Each Tent House consisted of a narrow timber framed building, with canvas walls and roof. Above the roof and separate to it, was an iron roof supported by a light weight timber frame. In some instances solid boards or iron sheeting was used around the base the house as a dust control measure.
Most of the tent houses were demolished in the 1960's. In 1975 an application was made to the National Trust that the last remaining intact tent house be placed on the register. An agreement was made with Mount Isa City Council - the National Trust would purchase the house, and Council would be responsible for its maintenance.
The National Trust Tent House was once located on Fourth Avenue, it recently was relocated to its current position at the Beth Anderson Museum and Underground Hospital.