Home is where you park your hat - Iconic Parkside Apartments turn 50!
For 50 years, staying at the Parkside Apartments has been a rite of passage for those new to Mount Isa Mines, often their first experience of the city and the broader north west region.
In the 1960s, in a bid to promote greater stability in the workforce, Mount Isa Mines was strongly encouraging employees to move towards home ownership in the city.
To complement this initiative, the decision was made to build the Parkside Apartments to make special provision for new employees who might not be ready or able to buy a stake in the city.
In the June 1969 edition of MIMAG, then Operations Manager D.T. Buchanan outlined that Mount Isa Mines would build 100 modern, self-contained flats providing two-bedroom accommodation, provided on a rental basis, at a cost of $1,500,000.
"Present housing development in the city reflects the faith of both the company and its employees in the permanence of the mining operation," said D.T. Buchanan at the time.
Completed by Mount Isa Mines in late 1969, the Parkside Apartments became the first multi-storey residential project in Mount Isa. A total of eight three-storey and one two-storey blocks (aptly named A to H Blocks) were built in the suburb of Parkside within a short walking distance to the mining lease.
Each block was fully-equipped with a common laundry and the flats were air-conditioned with individual controls in each unit – something considered a luxury in the 1960s.
David Wellington, Superintendent – Building Services, Mount Isa Mines says since that time many talented mining, processing and industry support service professionals have passed through its hallowed grounds, from mine managers, engineers and tradespeople to graduates and vacation students.
"We've had an 85% to 90% occupancy rate over the last two years which keeps us fairly busy," says David.
"A small but dedicated team of five employees including three Cleaners, an Accommodation Officer and a Supervisor work extremely hard to welcome guests and keep Parkside running smoothly."
Through the years there have been some upgrades and reconfigurations to Parkside says David and the complex today boasts 105 units with 96 two bedroom units, eight (8) one bedroom studio executive apartments and one (1) three bedroom executive unit.
"Solar panels were added on the roofs of all the main blocks around eight years ago as well," says David.
"We're also currently investing $1.5 million to refurbish G Block which is due for completion in December this year."
Some people are indifferent to the brutalist architectural style of the multi-dwelling unit's common to the time period but, while metal prices and commodity markets have ebbed and flowed over the years, Parkside has remained steadfast successfully accommodating generations of Mount Isa Mines employees and their families.
Long-time Mount Isa residents, Keith and Joyce Scrimgeour have many fond memories of staying at the Parkside Apartments when they arrived in the city, shortly after emigrating from the United Kingdom in the early 1970s.
Joyce says her husband Keith secured a role at Mount Isa Mines as a Plant Operator at Number 1 Concentrator when they moved into Parkside with the couple's first son Neil.
"Neil was only two years old, and we soon became friends with a lot of other employees and their families who were staying there."
"We stayed there for about six months before getting on our feet and buying a house over at Soldiers Hill."
"Keith worked at Mount Isa Mines for over 30 years and retired in 2001 and both our boys Neil and Craig still work there," says Joyce.
Recent resident at the Parkside Apartments Trudie Groenewald, who moved over from Perth to start her role as Health Advisor at Mount Isa Mines, also had a positive experience with the accommodation providing an integral role in helping her settle into the community.
"It gave us an opportunity to explore and know the town before deciding where we wanted to live and whilst looking for a home," says Trudie.
"We also met other people that work at the mine and their families that helped form lasting friendships and a good support system in Mount Isa."
With such a proud history, we wish Parkside a happy 50th anniversary!