Terrestrial means 'of the earth' and as such provides a ready name for TerrEstrial Georgetown and the extensive mineral collection, TerrEstrial - the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection. Located at Georgetown in the Etheridge Region, some 400 kilometres west of Cairns along the Savannah Way, the mineral collection at Terrestrial is one of the largest and most comprehensive mineral collections in the world, with over 4,500 specimens on public display.
THIS PAGE IS HOSTED BY CAIRNS UNLIMITED FOR TERRESTRIAL, GEORGETOWN. MATERIAL ON THIS PAGE IS SUBMITTED BY TERRESTRIAL, NOT BY CAIRNS UNLIMITED. BUT WE RECKON THEY ROCK. WE'RE SURE YOU WILL TOO!
Terrestrial was opened in May 2003 and had a total project cost of $1.7Million (including the purchase of the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection). The centre's establishment was mainly funded by the Etheridge Shire Council, with assistance from the Queensland State Government totalling some $455,000. The now closed Kidston Gold Mines provided the overarching shed structure that shades the main building and the courtyard.
Originally this shed was located on the Kidston Gold Mine Site near the historic gold mining town of Kidston, some 150 kilometres south of Georgetown. Construction of the centre was carried out by KTB Engineering, with landscaping and other site works carried out by staff of the Etheridge Shire Council.
The pebbles that are laid out in the courtyard come from the O'Brien's Creek area, which is some 150kms east of Georgetown, and are of glacial origin. These pebble deposits have been known to contain semi-precious gems such as topaz.
Behind the Terrestrial amongst the trees sits the Peace Monument garden dedicated to our champions of world peace. Large stones adorned with plaques recognising peace leaders including Dr Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Dr Daisaku Ikeda, Mahatma Gandhi, Eddie Mabo, Helen Caldicott and Julian Burnside.
The slate in the courtyard came from a working cattle property, some 250kms south west of Georgetown, and was carted by a resident on the property - utility load by utility load. The 'fossil like' patterns seen in the slate are caused by mineralisation and are not fossilised ferns. Rocks bordering the gardens and the building platform came from various parts of the shire and have been incorporated with a variety of plants and shrubs. Located outside the front entry of the centre are two large mineral specimens - a Crinoid in Limestone specimen and a Feldspar Crystals in Granite specimen.
The foyer display includes a two metre long TerrEstrial sign, composed by local lead light artist Terry Smith, using 287 individual agate cabishons sorted by colour. All of these cabishons came from the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection and were found at the Agate Creek gemfields in the Etheridge region.
ABOUT TED ELLIOTTTed Elliott OAM has, apart from his family, two main passions in his life - the collection and preservation of Australian Mineral Heritage and Mining History and working for the benefit of disadvantaged and isolated children and youth. With the latter, he has been working for the Far North Queensland Youth Assistance Fund Inc., which he was instrumental in establishing, since its inception in 1972.
With his passion for Australian Mineral Heritage, he has been actively collecting minerals since he first encountered specimens as a young lad in 1946 on his father's farm at Wirrimah, near Young, NSW. Since that time he has amassed one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections in Australia, consisting of world class specimens from Australia and all over the world.
Whilst no true 'rock hound' will ever part with all of his collection, the minerals on display at 'TerrEstrial - the Ted Elliott Mineral Collection' consists of over 4,500 separate specimens, providing a mind boggling display of the varieties in shape, structure and colour produced by nature in minerals from all over the world. They constitute the bulk of Ted's lifetime of work in collecting and acquiring minerals since that initial encounter with an interesting specimen back on his father's farm. The minerals on display are generally arranged geographically, with many parts of the collection representing significant stages in the development of Ted's collection over the years.
From its humble beginnings in Young, NSW (the 'Lambing Flat Gold Mines' area) Ted moved to Uralla and continued collecting specimens from the New England Mining Areas into the 1950's and 1960's. In the early 1960's, Ted spent three years at Charleville, QLD, where he collected from the opal fields in the region including additions from the Yowah, Quilpie and Eromanga fields. A later move to Far North Queensland, in 1966, saw him add specimens to his collection from the Agate Creek, Mount Surprise, Herberton, Irvinebank, Chillagoe, Wolfram Camp and Cooktown areas.
A collection of the size of Ted's can rarely be directly collected by one person alone and Ted has, over the years, like most rock hounds, bought, swapped and received gifts of specimens to extend his collection. In 1976 Ted acquired a significant collection of specimens from Wolfram Camp, as well as ammonite fossils from Wrotham Park Station near Chillagoe, from the late Mr. Ken Collins. In the same year he acquired a good collection of agate from Bob and Yvonne Dighton, formerly Agate Creek miners.
In 1978 good agate and prehnite specimens were purchased from Les Kertez of Cairns. This was also the year that the 250kg crystal, one of the largest quartz crystals in any Australian collection, was acquired from the late Dr. B.G. Clarke of Cairns. Ted Elliott, with the 250kg crystal from Wolfram Camp located in the Theatrette 1984, saw the extension of the collection to include significant specimens from the Northern Territory after a two week collecting trip through the Harts Ranges, Plenty River Valley and the Jervois Ranges.
The 1980's also saw the addition of Tasmanian minerals, including crocoite from Dundas, Tasmania, and overseas minerals from Kevin Davey, Albert Chapman, Dehne McLaughlin and Rene Boissevain. In the same period Ted acquired the collection from the Erola Rock Shop in Cairns, put together by Doug and Pat Simpson. The 1980's also saw the addition of gold specimens from New Guinea, the Palmer and Georgetown goldfields and the acquisition of a fine collection of silver specimens from the Cobar Silver Mines from Stephen Thomas, Australia's Champion Rock Driller.
The 1990's saw the addition of a collection from the retired Swiss geologist, Hans Mulli, and the purchase of a large collection of Walsh River fossils from Je Forrest at Mount Garnet. Through swapping, a number of the fossil specimens were traded for a fine collection of minerals from Afghanistan. In 1993, a visit to Dysart saw the addition of Permian period flora fossils and fine petrified woods. At this time, Ted also acquired the collection of the late Ken Pike, who had spent significant time collecting and working in mines in Zimbabwe as well as in Queensland mining areas. Ted also collected specimens personally from a number of mines including the Red Dome Gold Mine near Chillagoe, the Osbourne, Mt Elliott and Biggenden Mines. This was carried out with the assistance and permission of the mine owners at the time.
With the purchase of the collection for display at TerrEstrial Georgetown, significant purchases of local gold specimens, including the Providence Nugget and the Devlin Nugget, plus the donation of local mineral specimens, completed the collection that is now on display. In its history, Ted's collection has been on display in the Sugarworld theme park in Cairns from 1989 to 1995, the historic Corfield & Fitzmaurice General Store in Winton from 1995 to 2002 and now in the purpose built TerrEstrial complex in Georgetown. The collection on display in Georgetown includes many specimens that have not previously been available for viewing and all specimens are now arranged in a way that enhances the display of the collections uniqueness, scale and beauty. When does a rock hound like Ted stop collecting? He doesn't. Etheridge Shire Council has been pleased to be able to ensure that his legacy will be available for future generations to view, enjoy and study.
'TerrEstrial Georgetown' and 'TerrEstrial - The Ted Elliott Mineral Collection' are registered business names of Etheridge Shire Council.