Chris Glasson has lived in Middlemount since 1981, two years after the town was opened.
Chris Glasson has lived in Middlemount since 1981, two years after the town was opened. Lucy Smith

What's changed in 37 years of Queensland mining town

CHRIS Glasson has been in Middlemount for nearly as long as the town has existed and has seen it "ebb and flow" with the mining industry.

The town's first residents arrived in 1979 to commence construction of German Creek mine, which opened in 1982.

Mrs Glasson began a job in the safety department at the mine at the end of 1981.

"Back then there wasn't a shopping centre, there were dongas. It was very hard to tell which one was the bank and which was the supermarket - they all looked the same," she said.

Moving from Mackay, Mrs Glasson said the transition to a fledgling mining town "took a bit to get used to".

"But the people were so welcoming, it was a great time to be in Middlemount. It was a lovely town for families and single people," she said.

"I miss those days actually, because it was a great - it still is a great community actually - but back then everybody knew everybody."

The town grew with the openings of Central Colliery and Southern Colliery mines. Foxleigh open cut coal mine opened in 1999.

Mrs Glasson said the mining community became less tightknit with the advent of the fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workforces.

"I personally think it's detrimental to the health of the community... people who are flying in and flying out don't have their families here," she said.

Mrs Glasson raised three children in Middlemount, two of whom still live there.

She owns Middlemount Engineering and Tyre Services with her husband Cam Glasson and their business partner John Vloedmans. The business, which employs 11 staff, will celebrate 20 years in October.

With one grocery store and one doctor, the major challenge for Middlemount residents is access to services. The town is an hour-and-a-half drive from Emerald and three hours drive from both Mackay and Rockhampton.

"There are times when people here will do back and forward in a day for an appointment - sometimes the frustration can be when people don't appreciate the distance you've travelled when maybe you make an appointment and it's cancelled or changed," Mrs Glasson said.

"But you do get used it."

Mining has inflated prices in the area - with fuel prices typically higher than in the rest of the state.

Mrs Glasson said while the economic climate in the town was "always a concern", she wasn't worried about the future of Middlemount.

"I refuse to worry about the future, I have faith that Middlemount will survive," she said.

"It's a good community. It's a good family community."