Gold Townships in Western Australia


“Mother of the Western Australian Goldfields”

Coolgardie is located 550 kilometres east of Perth, approximately 40 kilometres west of Kalgoorlie, and 187 kilometres north of Norseman. The name Coolgardie is said to be derived from the aboriginal word “Coolcaby”, and is said to be a reference to the area’s mulga vegetation and gnamma waterholes.

The name Coolgardie is said to be derived from the aboriginal word “Coolcaby,” which is in reference to the area’s mulga vegetation and gnamma waterholes. Over the years, Coolgardie was known by various names such as Bayley’s Find, Fly Flat, The Old Camp and The Old Diggings.

The Coolgardie area was first explored by H.M. Lefroy in 1863 and then by C.C. Hunt in 1864. As a result of Hunt’s efforts, the area became accessible to Europeans. But Coolgardie owes its existence to the discovery of gold at nearby Fly Flat, 120 miles to the east of Southern Cross, back in 1892.

According to all accounts, gold was discovered in the area by Arthur Bayley and William Ford on the 17 September 1892. Bayley hastily reported the discovery of 554 ounces of gold to J.M. Finnerty, then the resident mining warden at Southern Cross. At the time 554 ounces of gold was worth 2200 pounds ($4,400) and in accordance with Western Australian mining regulations, Bailey was offered a reward claim covering 20 acres of land at Fly Flat. Bayley’s reward claim proved to be very profitable, and during the 70 years of existence, this mining claim recovered over 500,000 ounces of gold.

From an historical perspective, the Coolgardie gold find proved to be one of immense national significance. During the 1890’s, Eastern Australia experienced a severe depression and people flocked to the areas around Coolgardie in the hope of a better life. However, while some found gold, many only found hardship, sickness and death caused by inadequate housing, lack of fresh water and food, insufficient medical attention and supplies.

Despite early hardships, within the short space of ten years, Coolgardie’s population had grown to a staggering 16,000.

By 1896, the railway had arrived and by 1898, Coolgardie was the third largest town in Western Australia (after Perth and Fremantle). Two stock exchanges, three breweries, six newspapers, 60 stores, 26 hotels and many churches were evident during this time. The town was named in 1893 and became a municipality the following year.

The Post Office opened in 1895 and the following year electricity and a swimming pool enhanced the hard life of the miners. By 1897, the level of enthusiasm about the potential of the region was such that over 700 mining companies had been floated in London. The water pipeline arrived in 1903 and a year earlier the town had seen the construction of the State Battery.

As the surface gold ran out, many prospectors left the fields disillusioned and penniless. Others headed to Kalgoorlie (East Coolgardie as it was known then) and later worked for mining companies for as little as $6.00 per week.

Coolgardie still continues its long association with the gold industry by more efficient open pit mining and recovery methods. The Coolgardie of today is a pleasant inland town which has retained many aspects of its rich and colourful past. Once the centre of Australia’s greatest gold rush, Coolgardie is now the nation’s best preserved gold mining town. Coolgardie has carefully preserved the best of its past. Its wide streets are lined by grand stone and brick buildings mixed with corrugated iron and timber homes reflecting both the wealth and importance of the gold rush.

Mining fields
In the 1890s there were four mining fields gazetted with Coolgardie as reference point:

  • Coolgardie Gold Field (1894)
  • East Coolgardie Gold Field (1894). In 1902, this was the richest gold field in Western Australia.
  • North Coolgardie Gold Field (1895)
  • North East Coolgardie Gold Field (1896)

Despite the changes to the Kalgoorlie region, Coolgardie still has a Mining Registrar

Things You May Not Know About Coolgardie

  • The postcode for Coolgardie is 6429
  • Prior to the building of a gaol unfortunate prisoners were chained to what was known as the gaol tree (located on Hunt Street).
  • The Pizza and Hamburger shop along the main street proudly boasts that Paddy Hannan had once slept there.
  • As you drive past the BP petrol station have a look on the roof. There is a huge Ned Kelly replica for reasons I
  • have yet to uncover(maybe he slept there too!).

Coolgardie Attractions

Goldfields and Coolgardie Museum
The Goldfields and Coolgardie Museum is located on Bayley Street adjacent to the Coolgardie Tourist Bureau. Housed within the historic Mining Warden’s Court Building, this fine museum offers an excellent introduction to the early colourful social history of the Coolgardie Goldfields. Excellent photographic displays depict Coolgardie’s early years and the hardships endured on the goldfields. A number of period rooms are on display along with a wide collection of historical memorabilia and aboriginal cultural artefacts.

A feature of the collection is the Waghorn bottle and curio collection. Coolgardie’s Goldfield’s Museum is definitely well worth visiting for an hour or 2 and would particularly appeal to family and school groups. Cost of entry was $3-30 for adults at the end of 2001.

Coolgardie Pharmacy Museum
Coolgardie’s Pharmacy Museum is surprisingly interesting. Said to be one of the best historical pharmaceutical displays in Australia, Coolgardie’s pharmacy museum houses an extensive collection of 18th and 19th century medicines. Numerous advertisements and antique tools of the chemists trade or on display. A Coolgardie local named Ronnie Potter manages the museum.

Ronnie is certainly one of Coolgardie’s characters and he definitely is very knowledgeable about medications and the history of the goldfields. For those of you on prescription medications a short visit to this museum could prove very addictive. Opening hours 7-30 am to 4 pm. Cost of admission $3-30 for adults at the end of 2001. Discounts are offered to seniors and family groups.

Ben Prior’s Park
Ben Prior’s Park is an open air display of old mining equipment, including mining jigs, drills, antiquated boilers and head frames. For those of you with an interest in vintage mining equipment a short visit might well be of some interest. Entry to Ben Prior Park is free and the display is located on Bayley Street – Coolgardie’s main thoroughfare.

Coolgardie Camel Farm
Coolgardie’s development has been intimately linked with camels and the town’s wide streets are reputed to have been designed to accommodate turning camel trains. Coolgardie’s Camel Farm is located 4 kilometres west of town along the Great Eastern Highway. At the Camel Farm visitors can try their hand at riding camels and overnight camel treks are available by arrangement.

Coolgardie Parklands
Coolgardie’s Parklands are located on the western end of Bayley Street. These parklands are well shaded and grassed, with an excellent playground. A number of gas barbecues are available along with undercover seating areas. Coolgardie’s Parklands offer travellers an excellent picnic spot and place to let the kids stretch their legs.


Cue is a small town in the Mid West region of Western Australia, located 650 km north-east of Perth. At the 2006 census, Cue had a population of 328. It is also known as the Queen of the Murchison. Cue is administered through the Cue Shire Council, which has its chambers in the historic Gentlemans Club building. The current president is Stephen Manning. The Cue Parliament is held twice yearly in May and November.

It was the 1890’s and Western Australiaa was in the midst of the States greatest gold rush. Prospectors from all over Australia were heading west to seek their fortune. As the story goes, Michael John Fitzgerald, was the first to discover gold in the area, thanks to Governor, a local Aboriginal. Governor showed Fitzgerald a nugget he had found in his travels and when queried by Fitzgerald, Governor explained the nugget was no good, there were bigger ones over there (pointing in the direction of Cue).

It wasn’t long before Fitzgerald and his mate, Edward Heffernan, began prospecting in the area. Within a week they had found about 260oz of gold in what is now the main street of Cue. Tom Cue , a fellow friend of Fitzgerald, heard of the men’s stroke of luck and went to Nannine to register a claim on their behalf. As fate would have it, the town was eventually named after Tom and so too the honour of being the first to discover gold in the area.

Things Are Looking Up in Cue
Today the small mining town boasts some of the most grandiose buildings to be seen anywhere in rural Western Australia. Wide streets, galvanised iron and quarried stone buildings are all part of the charm of this once thriving mining town. The town at its peak supported over 2,000 people and boasted 11 pubs and 13 hotels. Many of the buildings of yesteryear are still standing and offer, anyone passing through, a fascinating glimpse into the State’s gold mining era.

The town has taken great effort and pride in maintaining the many heritage listed buildings, with many lovingly restored. As a result the people of Cue were awarded with the 2004 Heritage Award for Western Australia. There are so many fascinating buildings in Cue, but none so quirky, as the Corrugated iron Masonic Lodge.

Big Bell
The ruins of the Big Bell town are located about 27kms west of Cue on the Big Bell mine road. The town was established in 1936 as a result of the opening of the Big Bell Mine.

Today, left in virtual ruins, the area has an eerie silence. Occasionally you see a rabbit hopping through a doorway of a ruin , a hawk circling from above or a big mining truck roaring past, but that is all. Any reminder of the town’s existence will soon be gone. The Big Bell Hotel is the only reminder (if not disappearing reminder ) of the town’s once opulent past. Wandering through the shell of the Hotel you can still see evidence of its majestic past.

Big Bell or should I say the gold of Big Bell was discovered in 1904, but it took another 32 years before a mine was finally established in the area by Big Bell Ltd.

The town flourished with over 400 employees. Unfortunately , like many businesses, the outbreak of World War II lead to the mine’s closure for “war Purposes”. Men joined the armed forces, machinery was removed for war purposes and as a result the town’s population plummeted to 15. In Australia, all focus was on the war effort, as men were needed for production of munitions and food. Like many small towns throughout Australia the effect of the war was devastating.

In 1945, following the end of the war, the mine was back in business. By 1951 there was over a 1000 people living in town, ‘business as usual’.
Unfortunately decline in profitability saw the mine finally close its doors in 1955. The town virtually died following the closure and people owning property couldn’t give it away. Many of the buildings were removed to Cue, Mt Magnet and Meekathara.

By around 1900 Cue was the centre of the Murchison goldfields and boasted a population of about 10,000. As World War I drew men from the goldfields into the Australian Army the townsite of Day Dawn was abandoned.

After the war many of the mines did not reopen and this started the decline of Cue as a major population centre. After the Great Depression and the fall in the price of gold, by 1933 the population of Cue had dropped to fewer than 500.

The current population is around 300; the major employer is the Crosslands iron ore mine west of Cue. The Shire of Cue has ten employees and most other residents are self-employed as prospectors or in supplying the tourist and sheep-grazing industries.

Cue was recently heritage listed as a town of significant historical value. The main street has changed little since it was first built. There are several buildings within the townsite that are icons in their own right.

Cue has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild to cool winters.
The area is prone to the occasional inundation, in 1925 several buildings in the town collapsed following heavy rain and flood waters. The town received 259 points 2.59 inches (66 mm) of rain over the course of two days.


Heritage Trail
Cue’s Heritage Trail is a must. The trail retraces the early development of the district and its role in the gold-mining era, including many charming buildings constructed at the turn of the century. Be sure to also visit the ruins of the abandoned towns of Big Bell and Day Dawn and the site of the old tent hospital at Milly Soak.

Aboriginal Art – Walga Rock
A huge granite monolith known as Walga Rock is situated 48 kilometres west of Cue and is a site of deep cultural and spiritual significance. The rock offers spectacular views of the area, unusual rock formations and a time preserved gallery of Aboriginal Art. The most unusual of these depicts a sailing ship in white ochre with masts, rigging and portholes. Why there should be a painting of a white ship over 300 kilometres inland from the sea remains a mystery.

Cue Historical Photograph Collection
On display at the Cue Shire this fascinating and extremely popular collection of historical photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s paints a picture of yesterday’s Cue. Gain an understanding of how life was for the pioneers, the challenges they faced and the characters who lived in this time.

Old Cemetery
Along the Sandstone Road (about 4km from Cue) you’ll find a cluster of lonely graves from the late 1800s. It is believed that some 50 bodies were moved in 1897 from their original graves in the Cue township to make way for the railway station.

Cue Lookout
Just north of the Cue township, the lookout provides sweeping views of the townsite and surrounding landscape.

Lake Nallan
Nallan Lake is a nature reserve and other than in times of drought when it may dry up, is a haven for a huge array of plant and birdlife including black swans. During periods of heavy winter rains Lake Nallan transforms into a favoured picnic spot. The surrounds will become covered with carpets of colourful everlastings and other flowers. You’ll find the lake about 20km north of the Cue townsite.

Milly Soak
Milly Soak is 16 kilometres north of Cue and was a popular picnic spot in Cue’s early history. It also became the source of the town’s water for a number of years following the pollution of the town water supply due to poor sanitary practices. During the early 1900’s typhoid swept through the goldfields killing large numbers of people especially Aboriginal people who were less resistant to the imported diseases.

A tent hospital was set up near Milly Soak and the three lonely nearby graves are a testament to the many deaths that occurred as a result of the typhoid epidemic. Access to the site has been upgraded and visitors are asked to ensure gates are left as they are found.

Historic Buildings

Government buildings
Built in the main street between 1895 and 1897 from locally quarried limestone, the buildings were, and remain, among the most impressive in the region. The Post Office, Courthouse and Police Station are still being used for their original purpose.

Cue Shire Office
Built in 1895 and once the London and Western Australian Investment Company offices and then the Gentlemen’s Club, the Cue Shire Council secured funds in the 1980s to restore this magnificent building. The Shire has been located there ever since.

Old Municipal Chambers
The Old Municipal Chambers building in Robinson Street was officially opened in September 1896. The Council conducted its first meeting in this building without furniture after moving from the Warden’s Court tent.

Masonic Lodge
This somewhat spooky building on Dowley Street has laid the foundation for many a ghost story. The Lodge was built in 1899 of timber and galvanised iron, with pressed iron interior. Corrugated iron was used extensively in goldfield areas during this time because it was easily transported by camels.

There are very few buildings of this type remaining in Australia although they are quite common in parts of the United States of America. Murchison Lodge 22 was consecrated on 21 April 1897.

They held regular meetings in the building from 1899 to 1979, when they were cancelled due to insufficient numbers. Now owned by the National Trust of Australia, it is said to be the biggest, free standing, double story corrugated iron structure in the southern hemisphere – that’s a claim to fame!

Old Hospital
What started as a canvas and bough shed in July 1892 was rebuilt from local stone in 1895. Today several walls from this building remain, as does the ruins of the chimney from the hospital’s crematorium. The hospital was closed in 1942.

Old Gaol
The Cue Caravan Park houses the old goal built in 1896. It was a temporary home to prisoners being transported from outback lock ups in the north until its official closed in 1914. It was however, still used as a lock up until the 1930s.

Railway Platform and Station
While the railway line was closed in 1978, the original railway station remains today. The railway platform is now used for Cue’s residents as a spectator platform for sporting occasions and celebrations such as Australia Day.

Pensioner Huts
This collection of tiny and unique huts was moved to Cue in 1958 from the Big Bell townsite. At Big Bell they had been used as the nurses’ quarters. Today they are being gradually restored for use as backpacker’s accommodation as part of the Cue Caravan Park.

Entering Cue’s main street you will immediately be drawn to the charming central rotunda. The rotunda marks the site of Cue’s first sunk well around which the town was originally formed. An octagonal bandstand was built around the well in 1904, dedicated to the pioneers of the Murchison region. It was always a popular meeting place in Cue’s early years with bands playing on Saturday nights.

Day Dawn Townsite
Day Dawn, just a few kilometres south-west of Cue, was home to over 3,000 people in the early 1900s. Its rapid growth and prosperity was mainly due to the Great Fingall gold mine which extended to a depth of 700 metres. Today, virtually all that remains of Day Dawn is the impressive Great Fingall Mine Office. With a visit to this mighty building you can imagine the activity and importance it once had.

The Great Fingal Mine Office is now over a hundred years old and with the harsh seasons of the outback the building has recieved some serious damage. The Shire of Cue has erected a fence around the building to restrict access. So while you welcome to take a look please do not go into the building.


Dwellingup is a town in Western Australia, located in a timber and fruit growing area in the Darling Range east-south-east of Pinjarra.

At the 2006 census, Dwellingup had a population of 346.

The charming country town of Dwellingup is located an hour and a half’s drive south of Perth. Set among pristine jarrah forest and water catchment areas, Dwellingup offers nature at its best.

Almost obliterated by the 1961 bushfires, Dwellingup has become a year round destination for many visitors. The Visitor Centre has a great exhibition detailing the rise and fall of the mills towns in the area and, the destruction of the bushfire.

Enjoy your outdoor activities in the natural setting of the Lane Poole Reserve along the banks of the Murray River. See the Forest Heritage Centre with its 60 metre platform in the canopy of the jarrah forest, or ride the timber route on the Hotham Valley Railway.

Dwellingup is one of the five townsites that the Bibbulmun Track (Western Australia’s world class, 1,000 kilometre walk trail) passes through. You’re bound to bump into fellow bushwalkers and nature lovers on this section of the track due to its close proximity to Perth and the lovely scenery on offer.

The new Munda Biddi mountain bike trail which begins in Mundaring and will eventually finish in Albany currently goes through Dwellingup as it meanders on its way to Collie. The trail passes through some very beautiful countryside and is becoming a highly regarded and popular trail for mountain biking enthusiasts.

In arguably Western Australia’s worst bushfire, many small surrounding communities in the area were destroyed including 132 houses in Dwellingup itself in the fires of 1961. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but 800 people were left homeless. The town was rebuilt.

Dwellingup experienced serious bushfires again over the weekend 3/4 February 2007. At least 14 houses were reported to have been destroyed. There was no loss of life.

Bauxite mining
Dwellingup is near the largest bauxite mine in the world at Huntly which supplies ore to the Pinjarra and Kwinana aluminium refineries.

Dwellingup is also home to Nanga Bush Camp, a popular camp for senior primary schools and high schools. Some of the activities at Nanga Bush Camp include water rafting, night watching, a swimming area and bush tracks.

A wide range of accommodation providers offer facilities from bush tent camping, caravan park, bed & breakfast, cottages or luxury chalets. Hotham Valley Tourist Railway run regular steam hauled trains to Dwellingup and run the popular Etmylin Tramway on a regular timetable.

The world class Forest Heritage Centre offers a unique look at the areas forest heritage. Enjoy fine dining at the Millhouse Café and Chocolate Company, or the Community Hotel or perhaps grab some take away food.

Corporate and group activities include multi day camps or shorter one day activity structures. The shared outdoor recreation experience is a powerful tool for personal growth and team development. Dwellingup Adventures have the equipment and expertise to make your experience both challenging and enjoyable.

Dwellingup Adventures is an Accredited Tourism Business, an Aussie Host Gold Business, member of the Dwellingup Business Association and an Affiliated Organisational member of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation and Munda Biddi Trail Foundation.

Dwellingup Adventures staff are certified to deliver the Rescue 3 Swiftwater Rescue Technician Course.

Dwellingup Adventures is a member of Outdoors WA and aspires to the Outdoors WA Code of Ethics.

Dwellingup Adventures is situated in the heart of the town on Newton Street and offers a wide range of equipment for hire including canoes, rafts, mountain bikes and camping equipment. A number of self guided supported tours are available.

During winter the Murray River flows at it’s challenging best, offering everything from
fast water rafting through to exhilarating white water rafting

Corporate and group activities include multi day camps or shorter one day activity structures. The shared outdoor recreation experience is a powerful tool for personal growth and team development. Dwellingup Adventures have the equipment and expertise to make your experience both challenging and enjoyable.


Geraldton is a city and port in Western Australia located 424 kilometres north of Perth in the Mid West region. Geraldton has an estimated population at June 2010 of 36,958. Today, the city is an important centre for mining, fishing, wheat, sheep and tourism.

The history of Geraldton began some 40,000 years ago when various aboriginal tribes lived in the area. Geraldton is located on Champion Bay, 424km north of Perth, Western Australia and has become a popular seaside resort town for the wheat farmers of the Central-West region.

Geraldton is located on Champion Bay, 424km north of Perth, Western Australia and has become a popular seaside resort town for the wheat farmers of the Central-West region. For over 40,000 years the traditional owners of the land were Aboriginals belonging to several tribes.

Champion Bay was first noted by Commander Dring in January 1840 and it was subsequently named by the Royal Navy hydrographic surveyor JL Stokes after Dring’s colonial schooner, Champion. In 1839, George Grey, became the first recorded European to explore the region.

Grey, returning back, on foot, to Fremantle (from Shark Bay), after a disastrous expedition to the North-West Cape of Western Australia, made note of the fertile land. Following the discovery of lead and copper along the Murchinson River, surveyor Augustus Gregory was instructed to find an appropriate town site.

By 1851 the town site of Geraldton was declared. The town was originally called Gerald’s Town in honour of the Governor Charles Fitzgerald (1848-55) but was later shortened to Geraldton.

Though many European maritime explorers encountered or were even wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos islands 60 kilometres west of Geraldton during the 17th and 18th centuries, there is no evidence that any made landfall near the site of the current town. The first European to explore the area was George Grey in 1839.

Geraldton is also home to a horse racing industry, which since 1887 hosts the annual Geraldton Gold Cup.

The 2007 Geraldton Gold Cup was won by 8-year-old TapDog. The race was historically significant. TapDog became the first horse to win the race three times, his trainer Clive Lauritsen became the first trainer to win the race 6 times, Roy McKay became the first jockey to win the race three times, and owners Peter Day, Jeannette Day, and Hans Hoiskar equalled the most wins by an owner in three. The race also passed the million dollar mark for the first time in tote turnover.

Looking For The Perfect Town
On the 21 November, 1849, a flagstaff was erected and the Union Jack flag hoisted up the mast, as a symbolic claim over the district. There had been no consultation between the Europeans and the traditional Aboriginal land owners. A week later a barracks was erected and Lieutenant Elliot (military leader of the 99th Regiment) was appointed magistrate in preparation for clashes between Europeans and Aborigines.

On the 3rd of June 1851, the town site of Geraldton was declared and the first sale of Geraldton lots were sold by public auction in Perth. Geraldton was originally called Gerald’s Town after Governor Charles Fitzgerald (1848-55) but later shortened to Geraldton.

Town Becomes a City
Farmers began to settle in the area in the late 1850’s, around the same time as the commencement of the construction of port facilities at Champion Bay. In 1871, Geraldton was officially proclaimed a town. In 1879, the Western Australian Government began the construction of the first government railway in the State, which carried lead ore from Northampton to the port (55km).

The port became a vital part of Geraldton’s economy and became one of the State’s major seaports. By the early 1900’s the fishing industry in Geraldton was established, attracting Norwegians, Danes, Swedes and later Italians. In 1988 the town of Geraldton was officially declared a city.

In 2003, the City of Geraldton purchased the confiscated illegal fishing ship, South Tomi , for a tourism project.

The ship was stripped and then sunk approximately 3 nautical miles off the coast of Geraldton, near Bluff Point, creating an artificial reef for divers. Today the port city is the centre of fishing, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and tourism industries of the Mid-West region of the State. Geraldton is also known as the” Lobster Capital of the World”.

First Explorers
Champion Bay was first noted by Commander Dring in January 1840 and it was subsequently named by the Royal Navy hydrographic surveyor JL Stokes after Dring’s colonial schooner, Champion. In 1839, George Grey, became the first recorded European to explore the region. Grey, returning back, on foot, to Fremantle (from Shark Bay), after a disastrous expedition to the North-West Cape of Western Australia, made note of the fertile land. This stimulated other Swan River colonists to make brief journeys by ship to the area but many viewed the land as too dry.

The Swan River Colony, by this time, was struggling to find suitable land for new settlers. All the fertile land in the Avon Valley was already taken up and the colony’s economy was stagnant.

As a result, in 1846, two exploration parties were sent out, one led by John Septimus Roe to the south-east of Perth and the other led by explorer and surveyor, Augustus Gregory (and his brother) to the north of Perth. Gregory returned with glowing reports of good pastoral land and coal deposits in the mid-west coastal region.

Mineral Deposits
The discovery of a coal seam in the Irwin River, lead and copper in the Murchinson River and pastoral opportunities in the hinterland created a boom in the area. In 1848 Governor Fitzgerald travelled to the Murchinson River to inspect the mineral deposits for himself. He got a little more than he bargained for on the journey when he was speared in the leg by local Aboriginals, at what is know known as Elephant Hill.

Regardless of the attack, ore exports from the Murchinson River mines began in 1849 from Champion Bay and soon after Gregory was instructed to survey a town site.

Geraldton has a public bus service run by TransGeraldton and is connected to Perth with coach services N1, N2 and N3 provided by Transwa. QantasLink and Skywest Airlines provide services from Geraldton Airport; the airport is also used for general aviation.

Geraldton lies in the transition stages between a Mediterranean and a semi-arid climate. In the winter, the temperature is rather mild, averaging around 20 °C (68 °F), with most of the yearly rainfall falling in this period. This is due to cold fronts from Antarctica moving up and hitting the coast. In the summer months, Geraldton averages 31–32 °C (88–90 °F), with some days over 40 °C (104 °F).

High pressure in the Great Australia Bight sends warm easterly winds to Geraldton and a west-coast trough is formed. This is the primary reason for the hot weather that is often experienced. It generally lasts for a few days as the trough moves inland and the sea breeze cools things down.

The summer temperatures in the coastal suburbs of Geraldton (Tarcoola, Bluff Point, Seacrest) is generally a couple of degrees cooler than in the inland suburbs (such as Strathalbyn, Woorree and Deepdale).


Greenough is a historical town located 400 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia and 24 kilometres south of Geraldton on the Brand Highway. The historic buildings are controlled by the National Trust of Australia. Another feature popular with tourists are the trees that are bent 90 degrees due to the coastal winds.

The mouth of the Greenough River is about 10 km to the north of the town.

On 16 February 1999, a rare annular solar eclipse of magnitude 0.9906 was visible from the area.

The historical town of Greenough is located 400km north of Perth, Western Australia on a coastal plain of rich fertile pastures. The area was first explored by George Grey in 1839 who was looking for more agricultural pastoral lands for expansion of the colony. Grey named the river, Greenough, after his sponsor, Sir George Bellas Greenough (President of the Royal Geographical Society). The town was later to be named after the river.

In 1851 Augustus Gregory surveyed 30,000 acres (120 km²) of land in the region which became known as the Greenough Flats. This was subdivided into 20- and 30-acre (120,000 m2) lots with the view to encouraging English settlers who would be more used to the relatively small (by Australian standards) farm sizes.

Within a few years it had developed into a highly successful wheat growing area and a population of over 1,000 from which a successful town developed.

A series of disasters starting with a major cyclone in 1872 and major flooding in 1888 as well as the discovery of gold in the goldfields caused the gradual decline and abandonment of the settlement so that by 1900 most of the settlers had left the area with many of the small farmlets converted to grazing. The town fell into disrepair until a tourism-based project in the 1980s helped refurbish many of the buildings.

In 1993, a woman and her three young children were brutally murdered in this small town. This tragic event featured on the Australian television show Crime Investigation Australia and is now known as the Greenough Family Massacre.

Today the heart of Greenough – a collection of eleven buildings including the gaol, courthouse, police station, churches, and school – is administered by the National Trust and open from 9.00 am – 4.45 pm daily (It can be opened upon application by phoning (08) 9926 1084). There are guided tours of the village which depart from the National Trust building almost constantly throughout the day.

Beyond this National Trust zone lie the ruins of the Wesley Church (the area was settled by large numbers of Wesleyans), the gracious old Grays Store, Clinch’s Mill and the Greenough Hotel. As well, a short distance up the road is the companion settlement of Walkaway.

The appeal of Greenough lies in its sense of solidity and certainty. Realistically it is now a ghost town – only the National Trust guides are here to haunt the visitor. Yet in the churches, court house and police station – all of which are built in stone – there is a suggestion that this was a town built to last for eternity.

Things to see:

Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail
The Greenough/Walkaway Heritage Trail identifies some 36 buildings on interest in the area including the fascinating Pioneer Cemetery, Clinch’s Mill (built in 1858 it continued to operate until 1922 and at its peak became an important supplier of flour to the Murchison gold fields), the elegant ruins of the Wesley Church, Gray’s Store (constructed with convict labour in 1861) the Hampton Arms Inn (the first hotel in the area it was built in 1863 by Robert Pearson and is now an excellent restaurant – it has a beautifully decorated ballroom) and the buildings of the National Trust controlled Greenough Hamlet.

The Hampton Arms Inn
On 5 September 2001 Dr. Judy Edwards, the Minister for Environment and Heritage, issued the following press release:

“The Hampton Arms, the first hotel to be built in the Mid-West’s Greenough district, has been listed on the State’s Register of Heritage Places. The hotel, which still functions as a licensed inn and restaurant, has been lovingly restored for the past 16 years by owners Judy and Brian Turnock.

Environment and Heritage Minister Dr Judy Edwards said the Hampton Arms was one of only a handful of colonial hotels to survive to the present day.

“What makes it even more rare is that it is still operating as a hotel,” Dr Edwards said. “It is also important as a surviving remnant of the town of Hampton, which was established in 1862, not long after the Greenough Front Flats.

As the district’s first hotel, it was a focal point for Greenough settlers for social gatherings, balls and political meetings. It also provided shelter during times of flooding when settlers on the western side of the Greenough River were cut off from settlement on the eastern side.”

Dr Edwards said the two-storey stone and iron building, which had single-storey wings each side of the main section and a stone stable block, was an excellent example of the Victorian Regency style.

“Unlike other surviving buildings which once functioned as inns, the Hampton Arms was a purpose-built hotel,” she said. “Francis Pearson, who designed the first smelter in Western Australia and was a key figure in the early settlement of the Mid-West, built the hotel in 1863 with his two sons.”

The Hampton Arms was officially opened on May 1,1863 and named after John Hampton, Governor of the day.

Halls Creek

Halls Creek is situated in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. It is located between the towns of Fitzroy Crossing and Turkey Creek (Warnum) on the Great Northern Highway. It is the only sizeable town for 600 km on the Highway.

Halls Creek is a busy service town for surrounding pastoralists, Aboriginal communities and travellers exploring northern Western Australia. Halls Creek is also the fourth fastest growing shire within Western Australia. Situated in the heart of the Kimberley, Halls Creek is the gateway to a range of world renowned natural attractions, including the World Heritage listed Bungle Bungle ranges of Purnululu National Park.

Located on the edges of the Great Sandy Desert and Tanami Desert, 362km south of Kununurra, 1288km south-west of Darwin and 2873km north-east of Perth, Halls Creek offers a genuine insight into the spectacular Australian outback. Covering some 142,908 square kilometres of predominantly desert and pastoral country, Halls Creek has something for everyone, from wide open spaces and magnificent natural attractions, to rich Aboriginal and European history and culture.

The land now known as Halls Creek has been occupied for thousands of years. The land is crossed by songlines and trading paths stretching from the coasts to the deserts, some passing near the modern town. The story of that long occupation remains alive today and it is revealed in the culture of the Jaru, Kija, Kukatja, Walmajarri, Gooniyandi and other indigenous people who live in Halls Creek shire.

That ancient world changed late in the 1800’s when Europeans invaded, searching for minerals for wealth and land for cattle. On Christmas Day 1885 prospector Charlie Hall found a huge 28-ounce (nearly 1 kilogram) gold nugget at a site that would eventually be named after him.

News of the discovery drew more than 15,000 people to what is now Old Halls Creek to try their luck. It proved an inhospitable land for these people and the graves of some can be found in Old Town’s small cemetery. The gold rush lasted less than 3 months and Halls Creek became a trading centre for cattle stations, aboriginal communities and miners who stayed in the area.

The post office with its telegraph line that terminated here, the police station, government office, racecourse and stores gave the town a purpose. In 1918 the Australian Inland Mission built a hospital and the old town struggled on, short of inhabitants and water.

In 1948 an airfield was built near the site of the present town and over the next decade the old town moved nearer to this new site. Except for the police station, which finally relocated in 1961, the old town was abandoned by 1954.

The new town of Halls Creek is one of the largest predominantly indigenous communities in Australia. It is a friendly, welcoming place and offers travellers an ideal stop on their journeys. The old town is worth a visit, nestled in spectacular country – a reminder that Halls Creek is the birthplace of Western Australia’s mining boom.

Halls Creek is also the northern end of the Canning Stock Route, which runs 1,850 km through the Great Sandy Desert until the southern end of the route at Wiluna.

The town functions as a support centre for remote cattle stations in the area and is also a major welfare hub for the local indigenous population.

Halls Creek is the administration centre for Halls Creek Shire Council.

The town was named after Charles Hall (accompanied by Ned Heffernan, Julius Anderson) who discovered payable gold in the area in 1885. Popular legend has it that the first find was a 28 ounce gold nugget which according to folk lore was found on Christmas Day – this sadly is untrue. Hall presented only 10oz of small nuggets and finings when he arrived at back in Derby.

Hall had been encouraged in his search for gold by the West Australian Government which in September 1872 the had decided to spur the search for gold by offering a reward. Traces had been reported from time to time and after the discovery of significant amounts of gold ore in the Eastern States it was hoped similar finds would be made in W.A.

A reward of five thousand pounds was offered to anyone finding payable gold that produced 10,000 ounces within two years of the discovery. Of course this gold had to pass through a customs point so that the Government could take the two shillings and sixpence levied as a gold tax.

Halls Creek moved 12 km west from its original location in 1949 because the new Great Northern Highway did not follow the route of the old Duncan Road. The town would have ended had it not moved to its current location.

Halls Creek was initially a gold mining town, named after prospector Charles Hall. In 1885, he and others in his prospecting party found the alluvial gold that led to the Kimberley gold rush, the first gold rush in Western Australia.

Today, some gold mining is still carried out by local prospectors; however, large-scale mining has ceased with the closure of the White Elvire River Mine.

Things to see:

Old Halls Creek
Today Old Halls Creek is nothing more than some remnants of buildings, some street signs, the ruins of the old mud brick Post Office, a recently built well to celebrate the discovery of gold in the area, a graveyard, and a modern restaurant.

The graveyard is not really of great historical importance. Perhaps the most famous grave is that of James ‘Jimmy’ Darcy who made the front page of most Australian newspapers in 1917 – no mean achievement given that the country was in the middle of the Great War.

The China Wall
The 15 km journey out to Old Halls Creek on the Duncan Road passes the town’s two major tourist attractions. A few kilometres out of town is a sign to the China Wall. 1.5 km off the road is a strange limestone formation which rises from a creek up over a small hill.

It is a natural formation of white quartz which does look like a small version of the famous Great Wall of China. The stream below is surrounded by trees and in the ‘green season’ it is an ideal location for swimming.

Caroline Pool
Further on is the Caroline Pool, another popular local swimming spot, which is reminiscent of the gorges along the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. The river comes between two cliffs and forms a deep pool in the gorge.

Wolfe Creek Crater
But it is the Wolfe Creek Crater and the Bungle Bungles which hold the most appeal. Neither is easy to get to. Wolfe Creek Crater is located 151 km south of the town on a less than perfect dirt road. Known to the Djaru Aborigines as Kandimalal it was named Wolf Crater after Robert Tennant Stowe Wolfe, a digger and storekeeper who lived in Halls Creek in the late 1880s.

The first Europeans to see the crater were F. Reeves, N. B. Sauve and D. Hart who sighted it while carrying out an aerial survey of the area in 1947. Later that year the three men reached the crater by land.

There is some dispute as to the crater’s status with some sources claiming that it is the second largest meteorite crater on earth (the other being in Arizona) while others claim it as the fourth largest. Both these claims should be treated with considerable scepticism.

The excellent Wolf Creek Crater by Ken McNamara (published by the Western Australian Museum) claims that in Western Australia alone the Goat Paddock Crater and ‘The Spider’ crater are considerably larger.

Perhaps the final word on this confusion belongs to McNamara who, having weighed the evidence as to whether Wolf Crater was really formed by a meteorite, observes: ‘In a 1 to 5 classification of craters, only 12 are categorised as Class 1; included is the Wolf Creek Crater. Class 1 craters are those with which meteoric material has been found, and are considered to have probably been formed by an explosion caused by meteor impact with the Earth. Of the Class 1 craters Wolf Creek is the second largest in the world, being exceeded in size only by the Arizona crater.’

Regardless of these counter-claims Wolf Crater, with a diameter of 853 metres and a depth of 61 metres it is still very big. It was probably as much as 200 m deep when it was originally formed. From the distance it appears as a low hill but when the rim of the crater is reached it is a sight of great symmetry and beauty.

The age of the crater is unknown but available evidence suggests that it was probably formed about 2 million years ago. Because of the extreme dryness of the area the erosion of the crater has been very slow. Accommodation is offered at nearby Carranya Station Camping Grounds which are 7 km from the crater.

Bungle Bungles
If Wolfe Creek Crater is dramatic it is nothing in comparison to the Bungle Bungles which, if they weren’t so inaccessible, would certainly be one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions.

Known to the local Aborigines as Purnululu, the Bungle Bungles are located north east of Halls Creek (take the Great Northern Highway 109 km north from Halls Creek and turn east on the Spring Creek Track) on a road which is so bad that the RAC has this to say about it: ‘The distance from the highway to the Three-Ways intersection is only 55 km, however, the trip will take two or three hours and the track is suitable only for 4WDs with good clearance. Caravans will not survive the trip.’ Reaching the campsites involves further travelling for at least another hour.

The journey is still richly rewarded. The Bungle Bungles are one of the wonders of outback Australia. Formed over 350 million years ago the sandstone massif has the appearance of gigantic bell shaped rock towers with horizontal banding produced by layers of black lichens and orange silica.

The sandstone is so fine that it crumbles when touched. The area is a wonderland of Aboriginal art, huge gullies and dramatic caves like the spectacular Piccaninny Gorge – a 15 km, 8 hour walk from the road.

It is claimed that in the early years of white settlement of the Kimberley, when the brutal massacres of local Aborigines were at their height, that many Aborigines retreated to the safety of the Bungle Bungles climbing up to the plateau with notched tree trunks which they pulled up after themselves to prevent pursuit.


Kalgoorlie, known as Kalgoorlie-Boulder, is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, and is located 595 kilometres (370 mi) east-northeast of state capital Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway. The town was founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn-Goldfields gold rush, and is located close to the so-called “Golden Mile”.

As at the 2006 census, it had a population of 28,250, making it the largest urban centre in the Goldfields-Esperance region and the fifth-largest in Western Australia.

The name Kalgoorlie is derived from the Wangai word Karlkurla, meaning “place of the silky pears”.

In January 1893, prospectors Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan, and Dan O’Shea were travelling to Mount Youle when one of their horses cast a shoe. During the halt in their journey, the men noticed signs of gold in the area, and decided to stay put. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to hundreds of men swarming to the area in search of gold and Kalgoorlie, originally called Hannan’s, was born.

The population of the town was 2,018 (1516 males and 502 females) in 1898.

The mining of gold, along with other metals such as nickel, has been a major industry in Kalgoorlie ever since, and today employs about one-quarter of Kalgoorlie’s workforce and generates a significant proportion of its income. The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding the original Hannan find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet. The town’s population was about 30,000 people in 1903 and began to grow into nearby Boulder.

The narrow gauge Government railway line reached Kalgoorlie in 1896, and the main named railway service from Perth was the overnight sleeper train The Westland which ran until the 1970s. In 1917, a standard gauge railway line was completed, connecting Kalgoorlie to the city of Port Augusta, South Australia across 2,000 kilometres (1,243 mi) of desert, and consequently the rest of the eastern states.

The standardisation of the railway connecting Perth (which changed route from the narrow gauge route) in 1968 completed the Sydney-Perth railway, making it possible for rail travel from Perth to Sydney—and the Indian Pacific rail service commenced soon after. During the 1890s, the Goldfields area boomed as a whole, with an area population exceeding 200,000, mainly prospectors.

The area gained a notorious reputation for being a wild west with bandits and prostitutes. This rapid increase in population and claims of neglect by the state government in Perth led to the proposition of the new state of Auralia but with the sudden diaspora after the Gold Rush these plans fell through.

Places, famous or infamous, that Kalgoorlie is noted for include its water pipeline, designed by C. Y. O’Connor and bringing in fresh water from Mundaring Weir near Perth, its Hay Street brothels, its two-up school, the goldfields railway loopline, the Kalgoorlie Town Hall, the Paddy Hannan statue/drinking fountain, the Super Pit and Mount Charlotte lookout. Its main street is Hannan Street, named after the town’s founder. One of the infamous brothels also serves as a museum and is a major national attraction.

Kalgoorlie and the surrounding district was serviced by an extensive collection of suburban railways and tramways, providing for both passenger and freight traffic.

Since 1992, Kalgoorlie has been home to the Diggers & Dealers conference, held annually in August. It is Australia’s premier international mining conference.

The Super Pit
The Super Pit is an open-cut gold mine approximately 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep. It was created by Alan Bond, who bought up a number of old mine leases in order to get the land area needed for the Super Pit. Every now and again the digging reveals an old shaft containing abandoned equipment and vehicles from the earlier mines.

The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a visitor centre overlooks it. The mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. Each of the massive trucks carries 225 tonnes of rock and the round trip takes about 35 minutes, most of that time being the slow uphill haul. Employees must live in Kalgoorlie; it is not a fly-in fly-out operation.

The mine is expected to be productive until about 2017. At that point, it is planned to abandon it and allow the groundwater to seep in and fill it. It is estimated it will take about 50 years to fill completely.

Kalgoorlie is a major city in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia and is located 596km north-east of Perth.In 1893 Paddy Hannan discovered gold at Mt Charlotte which started the biggest gold rush in Western Australia’s history. The area became known by locals as “Hannan’s Find”. In 1894, the government declared the townsite Kalgoorlie.

The Aboriginal name for the area “Coolgoorlie” was chosen over the local preference of “Hannan’s Find”. The “c” was later changed to “k” to avoid postal mistakes with nearby Coolgardie .

The first Europeans to explore the area were H.M.Lefroy and C.C Hunt who were both searching for suitable pastoral lands in the south east of the state in the 1860’s. It was only with the discovery of gold in Coolgardie (by Arthur Bayley) in 1892, that attention was drawn back to the area.

On the 17th June, 1893 Paddy Hannan discovered gold at Mt Charlotte and within days over 700 men were prospecting the area now known as Kalgoorlie . Though Hannan’s find was not part of the reef that would later become known as the “Golden Mile”, his discovery drew enormous attention to the area.

By 1894 many prospectors and miners were becoming disheartened by the small quantity of gold found in the quartz deposits. It had long been believed that quartz was the rock most likely to contain gold. However a Canadian miner, Larry Cammilleri, was the first to discover that the quartz in the area wasn’t carrying most of the gold. Soon new yields were being discovered further under ground.

Miners, forced to move south of Kalgoorlie, soon discovered the deep reefs (Golden Mile) on the Boulder Fault which proved much richer and led to the establishment of the town of Boulder.

A railway from Perth to Boulder was established in 1896 and by 1902, wide streets had been built and 8 breweries and 93 hotels accommodated the 30,000 people that had moved into the area. Many of the original buildings still remain and are some of the finest examples of mining town architecture in the world.

Water became a serious issue in the area, as the harsh dry environment and the increasing population put pressure on the water supply and caused many health problems. A solution was sort by the government. The problem was placed in the hands of the Engineer-in-chief of Public Works of the time, Charles Yelverton O’Connor who proposed the building of a 563km pipeline that would transport water from a weir in Mundaring to a reservoir in Kalgoorlie, known as the goldfields pipeline.

Though violently opposed by some members of the parliament, the project began in 1898 and was completed on the 24th of January 1903. Tragically, C.Y.O’Connor did not live to see his greatest achievement, he committed suicide in March, 1902, partly due to pressures placed on him during the project. The success of the pipeline assured the survival of both Kalgoorlie and Boulder.

By the end of World War II, Kalgoorlie was in a steady decline due to increase production costs in the mining industry and the static gold prices. In 1934 race riots took place in Kalgoorlie and Boulder, as disgruntled Australians set fire to foreign owned businesses.

In 1989 the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder amalgamated to become the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.Today Kalgoorlie is still a thriving mining town helped along by the pastoral industry and tourism.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder, being the largest settlement for many hundreds of kilometres and employing many at the Super Pit, is naturally the centre of the areas social life. Of particular interest is the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racecourse, a horse racing venue. Also well known in the area are the Kalgoorlie Skimpies, ladies employed by each pub who walk around in their underwear or burlesque outfits to attract punters and who expect a fee in return. There are two grass sports ovals in the area and a cinema showing recent international releases.

There are 25 historical hotels and pubs in Kalgoorlie which are still operating today;

  • Albion Shamrock Hotel
  • Broken Hill Hotel
  • Caledonia House
  • Cornwall Hotel
  • Criterion Hotel
  • de Bernales Tavern (formerly Victoria Tavern)
  • The Eastern Hotel (formerly The Federal Hotel)
  • Exchange Hotel
  • Flanagans Bar (formerly Union Club Hotel)
  • Gala Tavern
  • Grand Hotel (Kalgoorlie)
  • Grand Hotel (Boulder)
  • Hannans Hotel
  • Inland City Hotel
  • Kalgoorlie Hotel
  • Main Reef Tavern
  • Metropole Hotel
  • North End Tavern
  • Palace Hotel
  • Piccadilly Hotel
  • Recreation Hotel
  • Rock Inn (formerly Tattersalls)
  • Star and Garter
  • Tower Hotel
  • York Hotel

There are also some hotels that no longer exist in the city;

  • Boulder Block (demolished 1991) (Removed due to Super Pit expansion. This pub had a mine shaft so underground workers could access it.)
  • Commercial Hotel (burnt down 3 November 1978)
  • Cornwall Hotel, Boulder
  • Foundry Hotel (closed 2005– Damaged by fire 3 July 2008, deliberately lit on fire in 2009)
  • Glendevon Hotel (burnt down 1986)
  • Mount Lyall (refurbished as restaurant 2004)
  • Oriental Hotel (demolished July 1972)
  • Golden Eagle [The collapsed balcony of the Golden Eagle hotel on the corner of Lane and Wittenoom St in Boulder.] Proof.

In addition, Kalgoorlie has modern accommodation facilities, including:

  • The View On Hannans (Formerly The Hannans View Motel)
  • Rydges Hotel
  • Railway Hotel/Motel
  • Quest Yelverton Apartments
  • All Seasons Plaza Hotel
  • Bel Eyre Motel
  • Kalgoorlie Overland Motel
  • Midas Motel

And Previously

  • Old Australia Hotel (now part of Curtin University of Technology as Student Accommodation)

Main article: Boulder, Western Australia
Known as the home of the Super Pit, it is one of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s historical suburbs featuring many buildings and landmarks dating as far back as 1882. It was once the central business district for the Town of Boulder, but since amalgamation with Kalgoorlie, it is now more of a historical local centre. Boulder has its own post office, town hall and many hotels along its main thoroughfare, Burt Street. A significant refurbishment has been commenced as part of the ‘Royalties for Regions’ initiative.

Broadwood (aka – Hampton Heights)
A new housing suburb located next to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport which was recently expanded and is enjoying healthy growth in property values.

This area derives its name from the golf course that once occupied the area. It was released to provide affordable property to a growing population in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Fairways features a private primary school, church, caravan park and small business.

Golden Grove (formerly Adeline)
Adeline was originally constructed around 1970 by the State Housing Commission. The suburb was built on the “Radburn” concept, with houses facing away from the street and common pathways linking homes. The area has been plagued by antisocial problems. In 2003, a significant urban renewal project, including the renaming of the suburb to Golden Grove and re-aligning of homes was commenced. The project has seen some success but has yet to fully eliminate antisocial problems within the area.

Hampton Heights
See Broadwood.

Located in Kalgoorlie’s far north. Hannans was the first suburb to have its own independent shopping centre (“Hannans Boulevard”) which includes a Coles Supermarket. The area also has a primary school and an 18 hole golf course. The original course was not formally grassed but was recently refurbished. Several surrounding golf clubs joined together to form one club known as ‘The Goldfields Golf Club’.

A dam has been constructed to service what is now a luxury grass golf course and club. Alongside the golf course project has been the development and release of Greenview estate. It lies on the western border of Hannans. This ongoing project has been designed as an environmentally friendly estate, and will eventually consist of over 2000 homes, apartments and facilities such as parks and schools.

As one of Kalgoorlie’s highest growth areas there has been a proposal for a new alternative route, out of the suburb onto the Kalgoorlie Bypass, to avoid traffic problems on the already heavily used Graeme Street which is a direct route to the city centre. Other developments include ‘Karkurla Rise’ and ‘Karkurla View’ which have added an additional 400 homes to the area.

Central Kalgoorlie
The central business district. Hannan Street, named after Paddy Hannan, is the Kalgoorlie’s main street and stretches The length of the suburb. The western side of the suburb consists of housing and some light industry. The eastern side containss retail chains, banks, the police station, court house, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, schools, university and TAFE.

One of Kalgoorlie’s oldest suburbs. Much like other older suburbs, almost every street is parallel with Hannan Street in Central Kalgoorlie and are noticeably wide. It houses North Kalgoorlie Primary School, small businesses, a medical practices, a hotel, tavern and a non-maintained 18 hole golf course.

Much smaller today than it originally was before the Super Pit expansion. It’s located at the far east end of Lamington between the northern Goldfields railway and Goldfields Highway.

Officially O’Connor is the south-east section of the suburb of Somerville. Much of the area is increasingly now known as O’Connor. It is home to a primary school, private high school Goldfields Baptist College and shopping facilities. It also houses the city’s only recreation centre.

A narrow suburb following Piccadilly street between Central Kalgoorlie and Lamington. It features the city’s regional hospital, small businesses, a hotel, sporting arena and two grassed ovals.

Somerville marks the end of Great Eastern Highway that stretches between Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Perth. Much of the area is now referred to locally as O’Connor. Somerville contains residential area, schools, retail shops, light industry and some horse stables. In the past it also contained market gardens.

South Kalgoorlie
Stretching from Boundary Street, Kalgoorlie to Holmes Street, Golden Grove and bordering with Central Kalgoorlie, O’Connor and Golden Grove. South Kalgoorlie is mostly residential but also contains the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racecourse, schools, some light industrial and small businesses. The suburb was expanded in the mid-1990s to include a sub-division named ‘Sport of Kings’ on Maxwell Street, using a surplus of land from the racecourse.

Victory Heights
A residential only subdivision within Fairways estate along Burt Street.

West Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie’s main industrial area. It is the first suburb as you approach Kalgoorlie on the Great Eastern Highway. It features the city’s airport and small, medium and heavy industrial. Currently under expansion further west (ANZAC Drive Industrial Estate.)

West Lamington
The western tip of Lamington was built in the 1980s. It includes one shop, sporting facilities and an arboretum nature reserve.

The small remains of East Kalgoorlie which now consists mostly of ‘The Super Pit’ open cut mine. The small existing area features mostly housing with one small primary school. It is also home to the Mount Charlotte mine shaft and Nanny Goat Hill. Owners of ‘The Super Pit’ have purchased many of the houses in the Williamstown area leaving many houses empty and some demolished leaving empty lots. There have been revegetation research projects commenced in the area.

The town is located on the main East-West rail corridor across Australia, and was once a break-of-gauge between the Western Australian Government Railways’s narrow gauge Eastern Goldfields Railway and the Trans-Australian Railway towards the Eastern states of Australia. For eastward train travellers, on the transcontinental “Indian Pacific” service, Kalgoorlie is the last town encountered for hundreds of kilometres before entering the vast expanse of the Nullarbor Plain. The “Prospector” train run by Transwa also provides daily services to Perth.

Town bus services are provided by TransGoldfields, there are three town routes as well as school services.

Daily commercial air services connect Kalgoorlie-Boulder with Perth, operating out of the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport. Airlines that provide regular flights include Qantas, QantasLink and Skywest.

Kalgoorlie is linked to Perth by the Great Eastern Highway, and is also on the Goldfields Highway.

Radio Services available in Kalgoorlie:

  • ABC Goldfields-Esperance: 6GF 648 AM \ 94.3 FM (Part of the ABC Local Radio Network)
  • ABC Classic FM: 6ABCFM 95.5 FM;
  • ABC Radio National: 6ABCRN 97.1 FM
  • ABC Triple J: 6JJJ 93.5 FM \ 98.7 FM
  • ABC News Radio: 6PNN 100.3 FM
  • Hot FM (Australian radio network), (Commercial Station) 6KAR: 91.9 \ 97.9 FM – Top 40 radio format
  • RadioWest (Commercial Station) 6KG: 981 AM \ 92.7 FM – Adult Contemporary / Classic Hits / Talk radio format
  • Vision Radio Network1431 AM : Community Narrowcast Station – Christian praise, worship music and talk.
  • Tjuma Pulka (Media) Aboriginal Corporation : 96.3 FM (Aboriginal Community radio service)
  • 6TAB Racing Radio – 88FM (LIVE broadcasts of Horse Racing, Greyhound Racing and Harness Racing, with talkback and music played at other times).

Television services available include:

  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) – ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24 (digital channels)
  • The Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) – SBS One, SBS Two (digital channels)
  • GWN7 (Golden West Network), an affiliate station of the Seven Network
  • WIN Television, an affiliate station of the Nine Network
  • Ten West, an affiliate station of the Ten Network (provided jointly by Prime Television and WIN Television).

The programming schedule is mainly the same as the Seven, Nine and Ten stations in Perth with variations for News bulletins, sport telecasts such as the Australian Football League and National Rugby League, children’s and lifestyle programs and infomercials or paid programming.

Both GWN7 and WIN maintain newsrooms in the city. The GWN7 bureau provides coverage of the surrounding area for the station’s nightly 30-minute news program, GWN7 News, at 5:30pm on weeknights. The WIN bureau provides coverage for sister station STW-9’s Nine News bulletins at 6pm each night and 4:30pm on weekdays, which are simulcast on WIN.

New Digital television services from GWN7 and WIN are expected to launch by the end of 2010. A new digital-only channel branded Ten West commenced transmission on Thursday 10 June 2010, it is a sole Network Ten affiliated channel.

Subscrition Television Service Foxtel is available via Satellite.

The local newspaper for the Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Goldfields region is The Kalgoorlie Miner.

Newspapers from Perth including The West Australian and The Sunday Times are also available, as well as National Newspapers such as The Australian and The Australian Financial Review.

Notable people from Kalgoorlie

  •  Matt Birney, former WA Leader of the Opposition[16]
  •  John Cornell, actor and movie producer
  • Rica Erickson, historian, botanist and author[17]
  • Brian Hayes, British radio personality[18]
  • Dean Kemp, former Australian rules footballer[16]
  • Wallace Kyle- Air Marshall, last leader of RAF Bomber Command
  • Walter Lindrum, champion professional billiards player[19]
  • Barry Marshall, Nobel Prize winner[20]
  • Bob Marshall, champion billiards player
  • Tim Rogers, singer/songwriter[21]
  • Terry Walsh, field hockey striker and coach[22]
  • Kevin Bloody Wilson, singer and comedian[23]
  • Steve Johnston, speedway rider
  • Michael Patrizi, V8supercar Driver
  • Dean Fiore, V8supercar Driver

Kalgoorlie has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and winters. The average annual rainfall is 260mm on an average of 68 days and, while the average rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, there is considerable variation from year to year.

January is the hottest month with an average maximum temperature of 33.6 °C, but temperatures above 40.0 °C occur nearly once a week when hot, dry, north to northeasterly winds arrive. Such high temperatures are usually followed by a cool change from the south and occasionally with a thunderstorm.

By contrast winters are cool with July average maximum and minimum temperatures being 16.5 °C and 4.8 °C respectively. Cold wet days with a maximum below 12.0 °C occur about once every winter.

The lowest maximum temperature recorded is 7.2 °C on 19 July 1961. Overnight temperatures fall below freezing about 4 times in a typical winter. Such events occur on clear nights following a day of cold southerly winds.

Main article: 2010 Kalgoorlie-Boulder earthquake
On 20 April 2010, Kalgoorlie was rocked by a richter magnitude 5.0 earthquake whose epicentre was 30 km north east of the town. The quake caused damage to a number of hotels commercial premises along Burt street in Boulder and it was reported that the underpass also on Burt street collapsed, although this was later found to be false. The entire Burt St. precinct was evacuated until 23 April. Work in the Superpit and many other mines around Kalgoorlie was stopped


Kununurra is a town in far northern Western Australia located at the eastern extremity of the Kimberley Region approximately 37 kilometres from the border with the Northern Territory.

Kununurra was initiated to service the Ord River Irrigation scheme.

Kununurra is the largest town in Western Australia north of Broome, with the closest town being Wyndham, 100 kilometres (62 mi) away. Kununurra is 3,040 kilometres (1,889 mi) from Perth via the Great Northern Highway.

The town is situated in among the scenic hills and ranges of the far north-east Kimberley Region, having an abundance of fresh water, conserved by the Ord River Diversion dam and the main Ord River Dam.

The tropical agriculture crops grown in the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) have changed over the years. Tourism and mining have also become important to the local economy.

The history of the idea of agriculture on the Ord River dates from the 19th Century. On the first pastoral lease map (held by WA State Records Office) for the area dated 1887, it shows the northern bank between Wyndham and Kununurra, near House Roof Hill was held as a “Concession for Sugar Cane Planting,” although it was never taken up. The idea of tropical agriculture on the Ord was discussed much from the earliest dates, but the land remained under pastoral lease until 1960. Kununurra was built on land resumed from Ivanhoe Station pastoral lease before 1961, as the town for the Ord River Irrigation Area which started as the Ord River Project or Ord Scheme, with survey work starting in 1959.

Lake Kununurra, is the flooded section of the Ord River valley that was formerly known as Carlton Reach, which was at times a ten kilometre long waterhole held back by the natural rock barrier, known as Bandicoot Bar. At this site in 1959 drilling and blasting marked the start of construction of the Ord River Diversion Dam, which is anchored down onto the Bandicoot Bar. This dam with twenty radial flood gates was almost completed when visited by the Queen and Prince Phillip in March 1963, then later completed and officially opened by then Prime Minister, (Sir) Robert Menzies on 20 July 1963 when he said that Kununurra and the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) is “..the most exciting place in Australia.”

As well as the town site some ORIA farmers live on their farms, however the initial idea of the Ord Scheme was for “closer settlement” to allow farmers the convenience of living in the town and since the start of the first Pilot Farm in 1960 most farmers in the valley had lived in the town, however many people now live on their irrigation farms. Other agricultural and residential localites exist within a 50km radius of the town, including various Aboriginal Communities, Crossing Falls, the Riverfarm Road and Packsaddle farm areas, and the Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture, formerly known as the Kimberley Research Station (KRS).

KRS started in 1945 from the original Carlton Reach Research Station, set up by Kimberley Michael Durack with help from his brother William Aiden Durack in 1941, and support from the WA Department of Agriculture and the WA Public Works Department, being the first serious attempt at tropical agriculture on the banks of the Ord River. It was also in 1941 that (later Sir) Russell Dumas inspected the Ord gorges for dam sites on behalf of the Public Works Department.

The scheme involved damming the Ord River by building the Ord River diversion dam so that the waters could be conserved and directed to irrigate about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) of land. By 1966, there were 31 farms on the Ord River plains. In 1968 the second stage of the scheme was started with the building of the Ord River Dam (or Ord River Main Dam), known locally as “Top Dam,” which holds back the waters of Lake Argyle.

Flooding of the Ord River continued until completion of the Main Ord River Dam situated 55 km upstream from Kununurra, which was started in 1968, and officially opened on 30 June 1972, with support from WA Premier John Tonkin, by then Prime Minister William McMahon, when he said “This marks the beginning of Ord Stage II (Two).” The Ord River Dam flooded the land of the Argyle Downs station, the home station of the pioneering Durack family, to form what has become known as Lake Argyle. Stone work from the original Argyle Downs homestead, was removed before Lake Argyle filled and was re-erected near the dam site to become the Argyle Downs Homestead Museum. The Museum had been run by Tourism WA but was taken on by the Kununurra Visitor Centre during 2010.

The second stage of the Ord Project still has not been fully developed but new work is underway. In May 2010, with major funding from the Federal Government, the extension of the main channel construction got underway under the Moonamang Joint Venture and images of this as well as historic archive images of the Ord Scheme can be seen on the Kununurra Historical Society website from the external link below.

The 2006 census population includes only people in the townsite area who called the Kununurra town site their “usual place of residence.” Kununurra has a transient population; if itinerant residents, the outlying farm areas and communities were included in these population figures, numbers would have exceeded 7,000 for 2006. An influx in the dry season (From April to September), of tourists and itinerant farm workers can push up the population to around 10,000 during the dry season.

Kununurra District High School comprises a primary school and high school teaching up to year 10, and up to year 12 via distance education. It also has a number of additional smaller schools including St Joseph’s primary school, the Barramundi School and a Technical and further education (TAFE) college. Kununurra has a local hospital, dentist and leisure centre including a 25 metre pool.

Indian Sandalwood plantations at Kununurra
Key farm activities including the growing of melons, mangoes and until recently, sugar cane. Farmers are now turning to a more lucrative (though longer term) crop of .Indian Sandalwood. Other crops that have been grown in the Ord are cotton, safflower and rice, which is being trialled once again, having been the first crop planted on the Pilot Farm in 1960. The town has a melon picking season, which attracts migratory farm workers to the area. There is also a thriving tourism industry with most tourist operators capitalising on the scenery of the Ord River, Lake Argyle, Diversion Dam and other local locations, including the relatively nearby Bungle Bungles.

Kununurra comes from the English pronunciation of Gunanurang in the Miriwoong language with a general meaning of “Big Waters” having become the popular definition or “Big River” Other accounts of the name of Kununurra state that it was the Miriwoong name for this part of the Ord River, which makes sense in that the Ord River runs for hundreds of kilometres coming from the south near Hall’s Creek. It is likely that other parts of the Ord River were known by other Aboriginal language names, by the various tribal language group areas, over which the river traverses.

A 1943 soil classification had named the volcanic clay known locally as “blacksoil”, being the predominant soil type of the irrigation area, as “Cununurra Clay” and “Cununurra” was put forward as a possible name, among others in 1960. The General Post Office (GPO) representative from WA on the Nomenclature Committee, objected saying that Cununurra was too close in name to the town of Cunnamulla and that could cause postal confusion. A compromise was reached and “K” was used with an argument having been put forward that this would bring it into line with other East Kimberley placenames, such as Kalumburu, and Karunjie. The name was only finally decided just days before the newest town of the Kimberley Region, being gazetted on 10 February 1961.

The landscape surrounding Kununurra includes features such as Valentine Spring, Black Rock Creek and Middle Springs along with many other waterfalls and swimming holes. Popular fishing spots include Ivanhoe Crossing, The Diversion Dam, Buttons Crossing, and various locations along the Dunham and Ord Rivers.
The town is located close to the confluence of the Ord and the Dunham River. Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest artificial lake, over 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi) in size, is 72 km by road from the town, being held back by the main Ord River Dam.
The town lies within the Ord Irrigation Area Important Bird Area (IBA), so identified by BirdLife International because of its importance for wild birds, especially estrildid finches.

Like other areas in the tropics of Western Australia, Kununurra paradoxically experiences a steppe climate (Köppen climate classification BSh).

Popular culture
Kununurra has a Celebrity Tree Park with many trees planted by famous people including Rolf Harris, and more recently Baz Luhrmann, after the majority of the filming for his film Australia was conducted just outside of Kununurra. The town has many local attractions, including waterfalls, gorges and ranges. It was voted the second best town to live in Australia for outdoor adventure by Outdoor Australia magazine in the March/April 2007 edition.

Nicole Kidman feels that area water helped her get pregnant while filming in this town stating, “Seven babies were conceived out of this film and only one was a boy. There is something up there in the Kununurra water because we all went swimming in the waterfalls, so we can call it the fertility waters now.”

Since 1980 Kununurra has been the base of the Kimberley Echo founded by the late James O’Kenny and Brian Cole.

Things You May Not Know About Kununurra

  • The post code of Kununurra is 6743.
  • In 1879, Alexander Forrest , the brother of Sir John Forrest, was the first recorded white man to have explored the region and he was to give it the name, Kimberley.
  • Alexander Forrest became the land agent for the region, leasing over 51 million acres (21 million hectare) in 1883.
  • The first settler to the area was Irish born Patrick (Patsy) Durack in 1882.
  • Patsy travelled 3,000 miles from Queensland to the Kimberley region with 7250 head of cattle and 200 horses
  • to stock his Argyle and Ivanhoe stations. This little trek took about three years to complete.
  • The Durack family established the Lissadell, Argyle, Rosewood and Ivanhoe Cattle Stations.
  • The Durack’s Argyle Downs Homestead was original located somewhere in middle of Lake Argyle. Following
  • the decision to create the lake the homestead was removed piece by piece to safer grounds. Having been rebuilt it is now a pioneer museum.
  • Kununurra is 365km from Halls Creek, 825km from Darwin and 980km from Broome.
  • Kelly’s Knob Lookout, at 191m, is the highest point in Kununurra.
  • Man made Lake Argyle , located 70km from Kununurra, is the largest artificial lake in Australia.
  • The Argyle Diamond Mine is the biggest diamond producing mine in the world and produces about one third of the world’s diamonds.
  • Kununurra is believed to have the youngest average age of any town in Australia.
  • Lake Kununurra has over twenty different species of freshwater fish and an abundance of freshwater crocodiles.

Laverton is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, and the centre of administration for the Shire of Laverton. The town of Laverton is located at the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert, 957 kilometres (595 mi) north-northeast of the state capital, Perth, and 124 kilometres (77 mi) east-northeast of the town of Leonora with an elevation of 461 m.

About a third of the population are of Aboriginal descent. The area is extremely arid, with a mean annual rainfall of just 230 millimetres (8 inches). It is also quite warm, with mean daily maximum temperatures ranging from 17 °C (62 °F) in July to 36 °C (97 °F) in January.

Recent mining activity in the area has seen the re-opening of the old Windarra Mine by Poseidon Nickel and the re-opening of the old Sons of Gwalia Barnicoat Mine by Crescent Gold.

Laverton is the westernmost town on the Outback Way – a proposed highway which goes through the Northern Territory to Winton in outback Queensland.

A number of early explorers travelled over the Laverton area, including John Forrest,[3] David Carnegie and Frank Hann. Gold was discovered in the area in 1896 and many prospectors and miners moved into the area. Among them was Dr Charles W. Laver, who became an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of the region.

One of the most successful mines was Craiggiemore, and by 1897 a residential and business area had sprung up on the west side of the mine. This area came to be known as Laverton, in honour of Laver. In 1899, the residents sought to have a townsite surveyed, but by then the original location had become unsuitable, so a new site was chosen about three kilometres from the original lots. The site was surveyed in July 1899 and the town of Laverton gazetted in July 1900.

By the late 1960s, Laverton was in decline, mainly because of the very low price of gold. But in 1969 a prospector named Ken Shirley discovered a huge nickel deposit in the area, prompting the famous Poseidon bubble. This deposit was developed into the huge Windarra Nickel Project, which mined and processed nickel for over 20 years.

Laverton, with over 100 years of fascinating gold rush history, is the starting point of the Outback Way which links Kalgoorlie and the Northern Goldfields with Alice Springs and Winton in Queensland. It lies at the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert and is also the start point for the Anne Beadell Highway leading to Coober Pedy in South Australia.

The Great Australian Gold Rush
Originally established as the British Flag Mine in the gold rush era, Laverton was gazetted in 1900, in recognition of Dr Charles Laver who rode into town on a pushbike from Coolgardie in 1896 and remained as the town’s doctor. A statue in the main park stands as a tribute to his contribution to the town.

The town’s people suffered many hardships following the end of the gold rush, not least the removal of the train line in 1956 and the depression in the 1930s. But when nickel was discovered at nearby Windarra in 1969, the town gained a new lease of life and today is a fascinating mix of modern mine operations, history and Indigenous culture.

Laverton Explorers And Pioneers
In the mid to late 19th century, several heroic explorers, including John Forrest and Ludwig Leichhardt, led expeditions through the areas in and around Laverton. Leichhardt’s expedition vanished and Forrest followed in search of the explorer’s remains and his large gold deposit.

The fearless explorers and pioneers of the region are honoured in a splendid state-of-the-art exhibition, aptly named The Great Beyond – Explorers’ Hall of Fame. Here you can step back in time, listen to the explorers’ personal stories of hardship and discover what it was like for the early pioneers living and working on the Goldfields during the Australian gold rush.

This innovative centre also houses the Laverton Visitor Centre.

Other Laverton attractions

  • See the wonderful exhibition of local Indigenous art and artefacts for sale at the Laverton Outback Art Gallery. Silk scarves by the local Aboriginal group, Malukurukuru Enterprises, are also displayed. Silk dying demonstrations can be organised by prior arrangement.
  • Check out the historic Police Station Complex, which features the refurbished, original Police Sergeant’s House, police station and gaol.
  • Explore the rugged surrounding countryside, home to the historic sites of former outback towns such as Burtville. With a reputation as one of the wildest settlements in the goldfields, it is claimed that the only person buried in the local cemetery as a result of natural causes is a six-week old baby.
  • Look to the skies above Laverton and the road to Leonora to see wedge-tailed eagles soaring majestically.
  • Head out to the scenic Giles Breakaway for some great photo opportunities.
  • Agriculture
  • Gold mines in the Leonora – Laverton region
  • Laverton is primarily a mining area. There are two major gold mines in the shire: Granny Smith, owned and operated by Barrick Gold, and the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine, owned and operated by AngloGold Ashanti. Both open pit and underground mining is conducted at these mines. Smaller gold mines, like the BrightStar and the Laverton Gold Mine are also in the area. The Murrin Murrin laterite nickel project is also located nearby, just over the shire border in Leonora. The area is too arid to support agriculture, but very low density grazing of sheep and cattle is feasible, and a substantial area of land is used in this way.

According to census results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population of the Laverton statistical local area fell from 2,078 to 730 in the five years from 2001 to 2006. Over this same period, the proportion of indigenous people in the area increased from 19% to 40%.

Laverton has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild to cool winters.


Leinster is a town in the northern goldfields area of Western Australia. The town is located 4 km east of the Goldfields Highway, in the Shire of Leonora Local Government Area, 968 kilometres northeast of the state capital, Perth.

At the 2006 census, Leinster had a population of 732.

Leinster was first established in 1976 as a company town supporting the nickel mine of the Agnew Gold Mining Company. It takes the name from nearby Leinster Downs Station. Prior to mining activities, the land was pastoral. Large stations in the area include Leinster Downs, Pinnacles, Yakabindie, Yeelirrie and Weebo to name a few. Today sheep is the primary stock.

Large scale mining in the area began in 1897 when the East Murchison United Company (EMU) began working on alluvial gold deposit in the vicinity of what is now the Emu gold operations. WMC Resources Ltd purchased the operation in 1989, renamed it ‘Leinster Nickel Operations’ and began recommissioning the operation.

When Leinster was built, special consideration was given to the natural environment. Built on a sand dune, local and native plants flourish with big stands of shady gum trees giving the town an oasis impression.

The Town/Community
The town consists of 283 houses, a caravan park, some 800 single persons quarters and motel services supporting a population of 700 residents and 700 ‘fly-in-fly-out’ personnel. All accommodation has been designed to ensure that comfort is maintained. Air conditioning is a standard feature.

Shopping facilities at Leinster include a comprehensive supermarket, beautician, post office, service station, newsagency, coffee shop, hairdressing salon and nursery.

The active sporting population is well catered for with an olympic-size swimming pool, health and fitness centre, two air conditioned squash courts, basketball, netball and tennis courts, a grassed oval and a magnificent air conditioned indoor sporting stadium. An 18-hole golf course and race course complete the picture.

The Leinster Primary School caters for approximately 130 children up to year 8 with older children having the Distance Education Centre Programme available. For the younger children, there is a pre-primary centre, day-care centre and playgroup.

A tavern and ‘wet mess’ are located in Leinster with the tavern offering ‘A-la-carte’ and speciality menus on a weekly basis. Live entertainment is regularly brought to Leinster by sporting and community groups.

In addition to a resident doctor, the town has a Silver Chain Nursing Post which is staffed by two nurses and is open five days a week. Should emergencies arise, they can be dealt with immediately by the St John’s Ambulance sub-centre, operated by volunteers on call 24 hours a day.

Often referred to as ‘the home of the wedge-tailed eagle’, the countryside around Leinster is also inhabited by kangaroos and emus and dotted with many interesting rock formations to the east. The town itself provides community services for the nearby mine site, and while the mine is not open to visitors, the shops and service station welcome travellers.

Facilities at Leinster include a supermarket, post office, service station, primary school and tavern. Sporting facilities include an indoor sports centre and 18 hole golf course.

The Leinster Nickel Operation is now part of the BHP Billiton Nickel West business group. The operation employs 992 workers and produces 40,000 – 45,000 tons of nickel in concentrate per year.

Apart from the Nickel operations, gold was also mined 41 km south east of Leinster, at the Thunderbox Gold Mine, from 2002 to 2007.


Leonora is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, located 833 kilometres (518 mi) northeast of the state capital, Perth, and 237 kilometres (147 mi) north of the city of Kalgoorlie.

At the 2006 census, Leonora had a population of 401, about a third of whom are of Aboriginal descent.

The area is extremely arid, with a mean annual rainfall of just 230 millimetres (9 in). It is also quite warm, with mean daily maximum temperatures ranging from 18°C (64°F) in July to 37°C (99°F) in January.

Leonora is primarily a mining town. There are a number of major gold mines in the Shire, and the Murrin Murin laterite nickel project is located in the shire. The area is too arid to support agriculture, but there is a substantial pastoral industry.

The first European explorer was John Forrest, who visited the area in 1869. Forrest’s party made camp near a hill, which Forrest named Mount Leonora, after a lady friend of his, Miss Phylis Leonora Hardey.

In 1894, gold was discovered in the area by a prospector named Morrisey, and in the following two years a number of rich finds resulted in rapid development of the area. The Gwalia and Sons of Gwalia gold mines brought Leonora to the attention of the world. By 1897 a residential and business area had been established, and the town was gazetted as Leonora in 1898.

Leonora had an urban tramway system between 1901 and 1921: perhaps it was the smallest town in the world to have an electric tram.

In 2010, the Rudd Government relocated asylum seekers from Christmas Island to a former mining camp near Leonora.

Goldmining Town In The Desert.
Located 236 km north from Kalgoorlie and 833 km east of Perth, Leonora, like so many of the small goldmining towns in the Eastern Goldfields, has had a chequered history. The first European explorer through the area was John Forrest who, on his 1869 expedition in search of Ludwig Leichhardt, named the nearby 420 m high landmark, Mount Leonora.

It was the discovery of gold which changed everything. The eager searching beyond Kalgoorlie’s ‘Golden Mile’ resulted in alluvial gold being found in 1896. Immediately a rush was on. Later that year two reefing claims – ‘Johannesburg’ and ‘Sons of Gwalia’ – were pegged. For a short time the latter claim grew to become the largest gold mine outside Kalgoorlie.

The town grew quickly. The Leonora townsite was declared in 1898 and two years later the thriving settlement became a municipality. In 1900 a steam tramway linked Leonora and Gwalia. Two years later this small service was linked to Menzies and thus to the main railway line to Perth.

Leonora is always vulnerable to changes in world gold prices. After a long and slow decline (it was only sustained by its importance as an administrative centre for the surrounding pastoral holdings) it was revitalised by the boom in world gold prices which occurred in the 1980s. The famous Tower Hill mine was reopened in 1983 and the Harbour Lights mine came into existence in 1985.

Gwalia Historical Precinct
A community museum was formed by a group of residents from Leonora-Gwalia after the large company of Berwick Moreing closed the Sons of Gwalia mine down in December 1963.

The town of Gwalia was basically a mining town and most of the residents were employed either on the mine or associated industries connected to the mine. So when the mine closed, the town quickly became deserted, and the little temporary miners houses, shops, boarding houses and other important buildings were left empty to the elements.

These included the Gwalia State School, the State Hotel, Mine Manager’s & Superintendent’s houses and the Mine Office & Assay building. Slowly as the years went by, people started to realise that the town was disappearing with the impact of the harsh elements of the Goldfields outback.

The Museum was opened in the Mine Manager’s office, then owned by Western Mining, in 1972 and the Sons of Gwalia mine itself was reopened by a company called Sons of Gwalia in 1981, and they mined the site via ‘open pit’ mining. The open pit is right along side the Museum. This provided additional interest for tourists who then could watch the mine in operation from the safety of a tower overlooking the pit.

In 1987 the old Oregon headframe and steam winding engine were relocated to the Museum precinct, saving it from the open pit which had since taken over the area of the old mine.

These two exhibits were very important to save – the headframe being of Oregon pine, designed by Herbert Hoover (later to become the 31st American President), and the engine being the largest steam winding engine in Australia.

In 1912 the winder had come from England, designed by Frazer & Chalmers. These are two very important pieces of history for the Museum. They both now stand overlooking the new mining operations very majestically.

In 1996 the area celebrated its centenary and part of a ‘gift’ to the town was a project where many of the old miners huts were going to be restored. As they had been left neglected for some thirty years suffering cyclones, wind, rain & extreme heat, these were in, to say the least, very poor condition, with some not having lining, roofs or floors.

These camps were built as shelters by the miners using left over filter cloth, old explosive boxes and tin from the mine. The miners were not, in most cases, architects or builders but mainly Italian miners looking for shelter and something substantial to put over their tents.

The community of Leonora-Gwalia has worked very hard at restoring these camps using similar implements and materials that were used nearly 100 years ago. These buildings are open for tourists to wander through and all that is asked is that nothing be touched or taken, and that children are under supervision.

Leonora is the centre of a very large pastoral community which started with the arrival of the miners. Though predominately sheep-based, some beef was also grazed in the region. Unfortunately the pastoral industry has declined in recent years due to people wanting different lifestyles than the hardship and loneliness of the outback. Explorers that travelled throughout the area included John Forrest, Frank Hann, David Carnegie, Ernest Giles, Tietkin and Gas Luck.

Things to see:

Tower Street
The appeal of the town lies in the fact that Tower Street, the main street, has remained largely unchanged since the turn of the century. The shops, with their footpath verandahs, and the hotels have a charm which offers an insight into what the town must have been like during the boom.

Marble Bar

Marble Bar is a town and rock formation in the Pilbara region of north-western Western Australia. It is well known for its extremely hot weather.

The hottest town in Australia

There are a small number of towns in Australia whose names have such a potency and such a power of association that they automatically conjure up images. The name ‘Marble Bar’ is synonymous with mining, isolation and, most importantly, heat.

It is known as ‘the hottest town in Australia’ a fact which is still recorded by the Guinness Book of Records. For 161 consecutive days to 20 April 1924 the temperature in the town never dropped below 100°F (37.8°C). This record still stands after eighty years. During all the time that records have been kept the temperature at the town has never dropped below 0°C.

Located 1476 km north of Perth on the Great Northern Highway, 192 km south-east of Port Hedland and 173 metres above sea level, Marble Bar does not fit the preconceptions most visitors have of it. If you imagined a reckless mining town in a barren wasteland with dirt streets and exhausted people standing outside a rather forlorn corrugated iron pub, then Marble Bar is nothing like that.

Marble Bar was named after a local deposit of mineral first thought to be marble, but which later proved to be jasper (a highly coloured cryptocrystalline variety of quartz).

It crosses the Coongan River about 5 km west of the town and is clearly signposted off General Street, beyond the Government Buildings. The jasper is at its best if you splash some water over it, but note that it is illegal to fossick or cut jasper at this location. However, a section has been set aside on the road to the old Comet mine for rock enthusiasts.

In 1894-95 the Government Offices (now a series of National Trust listed buildings) were constructed out of local stone with corrugated iron roofs and elaborate stuccoed window dressings. Located just west of Sandy Creek on General Street they are the most impressive set of buildings in the town.

Typical of mining towns they were constructed at a time when the prospects for the town were such that major civic buildings seemed appropriate. It was around this time that the population of the town rose to 5000 as miners poured in hoping to find wealth in the region. For some their dreams became reality. At Shaw’s Falls the 333 ounce ‘Little Hero’ nugget was found. Shark Gully was the location for the 413 ounce ‘Bobby Dazzler’ and in 1899 the 332 ounce ‘General Gordon’ was discovered.

Several large gold nuggets were discovered as a result of the goldrush. The 333 ounce Little Hero nugget, the 413 ounce Bobby Dazzler and the 332 ounce General Gordon nugget were all found in the goldfields around the town.

Marble Bar sprung up as part of the gold rushes to the Pilbara in the late 1880s. The gold which had created a rush to the Kimberleys had all but disappeared and the fossickers and prospectors headed south seeking the elusive metal. Gold was actually discovered near Marble Bar in 1891 by Francis Jenkins (he is remembered in the name of the town’s main street) and two years later the settlement was officially declared a town.

The goldrush was shortlived. The huge discoveries on the Eastern Goldfields and in the Murchison at places like Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Day Dawn and Cue were enough to see prospectors abandon their diggings to head for the greater rewards which lay to the south.

Marble Bar has an arid climate with very hot summers and mild to warm winters. The town set a world record of most consecutive days of maximum temperatures of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, during a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924.

Things to see:

The Swimming Pools
Marble Bar was named after a local deposit of mineral first thought to be marble, but which later proved to be jasper (a highly coloured cryptocrystalline variety of quartz). It crosses the Coongan River about 5 km west of the town and is clearly signposted off General Street, beyond the Government Buildings.

The watering hole below the Bar is a popular swimming area for locals. Both the Marble Bar Pool and the nearby Chinaman’s Pool are suitable for swimming and picnicking. The latter was named after the Chinese market gardens which were once established here by Chinese migrants to the goldfields.

Coppins Gap/Doolena Gorge
Safe swimming, scenic sights and shady picnic areas can also be enjoyed at Coppins Gap and Doolena Gorge.

Comet Gold Mine
The only significant remnant of the town’s gold mining past is the Comet Gold Mine, located 7.5 km from town via the Hillside-Marble Bar Road. The mine opened in 1936 and operated continuously until 1955. It allegedly boasts the tallest smoke stack in the Southern Hemisphere (at 75 metres). Today the Comet is a museum and tourist centre with a diversity of gemstones, jewellery, rocks, minerals and local history on display.

The Museum is open everyday from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and underground mine tours commence daily at 10.00 a.m. and 2.00 p.m.

4WD Excursions
Beyond the Comet Mine the road winds through the dry landscape. In the desert can be seen the Corunna Airfield, built in 1943 as a long-range base for attacks on the Japanese-occupied islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

Those with a 4WD can also visit such scenic spots as Glen Herring Gorge and Carawine Gorge.


Meekatharra is a town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Meekatharra is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of little water’.

At the 2006 census, Meekatharra had a population of 798, with 44.0% being Aboriginal.

Meekatharra is a town with golden prospects.

Situated on the Great Northern Highway, Meekatharra is the largest centre in the Murchison, easily accessible with excellent sealed roads from Perth in the south, Geraldton in the west and further north into the Pilbara.

If you haven’t been to Meekatharra for a while, you are sure to notice the changes.  The town has had a major facelift with the opening of the Meeka Rangelands Discovery Trail.  Taking advantage of the town’s historical, tourism and cultural assets, the Discovery Trail has provided a new recreation facility for locals and a new attraction for visitors.

The town has a wide range of sporting facilities including a fabulous oval, basketball courts, tennis courts and a new squash court. There is also a gym and indoor soccer and cricket facility and the sparkling Meekatharra town pool is open from October to April.

It’s all moving forward at Meekatharra. It really is a town of golden prospects.

Meekatharra is a major supply centre for the pastoral and mining area in the Murchison region of Western Australia. It is located 764 km north-east of Perth and may be reached by the Great Northern Highway. It is a centre for sheep and cattle transshipment, initially by rail but now by road trains. It is also a regional home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air.

It is connected by public transport to Geraldton with connections to Perth via Transwa coach service N4. No viable horticultural industry exists in the area, although extensive but poor cattle stations in the Murchison and Gascoyne exist.

Meekatharra underwent a significant gold rush during the mining boom of the 1980s, with mining continuing until May 2004 at St Barbara Mines’s Bluebird Gold Mine. Exploration restarted in the area and St Barbara sold out to a company known as Mercator Gold in October 2005.

Mercator Gold then conducted an extensive drilling programme and re-opened the mill, commencing production in early October 2007. This mining phase however was short lived, with Mercator going into administration in October 2008 and closing the mine. The company hopes to sell Bluebird in 2010.

Meekatharra is a former gold rush town. It seems the first settlement at Meekatharra occurred in 1894 and that, in May 1896, after the prospectors Meehan, Porter and Soich discovered gold, miners moved to the new settlement from the other East Murchison fields and mining grew rapidly in scale and sophistication. The Peak Hill mining town was founded in 1892 approximately 100 km up the road during this initial gold rush.

Success on the Meekatharra field was short-lived. It was only because a second gold discovery occurred in 1899 that the town survived. In 1901 the Meekatharra State Battery began operation and by Christmas Day 1903 the township had been officially gazetted.

In 1906 Alfred Wernam Canning was appointed to develop a stock route from the East Kimberleys to the Murchison. The stock route, comprising 54 wells, was completed in 1908 and, when the railway arrived in Meekatharra in 1910, the town became the railhead at the end of the route.

In many ways the railway ensured the town’s survival. In 1910 it took the first shipment of wool out of the area and it continued to serve the local pastoral interests until it was closed down in 1978.

From 1927 until 1931, a railway line operated from Meekatharra to the manganese mine at Horseshoe, some 80 miles (128 km) distant.

Substantial gold deposit which lies just south of the townsite called the Paddy’s Flat area was explored and mined by Western Mining Corporation and Dominion Mining Ltd in the 1990s.


Menzies is a town located in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, 728 kilometres east-northeast of the state capital, Perth, and 133 kilometres north-northwest of the city of Kalgoorlie. At the 2006 census, Menzies had a population of 56.

Gold was discovered in the area in 1894, and Mr Leslie Robert Menzies, a Canadian-born prospector, and John McDonald were the first to take up a lease here in October 1894, naming their lease the “Lady Shenton”. It was a rich gold find, and the Mining Warden for the area recommended a townsite be declared in 1895, named in Menzies’ honour. The townsite was gazetted in August 1895.

Land around the town was sold in 1895 and by 1896 it had become a municipality. The town hall was constructed from 1896 to 1898; the hall remained clockless for over 100 years due to the original clock being lost in a shipwreck and the prosperity of the town declining shortly afterwards. A clock was finally installed to celebrate the new millennium in 2000. The railway line was completed through to the town by 1900.

Water had to be carted to the town from underground supplies and from lakes in the surrounding areas. The government started construction of a dam in 1897 that began to supply water to the town by 1901. By 1900, Menzies had a population of approximately 10,000 with thirteen hotels and two breweries.

The gold rush lasted for about 10 years and by 1905 most of the miners had left town to try their luck elsewhere. By 1910 the population of the town had declined to less than 1,000. Gold mining continues in and around Menzies to the present day.

Present day
It is a place that has seen many changes over the years. The population is generally low (less than 100); however this can change – and has changed rapidly as mines open and close in the local area. There is a pub with food and cold beer, and the old state battery, which is in mint condition and worth a look. There had been a roadhouse which provided a post office and general food items which is now closed.

The Sand Queen Gold Mine owned by Reed Resources, that had initially been operational in 1904, was reopened in 2006 after being abandoned some years ago. The town housed a Nursing Post (still operating today) and a Police Station.

The Police Station closed approximately 2007 due to Police budget cuts to the disappointment of the two officers that patrolled and covered over 145 thousand square kilometres. The two officers were transferred.One to Kalgoorlie and the other returned to Perth. Crime was low in Menzies during their time and this was attributed to the work and close community ties by one of the Senior Constables.

Mount Magnet

Mount Magnet is an old Western Australian gold rush town. The name was chosen during exploration of the region due to an isolated hill 5 km north west of the town current townsite. This hill has an extremely high iron content and affected the compasses of explorers. At the 2006 census, Mount Magnet had a population of 424.

It is located 573 kilometres (356 mi) northeast of Perth via the Great Northern Highway. Only a few mines are still worked, including Hill 50 which started operations in the 1890s.

The area once had three separate townsites – Mount Magnet, Boogardie, and Lennonville. Boogardie has since been swallowed up into the open cut mining operations at Hill 50. Lennonville was abandoned at the start of World War I, and the foundations of the bank and train station can still be seen.

Unusual for such a large mining community, Mount Magnet has never had a public battery. The nearest battery was built 5 km west, in Boogardie. However its gold-rush heyday can be seen in its very wide main street with three hotels, a race course and a golf course complete with oiled greens.

Surrounding the town are remnants of old mining operations, and to the north east are significant Aboriginal sites being preserved jointly by the local community and the West Australian Museum. Today Mount Magnet is primarily a service town for the surrounding pastoral district which supports very large sheep stations.

During spring (September to November) the area attracts tourist viewing the natural display of everlastings that can stretch for kilometres in all directions. Being 6 hours drive from Perth makes it a comfortable day’s journey for vehicles heading further north to places like Mount Augustus and Port Hedland.

During the lifetime of the Northern Railway to Meekatharra Mount Magnet was an important railway station and yard.

Mount Magnet is served by Mount Magnet Airport, where Skippers Aviation has services to and from Meekatharra and Perth.

Australian test cricketer Bill Ponsford spent summers in Mount Magnet during his youth.

Serendipitously, the magnetic variation at this location, as of 2006, is zero: magnetic north equals true north.

In Australia’s Golden Outback, Mount Magnet is one of the Murchison region’s original gold mining towns with the first find recorded in 1891.

Today, it is both mining and pastoral industries which form the economic base of the Shire of Mount Magnet, however the beautiful wildflower blooms that can be seen between July and September each year also draw many tourists to the town.

Hill 50 Gold Mine was incorporated in May 1934 taking up the Sidar and Zion leases near Boogardie.From a modest start in 1936 the mine gradually developed in size until at the outbreak of World War 11, they were producing about 40,000 tonnes for 13,5000 ounces annually.Ore reserves of 250,000 tonnes, proved up and developed before the war, enabled this company to persist during the war on limited manpower and to maintain production after the war.

In contrast the Hill 60 and St George mines did not survive the war because of their lower grade reserves and bad ground, which caused them to be more labour intensive.

The Hill 50 Gold Mine had depleted its ore reserve to 73,000 tonnes during the war, but mining was given a great boost by the finding of the main shoot in 1949 by drilling beneath the north of the mine.The section of the mill in this sketch was in place by 1951 and the steel shaft was erected in 1956 having been brought over from Broken Hill.

The ore was all hoisted with a steam winder until 1959.Production from the rich main ore shoot peaked during the late 1950s at 75,000 90,000 ounces per year with profits for the year running at £750,000 to £1,000,000. Based on the relative price for gold this would translate to about $30 million per year profit.

Hill 50 was Australia’s most profitable mine between 1955 and 1961. From then to 1976, the year the mine closed, the profits gradually decreased because of lowering grade and the great depth (1000 metres) from which the ore was produced. The Hill 50 mine up until 1976 had produced 3,600,000 tonnes of ore for 1.4 million ounces of gold worth $700 million.

During the 10 years from 1966 to 1976 ore was also produced from the Morning Star shaft. It was upon this shaft that the re opening of Hill 50 Gold Mine N.L. operations depended in 1980. A good result for a company with an initial issued capital of $50,000. Hill 50 Gold Mine is now owned by Harmony Gold.

Graziers and Pastoralists – 1854 to 1891
The Aborigines sole possession of Mt Magnet and its surrounds ceased in 1854 when Robert Austin, the assistant government surveyor, traversed the area describing it as a fine goldfield and good grazing country.

Although he camped in the area he did not find any gold himself. The gold boom was in full swing in Victoria and New South Wales and it would be imagined that he would be on the constant lookout for indications of gold.

His suggestion that the area was a fine goldfield was not followed up and it was another 34 years before the first gold was found in the area. In the meantime in 1879 the Watson family settled on Yoweragabbic Station.

The Jones family on Boogardie Station were followed closely by other families and individuals until most of the Mount Magnet hinterland was sparsely settled by graziers.

In the intervening 30 years from 1854 1884 the search for gold had circled half the Australian continent and men were working their way down from the discoveries at Halls’ Creek (found by the government geologist, E.T. Hardman, in 1882).

George Woodley and Tom Sampey found gold near Mount Magnet in 1888 but it wasn’t until July 1891 that they applied for a claim and miners started working the area which was about 4 km NW of Mt Magnet, in the shadow of Warramboo, the hill dominating the town.

The decision to update an historical booklet turned into a 10 year odyssey of research and learning for two Mount Magnet women. Karen Morrissey and Lorna Day have just finished a decade of studying Mount Magnet’s past. The title of which is “Drawn to Mount Magnet” – a comprehensive book about the town, the district and its people. The duo initially volunteered to help update a historical booklet about the mining town, originally written by a local priest in 1979.

But after a year of updating they knew they had started something big.”After 12 months, Lorna and I realised we weren’t updating the booklet anymore, we were writing a book,” Mrs Morrissey said. “So we just kept going until we’d finished.” This included making many trips to Geraldton and Perth to access records about the district.

Some record files were accessible in Mount Magnet but a great deal had been lost to fire.”Because of the damage, a lot of the history recorded had to come from families which had lived in the area for a long time,” Mrs Morrissey said.

This had benefits both for the women and the district. The two were able to glean the history of the district for their book through the interviews, at the same time preserving history and recollections of the past which may well have gone to the grave with the people if not for their work.

According to the women the book has also served to place Mount Magnet in the context of WA’s history, “A lot of the early families here were connected to families on the Swan River settlement,” Mrs Morrissey said. So it seemed appropriate to go back to the Swan River settlement and show how they got here. But it’s not just a book about the distant past. It’s also a very modern record of what has happened here.”

The book also features an extensive range of colour photographs of the district and examines the early links between the region’s pastoralists and prospectors. “When the pastoralists came in the 1880s. they created places for prospectors to stay; often prospectors stayed at the homesteads,” Mrs Morrissey said.

The two women were named 1997’s Mount Magnet’s Citizens of the Year for their work.


Newman is a town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is located about 1,186 kilometres north of Perth, and 9 kilometres north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It can be reached by the Great Northern Highway. In the 2006 Australian census, its population was 4,245. Newman is a modern mining town, with suburban-style homes contrasting with the surrounding reddish desert.

Large and modern mining town in the Pilbara
Newman is a model mining town. A modern, attractive centre in the heart of the Hamersley Ranges, it serves the two huge mines at Mount Whaleback and Orebody 29.

Newman sits on what was originally regarded as marginal cattle country. It was built in the 1960s by the Mount Newman Mining Company, following the discovery of rich iron deposits on nearby Mount Whaleback.

The discovery marked the start of the resource boom in Western Australia in the 1970s. The town takes its name from nearby Mount Newman, named in honour of A.W. Newman, an early explorer who died of typhoid just before reaching the area in 1896.

The Eastern Pilbara is one of the most isolated and inhospitable regions in Australia. Temperatures in summer time hover around 40°C and the hot winds blow in off the Great Sandy Desert. It is hardly surprising that the Aborigines who lived in the area didn’t have to contend with the advance of Europeans until the twentieth century.

The first European into the area was Francis Gregory who travelled though the area to the north of present-day Newman in 1861 and observed the obvious iron ore deposits which coloured the mountain ranges. In 1876 Ernest Giles, who the year before had crossed from South Australia to Western Australia, attempted to reverse the process. He left Perth, travelled north to the Murchison and Ashburton Rivers and then headed east. With his second-in-command Alec Ross and four camels Giles travelled from the headwaters of the Ashburton to the range of mountains which lie to the north of Newman.

At the time he was suffering from temporary blindness. Ross virtually had to lead Giles up the hills. Although his vision was bad Giles’ humour was intact and, as a result of his affliction, he named the range Ophthalmia. Giles was unimpressed with the land.

The next expedition into the area occurred in 1896 when Aubrey Woodward Newman planned to lead a party from the goldmining town of Cue north towards Roebourne. Newman died from typhoid before the journey began but the new commander, William Rudell, honoured his departed leader by naming the highest mountain in the Ophthalmia Range, Mount Newman (1053 metres).

The first settlers into the area were John and Daisy Bates who established Glen Garrick sheep and cattle station in 1901. Gold prospectors, encouraged by the finds at Nullagine and Marble Bar in the north and Meekatharra and Cue in the south, scoured the area but had no success.

The East Pilbara remained a marginal pastoral area until the early 1960s. In 1957 the prospector Stan Hilditch discovered huge iron ore deposits at a mountain located 5 km south-east of Mt Newman, which he named Mount Whaleback, which has since become the largest open-cut iron ore mine in the world. At the time the export restrictions on iron ore which had been imposed during the war were still in place.

The ore Hilditch had found was virtually useless. Three years later the embargo was lifted and Hilditch, with his partner, A.C. Warman, pegged a claim on Mount Whaleback.

A consortium was formed and between 1967 and 1969 the American company Bechtel Pacific turned this lonely piece of desert into Australia’s most productive iron ore mine. In those two years the biggest open-cut iron ore mine in Australia was established, the town of Newman was built, the longest privately owned railway (426 km from Newman to Port Hedland) in the world was constructed, and the port facilities at Port Hedland were upgraded to handle 16 000 tonnes of iron ore per hour.

The first shipment of iron ore left Port Hedland in April 1969 bound for the steel mills of Japan. Today the Mount Newman Mining Company Ltd is 85 per cent owned by BHP.

In 1975 the mining company, aware of the inhospitable nature of the terrain, planted 60 000 trees and shrubs in order to make the town less like a desert outpost. In 1981 Newman ceased to be a closed ‘company town’ so that today it has a number of facilities for the visitor and is administered by the East Pilbara Shire.

The ore production statistics of the Mount Newman area are awesome. It is estimated that the Hamersley Range contains 33 billion tonnes of iron ore. The Mount Whaleback open-cut mine will eventually reach a depth of 350 m below the surrounding plain. The trains which carry the ore to the coast have been known to move over 18 000 tonnes in a single haul.

The railway line from Newman to Port Hedland runs downhill for all but 30 km of its entire length. And, amazing as it seems, the mine produces 30 million tonnes of iron ore every year.

Being founded in the 1960s, Newman’s architecture reflects the modernist styles of that decade and the next, being predominantly functional and devoid of detail or embellishment.

As the town was founded and built by a steel company, the majority of buildings use a steel frame construction. This applies to the suburban style homes themselves, most of them being two prefabricated halves inserted together into a steel I-section frame, the columns of which are left exposed on the exterior of the home.

This construction method serves not only to showcase the company’s product, but also gives strong resistance to cyclone winds which can affect the region from time to time. For this same reason, most houses are elevated from the ground by a few steps. Many houses also have large air-conditioning units situated next to them to provide adequate cooling against the very hot summer temperatures.

Newman has an arid climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. The average summer high temperature is one of the hottest of any areas in Australia and approaches those of cities such as Riyadh and Baghdad.

The temperature reaches or exceeds over 38°C almost every day in the summer. On 15 January 1998, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 47.0°C.


Nullagine is an old goldrush town in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. It is located on the Nullagine River 296 km south-east of Port Hedland and 1,364 km north-north-east of Perth on the old Great Northern Highway.

Nullagine is a former goldming town.

Nullagine is the local Aboriginal name for the river that runs through the centre of the town.

The town originated from gold being discovered in the area in 1886 by a prospector, N.W. Cooke. The population increased sharply as a result and by the mid 1890s the community wanted to have a town declared. Lots were surveyed and released in 1897 and the state government gazetted the town in 1899.

Besides gold other minerals were mined in the area including diamonds and other gemstones.

Nullagine was caught up in the Pilbara Goldrush in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1902 Nullagine was the site of Australia’s first discovery of diamonds. Although it once had a population of 3000 it is today a small, isolated community servicing a few locals, and the passing tourists.

There are some interesting relics left over from the goldrush and many people believe there are still great riches to be found in the area so fossicking is the major tourism drawcard today.

In fact, there is no denying that the area around Nullagine is rich in all kinds of minerals.

The area around Nullagine is rich in all kinds of minerals. In 1902 Nullagine was the site of Australia’s first discovery of diamonds. Since then prospectors and fossickers have come to the area and found agate, asbestos, antimony, beryl, chalcedony, copper, jade, jasper, manganese, tiger eye and wolfram.

The town is currently going through another mining boom with the setup of new drilling and mine activities including gold, copper, iron ore and diamonds.

The area shows spectacular ancient mountain ranges and endless spinifex, and there are plenty of waterholes for the adventurous to discover, including Beatons Creek Gorge, Garden and Daylight Pools.

Nullagine comes from the Aboriginal name of a nearby river, the Ngullagine river; the meaning of the word is unknown.

Nullagine townsite lies alongside the Cajuput Creek, which is an arm of the Nullagine River. The main trade in Nullagine is fossickers and passing tourists and town consists of little more than the Conglomerate Hotel, Roadhouse, Police Station, local school, and Caravan Park. Legend has it that in Nullagine a local stubbed his toe on a 20 ounce nugget of gold when walking down the main street!

William Lambden Owen, who was the warden of the Pilbara goldfields in the 1880s and 1890s, wrote his autobiography Cossack Gold in 1933. In the autobiography he gives an unforgettable picture of the hardships which existed on the goldfields at this time. His account of a funeral at Nullagine recalls how the coffins were made from old packing cases ‘with the specifications of their original contents still upon them. One of them read: ‘Fresh condensed milk. Please keep away from boilers.’ The other read: ‘Prime Columbia salmon. Please keep away from boilers.’ At the foot of one was a crowing rooster. Beneath his toes was painted the legend, ‘Wake up!”

Between 1895 and 1914 the town boomed and contained a number of general stores, three hotels, eight stamp mills and a population of over 3,000.

Its population was 1,500 prior to World War II. Now, with the decline of gold mining, only about 200 remain. However the town still attracts fossickers and prospectors who visit the surrounding area.

The town is also the place of the Yirrangadji Aboriginal Community. The Martu people make up the bulk of this population.

Iron ore
Newly-discovered iron ore deposits to the south-west may lead to a revival of the town.

A company called BC Iron, which takes its name from the Bonnie Creek “paleochannel” system of ancient river beds in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, believes it has a chance of proving up between 200 million and 600 million tonnes of pisolitic (pea-shaped) iron in what was once a diamond exploration location. With iron ore prices continuing to rise, that translates into a potential bonanza with an in-ground value of up to A$30 billion.

The three-stage challenge for BC will be first in proving that it has the ore in the ground, that it is of a quality that Asian steel mills want to buy, and that it can secure a transport route to the coast, and find room at a port for handling exports.

Because the size of the ore deposit at Bonnie Creek is too small to justify its own railway to the port, the company has negotiated a “mine gate” joint venture with Fortescue to use the Fortescue Railway in exchange for half the mine’s output.

Things to see

Attractions in the Area
Visitors eager to fossick for gold can visit the beautiful Beaton’s Rockhole and Gorge 4 km to the west of the town where both gold and precious stones can be found.

Another interesting journey can be taken to the town’s lookout on the Conglomerate hills 4 km to the north of the town. Nearby (in the gully to the north of the lookout) are the unusual Chinese walls which were built by the Chinese gold miners as sluices. Such structures are found nowhere else in the Pilbara.

Payne's Find

Payne's Find is a former gold rush settlement approximately 430 kilometres north east of Perth in the Mid West region of Western Australia.

It is reachable by the Great Northern Highway. Only a roadhouse, which serves as a fuel stop, and a few other buildings remain today. The area is renowned for its wildflowers.

The townsite was gazetted in 1911, the same year the gold battery was constructed. The battery is the only currently operational battery left in the state.

The town is named after the prospector, Thomas Payne, who was the first to discover gold in the area and was the first to register a lease for gold mining with the Mines Department. He was rewarded with free use of the state’s gold battery and his ore was the first to be crushed using the battery.

By the 1930s the town had prospered and the population was estimated at about 500. In 1987 the battery was sold to the Taylor family who use it as a tourist attraction.

Yalgoo and Paynes Find form the Shire of Yalgoo, situated a day’s drive north east of Perth. From late July to September, the surrounding area is carpeted in Western Australian wildflowers, such as white, cream, yellow and pink everlastings.

Paynes Find is renowned for its glorious carpets of Western Australian wildflowers during the season from July to September, as well as its Gold Battery.

Take a tour and enjoy the museum and displays.

Yalgoo and Paynes Find accommodation
This is a great place to experience real Australian outback life at one of the working cattle station stays. Yalgoo and Paynes Find accommodation options also include hotel rooms, caravan parks and camping grounds.

Port Hedland

Port Hedland is the highest tonnage port in Australia and largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 14,000, including the satellite town of South Hedland, 18 km away.

Port Hedland is a natural deep anchorage port which, as well as being the main fuel and container receival point for the region, was seen as perfect for shipment of the iron ore being mined in the ranges located inland from the town. The ore is moved by railway lines from four major iron ore deposits to the east and south of Port Hedland area. In August 2010 the port exported 13.6 million tonnes of iron ore.

Other major resource activities supported include the offshore natural gas fields, salt, manganese, and livestock. Grazing of cattle and sheep was formerly a major revenue earner for the region but this has slowly declined. Port Hedland was formerly the terminus for the WAGR Marble Bar Railway which serviced the gold mining area of Marble Bar.

Port Hedland is known by the Indigenous Kariyarra and Nyamal people as Marapikurrinya, which either means “place of good water” (as told by a Nyamal language speaker) and makes reference to the three reliable fresh water soaks that can still be seen in and around the town, or as the town council’s website says “refers to the hand like formation of the tidal creeks coming off the harbour (marra – hand, pikurri – pointing straight and nya – a place name marker)”. According to Dreamtime legend there was a huge blind water snake living in the landlocked area of water known as Jalkawarrinya.

This landlocked area is now the turning basin for the ships that enter the port and as the story goes, “the coming of the big ships meant it was unable to stay”.

Though the coastline in the area had been explored in the 18th century, Captain Peter Hedland was one of the first Europeans to explore the harbour for the purpose of developing an export port. Peter Hedland arrived in the area in April 1863 onboard his boat, Mystery that he had built himself at Point Walter on the banks of the Swan River. He named the harbour Mangrove Harbour and reported that it would make a good landing site with a well protected harbour and that there was also fresh water available.

What Hedland failed to point out was that the harbour was difficult to enter because of a huge sandbar that sealed the entrance meaning it was only accessible at high tide and that it was difficult to enter in bad weather because of the narrow entrance.

In 1866, the resident Magistrate of Roebourne, Treverton Sholl, commissioned Charles Wedge to investigate alternative town sites to Roebourne. Wedge’s reports were pessimistic about the suitability of Port Hedland. In 1891, exploration of the area by Tom Traine, John Wedge and Syd Hedley identified two landings and described the harbour as “pretty as well as safe”.

In September 1895, Cossack residents requested the District Surveyor to survey the headland at Port Hedland and requested the Government to build a jetty.

Goldsworthy Mining developed an iron ore mine approximately 100 kilometres east of Port Hedland in the early 1960s and built the towns of Goldsworthy and later Shay Gap as mine sites. A rail line was then built to Port Hedland where dredging was undertaken to deepen and widen the port’s channel and a wharf was built opposite the township of Port Hedland on Finucane Island. Shipment of ore began on 27 May 1966 when the Harvey S Mudd sailed from Port Hedland to Japan with 24,900 tonnes of ore.

In 1967 iron ore was discovered at Mount Whaleback and a mining venture was undertaken that included the establishment of a new town, Newman, 426 km of rail from the mine to the port and the development of processing equipment at both Newman and Port Hedland. In 1986, at a cost of $87 million, the existing channel was dredged to allow the port to increase the tonnage of those ships able to enter the port. Prior to dredging the port was only able to load vessels less than 2,000 tonnes but today it is able to accommodate ships over 250,000 tonnes.

Geography and climate
The climate of Port Hedland is warm to hot, with mean maximum temperatures of 36.4 °C (97.5 °F) in January and 27.1 °C (80.8 °F) in July. Maximum temperatures in summer are usually moderated by a warm but humid sea breeze. Annual rainfall (falling almost exclusively between December and June) averages 311.5 mm (12.26 in) but because of erratic cyclones is subject to some of the largest variations in the world.

As an illustration, in 1942 1,040 mm (41 in) fell, but in 1944 only 32 mm (1.3 in) fell and the town went for over 300 days with no rain. The high summer temperatures experienced in Port Hedland mean that most tourists to the area choose to visit in the cooler months between May and September.

Infrastructure (Harbour)
Port Hedland’s harbour is managed by the Port Hedland Port Authority, a state government instrumentality. The Port Authority’s headquarters, control tower and heliport are at Mangrove Point, just to the west of The Esplanade at the western end of Port Hedland. The tugboat pen, customs office and public jetty are at nearby Laurentius Point. The harbour’s wharves are located on both sides of the harbour – Finucane Island to the west and Port Hedland to the east. Access by oceangoing vessels into and out of the harbour is via a narrow curved channel.


Toodyay is a town located in the Wheatbelt region in the Avon Valley, 85 kilometres north-east of Perth, Western Australia. Toodyay is connected to Perth by railways and a handful of major roads. Toodyay was an early settlement of Western Australia dating from the 1830s. In early 1931 at the time of the Great Depression payable gold was found at Yinnding Creek (eight miles south west of the town).

Toodyay, one of Western Australia’s oldest towns, is nestled in the heart of the beautiful Avon Valley. Being only one hour’s drive from Perth it is the ideal destination for both day visitors and those venturing further into the Wheatbelt or the Chittering Valley.

Being an hour’s drive from Perth, Toodyay is a popular venue for tourists. A picturesque circuit of Toodyay Road through Gidgegannup, Toodyay, Chittering Valley and Great Northern Highway attracts motorists and motorcyclists.

Other destinations include olive oil farms, lavender farms, holiday retreats, hotels, restaurants, caravan parks, an emu farm and an archery park. Toodyay railway station is served by Avonlink and Prospector passenger trains on the route from Perth to Northam and Kalgoorlie.

The townsite of Toodyay was established 3 kilometres upstream from the present townsite, at a bend in the river. A small town grew there with government and commercial buildings, although it was subjected to regular flooding. By the 1850s there were three inns and two schools, as well as a gaol.

The area displays a vast wealth of cultural and natural heritage that can be appreciated throughout the year, with the changing seasons offering a new perspective of the landscape with each visit. The beauty of the hills and the magnificent Avon River are a sight to behold, whilst the townsite maintains the charms of a past era. The architecture, much of which reflects the convict era, retains high levels of authenticity and integrity.

With its museums and historic buildings, arts and crafts, emu and alpaca farms, gardens, native flora & fauna, magnificent vistas, wonderful cuisine and so much more, Toodyay should be explored by everyone! The ideal starting point for any visit to Toodyay is the Toodyay Visitor Centre, where the friendly staff can provide you with further details on what to see and where to stay.

The Heritage Council of Western Australia lists well over one hundred places of historical significance in or near Toodyay, including cottages (some of which are now ruins), homesteads, shops, churches, parks and railway constructions. Its State Register of Heritage Buildings includes the Gaol, Connor’s Mill, Toodyay Public Library (built 1874), the old Toodyay Post Office (designed by George Temple-Poole and built 1897) and the old Toodyay Fire Station (designed by Ken Duncan, built 1938), as well as several other historic sites.

The historic architecture of shops and residences along the main street, Stirling Terrace, presents a distinctive frontage termed the Stirling Terrace Streetscape Group.

Some of the buildings are also listed on the Australian Heritage Database. They include the Freemasons Hotel (built 1861), the Victoria Hotel (late 1890s), and Old Unwins Store on Stirling Terrace, and Butterly’s Cottage (c. 1870) on Harper Road.

The Newcastle Gaol, in Clinton Street, completed in 1864, was in use as a state prison until 1909. It is now preserved as a heritage building and tourist attraction, the Old Gaol Museum.

In 1870, a steam-driven flour mill, Connor’s Mill, was built on Stirling Terrace by George Hasell. The mill was also used to generate electricity in the early twentieth century. Saved from demolition in the 1970s, and restored to demonstrate the milling process and machinery, the mill now forms the museum section of the Toodyay Visitor Centre.

Toodyay is therefore privileged to have two museums that provide a wonderful insight to the region’s past, these being the Old Gaol Museum and Connor’s Mill.

In addition there are a number of self guided walk and drive trails in the area that provide for a wonderful days outing for the whole family.

To discover more of Toodyay’s heritage, visit the Toodyay Old Gaol Museum and Connor’s Mill or visit the Toodyay Visitor Centre, which has a number of local history books on sale. An extract from the Shire of Toodyay’s Municipal Inventory also provides a Historical Overview.

The original village of Toodyay was one of the earliest inland towns in Western Australia. A habitat of the Ballardong Noongar people for thousands of years, the Avon River valley was discovered by Ensign Robert Dale in 1830, leading to exploration by settlers including James Drummond, Captain Francis Whitfield and Alexander Anderson.

The first village was established in 1836. Drummond established his homestead Hawthornden nearby. The original location is subject to flooding, which led to its abandonment in the 1850s, and a new townsite was established on higher ground 2 kilometres upstream. By the beginning of the twentieth century the townsite of Newcastle had grown, while the Toodyay townsite had disappeared.

In 1910 the federal government asked the Newcastle Road Board to consider a name change in order to avoid postal confusion arising out of the town of the same name in New South Wales. The Road Board and the community agreed and the name of Toodyay was the obvious choice for the ‘new’ name. The old townsite of Toodyay became known as ‘West Toodyay’.

In 1861, Western Australia’s notorious bushranger Moondyne Joe was imprisoned in Toodyay for stealing a horse, but escaped. After a series of crimes and prison terms, he was on the run again, returning to Toodyay in 1865 to steal supplies for an attempt to escape overland to South Australia.

Little is known of Joseph Johns’s early life. Born in Cornwall, England around 1826 and raised as a Roman Catholic, he was the third of six children of blacksmith Thomas Johns and his wife Mary. It is likely that he contracted smallpox in his youth, as later records describe him as “pockmarked”. His father died some time between 1832 and 1841, and Johns and his three brothers took work as copper miners. In 1841 the family was living at Illogan, Cornwall, but by 1848 Johns had migrated to Wales, taking work as an iron ore miner, probably at the Clydach Iron Works.

Johns caught an unbranded stallion, and branded it with his own mark. This was effectively horse-stealing, and when the police heard of this they arrested him at their first opportunity. The horse was taken as evidence, and Johns was placed in the Toodyay lockup. Sometime during the night, Johns broke out of his cell, and stole the horse once more, taking also the local magistrate’s brand new saddle and bridle. He was caught the next day, but while on the run he had killed the horse and cut his brand out of the hide, thus destroying the evidence.

Consequently, he received only a three year sentence for jail-breaking, whereas a typical sentence for horse stealing was more than ten years.

While Johns was serving his sentence, there were a rash of convict escapes and attempted escapes, but Johns remained well behaved. His good behaviour earned him a remission on his sentence, and he was released on a ticket of leave in February 1864. He then found work on a farm in Kelmscott, but in January 1865 a neighbour’s steer was killed and eaten, and Johns was accused of having done the deed.

Johns was to protest his innocence of this crime for the rest of his life, but was nonetheless found guilty and sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude. Johns was determined not to serve what he felt was an unjust sentence, and in early November he and another prisoner absconded from a work party. They were on the run for nearly a month, during which time they committed a number of small robberies.

It was during this time that Johns first adopted the nickname Moondyne Joe. They were finally caught 37 kilometres east of York by a party of policemen that included the Aboriginal tracker Tommy Windich. For absconding and for being in possession of a firearm, Moondyne Joe was sentenced to twelve months in irons.

The remainder of John’s life consisted of periods of good behaviour punctuated by occasional minor misdemeanours and brief jail terms. In January 1879, he married a widow named Louisa Hearn, and they spent some time prospecting for gold near Southern Cross.

In 1881, while exploring the countryside around Karridale, he discovered Moondyne Cave. In his later years, he began acting strangely, and was eventually found to be mentally ill. He died of senile dementia in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum (now the Fremantle Arts Centre building) on 13 August 1900, and was buried in Fremantle Cemetery.

The annual Moondyne Festival is a light-hearted celebration of this darker side of Toodyay’s history.


Sandstone is a small town located in the Mid West region of Western Australia. The town is located 157 kilometres east of Mount Magnet and 661 kilometres north of the state capital, Perth. At the 2006 census, Sandstone and the surrounding area had a population of 119.

Sandstone is a remote community situated between Mount Magnet and Leinster, right in the heart of the spectacular east Murchison District, where you’ve got the action of gold prospecting and the industry of mining and pastoral stations, all coexisting with a rapidly growing Tourism industry…you had best get here before it’s too busy!

Our bronzed landscape tells many tales of bygone days, when gold was first discovered in 1894 by Ernest Shillington and a number of fellow prospectors about 20 km southwest of the present townsite.

For a period of six years from 1907 Sandstone was a small city of some 6,000 to 8,000 people. With four hotels, four butchers, many cafes, stores and business houses, as well as a staffed police station and two banks, things were booming.  In July 1910, the railway came to the town, however by 1919 only 200 people remained and many buildings were pulled down and moved.

Fortunately Sandstone was able to survive as a centre for the region’s growing pastoral industry and in more recent times, gold-mining has re-emerged as the principal industry.

Throughout the area, natural rock formations or breakaways contrast dramatically with the rust stained Sandstone landscape which gives the town its name.  The mainly flat surroundings and the distant horizons give the impression of a very large sky which provides that wide open and free feeling which one can only experience in the true outback.

The area is home to Australian wildlife such as emus, bungarras and of course kangaroos.  Indeed it is not unusual to see a kangaroo hopping in the main street after dark.

The red terrain and the vivid blue of the mostly cloudless sky, enhances the natural beauty of this unique place.  It is a wonderful, peaceful environment to experience the glory of the night skies.

In the evenings you can witness some truly spectacular sunsets.  At night far, from the interference of city lights, the darkness of the outback makes it a great setting for stargazing and viewing the magnificent sky of the southern hemisphere.  In addition from July to September, Sandstone is transformed from red earth to a carpet of colour with a spectacular display of wildflowers.

The town was first settled in 1894 as part of a gold rush after a team of prospectors including Ernest Shillington first discovered gold about 20km south of the present townsite. Following the influx of miners the local progress association requested that a townsite be declared in 1905. Correspondence of the time shows that the area was locally known as “Hans Irvine’s Find” and that a large amount of money had been spent on building hotels, banks and other services required by the residents. The townsite was gazetted as Sandstone in 1906.

By 1907 the population of the town had swelled to 6,000–8,000 and it boasted four hotels, four butchers, two banks, a staffed police station and many other stores. A brewery was also constructed in 1907 by an Irishman, I.V. Kearney, to satisfy the local demand. He built the brewery on a breakaway on top of a cliff about 35 feet high.

Water was pumped to the top level for brewing and the beer was stored in the cellars below to keep it cool even in the hotter weather. In 1910 the railway was extended to Sandstone but the population had declined to about 200 people and many buildings had been pulled down, removed or left derelict. The Jundoo Dam was completed in 1910 to provide water for the steam trains; the dam could hold three-and-a-half million gallons of water and cost £5,000 to build. Most of the original dam works still exist today.

A state-run battery operated in the town from 1904 to 1982. The remains of these are located along the Menzies Road.

Today, Sandstone is the administrative centre of the Shire of Sandstone Local Government Area. Sights to see include London Bridge, a natural bridge, which is part of the Sandstone Heritage Trail. It was the inspiration for the mining town in Randolph Stow’s 1963 novel Tourmaline. The smallest of the hotels built in town, The National Hotel constructed in 1909 from locally made bricks, is the only one left remaining.

Today, Sandstone is the administrative centre of the Shire of Sandstone Local Government Area. Sights to see include London Bridge, a natural bridge, which is part of the Sandstone Heritage Trail. It was the inspiration for the mining town in Randolph Stow’s 1963 novel Tourmaline. The smallest of the hotels built in town, The National Hotel constructed in 1909 from locally made bricks, is the only one left remaining.

Sandstone/ Gold
Rich in gold rush history, with magnificent local attractions, the area is an absolute delight to visit.

In 1894, a major gold discovery was made at Sandstone and the town’s wide streets are a reminder of its heyday in the decade before World War One. Several of its grand historic buildings have been restored, including the Post and Telegraph Office, Warden’s Court, now housing the Primary School and the National Hotel, which is still the lively social hub of the community.

The best way to see these fascinating heritage buildings is to follow the Sandstone Heritage Trail. A brochure and map for the Trail are available from the visitor centre and museum. The brochure includes additional information about some of the area’s stunning natural attractions, including London Bridge, believed to be 350-million years old, and the Peter Denny Lookout, dedicated to a former shire president, with its breathtaking ancient rock formation.

During the wildflower season, July to September (subject to seasonal rains), the landscape is transformed from rich red earth to a carpet of colours.

The Gold Rush Era
The Western Australian Gold Rush occurred in 1885 in the East Kimberley region. It wasn’t until 6 years later in 1891 that gold was discovered in the Murchison.

A £1000 reward was offered to the discoverer of a new and payable gold find. In an effort to keep some record of what gold was actually being found and taken, miner’s rights were introduced. These rights allowed miners to prospect for gold which they could then sell to licensed gold buyers.

There is much debate over who found the first person to find gold in the Black Range area, but the first recognised registered find goes to Ernest Shillington in January 1895.

The discovery of gold heralded the beginnings of the first township in the area, Nungurra. Due a number of factors, lack of water being a major one, a newer townsite was required. Four years later, in 1906, the town of Sandstone was officially gazetted. Within a year, Nungurra’s population dropped to a mere 50-60 people. Shortly after, Nungurra became a ghost town.

Building materials were too expensive to just leave behind, so many of the buildings in Nungurra were dismantled and reassembled in Sandstone.

London Bridge is part of a larger formation about 800 metres long, varying in height from around 3 to 10 metres. It is formed of weather basalt and the rock is believed to be about 350 million years old.

London Bridge is Falling Down
Unfortunately with time the bridge is getting thinner and thinner and will eventually fall. We do ask that you enjoy the picture from ground level to preserve this natural wonder, and for your own safety as well.

For over 100 years London Bridge has been a popular lookout spot. In the 1900’s it was frequented as a spectacular town picnic site and still is today. It is estimated the rocks of the Sandstone belt are close to 2 billion years old. Astronomers believe the age of the earth itself to be 4.6 billion years, so the Sandstone strata are little less than half the age of the planet.

Heritage Museum
This small museum accommodates various implements, appliances and bric a brac which help to portray what life was like in Sandstone from the turn of the century. As you walk around looking at the various photographs and stories on the walls one can imagine and share in the hopes and dreams of the people who once resided in this area.

The Shire of Sandstone is extremely grateful to its past and present residents who have entrusted items to the custodianship of the Shire Council and thus made the Heritage Museum possible.

The museum is located in a converted grocery store which was built in the late 1940’s and operated until 1981. After this the building was used as a multi-purpose store that served as a hardware shop, fuel-depot and agricultural supply business.

Traditional Owners
That there was an Aboriginal presence in the Black Range area before the coming of the Europeans has never been in doubt.

It is believed there were two distinct tribes within the Sandstone district. The Wongi in the eastern half and the Yamagee in the western half. It has been suggested that neither tribe would cross into the other’s territory except for tribal meetings. Furthermore, considering the scarcity of water in the area it is also thought both tribes may have only lived in the area on a non-permanent basis.

After that, very little is known of their presence in Sandstone. The only available information has been gathered from a scant number of publications throughout the years.

There are however, definite signs of an Aboriginal presence through the district. These include hand stencils on rock formations, old camping grounds, stone cairns and the evidence of flint tool making.

Gnamma holes have also been discovered throughout the years, mainly by farmers when their stock fell into them. Sadly, many of these holes have been filled in since then for this exact reason.

Southern Cross

Southern Cross is a town in Western Australia, 371 kilometres east of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway.

It was founded by gold prospectors in 1888, and gazetted in 1890. It is the major town and administrative centre of the Shire of Yilgarn At the 2006 census, Southern Cross had a population of 711.

The town of Southern Cross is one of the many towns which run along the Mundaring to Kalgoorlie Goldfields Water Supply Scheme engineered by C. Y. O’Connor.

A succession of gold rushes in the Yilgarn region near Southern Cross in 1887, at Coolgardie in 1892, and at Kalgoorlie in 1893 caused a population explosion in the barren and dry desert centre of Western Australia.

It is named after the Southern Cross constellation, and the town’s most significant streets are named after stars.

Southern Cross is on the standard gauge railway from Perth to Kalgoorlie and beyond. The Prospector and Indian Pacific passenger trains service the town. The former narrow gauge railway reached Southern Cross on 1 July 1894.

Wheatbelt/ Goldmining Town
Located 357 m above sea level and 368 km east of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway, Southern Cross can be seen as either the last town on the edge of the wheatbelt or the first town on the Eastern Goldfields.

Southern Cross¹s importance is based on its status as the first major gold discovery in the huge Eastern Goldfields region.

Indeed, as the authors of The Mile That Midas Touched observed, Southern Cross, because it predates the larger towns to the east, has a special relationship with Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.

The Cross, too, had its heyday, first as a mining town, then as head of the line before the railway was pushed further inland. It was the mother town of Coolgardie, the old Camp, and at least the grandmother of Kalgoorlie and the Golden Mile.

Explorers had passed through the area decades before gold was discovered. H M Lefroy, for example, in his Journal of the Eastern Exploring Expedition (1863) declared that the area had great agricultural potential. The area had also been explored by the indomitable Charles Cooke Hunt (who duly sunk a few wells) and John Forrest.

Some pastoralists had moved into the area by the 1880s but it was really the discoveries of Thomas Risely and Mick Toomey in 1887-88 which established the area as an important goldfield. Risely and Toomey claimed they had been led to their discovery by the Southern Cross and they named the goldfield after the constellation.

There was a small goldrush but it was short-lived (this was an area of reef gold not alluvial gold) because on 17 September 1892 a young Queenslander, Arthur Wellesly Bayley, rode into Southern Cross with 554 oz of gold which he had discovered at Fly Flat (now Coolgardie).

The discovery started the greatest gold rush in West Australian history. Overnight the miners who had flocked to the Southern Cross diggings moved to the more lucrative eastern fields.

The towns growth was dramatic but it was never a boisterous centre like Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. In 1891 the Eastern Goldfields first courthouse was built. By 1893 it had become a municipality. And in 1894 the railway arrived giving the town fast and reliable access to the coast.

Today the area produces oats, barley, wheat, sheep and gold but the average annual rainfall of 279 mm means that the land is marginal. In recent times the fluctuating price of gold has seen renewed interest in the Southern Cross area with both Broken Hill Metals NL and Golden Valley Mines NL being the main operators in the region.

Things to see:

Main Attractions
The main attractions in the area include the Number 6 Pumping Station, the Old Cemetery, Frasers Mine, Hunts Soak, the Court House and the Museum. It is indicative of the area that all the attractions either relate to gold mining or to water supply.

Number 6 Pumping Station
The Number 6 Pumping Station, located about 11 km east of Southern Cross at Ghooli, is one of a series of eight steam pumping stations used to carry water to Kalgoorlie on C. Y. O Connors remarkable water pipeline. Listed by the National Estate the Number 6 Pumping Station was still being used as recently as 1969 when it was replaced by electric pumps.

Old Cemetery
The Old Cemetery, located at the eastern end of Southern Cross, has been redeveloped by the Southern Cross Historical Society as a Pioneer Memorial. It was only used from 1891-1898 and consequently is an important reminder of the miners and pioneers who first settled this inhospitable area. The high incidence of typhoid on the early goldfield is dramatically recalled on the headstones of many of the miners.

Frasers Mine
Frasers Mine can be reached by heading west on Orion Street onto the Greenmount Road. It is located over the hill behind the Palace Hotel. Although Thomas Risely and Mick Toomey may have discovered Southern Cross it was Hugh Fraser, an experienced prospector, who pegged out the most important rich lode and it was Frasers Mine which became the centre of the towns continuing growth.

The old headframes, those symbols of early underground gold mining, are still on the lease and, nearby, is the modern open cut mine which is still exploiting the quartz and greenstone fault which Fraser identified as being rich in gold. It is one of the ironies of goldmining that Fraser died penniless. The town mayor paid £20 to have him buried as a citizen rather than a pauper.

Hunts Soak
7 km north of Southern Cross is Hunts Soak. It is one more of the remarkable daisychain of wells and soaks which provided the whole of south eastern Western Australia with water until OConnor built his pipeline. This soak was built in 1865 and was indirectly responsible for Thomas Risely and Mick Toomey finding gold in the area.

Registrars Office and Court House
The Registrar¹s Office and Court House (now the towns Museum), located in Antares Street, was built in 1891 at the height of the town¹s goldrush. It continued to operate until 1976 when the court was moved to new premises.

It was in this building that Paddy Hannan took out his Miners Right and it was to this building that Arthur Bayley came to register the claim which subsequently became the rich fields at Coolgardie. This was also the location of the first claim on the Lake Dundas (Norseman) goldfields.

Not surprisingly the museum, which is run by the Southern Cross Historical Society, concentrates on the history of mining in the area. It is open from 9.00 am – 12.00 noon and 1.30 pm – 4.00 pm Monday to Saturday and 1.30 pm – 4.00 pm on Sunday.

Like so many Goldfields towns, Southern Cross sprawls. One of the towns most delightful characteristics is that all of the streets, maintaining the stellar associations of the town, are named after constellations. Thus there is Sirius Street, Altair Street, Centaur Street, Orion Street, Spica Street and so on.

The Karalee Reservoir
The Karalee reservoir, rock catchment and aqueduct, a natural rock formation adapted to maximise the catchment, delivery and storage of rainwater, was listed on the State’s Register of Heritage Places in 2001. The reservoir, located about 50km eastwards of Southern Cross, had been essential in railway development to the Goldfields region.


Yalgoo is a town in the Murchison region, 49499 kilometres (310 mi) north-north-east of Perth and 118 kilometres (73 mi) east-north-east of Mullewa.

Before it was settled as a town the Yalgoo area was used as grazing land for European settlers including the Morrissey and Broad families. Flocks of sheep were herded onto the rich pastures during the wet growing season and driven back to coastal properties for shearing before summer. Over time the graziers saw the value in the Yalgoo land and began to establish the first sheep stations.

Yalgoo is also a local government area in Western Australia.

Gold was discovered in the area in the early 1890s, and by 1895 there were 120 men working the diggings and buildings being erected. The goldfield warden asked for a townsite to be surveyed and gazetted, and following survey the townsite of Yalgu was gazetted in January 1896.

It was once the location of an important railway station (opened in 1896) on the Northern Railway. Yalgoo’s importance declined in the years after World War II after the forging of an all-weather road between Wubin and Paynes Find, across Lake Moore.

History Located 497 km north of Perth, Yalgoo is a tiny settlement on the road from Geraldton to Mount Magnet. The appeal of the town is that it is genuinely historic. There’s very little left of this once thriving town and what does remain is old and pretty much untouched. There is an endearing old world charm about the place.

Typically there is some confusion over the origin of the town’s name with some sources claiming that it is derived from an Aboriginal word yalguru meaning blood, thus suggesting that the area was connected with initiation rites. Other sources, however, suggest that the name comes from Eyalgru meaning bloodwood.

Europeans passed through the area as early as 1854 but it wasn’t until the 1870s that pastoralists moved in with sheep and cattle.

The area was first settled in the early 1890s when prospectors travelled through the region on their way to the Murchison goldrush towns of Cue and Mount Magnet. In 1892 five prospectors – Knight, Parsons, Rice, Moxon and Evans – discovered gold at Yalgoo and established the fabulously rich Emerald Reward Mine on a site which is now just behind the Shire Council offices. Yalgoo was declared a separate goldfield in 1895 and by the following year it had become a thriving town with 7 hotels serving a vast tent city.

The town continued to grow. In 1898 the railway line from Mullewa to Yalgoo was opened. It closed in 1978 but the station (on the south side of town) is still in near¬perfect condition. The town continued to prosper until about 1903 when the gold started to dwindle. In 1908 the Emerald Reward mine was closed down.

Since then it has been steadily in decline so that now it is a tiny settlement based around a shire office which administers nearly 3.5 million hectares of country where large sheep stations and speculative mining operations are the major industries. Yalgoo really has three major attractions. The Court House Museum, the Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth and Thundarella Station.

People wishing to know more about Yalgoo should refer to Alex Palmer¹s book Yalgoo published by Lap Industries, 18 Chalmers Street, Fremantle (it is available at Thundarella Station) and the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Trail booklet.

Yalgoo is an Aboriginal name first recorded for Yalgoo Peak by the surveyor John Forrest in 1876. The name is said to mean “blood” or “place of blood”, derived from the word “Yalguru”. An alternative view is that it is derived from the Yalguru bush which abounds in the area, and has blood red sap.

The spelling Yalgu was used because of spelling rules for Aboriginal names adopted by the Lands & Surveys Department (the letter u best representing the “oo” sound). Within a month the Lands & Surveys had decided reluctantly to use the original Yalgoo spelling, and this spelling has been used ever since. Some doubt about the spelling being officially changed resulted in an amendment from Yalgu to Yalgoo being gazetted in 1938.

The name Yalgoo is used as a name for a crater on the planet Mars, without specifically commemorating the town.

Yalgoo has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild to cool winters.

Just six hours north of Perth, or two hours east of Geraldton, Yalgoo is the ideal place to start your outback adventure. This historic mining town is the closest base for an outback experience from Western Australia’s capital.

Yalgoo’s rich gold mining heritage and many working sheep stations, a lot of which are now open for farm stays, make it a perfect escape for a true Aussie holiday. Catching glimpses of Australian wildlife, from kangaroos and emus to the large bungarra lizards, you can tap into the real Australia, making it an experience you will never forget.

Getting to and from Yalgoo, the main roads are two lane, sealed surfaces, ensuring a comfortable outback drive. When you get to town, you will find fuel, camping and food supplies to replenish your stocks, along with invaluable local knowledge on where and when to visit the local attractions.

Things to see:

Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth
Yalgoo also has one of the most interesting and unusual of all the church buildings constructed by the famous Western Australian architect¬priest Monsignor John Hawes. Between 1915¬ and 1939 Hawes designed and helped to build a large number of churches and church buildings in the Central West.

When Hawes arrived in Yalgoo, shortly after he had arrived in Western Australia from Europe, he was overwhelmed by the heat and isolation of the town. In a letter to a friend he described how he just flopped about and struggled to exist.

At the time Yalgoo was a small gold mining town in decline. In 1920 Hawes designed the wood and stone Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth for the Dominican Sisters who were working in the town. Not only did Hawes design the building but he regularly travelled by horseback from Mullewa to oversee the construction and to work as a labourer for the local builder.

Local Heritage Architecture

Railway Station Complex Railway Station Group has a close association with the expansion of the Midwest Region due to the success of the Murchison and Yalgoo goldfields at the end of the nineteenth century.

The design of the railway station building and the fact that it was the largest on the Murchison line reflects the confidence the Government of Western Australia had in the development of the town and region.

Yalgoo Railway Station Group is representative of the late nineteenth century work of the Public Works Department, under the direction of Chief Architect John Grainger, when infrastructure works were occurring at a rapid rate in an attempt to keep pace with the rapid influx of population and the need to transport mineral ore, livestock and other goods.

Courthouse Museum
Courthouse Museum The Court House, which was moved from Day Dawn near Cue in 1921, is now a museum with displays of old photographs, lots of gold rush history, the usual displays of old domestic items and some interesting Aboriginal artifacts from the local area.

Next to the Courthouse, the community has restored the old Yalgoo police station and jail. The old jail and police station were built in the town in 1896 and although the cells are very small they were a vast improvement on the stick and chain method previously used for incarceration.

Gold Townships in South Australia


Birdwood is a town near Adelaide, South Australia. It is located in the Adelaide Hills Council local government area.


Origin of the name
Formerly known as Blumberg, the German town name was anglicized during World War I, along with many others in the region in 1917. The new name honoured Sir William Birdwood, the Australian Imperial Force general who led the ANZACs at Gallipoli. The original name’s origins are uncertain, but Prussian settlers originating from a village of that same name is the most likely source.

European settlement
Migrants who had temporarily settled at Lobethal began looking for land of their own in 1848. Pastor Fritzsch recommended this spot beside the Torrens, where he camped on the way to Bethany. Birdwood grew with homes on land leased from G F Angas and a church some distance away. The town prospered by the 1850s, and the area was producing enough grain to justify the construction of the Blumberg Flour Mill (now the site of the motor museum). In 1865, during the local gold rush, the Blumberg Inn was built.

Rail history
Birdwood once had a train station on the Mount Pleasant train line at 44.13 miles (71 km) from Adelaide. The line came via Balhannah and was not a very direct route. The line was closed during one of the rail reformations as it was not a very profitable line, probably due to the more direct Adelaide-Mannum road. The track is now long gone but the earthworks can still be seen along the edges of the Birdwood flat to Mount Torrens and towards Mount Pleasant. Also still standing is an old stone railway bridge near Mount Torrens.

Birdwood sits on a crossroads between the Adelaide-Mannum Road, the road leading north towards Williamstown and the Barossa Valley, and the road leading south towards Lobethal, Hahndorf and the South Eastern Freeway.
At the ABS 2006 census, Birdwood had a population of 1,127.
1870 – Gold discovered at Birdwood (SA) and copper at Cobar (NSW).

Birdwood has a government-operated primary (opened 1878) and high school (opened 1909), small supermarket, a few delicatessens and antique shops. A number of churches have formed part of the history of the town, including the Roman Catholic Church near the sports grounds, the nearby Lutheran church and cemetery which is just beyond the town limits; the United Church in the centre of town, which united long before the Uniting Church formed, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church further along Shannon Street.

Birdwood is also home to the National Motor Museum (in what used to be the Old Mill), and is the endpoint of the annual Bay to Birdwood run, in which vintage motor vehicles are driven by their owners from Glenelg past the city and through the hills to finish at the museum where a festival is held. The museum was started by Jack Kaines and Len Vigar in 1964, and was purchased by the South Australian Government in 1976, holding a large and historically important collection of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles.

Just north of Birdwood is the Cromer Conservation Park, proclaimed in 1976, with an open-forest formation of long-leafed box with Pink Gum and an open woodland formation of Red Gum, which forms an important habitat for honeyeaters. Mining for yellow ochre occurred in the park during the 1800s. There are no formal walking trails or visitor facilities.

It is also home to Birdwood High School which has over 700 students and Birdwood Primary school with about 200 students.

The area is not serviced by Adelaide public transport. A coach is operated from Tea Tree Plaza Interchange to Gumeracha and Mount Pleasant by Link SA.

Birdwood was once served by a railway to Mount Pleasant, but this line closed in 1953.Birdwood has a lot of through traffic, and a traffic calming device was installed at the Adelaide end of town to discourage speeding. A significant number of road accidents occur on the Adelaide-Mannum Road, and the sites of these are marked with red and black posts.


Echunga is a small town in the Adelaide Hills located 34 km south-east of Adelaide in South Australia. The area was initially settled in 1839, with the town laid out in 1849. Gold was discovered in 1852 and Echunga became the first proclaimed goldfield in South Australia.

This led to a gold rush, however it did not last long with the diggings exhausted and all but abandoned within a year. Subsequent discoveries in 1853 and 1854 led to smaller and equally short-lived rushes. In 1868 more gold was discovered at nearby Jupiter Creek, which proved to be a much larger and long-lived field.

The town reputedly takes its name from an Kaurna word ‘eechungga’ which may mean either ‘a short distance’ or ‘close by’. For a brief time Echunga prospered and it has been estimated that at its peak it had grown to a population in excess of 1,200. Today Echunga is a sleepy little town. Echunga is part of Battunga Country.

The first European settlers came to Echunga in 1839 when wealthy English Quaker, John Barton Hack, purchased a Special Survey, The Three Brothers.

In 1839 John Hagen, a wealthy English Quaker, decided that Echunga would be an ideal location for a Quaker settlement.

John Barton Hack established an English style estate with dairy herds, fields of wheat, orchards and 12 acres of grapes.

The vineyard Hack had planted continued to yield good quality grapes and it is possible that the first South Australian wine to be exported was an Echunga hock which was served to Queen Victoria in 1845.

John Barton Hack (his name is still recalled in the Hack Ranges) was bankrupted in 1843 and his extensive estate was taken over by Jacob Hagen.

By 1848, Jacob Hagen had divided a portion of his land into township allotments and the first building, the village inn, was built. The inn was replaced by the current building, the Hagen Arms, in 1857 Echunga’s main building of significance

Hagen retired to England in late 1854 and his estate was managed by George Sanders. After Hagen’s death in 1869, his daughter inherited the property.

The town takes its name, reputedly, from an Aboriginal word ‘eechungga’ which may mean either ‘a short distance’ or ‘close by’.

The gold rushes of the 1850s led to miners pouring into the valley, particularly to Jupiter Creek. The discovery of gold at Chapman’s Gully in 1852 was the first in South Australia and caused considerable excitement. For a brief time the town prospered and it has been estimated that at its peak it had grown to a population in excess of 1200.

By the turn of the century the Echunga Goldfields had become South Australia’s major producer of gold, mainly won from an area extending from the initial find at Chapmans Gully southwards down Long Gully to Jupiter Creek. The Jupiter Creek diggings have an estimated production of between 25,000 and 50,000 ounces of gold. Little remains of the Jupiter Creek diggings. The temporary nature of the store and miner’s dwellings, plus the need to recover some of the assets of failed companies, resulted in rapid disappearance of all but some stonework and the diggings themselves.

Other Significant Buildings
St Mary’s Church, the oldest building in the village. Services commenced in 1851 and it is still an active church 155 years on.
The former school and schoolmaster’s residence 1862 (private residence).
Former Coaching Station – stables, office and ostler’s residence (private residence).
Former Police Station (private residence).

The Echunga Uniting 1884 is located in Adelaide Rd, Echunga. Echunga is a vibrant and dynamic family oriented church which caters for all ages. Sunday worship is 10am and includes children?s and youth programs. There are many activities, something for everyone, including Kids Clubs, Craft Group, Home Fellowship Groups, Bible Study Groups, Youth Group and Prayer Groups.
Old butcher’s shop (private residence).

The Echunga Memorial Institute, one of the few halls in South Australia still owned and operated by the community. Home to a monthly market and monthly old-style dance.


Gawler is the first country town in the state of South Australia, and is named after the second Governor (British Vice-Regal representative) of the colony of South Australia, George Gawler.

It is 44 km north of the centre of the state capital, Adelaide, and is close to the major wine producing district of the Barossa Valley. Topographically, Gawler lies at the confluence of two tributaries of the Gawler River, the North and South Para rivers, where they emerge from a range of low hills.

A British colony, South Australia was established as a commercial venture by the South Australia Company through the sale of land to free settlers at £1 per acre (£2/9/5d per hectare). Gawler was established through a 4,000-acre (1,600 ha) “special survey” applied for by Henry Dundas Murray and John Reid and a syndicate of ten other colonists.

The town plan was devised by the colonial surveyor William Light, and was the only town planned by him other than Adelaide. William Jacob used Light’s plans and laid out the town.

Adelaide became a model of foresight with wide streets and ample parklands. After Light’s death, it also became a model for numerous other planned towns in South Australia (many of which were never built). As the only other town planned by Light, Gawler is dissimilar to Adelaide’s one square mile (2.6 km²) grid; the heart of Gawler is triangular rather than square, a form dictated by the topographical features.

The parkland along the riverbanks and a Victorian preference for public squares are present, but Light was aware that he was planning a village, not a metropolis.

Gawler prospered early with the discovery of copper nearby at Kapunda and Burra, which resulted in Gawler becoming a resting stop to and from Adelaide. Later, it developed industries including flour milling and manufacturing steam locomotives.

With prosperity came a modest cultural flowering, (“The colonial Athens” was its nickname in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), the high point of which was the holding of a competition to compose an anthem for Australia in 1859, four decades before nationhood.

The result was the Song Of Australia, written by Caroline J Carleton to music by Carl Linger. This became, in the next century, a candidate in a national referendum to choose a new National Anthem for Australia to replace God Save the Queen – the latter being omitted from the list since it was too popular and the Labor Party wanted it changed.

Gawler had a horse street tram service from 1879 to 1931.

Gawler is a commercial centre for the Mid-North districts of South Australia and, increasingly, a dormitory town for Adelaide.

The hit Australian television program about the McLeod sisters, McLeod’s Daughters, was shot at “Kingsford”, a working property outside Gawler’s northeastern fringe.

Former Australian cricketer Darren Lehmann was born in Gawler in 1970.


The Mongolata Goldfield in South Australia is a mine about 150km north-northeast of Adelaide. The Mongolata Goldfield is at an elevation of approximately 371m above sea level.

The depression of the 1930s increased the search for gold, and any other minerals once more. Numerous unemployed men took to the road humping their swags in the hope of finding gold or a job. During the previous years very little gold mining had been done.

Most fields were very quiet with only a few men prospecting, cleaning out, dry blowing or retreating old dumps. However as the economic depression deepened, many more men took to gold prospecting and the reopening of old mines.

With government assistance several prospecting parties were organised among the unemployed and some good finds were made. The best, and largest was at Mongolata, about twenty-five kilometres northeast of Burra.

The Mongolata area had been settled by the early 1870s when hopeful farmers grew potatoes but later changed to barley. At the end of the 1878 season they harvested forty bushels of barley to the acre. After that the rains were far and few between. However in May 1884 they received ‘splendid rains’ as much as 4.5 cm. It was reported that it would do ‘an immense amount of good for the wheat and the grass’.

A small community developed and for a short time there were enough children around for a school to be opened. Emily Laura Cameron was the last teacher before the school closed in 1899. By this time farm sizes had become much bigger and fewer people remained in the area.

It was at Mongolata that a claim was staked by Henry A. Byles, a drover, after he found some gold in November 1930. He was granted an eighteen acre lease and started a drive into the hillside. As usual, news spread quickly and by the end of the year seven additional claims had been applied for. By February 1931, more than fifty men were prospecting the field. At its peak more than 120 men were actively working the field.

Early August 1931 Chief Inspector of Mines, Louis Winton visited the field and reported rich specimens of ore from some of the openings but they were rather patchy. There was also a problem during the treatment of the ore as the gold did not readily almalgamate. However the value of the tailings of the battery was high but cyaniding was indispensable. So far 37 tons had been treated yielding 136 oz.

Having mined about twelve tons of ore, Byles transported it to the Peterborough Government Battery and Cyanide Works were it was treated and yielded seventy-three ounces of gold. A total of 863 ounces were obtained from these works by the different mines at Mongolata.

Later in August 1931 the Government Geologist, L. Keith Ward, also visited the field. He reported that although it was in its early stages a considerable amount of work had already been done. He advised that provisions for a water supply were essential and should be investigated without delay.

Last but not least he wrote that ‘We are strongly of the opinion that the serious efforts of those men who are working on rations, provided by the Unemployment Relief Council, is deserving of full recognition’.

With the assistance of funds from the Commonwealth Unemployment Relief, Forward Down & Co erected a ten head battery in 1932 to encourage employment on the field. By the end of 1932 the government battery and cyanide plant were completed and trials conducted. Premier Richards officially opened it on 2 March 1933. During the first eighteen months it produced four thousand ounces of gold.

The start of the battery reduced transport costs considerably and made it possible to mine lower grade ores as well. Work was now continued in a much more professional manner. The Mongolata Gold Mining Syndicate was formed with a capital of £500 to develop the mine. Eight men were employed in sinking a shaft, extending the original drive and work part of the property by open cut method.

In March 1932 the Mongolata Gold Mining Syndicate was reorganised and became the Byles’ Mongolata Gold Mining Company, which was later able to pay dividends to its shareholders, something very few gold mines had done so far. The mine employed fifteen men in 1932. There were also a number of different companies working the field.

Among them the Mongolata No1, Mongolata No2, Mongolata Block 8, Mongolata Alluvial Gold Mining Company, Mongolata Central, Mongolata South, Burra Mongolata, Curlew Gold Mining Syndicate, Wildildie, Mount Edith Claim, Black Hill, East View, Golden Harp, Rampton’s Lease, Pinnaroo Gold Mining Syndicate, Baldina Gold Mining Syndicate, Terry’s Claim and the Takati Gold Mine. This last one was owned by William Rexton who worked it with the help of his sons from 1932 until 1942.

Most of these companies had sunk one or more shafts, tunnels or drives and several had obtained a little gold. At the Curlew, H. Lewis found gold in a small gully near a newly dug tunnel. Byles’ Mongolata Company took over The Golden Harp after a few months and found good gold. During the first six months of 1933 it produced 398 ounces. At the Takati, on section 23, 154 ounces were handpicked from the ore before it was treated at Peterborough. This company had a poppet head erected above its main shaft for the removal of the ore.

By mid 1933 the Mongolata field had produced 2038 ounces of gold. It seemed large and prosperous enough for some time for an area to be surveyed for permanent residents and a few businesses, including Carpenter’s Eating and Boarding House.

Some miners though preferred to live in dugouts on the mine site, or in the side of the creek, like the original miners at Burra. Doing it that way they saved time, effort and building materials for one or even two walls. It also provided insulation against the summer heat and winter cold.

A tense moment in 1934 during which all eyes were on Mr J. Morgan, the manager of the new show, as he panned some dirt for the first time searching for little specks which meant so much to the prospector.

Within a few years most of the gold deposits had been located although some very rich but isolated patches were found occasionally. Only a few companies were able to keep going, seldom employing more than a few men. During 1936 there were only thirty-five men working for the different companies. However Byles’ Mongolata mine had by this stage produced gold to the value of more than £25,000. Gold had been produced from a number of shallow workings below the old open cut.

During 1937 the mine was modernised, the vertical shaft deepened and headgear installed. However no gold produced. By this time the Curlew mine had produced 1215 ounces of gold and the East View 443 ounces. Byles’ Mongolata produced about one hundred ounces of gold in 1947.

By the end of 1936 most miners had left as very little gold was produced by any of them. By the end of 1938 the Mongolata Battery had produced 8,980 ounces of gold. In 1945 L.L. Mansfield, Inspector of Mines, wrote, ‘The Mongolata Field is a gouger’s proposition only, and will no doubt continue to attract this type of miner and more rich packets will probably be unearthed’.

Unfortunately this has not been the case and the battery closed down in 1954 having produced more than ten thousand ounces of gold. Mongolata accounted for 350 kg of gold.

It is still worked today on a very small scale with extra income provided by tourists.

Mount Crawford

Mount Crawford is a hill in South Australia approximately 15 km north of Birdwood, in the Mount Lofty Ranges. It also refers to the Mount Crawford Forest which is a grouping of several government forest lands in the area, the largest encompassing the area around Mount Crawford – others are to the west at Mount Gawler and south around Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Creek Dam.

The Barossa Valley is directly to the north.

The forest headquarters and an information centre are located near Mount Crawford. Most of the timber grown are pine trees, though there are some native eucalypt plantations. The Heysen Trail passes through the forests.

An alluvial goldrush occurred in the area in the late nineteenth century, and fossicking still goes on in the area today. The forests are also popularly used for recreational purposes, with school fairs and camps being held there, along with a rally car race.

Fossicking for gold, diamonds, opal, garnet and other gems is one of the more unusual recreational opportunities offered by Mount Crawford Forest.

Mount Crawford Forest is in an historic mining area of the Adelaide Hills.

You’ll find a network of roads and trails within the forest is used extensively by bushwalkers, cyclists and horse riders, and picnicking and camping facilities are provided.

The Indigenous name for Mount Crawford is unknown. The mount was named in 1839 by Charles Sturt after James Coutts Crawford (1817–1889). Crawford had a Royal Navy background. He and his drovers arrived overland from NSW in April 1839 with 700 cattle, setting up a hut and cattle run at the base of the mount. Crawford soon moved on to be a pioneer of Wellington, New Zealand.

In February 1840 Crawford’s hutkeeper, an old soldier, was bailed up by bushrangers Curran, Hughes, and Fox, who robbed his arms and rations. Curran and Hughes were executed by hanging at Adelaide on 16 March 1840 for an armed robbery committed earlier near Gawler.

The pioneer families during the first decades of closer settlement included surnames such as Coleman, Hammat, Rankine, Polden, Murray, Warren, and Whyte. The subsequent history was one of mining and pastoralism, until being largely replaced by forestry and recreation activities.


Tarcoola is a town in the Far North of South Australia 416 kilometres (258 mi) north-northwest of Port Augusta. At the 2006 census, Tarcoola had a population of 38.

Tarcoola is taken from a non-local aboriginal language from an area around Tarcoola Station in NSW; it means river bend.

A former goldmining town, it now marks the junction of the standard gauge railway from Adelaide, with one line continuing north to Darwin, and the other turning west to Perth. The town is served by the twice-weekly trains run by Great Southern Railway, The Ghan (running between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin) and the Indian Pacific (running between Sydney and Perth. Each train stops twice a week heading in each direction at the railway station.

All mail for Tarcoola also arrives by train.

Location: 416 km north-northwest of Port Augusta Origin of name: The name, assigned when the town was proclaimed on February 21, 1901, was taken from the nearby Tarcoola Goldfields, which in turn had been named after Tarcoola the winner of the 1893 Melbourne Cup horse race. The horse Tarcoola had been raised on Tarcoola Station on the Darling River. Tarcoola in the local aboriginal language around Tarcoola Station means river bend.

Brief history
Gold was discovered in the Tarcoola area by a shearing-shed hand and prospector named Nichols in October 1893. The attention of other prospectors was drawn to the area and further discoveries were made. The Tarcoola Goldfield was worked from 1900 to 1912 and sporadically thereafter until the present day.

Total recorded production is 2 400 kg. The nearby Glenloth Goldfield (1899) produced about 315 kg.

Tarcoola was originally surveyed and laid out into 330 allotments. The town served as a service centre for trains on the east-west rail line across the Nullarbor until 1998, after which rail services and crew changes were increasingly facilitated from Port Augusta and Tarcoola began to be progressively closed down.

Today there are only two people living permanently in Tarcoola while relief and maintenance crews use the railway quarters during the working week.

Tarcoola Post Office opened on 18 August 1900 and the town was proclaimed on 21 February 1901. The name was taken from the nearby Tarcoola Goldfields, which in turn had been named after Tarcoola the winner of the 1893 Melbourne Cup horse race, the year gold was discovered in the area. The horse Tarcoola had been raised on Tarcoola Station on the Darling River.

There were 2000 people living on the gold fields by 1900 and there was even a town plan surveyed just north of the junction in 1915. In the present, only the hotel and a few houses remain in use.

The original Tarcoola goldfields are long closed, however there is now new exploration for minerals in the wider area, including the Challenger Mine. Tarcoola is now best known as the junction of the Sydney-Perth and Adelaide-Darwin railways.

The town is served by trains run by Great Southern Railway, The Ghan, running between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin and the Indian Pacific, running between Sydney and Perth. Both trains run once a week all year, and twice a week at various times. The mail for Tarcoola arrives by train.

Tarcoola is in the South Australian House of Assembly electoral district of Giles and the Australian House of Representatives Division of Grey.

Tarcoola has a desert climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters and sparse rainfall throughout the year.

You’ll find the locality of Tarcoola Goldfield in South Australia about 600km northwest of Adelaide (show me). Tarcoola Goldfield is at an altitude of approximately 156m. Tarcoola Goldfield is one of the westernmost localities in South Australia. The nearest ocean is the Southern Ocean about 180km south-southwest of Tarcoola Goldfield.


Teetulpa Gold Field is located in east South Australia a distance of about 310km north-northeast from Adelaide (show me). Teetulpa Gold Field is at an elevation of approximately 296m above sea level.

Teetulpa Gold Field is one of the easternmost localities in South Australia. The nearest ocean is the Southern Ocean about 170km west-southwest of Teetulpa Gold Field.

It was at Teetulpa where more gold was found than anywhere else at that time. Teetulpa had the largest number of diggers of any field at any time in the history of South Australian gold discoveries. By the end of 1886 there were more than five thousand men on the field. Some newspapers claimed as many as seven thousand, but admitted that many may have been interested visitors mainly from Adelaide.

Before the year’s end the field had its own post office which processed 34,000 letters during the month of December alone. The telegraph was connected, a Miners’ Benefit Lodge started, a bank opened, sly grog shops by the dozen were doing a roaring trade, church services were conducted for different denominations and it had the usual dust storms, thieves, claim-jumpers and typhoid.

It also had a hospital where Dr. Richardson treated his patients without equipment or furniture but with the assistance of Mrs Stevenson, an experienced nurse from the Burra hospital. Even so, before the end of December five people had died on the field. When both equipment and furniture had arrived a few months later, miners still died from typhoid, including three young men from Yorke Peninsula who had only been on the field about six weeks.

Brady’s Gully, named after one of the original discoverers, and Windlass Hill were some of the most rewarding areas at Teetulpa. Discovered on 5 October 1886 by Thomas Brady, a farmer of Lancelot, and Thomas Smith, the field had already two thousand diggers before the end of the month when it was visited by Ranger J.H. Siggings. Within a few days Hill & Co. provided coach services, leaving Mannahill every morning from the railway station, for the gold fields.

Stories of great fortunes attracted men from many of the depressed rural towns but also from Wallaroo, Moonta, Victoria and even New Zealand.

The discovery created a welcome trade for shopkeepers who provided all the equipment, ranging from picks, shovels, cradles, tents, panning dishes, canned food, flour and clothes, needed by the thousands of diggers.

Although the field was not as isolated as some of the others, the diggers still faced many hardships. Lack of water and firewood added to these. The lack of water at first also slowed down the panning of the alluvial gold and diggers had to resort to dry blowing. This lasted until the government obtained the use of a nearby dam and well for this purpose. During the next month the government provided the labour of fifty unemployed men to dig a Government Dam which was completed in ten days.

By December the Water Conservation Department was building two condensers which would supply 27,000 litres of fresh water daily. They were completed in February 1887. Clean, fresh water was needed badly as there were thirty cases of typhoid reported that month alone. On 27 February three men died of it.

On its first day of trading, just before Christmas, the bank bought 240 ounces of gold from the miners. It continued to do so for a long time even though many diggers preferred to sell their gold in Adelaide or Melbourne where it commanded a higher price. Many of the men traded their hard earned cash or newly found gold for drink and drunkenness was common. After several well-attended meetings, to allow the sale of alcohol on the field, publicans’ licences were granted to six men in 1887 to open a hotel on the field.

During the Christmas holiday break it was reported that, ‘Some exceedingly discreditable scenes have been witnessed at various times owing to the large number of sly grog shops. Men can get drunk without the slightest difficulty by visiting one place after another.

At midday a disgraceful exhibition took place in the main street where two drunken men, with nothing on but their trousers, were fighting and yelling’. On 10 February Henry C. Swan J.P. was appointed Special Magistrate at Teetulpa.

The gold at Teetulpa naturally attracted the hope, and money, from many people. Not being able to find any gold at home, it did not stop some enterprising Farina men putting several hundred dollars together to test a reef at Teetulpa and work it for six months. In October 1887 they decided to float the Mount Victoria Gold Mine to be managed by H. Mottram who had previous mining experience in the Farina area.

Gold Townships in Victoria

Ballarat East

Ballarat East, is a suburb of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. Ballarat East covers a large area east (and also north) of the CBD.

It is the oldest area in Ballarat and was once also a municipality known as the Ballarat East Town Council between 1859 and 1921. The population of Ballarat East at the 2006 census was 4,995 making it the fifth most populated in the Ballarat urban area.

The discovery of the Ballarat goldfield in 1851 led to heavy immigration. In 1854, in their resistance of an arbitrary tax, gold miners in the area came into armed conflict with the authorities. A commission was appointed to investigate their grievances and a charter was granted to the town in 1855. Ballarat East Post Office opened on 1 December 1857 and was replaced by the Bakery Hill office in 1992.

The Ballarat East goldfield, which consisted of three distinct areas known as Ballarat East, Ballarat West and Nerrina, produced over 1.9 million ounces of gold from vein systems and over 16 million ounces from adjacent alluvial deposits.

At the turn of the twentieth century, these alluvial goldfields were the richest ever opened. As these surface deposits were exhausted, the quartz reefs at deep levels were exploited and several mines worked at depths exceeding 600 metres.

Main Street developed into the principal commercial area in the Ballarat district. Its mostly tents and timber buildings were destroyed by a series of fires during the 1860s and the commercial area shifted to the planned area of Ballarat West, specifically Sturt and Lydiard Streets.

Municipal status, Town Hall and Civic Centre
Ballarat East Town Hall (now demolished) in 1862

Ballarat East was one of the first areas of Ballarat to gain municipal status. In 1859 the newly formed Ballarat East Town Council acquisioned land in what was to become the Barkly Street civic area and in 1861 Dec 26 the foundation stone was laid for the Ballarat East Town Hall which was built in a Renaissance Revival architecture style and set in formal gardens.

It was completed the following year along with the Ballarat East Free Library next door and the Ballarat fire station, a new headquarters for the fire brigade formed in 1856) was erected a few years later in 1864.

Ballarat East had its own railway station in the 1860s (only the goods sheds remain), built shortly after Ballarat West’s station. It became an important junction for branch lines before being closed in the 1960s and its platforms demolished.

The East Ballarat Town Council was amalgamated with Ballarat West Town Council in 1920-1921 to become the City of Ballarat. After this time there was indecision as to how to use the old hall.

In 1927 the Ballarat Teachers College moved there however during the great depression the town hall was mostly unused and was finally demolished in 1936 after years of speculation of its use as a girls school or headquarters for the Ballarat Historical Society.

The gates to the Town Hall’s once extensive gardens remain.