Kambalda is a small mining town, founded in 1897 during the goldrush frenzy. It is split into two townsites 4 kilometers apart, Kambalda East and Kambalda West. The town was deserted by 1908 due to the closure of the Red Hill Gold Mine but came alive again during the 1960's nickel boom, which resulted in the discovery of one of the world's largest nickel sulphide deposits in the area, and the opening of Australia's first nickel mine.

Kambalda was reborn.

Today, gold mining is once again a major industry in Kambalda with Gold Fields St Ives, the second largest gold mining operation in Australia, a major player. But Kambalda has much more to offer. You can experience the panoramic views and shimmering silver of massive Lake Lefroy, host to spectacular Land Sailing events, or enjoy the local flora and fauna on the Red Hill Walking Trail to the lookout. There are picnic and camping facilities at outback nature reserves, with some striking granite outcrops, rain sculptured caves, dams and a diversity of landscapes.

There are shopping and banking facilities and an abundance of recreational activities, land sailing, golf, bush walking, rock climbing and boot scooting! The popular Nickeltown Ute, Car and Bike show is held annually in October and the perennial family favourite, Kambalda Christmas Tree in December.

The Nullarbor Links hole 3 can be found at Kambalda Golf Club.

For more information, contact the Kambalda Tourist Information Centre on (08) 9080 2115.


Photo courtesy of Toon Menken



On September 17, 1892, Arthur Bayley rode into Southern Cross with 554 ounces of gold that he and his partner, William Ford, had found at an area called Fly Flat, 120 miles to the east of that town. Within hours of the pair registering their claim, a frenzied rush began for Coolgardie, starting the biggest movement of people in Australian history.

Just six months later, there were thousands of people living in tents on the Goldfields and the population of Western Australia had increased by 400%. Given the distance from Perth, the conditions of transportation and negotiable roadways, the droves of people travelled the 550kms any way they could, by bicycle, dray, horse, or walking, carrying their belongings on their backs. However, while some found gold, many only found hardship, sickness and death, as the booming settlement suffered the associated rigours of inadequate housing, fresh water, food, medical supplies and attention.

Within a decade, Coolgardie became WA's third largest town with a population of 16,000, and many more thousands living in areas surrounding the township. This extraordinary development was the impetus for the development of the Goldfields Water Scheme and the Eastern Goldfields Railway, two factors which were vital in the economic and social development of the Eastern Goldfields. While the surface gold ran out and the original mine, Bayley's Reward, closed in 1963, Coolgardie has retained many of its magnificent buildings associated with its rich and colourful past. 

Today, Coolgardie offers tourists a fabulous heritage precinct.  There is plenty to see and do in and around Coolgardie and visitors should allow at least a day to ensure they don't miss the Goldfields Exhibition Museum, Railway Museum, Warden Finnerty's Residence, Pioneer and Coolgardie Cemeteries, Ben Prior's Park and a walk along Bayley Street to view the heritage architecture.

Then there are a multitude of day trips such as the Cave Hill Nature Reserve, Burra Rocks, Mt Burgess (the Gorge featuring remains of an extinct volcano), Kunanalling Hotel ruins, Widgiemooltha's Larkinville Mine (where the largest gold nugget ever found in WA was discovered in 1931), Victoria Rocks, Rowles Lagoon and Jack Carins' Camp (where prospector Jack Carins lived in isolation for 30 years).

For more information, contact the Coolgardie Visitor Centre on (08) 9026 6090.


Coolgardie 1
Photo courtesy of Jessica Wood

Coolgardie 2
Photo courtesy of Jessica Wood



Norseman is located 190kms South of Kalgoorlie, 191kms West of Balladonia and 204kms North of the Esperance.

The history of Norseman is very much tied to gold mining. Gold mining in the Norseman area began with the chance discovery of gold at nearby Lake Dundas in 1892. A gold rush soon began. Today however, the original Dundas fields lay abandoned.

According to local legend, the town was named after a horse. It is said that in 1894, a horse named "Hardy Norseman" was tethered to a tree for the night by its owner, Laurie Sinclair. Upon returning to his horse, Sinclair had the good fortune to discover that "Norseman" had unearthed a gold nugget. Since then, a rich history of gold mining has developed with numerous mines operating over the years and many ounces of gold being extracted.

Norseman is situated in the Great Western Woodlands which is the largest temperate woodlands left in the world. It has many unique eucalypt species and numerous native plants and animals. There are also stunning granite outcrops spread throughout and the Granite Woodlands Discovery Trail, linking Norseman and Wave Rock, meanders right through it. The Woodlands are perfect for walking, camping and exploring. Take the time to stop and enjoy when you visit Norseman.

Within the vicinity of Norseman, there are a number of attractions. Overlooking Norseman is the Beacon Hill Lookout. From the top, unique views of the surrounding countryside, salt lakes, township and a giant mine tailings dump can be seen. Be sure to check out cleverly constructed corrugated iron camels nestled on the main roundabout in Norseman. As tall as the average human being, these camel statues command your attention, and are a tribute to the early camel trains that carried freight to and from the town. 32kms to the South is Bromus Dam, a popular local swimming, camping and picnic spot. Buldania Rocks can be found 28kms East of Norseman and is also another popular picnic spot, especially in winter when the wildflowers really come to life! Norseman's Heritage Trail is located near Lake Dundas and offers the chance to explore the bush and artefacts from the Dundas Goldfield's pioneering years. Fraser Range Station is located 100kms East of Norseman and is still a working pastoral property, producing fat tailed Damara sheep.

The Nullarbor Links holes 4 and 5 can be found at the Norseman Golf Club.

For more information, contact the Norseman Visitor Centre on (08) 9039 1071.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Webb

Photo courtesy of Lynn Webb

Photo courtesy of Lynn Webb



Laverton, situated on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert, 360kms North East of Kalgoorlie Boulder, is one of Western Australia's remote inland townships. It is a land of contrasts with a range of natural, cultural and historic riches, it appeals to a huge range of visitors with a range of diverse interests. From rugged breakaway cliffs, to quiet, cool waterholes, from the magnificence of the wedge tail eagle, to the startling beauty of the Sturt Pea, Laverton is a welcome oasis for travellers crossing from Alice Springs on the Outback Highway, one of the world's greatest road journeys.

Originally established as the British Flag Mine in the goldrush 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.

It is where fortunes were won and lost. Laverton was a thriving district of gold strikes and mines in the early 1900's but later in the 1960's, the gold price flunctuated and almost reduced Laverton to a ghost town. The discovery of Nickel around this time, at the Mt Windarra mine, sparked the world famous Poseidon share surge with shares leaping from 80 cents to $280.00 in less than six months. But as so often happens in mining, the nickel ran out and Poseidon disappeared from the Stock Exchange.  

Today, the mine site has been rehabilitated into the Mt Windarra Heritage Trial and is one of many interesting attractions in the region. You can also visit the lonely ghost towns and cemeteries at Burtville (28kms) and at Mt Morgans (48kms), Laverton's historic police station and goal (built in 1900) or take your photo with the impressive statue of Dr Charles Laver and his bike. You can discover the subtle beauty and vivid colours of a desert wilderness and breakaway country alive with a diversity of acacia woodlands and flora, or explore a landscape rich with sites of Aboriginal culture and dreamtime stories. Many of Australia's great explorers passed through the Laverton region on their quest to discover new lands.

Laverton is also home to the Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame, which brings to life the characters and stories of several explorers who led expeditions in and around the area in the 19th century. Step back in time with notable explorers John Forrest and Ludwig Leichardt, eavesdrop on the horses of the inland as they recount their personal stories of hardship and bravery and learn about the valuable industries of our land. 

For more information, contact The Great Beyond Visitor Centre on (08) 9031 1361.

Photo courtesy of Maddy Armstrong


Leonora and Gwalia

John Forrest, the famous Western Australian explorer, who later became the first Premier of the State, named Mt Leonora when he camped near there on his search for the lost Leichardt expedition. Little did he realise the riches which lay beneath him. It was another 25 years before prospectors moved through the area and in 1896, the first claims were pegged and mining started soon after at Leonora and Gwalia.

The Sons of Gwalia mine was the major contributor to the area. The largest underground gold mine outside the Golden Mile, Sons of Gwalia operated continuously for 67 years until it closed in 1963.

An interesting part of the mines history is the fact that a 23-year-old mining engineer named Herbert Hoover was appointed mine manager in 1897, and commissioned the construction of a house as the mine manager's residence. Herbert Hoover later became the 31st President of the United States (1929-33) and the residence, which has recently been extensively renovated and upgraded, now serves as a quality bed and breakfast facility adjoining the Gwalia Museum.

The twin townships of Leonora and Gwalia were once joined by a 3.2km tram service which ferried workers and the general public between them. While mine workers no longer reside in Gwalia and the tram service is long gone, many of the original iron cottages in which they lived, remain today and there is plenty to see on a walk through the township including cottages and the State Hotel.

Malcolm Dam, 12kms out of Leonora, was built in 1902 to provide water for the railways and is a pleasant picnic spot. The Terraces, a beautiful breakaway formation on both sides of the Goldfields Highway, approximately 40kms North, offers some excellent views and bushwalks for the more adventurous. Prospecting is very much a favourite activity for many and there are still to this day, frequent reports of good strikes by enthusiasts and professionals armed with a little knowledge, plenty of luck and a metal detector.

The town hosts many of the Northern Goldfields events, from outback race meetings to the annual Golden Gift, a weekend of entertainment and athletics held on the Foundation Day long weekend in June.

For more information, contact the Leonora Tourist and Information Centre on (08) 9037 7016.

In the early 1970's, a group of residents from Lenora and Gwalia, formed a community Museum at Gwalia, located in the mine management precinct. A historical gallery, as well as other elements of the mine and town, were over time also incorporated into the museum. The Gwalia Ghost Town and Museum offers the opportunity to look at various aspects of mining history in the region, as well as a strong Italian influence brought about by a large contingent of Italian miners who worked and lived there. In addition to the townsite buildings, visitors can explore the Assay Office, Mine Manager's House, the headframe, woodline steam engines and the Leonora-Gwalia tram. Allow 1 to 3 hours to cover the museum precinct and then enjoy coffee, cake or lunch on the verandah of Hoover House. Open 9:00am to 4:00pm daily (excluding Christmas Day).

While some people have an appreciation for collecting stamps, trinkets, or shoes, the Goldfields are proud to feature Gwalia's Number Plate Collection, just one of the many stories on show from Gwalia's past.

For more information, visit www.gwalia.org.au

Gwalia 1
Photo courtesy of Brad Donaldson

Gwalia 2
Photo courtesy of Brad Donaldson

Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia



Established in 1896 as a result of a gold find by an American prospector, Leslie Robert Menzie, the area was originally known as the North Coolgardie Goldfields and at its height in the 1900's, there were more than a dozen mines, 13 hotels and 3 breweries. There was an estimated 10,000 people living within a five mile radius of the town.

But the cost of extracting gold could not be justified in the area and one by one, the big mines closed until commercial mining had all but ceased by 1910.

The railway proved something of a saviour for the township and it became a service town for a growing pastoral industry.

The Menzies Town Hall is one of the classic landmarks in the area. Apart from its architectural significance the clock tower was 'clockless' for 100 years after the ship reportedly carrying the new clock sank off Rottnest in 1905. A clock was installed in the tower in 2000, in time for the New Year celebrations.

For more information, contact the Menzies Visitor Centre on (08) 9024 2702.

Menzies 1
Photo courtesy of Jessica Wood

Menzies 2
Photo courtesy of Jessica Wood


Lake Ballard

Lake Ballard, just over 50 kilometres West of Menzies, has become the newest attraction for the region. It has created international attention for the 'Inside Australia' exhibition, created by Antony Gormley. He has created 51 figures, all derived from laser scans of the inhabitants of Menzies at the time, which are placed around a seven square kilometre area of the salt lake bed. The sculptures travelled 780kms from the foundry in Perth to the site on Lake Ballard, and it took a team of 18 volunteers, 4 days to install all 51 sculptures. This really is a sight to behold - its why we go on about it so much!

Lake Ballard is also a significant part of the region's salt lake system and is a breeding habitat for species of water fowl, the Banded Stilt. Due to Cyclone Bobby in 1995, the vast salt crusts had been covered in warm shallow water, the long dormant brine shrimp were once again hatching. There was then an unbelievable frenzy of activity with an estimated 4,500 nests within days. Birds seem to be bustling in every direction. This was a very rare occurrence having only occurred approximately seven times in 215 years at Lake Ballard.

Watch video of Antony Gormley Sculptures - Lake Ballard, Western Australia

Lake Ballard 1
Photo courtesy of Edwina Breingan

Photo courtesy of Cait Rakers


Ora Banda

Ora Banda is located approximately 70km from Kalgoorlie. In 1906, a township site was established near newly discovered ore bodies North West of Kalgoorlie. The town took its name from a nearby mine which was worked by the Weston brothers. Ora Banda, translated in Spanish, means band of gold. By 1910, there were approximately 2,000 miners and their families living in the area.  The town had 2 stores, 2 butchers, 2 bakers, a town hall, dining halls, a post office, a police station, churches and billiards saloon.

Constructed of brick and stone, the Ora Banda Inn was originally built in 1911 by Alfred Garnett when Ora Banda's prosperity seemed assured and thanks to numerous gold strikes within the area. The hotel traded for 40 years riding the wave as the Ora Banda mining boom fluctuated. But, by the late 1950's the hotel closed. It was restored again in 1981 and is currently operating. It is a very popular day trip from Kalgoorlie and well worth the drive for the gorgeous scenery, ice cold beer and authentic pub grub. Relax in a choice of 2 beer gardens while watching spectacular sunsets. If you're especially lucky, you might meet thirstly prospectors and see and touch real gold nuggets!

The grounds have 7 motel units and a caravan park which is now open with a new ablution block, and there are both powered and un-powered sites. Located next to the Ora Banda Historical Inn grounds is the old Government Battery, which used to process ore for the local prospectors and will soon be turned into a museum.


Kookynie and Niagra Dam

Kookynie is affectionately known as "A Living Ghost Town". It was first discovered by prospectors in 1895, one of whom was WA Miller, who took up the lease on the 25th June 1895.  Miller sold the lease to the Cosmopolitan Proprietary Ltd in 1897. This resulted in the virtual existence of Kookynie. In 1907, Kookynie had a population of 3,500, yet a hundred years later fewer than 20 people lived there. But Kookynie is far from "dead". People still live there and the population is actually growing!

Once upon a time, the town had 11 hotels, a host of businesses and facilities, a Town Hall, the first public swimming bath in the Goldfields, 7 brass bands, and even it's own brewery and 2 soft drink manufacturers. While much of this infrastructure is long gone, the memories remian, and an extensive interpretive project has captured the spirit of old Kookynie when it was a thriving community. The stories of the town have been captured on quality interpretive signage along Cumberland and Champion Streets. Former residents share their recollections via these panels, and pictures illustrate what once was, but is now gone.

Niagra Dam is also located within 20kms of Kookynie, and is a delightful place for a picnic or an overnight camp, but it is also a remarkable slice of history. The massive concrete wall was built in 1897 to provide water for the nearby town and the steam engines working the line, that was rapidly extending north toward Menzies. There are 3 designated camp sites, 2 toilets and BBQ facitilies are provided, but please bring your own firewood.

For more information, contact the Menzies Visitor Centre on (08) 9024 2702.

Photo courtesy of Maddy Armstrong

Kookynie and Niagra Dam 1
Photo courtesy of Maddy Armstrong



Lawrence Wells conducted the first European exploration of the Wiluna region in 1892 before prospectors Woodley, Wotten and Lennon first discovered gold near Wiluna on St Patrick's Day, 1896. The discovery of gold caused a gold rush to the area and the birth of the township of Wiluna.

The town of Wiluna was originally named Weeloona before the spelling of the name was later changed to Wiluna. The origin of the name Weeloona has not been determined, although it is thought to have been derived either from a native word meaning “Place of Winds” or the sound of the cry of some native curlew birds in the area.

Gold mining in the area caused the town to thrive and prosper, with the population growing to over nine thousand people by the mid 1930’s. At its peak, the town had a regular railway service to Perth, four hotels and many other amenities and facilities.

The beginning of World War II had a severe impact on the gold mining industry and in turn upon the population of the town of Wiluna. Immediately after the war underground mining ceased in the area and gold operations were wound down to virtually nothing. By 1953 only 357 people remained in the area and by 1963 the population had dwindled down even further to about 90 people.

In 1981 gold mining recommenced in the Wiluna area, which began the resurgence in the industry that continues today. The pastoral industry in the region is producing quality cattle and sheep and experimentation in some agricultural ventures has occurred with some success.

The population of the town of Wiluna has in recent years stabilised at about 300 including a large population of indigenous Australians. According to the last Census, there are now approximately 1644 people living in the Shire including several mining villages, which are run mainly on a “fly-in fly-out” basis.

For more information, contact the Wiluna Shire Office on (08) 9981 8000.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Wood

Photo courtesy of Maddy Armstrong