Do you like to visit abandoned places? We love the eerie and spooky atmosphere while walking around abandoned places. In Australia there are quite a lot of abandoned ghost towns, homesteads, mines and other buildings. Gwalia is a beautiful example of a ghost town from the gold rush in the Goldfields of Western Australia. Step back in time and discover the amazing ghost town Gwalia.
Gwalia became a ghost town virtually overnight when the goldmine “Sons of Gwalia” closed its doors end of 1963. At its peak in 1911, the mine was one of the largest gold mines in Australia and Gwalia had a population of over 1’000. After the mine closed, people moved on and the population dropped to about 40.
Today, Gwalia is a popular ghost town to visit in the Goldfields area of Western Australia. It’s a well preserved example of the many gold rush towns that came and went again. It’s a great place to spend some hours wandering through history and learn more about the harsh conditions the mining families faced.
What can you see in the ghost town of Gwalia?
The local community puts a lot of effort and hard work into preserving the ghost town and the wealth of heritage of Gwalia. The buildings of the ghost town are in very good conditions and in some cottages it feels almost as somebody is still living here.
Ghost Town of Gwalia Historical Precinct
For us wandering around this area with the old miner’s cottages is the best part of our visit to the ghost town of Gwalia. It’s amazing to see how tiny and basic some of the cottages are. It must have been very tough to live in these houses during hot and cold weather.
Gwalia Historical Museum
The museum sits on top of a small hill, overlooking the miner’s cottages and the open pit of the active gold mine. The museum was founded in the early 1970’s and includes the three remaining brick buildings, the Hoover House, the Mine Office Building and the Assay Building as well as three new buildings containing a mix of mining related machinery and artifacts from the original Sons of Gwalia Mine and the ghost town of Gwalia.
Within the museum you can also see the massive head frame. This head frame together with the steam winder was used to haul the skips filled with ore out of the shaft of the gold mine.
The Hoover House (Mine Managers House)
This house has been designed and built by Herbert Hoover in 1898. Today the Hoover House is a Bed and Breakfast and you can stay in one of the three rooms, have lunch or an afternoon tea on the verandah of the Hoover House.
Open Pit Lookout
There are two lookouts, in the area of the museum, providing great views into the open pit of the present day mining operations. The open pit is almost 300 meters deep and almost 1 kilometer wide. The actual mining operation is taking place much deeper via a decline tunnel.
Lookout on Mt Leonora
Climb Mt Leonora to enjoy the beautiful view of the ghost town of Gwalia and Leonora.
The history of the ghost town Gwalia
Gold was discovered in the “Sons of Gwalia” reef in 1896. After gold was discovered, the London based firm Bewick, Moreing and Coy operated the mine and they sent the young American mining engineer Herbert Hoover to lead the operation in Gwalia. This Herbert Hoover later became the 31st President of the United States of America.
The Sons of Gwalia mine operated from 1896 to 1963, when it closed down on the 21st of December. Gwalia attracted people from all over the world for gold and its promise of wealth. A substantial amount of the immigrant workers came from Italy and Yugoslavia. They lived in simple cottages made from timber and corrugated iron.
At its peak in 1911, Gwalia had a population of 1’114 and had stores, a school, guest houses and a hotel. After the Sons of Gwalia closed its doors, most of the workers disappeared in search of work on other mines. The hotel closed one year later and the number of residents shrunk to 40. Today, the town still has a population of around 15 to 20.
In 2005 the mining company St. Barbara bought the mine and started developing a new operation before they started operations and mining of gold again in 2008.
Info about the ghost town of Gwalia
- Location: The ghost town of Gwalia is located 1.5 km south of Leonora, a township 230 km north of Kalgoorlie.
- Opening hours: 10am – 4pm, 7 days a week
- Entry fee to the museum: by donation
- There is a free RV Site outside of the Museum gates
- Web: www.gwalia.org.au
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