The living ghost town of Gwalia is an award-winning must-see for visitors and the doorway to a unique experience of Western Australia’s rich mining history.
Leonora is now the service centre for mining, exploration and the well-established pastoral industry.
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In 1869 explorer John Forrest and party, in search of the lost Leichardt Expedition, made camp near a hill and named it Mount Leonora in honour of his niece.
Twenty-five years on, prospectors moved through the area and by 1896 mining claims were pegged and gold discovered, leading to the establishment of the twin towns of Leonora and Gwalia, along with the smaller town of Malcolm. Leonora became the largest centre on the North Eastern Goldfields and by 1908 boasted 7 hotels, general stores, chemists, tailors and bakeries. Mining has continued until the present day with gold, and now nickel, being produced in large quantities.
“Leonora’s international fame will be forever associated with the young Herbert Hoover, who would go on to become the 31st President of the United States of America. In 1897-98, Hoover was the manager of the fledgling but ultimately very rich Sons of Gwalia gold mine, just south of the Leonora town site and in the shadow of Mt Leonora. Hoover actively encouraged the engagement of Italian and other southern Europeans as underground workers at the Sons of Gwalia mine site, and after Hoover left, a community of these migrant workers was established around the mine site that became known as Gwalia, Leonora’s twin town that would quickly necessitate a tramway connection. Today, Leonora and Gwalia offer visitors some very special insights into the life and times of the early Goldfields and its pioneers. And its hinterland provides many natural attractions that represent the environment into which the thousands of 1890s gold-seekers first ventured.” – goldenquesttrail.com
While the townsite of Malcolm is now a tourist site on the Golden Quest Discovery Trail, Gwalia is a popular tourist attraction with a lookout over the mine and Hoover House. Together with the Leonora Heritage Trail and the scenic views from the Terraces, Leonora is well worth a visit.
Leonora also provides any services travellers may require before heading through the Northern Goldfields.