A forgotten gold mining town in Western Australia’s remote Outback is being given a facelift as the Leonora shire hopes to attract grey nomads and other travellers.
The century-plus old tin shed cottages in Gwalia, which is about 230-kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, are being restored to help protect a snapshot of Leonora’s rich mining history.
“I think people get a sense of what it was like,” Shire of Leonora heritage services manager, Elaine Labuschagne, told the ABC. “They get a sense of the remoteness of the place and the hardships that the people had to endure and understand that a little bit better.”
Gold was discovered at what became the Sons of Gwalia mine in 1896 and the town site grew as gold fever took hold. The mine finally closed in 1963, and the population of more than 1,000 people plunged to just 40 almost overnight.
The Sons of Gwalia mine re-opened in the mid-1980s as an open-cut mine but heat and dust have weathered the old miners’ cottages over the years, with many in a dilapidated condition.
Ms Labuschagne said the ABC that the whole Gwalia site was state heritage-listed and conservation of the cottages was important.
“It’s really significant. It’s a snapshot of Australian mining and it’s so significant because there’s such a lot of cottages still remaining,” she said. “It’s the only example in Western Australia where we’ve got so many miners’ cottages representative of that time still remaining.”