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Menzies Town Hall
Menzies Town Hall
State Hotel, Gwalia
State Hotel, Gwalia
Malcolm Dam
Malcolm Dam
Mount Margaret Old Dormitory
Mount Margaret Old Dormitory
Mount Margaret School
Mount Margaret School
Laverton Coach House
Laverton Coach House
Main Street, Wiluna
Main Street, Wiluna
Leinster School
Leinster School

About the Goldfields District

North Country communities

MENZIES

Menzies became a municipality in 1896. In ‘its day’, Menzies reported approximately a population of 10,000, half of whom lived in the town and the other half in the surrounding area. The town hall that was built in 1896 remained without a clock until 2000. Its clock was sent out from England on the ship “Orizaba” in 1905 but went down with the ship off the coast of Rottnest.

Long before settlement, the Badimia people lived and travelled through the Menzies area and Kookynie, visiting sites of significance and sacred sites which feature in the Dreaming trail and song lines. The Dreamings strongly associated to this area are: the Trap Door Spider Woman, the Goanna and the Snake, the Mountain Devil, the Mallee Fowl, the Desert – how it came to be, the Giant Man, the Goo-roo Daarn and the Dingo.

Niagara dam was a permanent rock-pool a significant water source for the Aboriginal “Badimia” people during their travels.  It is located in the Menzies area close to Kookynie. It was dammed by the Department of Railways to supply water for the steam locomotives. While still visited by Aboriginal people today it is a popular picnic spot and camping area for tourists. Badimia and Wongatha people are the custodians of this area.

LEONORA

Leonora was gazetted as a townsite in 1897. The takes its name from the hill nearby which was named Mt. Leonora by John Forrest. The hill was named after a lady friend of his, Phylis Leonora Hardy. For Aboriginal people in the area, the hill represents significant dreaming sites. In particular the “Papa” dreaming. The town is located 237 km north east of Kalgoorlie and is central to other towns and stations in the area. Gwalia is the sister town to Leonora and was established in 1898. The townsite was established after rich finds of gold which resulted in the Sons of Gwalia mine in 1897. Gwalia is the Welsh name for Wales. The first mine manager of the Sons of Gwalia mine was Herbert Hoover who later became the President of the United States. By 1902 Leonora and Gwalia were connected by a steam tramway. Although Badimia and Koara people are the custodians for this area, Leonora has become home for many traditional groups.

Malcolm is an abandoned goldfields town, 20 km east of Leonora. The town site derives its name from a hill, Mt Malcolm. It was also named by John Forrest. Malcolm Dam which is 12 Km east of Leonora is a permanent water source. For the traditional custodians of the area it is the home of the Wanapi (rainbow snake). It was once a large rock pool but was excavated into a large dam to increase the capacity of water. Malcolm dam is highly significant to song lines through this area.

MOUNT MARGARET

Mount Margaret is a remote Aboriginal Community located between Leonora and Laverton, about 900 km north east of Perth. Gold was discovered in the Mount Margaret area in the mid 1880s, and the townsite was gazetted in May 1897. The name was derived from a nearby hill named by the explorer John Forrest in 1869 after Margaret Elvire Hamersley who later became his wife. The Aboriginal name for the hill is recorded as "Kalgara" which was considered by the government as a name for the townsite but the decision was made to keep the name Mount Margaret because of its widespread use by the townsfolk. It eventually became abandoned as a townsite.  The Uniting Aborigines Mission (Rod Schenk) began evangelising the Aboriginal people of the Western Desert and in 1921 obtained Mount Margaret Common to become a Christian Mission for Wongutha Aboriginal people in the area.

LAVERTON

Laverton townsite was gazetted in July 1900. the town gained it’s name after Dr C W Laver who was one of the first promoters of gold mining in the area. Laverton is a very small town now. The school is a District High and the majority of the student population is Aboriginal. The town is located 127 Km east north east of Leonora and 361 Km from Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Traditionally, many Wongatha people have interests in the Laverton area.

WILUNA

Wiluna is located 536 km from Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields. LA Wells was the first explorer in the area in 1892.  When the area was surveyed and gazetted a townsite in 1898, the name “Wiluna” was suggested by the Mining Warden. Wiluna is an Aboriginal name meaning "place of winds" and the “cry of the curlew”. It was originally spelt "Weeloona" but the spelling was amended to adopt the linguistic spelling of Aboriginal names. The local Ngangganawili Aboriginal Community set up a citrus orchard and an emu farm and both were successful. Wiluna is also the gateway for the notorious Gun Barrel Highway and the Canning Stock Route.

LEINSTER

Leinster is a mining town. It was gazetted a townsite in 1981. The townsite is located within a pastoral station, Leinster Downs from where it derives its name. The town was established in the late 1970’s to support the Agnew nickel project, and was the subject of a special lease to Western Mining Corporation for the purpose of "Townsite" for a term of 21 years from 1977. Leinster Downs station was home for many Aboriginal people from the Wanmala, Tjupan, Pini and other traditional custodians from this area.