Broad Arrow is often referred to as a ghost town in tourist literature but that is not exactly true.
While much of what was once there was abandoned, there are still a few hardy should eking out an existence and
importantly the tavern continues to trade.
The town is located just off the Kalgoorlie to Leonora Road 38
kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.
The tavern has made a feature of graffiti and the walls are covered with the scribbling of many visitors.
According to the locals, the beer is icy cold and the burgers are great. It is very quiet during the week but on
weekends it apparently comes to life with plenty of visitors and sometimes live music.
Henry Reison held the first mining lease in the area but the town's name came from three prospectors;
Pike, Quinn and O'mara. O'mara's nephew was due to follow them and the prospectors drew broad arrows on
the ground so he could find his way to their camp.
Gold was discovered in 1893 but it was 1896 by the time the townsite was gazetted as Kurawah. It was also
in 1897 that the railway reached the town and a large 350 foot platform was built at the station.
We believe that the name changed to Broad Arrow in 1897 although the reason for the change is unclear.
It is pretty hard to imagine it now but at its peak, the town eight hotels and two breweries, stock
exchange, hospital, three churches, Salvation Army Hall, a chemist, two banks, police station with
resident magistrate, a mining registrar, a post office, a cordial factory, six grocery stores and two
draperies, and blacksmith and bakers' shops.
Various sources quote the maximum population at anywhere between 2,400 and 15,000. 2,400 does seem
like a much more reasonable figure.
By 1901 the population had dropped to 542 and ten years later this was down to 280.
From 1896 to 1899 there was even a local newspaper called the Broad Arrow Standard.
The town was the administrative hub for smaller settlements in the area including Ora Banda,
Smithfield, Black Flat, White Flag and Grant's Patch.
By the 1920s the gold rush had petered out and the miners moved on.
The town found brief fame in 1971 in the film 'Nickel queen' which starred Googie Withers.
The survival of the town is mostly due to continuing mining operations in the area.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
News of the outside world once came to Broad Arrow in the form of a newspaper from Kalgoorlie (The Kalgoorlie Miner).
During a paper shortage it is said that one copy of the paper was printed on a discarded petticoat. It was taken to Broad
Arrow and tacked to a tree for the locals to read. A local Gin (Aboriginal woman) took it down and wore it but was
constantly harassed by people coming up to read the news printed on it. Tired of the unwanted attention she took off
into the bush but was found 'bailed up' with another news hungry prospector lifting up the hem to read the news.
A local trooper come across the scene exclaiming 'What are you doing holding up the Gin's dress you old blackguard'
to which the reader replied 'I've got some well off people back east and I was looking to see if I'm among the missing persons.'
And happily returned to his reading.
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Video available from December 13th 2023
Broad Arrow Tavern, Abandoned buildings.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Kalgoorlie
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6431
Local Government : City of Kalgoorlie Boulder
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