The town lies 178km east of Carnarvon down a long but reasonably well maintained gravel road.
(Note: The road is currently in the process of being sealed.)
The areas surrounding Gascoyne Junction (and especially the Kennedy Ranges) are known to contain important fossil deposits. There is also a type of
multi-coloured silicified radiolarian siltstone called Mookalite. This is found in deposits on Mooka Station. The stone is unique to Australia.
The publican of the local hotel built a 'bottle wall' some time in the 1920s. This wall was made entirely of discarded bottles
and became quite a tourist attraction. Sadly with new ownership came new ideas and the wall was demolished by a new publican (who obviously had no imagination) in the 1960s.
Floods in 2010 saw extensive damage to the town and the pub, caravan park and other facilities were destroyed. It was not until 2014 that new facilities were opened.
One of the yearly attractions at Gascoyne Junction (usually held in springtime) are the annual races. People come from near and far to attend the race meeting which becomes
a social event for the station people and towns people alike. Joan Budd wrote the following about the event:
The Gascoyne Junction Races
If around about September you want something to remember
Pack your traps and take a trip up Gascoyne Way
If you're fifty five or twenty, you'll get entertainment plenty
You'll remember it until your dying day
From each sheep and cattle station there's a mass evacuation
They come from every outpost, near and far
From the main roads and the chasers they're a-going to the races
It's the biggest thing that happens in a year
Staunch Nor' Westers by the dozen start the good old Junction buzzin'
And the pub stays open morning noon, and nights
Where the blokes from near and far swap their yarns around the bar
And settle little differences with fights
Then they grab their swags and sleep underneath the nearest jeep
And they get up in the morning, feeling fine
So they spend the day at Two-up, and around the bar they queue up
To celebrate their wins with beer and wine
And then, at 'The Races' and a sea of eager faces
Lines the rough bush track the proudly call 'The Course'
And the station hands are tense and they lean upon the fence
With their earnings of twelve months bet on a horse
For a week or so before, a forgotten thing is law
And merry hell the order of the day
To the lonely little Junction this yearly racing function
Is the biggest thing that ever came its way
And when the fun is over and car and jeep and rover
Are swallowed up in swirling clouds of dust
It's for certain you'll remember how about around September
The Gascoyne Junction races are a must.
George Grey and
Francis Gregory were two early explorers who led expeditions through the Gascoyne region.
Robert Bush explored much of the Gascoyne with Walter Howard, Edward Sewell and two Aborigines in 1879. The expedition found extensive wreckage around the area of
Maud's Landing including a large mast from a large sailing vessel.
Bush developed dysentery and stopped to recover at Boolathna Station while the rest of the group continued north. By the time Bush had recovered the other members
of the party were overdue and Bush set out to find them and ran into them as they made their way back from the North West Cape. They were in
pretty poor condition as it was by now mid-summer and there was no water to be found in the area. By the time the expedition had reached Murgoo Station they had been
reported missing and a rescue mission was about to be mounted.
Finding that the members of the expedition were safe and well the rescue mission was called off. By the time the group reached Geraldton they had been
away for 146 days and had covered 1885 miles.
After making this trip Bush recognised that some of the areas they travelled over had good potential as stations and he quickly applied for a lease. This was to become
Clifton Downs or Bidgemia.
Robert Bush doesn't get much of a mention in most history books but he contributed greatly to the Gascoyne and served as the first M.L.C. from 1890-3. He was also
Chairman of the first Upper Gascoyne Road Board and was a J.P. ( Maitland Brown
and Robert Frederick Scholl were also early members of parliament for the Gascoyne.)
It was as a J.P. that he came afoul of the Crown Prosecutor in Perth when he sent down for trial two Aborigines who had been found cooking and eating an Aboriginal
woman. Bush had written the complaint up as 'cannibalism' and received a furious reply from the Crown Prosecutor stating that cannibalism was not a crime. Bush later
remarked that 'A man may eat his mother-in-law but he must not kill her.'
Settlers in the area pushed for the gazetting of a town site as early as 1897 but despite the presence of a police station since 1883, general store and other buildings,
the site was not declared until 1912-3.
The original name given to the town when it was gazetted in 1913, was Killili (Aboriginal for bullrush) but this was never in local use. After several protests were mounted
the name was changed to Gascoyne Junction in 1939. The name is purely descriptive as the town sits at the junction of the Gascoyne and Lyons Rivers.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Secret Chinese 'herbs and spices'.
The Chinese cook at Bidgemia (Ah Lee) was constantly teased and tormented by the other station hands. They played practical jokes on him all the time and generally
made his life miserable. Eventually Ah Lee had enough of the teasing and threatened to put poison in the stew. The teasing continued unabated and all of a sudden there
were a lot of sick station hands.
On another station (Mingenoo) another Chinese cook (Ah Sam) told his workmates he was going to use poison and go to heaven. No one believed him either and Ah
Sam died in 1893 by his own hand aged just 31. He is buried on the station.
In 1975 Tom Dunn, a boundary rider, was reported missing from his camp between Dalgety Downs and Glenburgh. His camp was in good order, as was his vehicle and a
prepared meal still sat in his camp oven. Despite an extensive search Tom Dunn was never found and the mystery of his disappearance remains unsolved.
Another missing person who was never located was the prospector and experienced bushman Patrick Bohan. He vanished in 1982. Like Tom Dunn, Patrick's vehicle
was in working order and stocked with food and fuel. He even carried a motor bike as protection against his main vehicle breaking down and it too was in good working order.
Both these men, experienced as they were in bush living, simply vanished without trace.
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(c) WA Weekender
Fossil Hill, Mt. Augustus.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : North West
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6705
Local Government : Shire of Upper Gascoyne
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