WANowandThen.com

 

MEEKATHARRA

(The end of the Earth)

 

HEMA Map reference 76/C7

 

26 35' 37" S 118 29' 53" E

 

 

Where is this?


Climate data for Meekatharra
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average Temp high C 38.3 36.6 34.3 29.2 23.7 19.6 19 21.4 25.6 29.6 33.2 36.4 28.9
Average Temp low C 25 23.9 21.4 17.4 11.7 6.8 6.2 7.6 11.8 17.3 20.8 23.7 16.1
Rainfall mm 57.3 78.8 40.3 19.9 17.8 14 15.3 7.7 4.6 4.9 10.3 37.6 312.7
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

 


 

 

 

Statistics

 

Km from Perth

760

Population

1296

Autogas

Available

Telecentre

Yes

 

Caravan Parks

 

Karalundi

08 9981 2933

Meekatharra

08 9981 1253

 

Services

 

Hospital

08 9981 0600

Police

08 9981 1007

Fire

08 9981 1056

SES

08 9980 1617

Visitor Centre

08 9981 1002

 

Attractions

 

Nannine, Peace Gorge, Bilyuin Pool, Mount Gould Police Station, Garden Gully, Peak Hill, Horseshoe, Wilgie Mia art site, Rangelands discovery trail, Museum (8:00am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday), RFDS Base (9am and 2pm daily), State battery, Picture gardens, 25 Mile Well.

 

Buildings of note

 

Old police station 1880, Old court house 1911.

 

Calendar Of Events

 

August: Croc Fest. October: Meekatharra races.

Description

 

In 1977 during the federal election campaign, Malcom Fraser and his wife Tamie were diverted from Perth to Meekatharra airport due to bad weather. On landing Tamie was heard to call Meekatharra 'The end of the Earth.' The locals adopted this good naturedly and used it to publicise the town. Tamie was even invited back to open the local races - which she did.

 

It was originally believed that the town name comes from an Aboriginal word meaning 'place of little water' but recent research has shown that a more likely source was the Aboriginal name Mikadah – a soak located in Luke’s Creek. One source quotes the meaning as 'hollow tree'.

The name was originally given to a gold mine by Thomas Porter who with Meehan and Soych, first pegged the claim. The mine then changed its name to Pioneer and finally Centaur.

The area was first settled in 1894, but then abandoned and later re-settled in 1896. Reticulated water from 5 bores was brought to the town in 1902 and the town was gazetted in December 1903 (one source quotes 1901 and yet another quotes 1906 but 1903 appears to be correct)

 

The first state school opened in August 1904 and 18 pupils attended. The police station opened in January of the following year and in 1910 the Royal Mail Hotel opened for business.

‘Meekatharra is widely recognised as being the soundest mining field outside Kalgoorlie.’

Cyclopedia of Western Australia 1913.
 

The Royal Flying Doctor Service was established in W.A. in 1935 with the first base setting up in Port Hedland. The service in Meekatharra followed soon afterward. The School of the Air has operated here since 1959.

In 1901 the town’s population was listed as 75. By 1911 this had grown to 2404 and by 1914 it had become the largest town in the Murchison.

In 1910 the railway from Nannine arrived in Meekatharra and it became the rail head for transporting stock that came down the
Canning stock route from the Kimberleys. The railway continued to serve the town until 1978 and helped ensure its survival.

After WWI an influenza epidemic – called Spanish Flu – swept the world and the Road Board at Meekatharra tried to quarantine anyone coming in to town by stopping the train and offloading passengers before they reached the town. It was decided by authorities in Perth that the Road Board had overstepped its authority and the flu did eventually reach even this remote outpost and took several lives.

A bomb blast under the Road Board offices in 1922 badly damaged the building and blew out all the windows. The intended target was apparently John D’Alton, the town’s J.P. who had previously convicted the perpetrator of a minor offence.

 

Trackers followed the culprit foot prints to a house in town and arrested William Albert Bourke - a returned soldier - who was then sent down to Geraldton to await trial. Fortunately the only damage was to the Road Board Offices and no one was injured.

Grant Watson's novel, 'The Desert Horizon' seems to capture the towns impact on the surrounding area:

Meekatharra 'which was at that time head of the line, provided the chief Labour Exchange for all the district. Employers came from fifty and even a hundred miles to find labour to shear their sheep or work their mines...all the life of the district converged towards the town'
 

A beer strike was called by drinkers in town to protest the raising of room and board rates by the local hotels - even though beer prices remained the same. The strike only lasted a couple of weeks before the thirsty drinkers gave in to the hot weather. In retaliation for the strike the hotels again raised room and board rates a further five shillings.

 

In 1940 Meekatharra began a period of decline when some of the larger mines started to close. In 1942 an earthquake shook the town but no serious damage or loss of life was reported.


Meekatharra is the first town in Australia to be powered by solar energy. When constructed the solar power station was the largest in the world.

There are a number of ghost towns around Meekatharra and a booklet on their locations is available from the shire offices.

 

Murder in the bush.

 

Leslie John Brown (a.k.a. Louis J. Carron)  went missing and after his false teeth and part of a skull were found in the remains of a large campfire at a station out camp, a man called John Tomas Smith (a.k.a. Stanley (Snowy) Rowles) was brought to trial for the murder.

 

Smith admitted knowing Brown but denied killing him. Inquiries into the matter found that Smith had cashed a cheque in Brown's alias name (Louis Carron) and Smith refused to give evidence at an inquest held into Browns disappearance. 

 

Smith (Rowles) had already been in trouble with the law in the Darling Ranges and had been in more trouble at Wongan Hills where he was arrested and sent to the Dalwallinu lock up. He had escaped from the lock up after assaulting a guard.

 

Although there was no conclusive evidence against him, and he continued to deny the charge of murder, Smith was eventually found guilty of wilful murder and sentenced to death.

Tall tales & true: Icy cold.

The train transported gold from Meekatharra and the security guards were always locked in to the hot stuffy rail car. One day they had a bottle of whisky with them and asked the train guard for some ice. He returned soon afterward with a nice cool lump. It melted quickly as they consumed the alcohol so they asked for more. This went on until the bottle was almost empty and when they asked again the guard replied: “Sorry lads, I can’t give you any more, the body is beginning to show.”

 

Teacher gets a lesson.

 

Conversation over the School of the Air radio between a teacher and a student:

Teacher: ‘A drover was droving 14 cattle down the Canning Stock Route for one week. During that time 6 calves were born. How many cattle were there at the end ?’

Student: ‘Nineteen, miss’

Teacher: ‘No think again’

Student: <pause> ‘Nineteen, miss…’

Teacher: ‘No, 14 cows plus 6 calves make 20.’

Student: ‘Yes miss but when droving the allowance for the drover’s tucker is one cow a week and they had been on the track for a week miss…’

Bubbly bath.

 

 It was said there was a barmaid on the Murchison gold fields who was offered 25 gold sovereigns to strip naked and take a bath in a tub of champagne. She took up the challenge and two dozen bottles of fine Champagne were emptied in to a tub where she took her bath in full view of the gaping miners.

When she had finished it was decided to put the Champagne back into bottles as it is well known that fine Champagne does not go flat quickly and after all who wanted to waste so much good booze.

The only problem was that when the wine was put back in to the 24 bottles there was still enough left over to fill an extra bottle.

(We seriously doubt the authenticity of this tale although we did find a second well told version in the book 'Great Southern Memories' by J.A. Genoni.)

 

Blood donor gives a little bit more

 

There is a story about a young teenage girl having an accident with a cool drink bottle and cutting herself badly. She was in need of a blood transfusion and a local donor was found and brought in to supply the blood. As the girl was receiving the transfusion and being stitched up she started to giggle and behave in a most unusual way for someone who had just been injured.

 

The transfusion over, the donor returned from whence he had come - the local pub - and the girl was not only left to get over the injuries she had sustained, she had to get over her first hangover as well.
 

 

 

(C) Don Copley

 

 

 

 

I'm lost please take me home...