WANowandThen.com

 

(C) Don Copley

SOUTHERN CROSS

 

HEMA Map reference 75/B9

 

31 13' 36" S 119 19' 25" E

 

 

Where is this?

 


 

 

Statistics

 

Km from Perth

369

Population

1147

Rainfall

285mm (84.1)

Max Temp

25.5C (45.6)

Min Temp

10.6C (-3.8)

Autogas

Available

Telecentre

Yes

 

Caravan Parks

 

Southern Cross

 

08 9049 1212

 

Services

 

Hospital

08 9049 1101

Police

08 9049 1000

Fire

08 9049 1100

Visitor Centre

08 9049 1001

 

Attractions

 

Yilgarn museum, Bicentennial monument, Hunt’s Soak, Number six pumping station, Cemetery, Fraser's Mine, Court house, Frog Rock and dam, Karalee Rock. Vultee Vengeance crash site, Government Dam, Lake Koorkoordine, New Zealand Gully Dam, Maori Lass Mine, Turkey Hill.

 

Buildings of note

 

Unknown

 

Calendar Of Events

 

January:  Australia Day celebration. August:  King of the Cross. September: Agricultural show.

Description

 

An expedition led by H. Lefroy passed through this area in 1863 and a year later Charles Hunt led an exploratory party through. Later John Forrest came through as well. None were aware of the gold that was to open the area up years later.

There are reports that during one of Hunt’s journeys through the area, three convicts that were being used to do labouring work digging wells found gold nuggets. One of the convicts, a Russian known as Serge, talked the other two into stealing horses and supplies and making a break to South Australia. The group got away only to be quickly re-captured and the gold find was hushed up.

This may seem strange when the colony badly needed the source of revenue that gold would produce, but the escape came shortly after the ‘Wildman’ debacle (see
Broome for more on this) and the Government was afraid that a gold find would draw badly needed labour away from farms and businesses in more settled areas.

It has been a gold mining area since 1888 when Thomas Riseley and M. Toomey established mining leases in the area. Southern Cross is either the last town in the wheat belt of the first town in the goldfields.

The name is said to have been given to the area in 1888 by prospectors Riseley & Toomey who found their way to the site using the Southern Cross constellation to navigate. Risley later wrote:

'Myself, Toomey and Charlie Crossland, started out from our camp at Barcoyton. After prospecting the belt for some days our water gave out. Our blackboy whom I call Wheelbarrow, said he knew plenty of Gabby (water) at Koorkoordine. When we got to Koorkoordine we found one of Hunt¹s dry wells, just as dry as we were. We decided to start back through the night and return to our camp, distance about 40 miles, and we travelled by the Southern Cross - taken to stars to the north - thanks to Charlie Crossland¹s knowledge of the stars. Or our bones would be bleaching in the scrub now, as we were two days without water at this time. We had to remain at our camp until rains came, then myself and Mick Toomey set out again. We discovered gold four miles from Koorkoordine. I named the place Southern Cross.'

By 1891 the town had a courthouse, a magistrate arrived the following year as did the telegraph line. Initially there was no building to house the telegraph office so the Telegraphist set up in the street with just un umbrella to shelter under. A building was soon erected and it went on to become the police station.

The first Road Board was established on March 2nd 1892 and in 1893 Southern Cross was declared a municipality (one source says August 1892). The railway arrived in 1894 and the town maintained a steady growth rate.

In the book 'The Mile That Midas Touched' the author comments that:

'The Cross, too, had its heyday, first as a mining town, then as "head of the line" before the railway was pushed further inland. It was the "mother town" of Coolgardie, "the old Camp", and at least the grandmother of Kalgoorlie and the Golden Mile.'

The town’s fortunes fluctuated with the price of gold and with the comings and goings of droughts. The population in town fluctuated wildly from year to year but the number present in the shire seemed to remain fairly constant. By 1897 the Southern Cross goldfield had produced at least 62,000 ounces of gold.

Farming started to take over from mining and in 1927 land was made available for ‘dusted miners’ men who had lung complaints and could no longer work underground.

The scheme, like so many others, was not properly administered and men who had no knowledge of farming suddenly found themselves dumped on a piece land and expected to make a go of it.

At first there was some success with 1930-31 producing bumper crops but the Great Depression hit and overnight prices collapsed. The wheat was owned by the Agricultural Bank and farmers were prosecuted if they tried to sell the wheat themselves. Some did and were convicted and others simply walked off the land. A very few persevered and one or two of them went on to prosper.

Despite the difficulties the first Agricultural Show was held in 1932.

As
Coolgardie and then Kalgoorlie ‘took off’ Southern Cross became a mere stop on the line and in the early 1930s the town was almost deserted. It was at this time (1931) that arsonists struck and several buildings in the town were burned down.

 

Koolyanobbing

 

The unusually named Koolyanobbing (which is said to be an Aboriginal word meaning place of big rocks) was first discovered by Henry Dowd in 1887. Dowd didn't think much of the area but buried a bottle with some notes on his discovery near what is now known as Dowd Hill. The bottle was located in 1963 and the note is kept at the Yilgarn Museum.

 

Today it is not gold that is mined in the area but iron ore. Portman / Koolyanobbing Iron sends the ore to Esperance by rail.

 

 

 

(C) Don Copley

 

 

 

I'm lost please take me home...

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