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Southern Cross Motel
08 9049 1144
08 9049 1202
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08 9049 1212
08 9049 1030
08 9049 1416
08 9040 4034
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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Southern Cross was once much more important and full of life than it is today.
At one time it was the centre of gold mining activity but as finds were made further east,
it slipped back into being more of a sleepy backwater.
Other townsites in the Shire include Bodallin, Bullfinch, Ghooli,
Koolyanobbing, Marvel Loch, Moorine Rock and Yellowdine.
Mining and agriculture co-exist in this area and gold, gypsum, salt and iron are mined while grain, wool, sheep, cattle
and pigs are farmed.
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 so much gold that is mined in the area but iron ore.
Portman / Koolyanobbing Iron sends the ore to Esperance by rail.
One of the earliest industries in the area, Sandalwood cutting, is still in existence and
contributes several million dollars annually to the economy.
It could be said that Southern Cross is both the last of the wheat belt towns and the first of the mining towns.
Visitors will notice that the streets of Southern Cross and many other mining towns are exceptionally wide.
This developed because of the need to turn around camel and bullock teams in the streets.
Many of the streets of Southern Cross are named, like the town, after stellar constellations.
A few kilometres north of Southern Cross is Lake Koorkoordine.
This is a salt lake and is a popular campsite for travellers.
An expedition, led by Henry 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 in all
likelihood 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 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.
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 Huntıs 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
Crosslandıs 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 an 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'. These were 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.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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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,
Kokerbin Rock, Baladjie Rock.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Eyre
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6426
Local Government : Shire of Yilgarn
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