Gwalia will transport you back to the 1800s and give you a glimpse of how the miners lived out in this hot, dry, dusty land.
Up on the hill, the luxury of the mine manager's house (Hoover House) stands in stark contrast to the squalid tin shacks that would be like ovens
in summer and ice boxes in winter.
Most of the town has been preserved including the shops, boarding house, garage and of course the miner's huts. This is an amazing attraction
and is a MUST SEE location on anyone's trip through the gldfields.
The local shire has created a unique place that is a real credit to everyone involved.
Rooms at Hoover House can be rented for overnight stays. The $150 (2014) fee includes breakfast and entry to the museum. The house has a wonderful
'old world charm' as well as modern en-suite facilities. There is a lookout where you can see the mine workings and a lovely green lawn where you
can sit and watch the sun go down.
People with self-contained motorhomes can stay outside the museum free for up to three nights. This gives plenty of time to explore the town. If
your motorhome or caravan isn't self contained then there is another free campsite close by at Malcolm Dam.
The old town of Malcolm was once the most important in the area and was at one time the administrative centre for the shire. Today nothing remains
of what was once a thriving town.
It is rather sad that the State Hotel has not been included as part of the tourist attractions in Gwalia. It is a majestic old hotel and would make a wonderful
addition if it was restored and opened for visitors.
led an expedition through this area in June 1869 while he was searching for the lost Leichardt expedition. When Forrest returned to the area in
1899 in his capacity as state Premier, it had changed almost beyond comprehension. When John Forrest was guest of honour at a dinner in Gwalia
the table decorations were said to be bars of pure gold.
The original Sons of Gwalia (Wales) mine saw its beginnings in 1896 when Glendinning, Carlson and White pegged a claim on what would become the
main ore body. The prospecting party was financed by a man named Tommy Tobias who eventually sold the claim to George W. Hall for 5000 pounds.
Hall recovered his investment in the first month of operation.
In 1897 Herbert Hoover
(who later became the 31st American president) started his association with the mine as a mining engineer and he had a
lot to do with its early development. He was transferred in 1898 but later returned and became a manager of operations in W.A. for Bewick Moreing and
Co. The Sons of Gwalia was at one time the second largest gold mine in W.A. and the largest outside the Golden Mile.
At its peak the population here was over 1000 and there was even a tramway constructed in the town linking it to the nearby settlement of Leonora. It
started as a steam driven service in 1903 and was replaced by an electric tram in 1908. The service ran until 1921 and by 1923 the rails had been
pulled out and no sign of the tramway now remains.
There was great rivalry between Leonora and Gwalia with Gwalia originally being the larger settlement. When the railway terminated at Leonora the
fortunes of the towns were reversed and Gwalia began a slow but steady decline.
A state sponsored hotel was constructed in 1902 and at one time it was said to be so busy that an 18 gallon keg was opened every 20 minutes. The
hotel lasted only as long as the mine and was forced to close in 1964.
In late 1930s the mine constructed a swimming pool that had a three-fold purpose as additional water storage for the mine, water for fire fighting
and as a public amenity for the town. At the time it was only the second public swimming pool in W.A.
The towns' long decline began in the 1920s when large numbers of workers were laid off from the mine but operations continued until 1963 when the
mine closed down and the population dropped almost overnight from nearly 2000 to 40. By the time the mine closed over 21,600,000 ounces of gold had
In 1972 the Gwalia Historical Gallery opened and a committee formed to help preserve some of the areas gold mining history. The museum features a
30 metre Oregon timber head frame and the largest 1000 hp steam winding engine in Australia.
The head frame was designed by Herbert Hoover in 1898. He designed it to follow the ore body and it tracked at a 45 degree angle. It is the only
surviving timber incline head frame in Australia.
The structure was modified in 1912 to raise the wheel and to incorporate a new steam winder.
Herbert Clarke Hoover
Herbert Hoover graduated from Stanford University California (USA) with a degree in geology.
He applied for a position with the British Mining company Bewick Moreing & Co. and despite the fact that they were looking for someone
aged 35 years or more, Hoover (just 22) convinced them to take him on.
He sailed from new York on March 31st 1897 on the White Star line ship Britannic. Hoover arrived in Albany by May the same year
and travelled to Perth before boarding a train to the goldfields where he worked for at time in Coolgardie.
His job was to inspect various mines and report on their likely profitability. In that role he travelled through many of the goldfields towns.
It was on Hoover's recomendation that Bewick Moreing purchased the Sons of Gwalia mine on the 17th of November 1879.
As manager he introduced European miners, cut wages and increased hours.
Hoover was transfered to China in 1898 but returned to Gwalia in 1901,2,5,and 7.
In 1908 Hoover had left Bewick Moreing and became in independant engineer. By 1929 he had become the 31st president of the United States.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
On Monday 4th September 2000 a Beechcraft King Air 200 chartered by The Sons Of Gwalia Mining Company, took off from Perth heading for Leonora on a
routine flight taking 7 miners to work. The plane, apparently on auto-pilot, reached 32,000 feet but no contact could be made with it. Another plane
was sent up to investigate but no sign of life could be seen on the Beechcraft. Eventually, somewhere over Queensland, the inevitable happened and the
plane ran out of fuel. It appears that everyone on board lost consciousness not long after take off and all would have suffocated long before the
The men who lost their live in this tragedy were:
Roger Clarkson, 30, of Dunedin, New Zealand
Frederick Ellis Fineberg, 56, of Perth, Western Australia
Brett Hewitt, 31, of Auckland, New Zealand
Matthew John Luberda, 25, of Perth, Western Australia
Shaun Brian McKay, 24, of Perth, Western Australia
Kenneth Hugh Mosedale, 50, of Perth, Western Australia
Barry Leslie Woods, 46 of Werribee, Victoria
Justin Leigh Woods, 27, of Werribee, Victoria
It takes a lot to stop thirsty miners from drinking beer but in 1919 the only known 'beer strike' in the history of
Western Australia happened at Gwalia.
The miners complained about the manager who they wanted sacked, about the dirty glasses, the size of serves, the price and even the
brand of beer sold. They submitted a list of demands and 50 residents boycotted the hotel.
The strike lasted from March to September but it is not recorded which side won. The sly-grog shops in town would certainly have
increased their trade during the boycott.
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BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Miner's huts, Hoover House, Mine, State Hotel, The Pink Camp, Patroni's Boarding House, De Rubeis Camp, Mazza's Store.
State : Kalgoorlie
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6438
Local Government : Shire of Leonora
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