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CALENDAR OF EVENTS
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Norseman is the southern gateway to W.A. and a major stopping point for those coming to this state from the east. The quarantine station that used to be here is now located at Border Village many kilometres to the
east. Norseman is the first chance to re-stock on items that had to be used before the quarantine station or surrendered.
The future of the town is closely linked to mining and its fortunes have fluctuated over the years with rises and falls in the price of gold. At one time the goldfield at Dundas was second only to The Golen Mile
Despite the fact that it is very isolated, there are some attractions in and around the town that are worth checking out.
In town you will find a statue dedicated to the horse credited with the discovery of gold in the area. A plaque explains:
"This life size bronze sculpture of the horse called Norseman was erected by an elected fund raising body of Norseman
residents to perpetuate the memory of the horse and the early pioneers of this town. The history of the Western Australian
goldfields records the story of the discovery of Norseman by Laurie Sinclair on the 13 August 1894. Mr Sinclair was one of
the six founders of Norseman, which also included his brother George Sinclair, Mr Allsop, Mr Ramsay, Mr Talbot and Mr Goodliffe.
The story told, recounts Mr Laurie Sinclair's horse, Norseman, pawing up a very rich specimen of gold bearing ore on that
fateful day and from it another chapter from the rush that never ended was born, and the town came into being. Mr Laurie
Sinclair originally came from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland and was proud to call himself a Norseman.
Mr Laurie Sinclair called his horse Norseman after the Clan Norseman and named the new goldfield, Norseman, after his horse."
Also in town on Princep Street are some life sized camels made from corrugated iron. They are the creations of West Australian artist
Kurt Hotker and are located at the round-a-bout. The statues are a tribute to the camel trains that once criss-crossed the
outback bringing supplies to the early pioneers.
You will note that many outback towns have very wide streets. This was a direct result of having to turn these camel trains around.
Phoenix Park is also in town and has a collection of old mining equipment. Signs along a path give some explanation of the machines and their history.
BBQs and picnic tables make the park a pleasant stopping point for travellers.
The Norseman Historical and Geological Museum can be found in the old School of Mines building on McGrath Street.
The museum is run by volunteers and is usually open from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 1pm.
There are interesting displays of local memorabilia that include mining equipment as well as some household artefacts.
Norseman is also part of the longest golf course in the world. The Nullarbor Links starts at Ceduna in South Australia with
the 18th hole located at Kalgoorlie 1365 kilometres away.
Norseman boats two holes, the Ngadju Par 4 and teh Golden Horse Par 4. They are both located at the Norseman Golf Club.
Beacon Hill Lookout is just 2 kilometres out of town and gives an excellent view of the surrounding countryside.
There is a walk trail up the hill which overlooks the masssive tailings dump (yes I know it sounds awful
but is actually quite impressive), and Lake Cowan and the descriptivly named Mount Thirsty.
5 kilometres east of town is Mount Jimberlana. The granite rocks are almost 3 mllion years old and you can walk to the top
and get a veiw out over a chain of dry salt lakes. The lakes indicate that there was once a major water course in the area.
The original townsite was located at Dundas but the town didn't last long. Today you wil find Dundas Rocks,
a formation that is over 2 million years old. The area is best visited in wildflower season and there are a number of
different places to walk and enjoy the scenery. A plaque marks tha place where the town once stood and you will find BBQ
Dundas Coach Road Heritage Trail details
This is a 50 kilometre (round trip) trail that follows the original route of teh Cobb & Co. stage coaches to Dundas.
There are 10 stopping places along the route that feature signage as well as picnic facilities at some locations.
Start at the Norseman Visitor Centre 0 0km
Mines Rd intersection 0.13km
Talbot St intersection 0.30km
Alsopp St intersection 0.43km
Okay Rd / Crampton St junction 1.03km
Stop 1: Trail-head and general information
The Norseman racecourse and early social life 1.45km
Mine access road 2.51km
Stop 2: The historic Cumberland and Kirkpatrick
mines. The coach road and its coaches 4.11km
Stop 3: Reworking the workings - a 1990s open cut 5.26km
Junction with old coach road 6.50km
Stop 4: The Lady Mary mine and townsite.
A lonely goldfields grave 7.83km
Access track to Iron Duke site 8.28km
Stop 5: The Iron Duke Decline - the search goes on 8.45km
Return to main trail route 8.67km
Enter Brockway Timber Reserve 10.62km
Access track to Break O'Day site 11.93km
Stop 6: The Break O'Day cricket pitch 12.08km
Return to main trail route 12.22km
Stop 7: Headframes and head-strong miners
The Brockway Timber Reserve and its trees 14.94km
Stop 8: The old east-west telegraph line
Mawson's Reward and the May Bell mine
Bush tucker / bush medicine 19.81km
Mt Henry mine access road 22.64km
Old Coach Rd goes west 23.86km
Stop 9: Old Dundas Dam - the struggle for water 24.24km
Stop 10: The rise and fall of the original Dundas Townsite
Life in early Dundas: hard but happy 24.70km
Coolgardie - Esperance Highway 26.50km
Ramsay St intersection 47.55km
Roberts St intersection 47.75km
Back to the Visitor Centre 47.88km
Old Coach Road/ Norseman Heritage Trail brochure
32 kilometres south of Norseman towards Esperance is Bromus Dam.
The dam was constructed in the late 1920s as a water source for steam trains and today is a popular picnic site and overnight
stop for travellers. There are lots of shady trees and a toilet available.
Heading 26 kilometres east along the Eyre Highway will bring you to Buldania Rocks.
Natural cavities in the rocks (known as gnamma holes) collect water from rainfall and it was once an important
site for local Aboriginal tribes.
If you want a more adventourous way to reach Norseman that coming from either Kalgoorlie
or Esperance, you can take the Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail from
This 300 kilometre route features sixteen interpretive sites, the majority of which include walk trails, picnic areas and
The road is unsealed and gravel but still suitable for 2wd vehicles. Points of interest along the trail include;
The Gemfields, Wave Rock and The Breakaways. This is a popular free camping area with toilets available.
It is very popular during wildflower season.
Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail brochure
105 kilometres east of Norseman is Fraser Range Station.
The property offers tours and accomodation.
passed through the area in 1841. He was the first European known to have been through this region.
He was followed by John Roe
in 1848. Roe was unaware of the goldfield that he passed through and it took over 30 years for it to be discovered.
was the next explorer through the area in 1871.
Pastoral properties then began to be established at Mundrabilla, Fraser Range and Balladonia.
The first traces of gold were found by a man named Moir at Fanny's Creek in 1890. He returned with a prospecting team
two years later but they were not able to locate any gold.
In 1892 Mawson and Kirkpatrick found gold in the Dundas hills 20 kilometres south of Norseman. 'Mawson's Reward' was the first
claim registered on what became the Dundas goldfields. In 1893 the Dundas townsite was laid out near Noganyer Soak.
In 1894 gold was found near present day Norseman and the find was better than that at Dundas. As the new site developed,
the old one fell into decline.
The story of how Norseman got it's name relates to a gold miner named Laurie (or Lawrence) Sinclair. On the way from work
in the Coolgardie gold fields he stopped off to see his
brother, and his horse, Hardy Norseman, uncovered a large gold nugget with its hoof. Norseman is perhaps the only town
in the state named after a horse. (It appears that Sinclair - who came from the Shetland
Islands - was also of Norse descent so the story of the horse uncovering the gold may just be folk-lore.)
The town was declared in 1895 (sone sources quote 1894 but this appears to be incorrect). By 1905 Norseman had a population
of over 3000. The Aboriginal name for the area is Jimberlana.
Low rainfall in the area meant that miners were not only engaged in a search for gold but also for water. Rainwater was
supplemented by distilling salt water but it wasn't until 1936 that a regular supply of water
was available in the town.
Although much of the gold has run out it is believed that the area produced over 100 tons of gold during its working life.
The giant mine tailings dump near town gives some indication of how extensive the mining
operation at Norseman has been in the past.
Some other notable dates in the history of Norseman.
1895 First post office, bank and doctor open. The Norseman Pioneer newspaper is first printed.
1896 Telegraph is connected.
1896 Volunteer fire brigade begins operating.
1897 First school opened by Mr. Williams from South Australia. Enrolement was around 60 children.
1899 Water storage (holding up to 3 million gallons) is completed.
1899 The first two newspapers join forces to become The Norseman Times. 3 churches and 5 hotels have been established.
1901 Brewery is established.
1902 Princess Royal townsite established (lasted only a couple of decades.)
1902 A second brewery opens.
1905 Population reaches 3000.
1909 Railway to Coolgardie is completed.
1910 A 600 seat theatre opens. A telephone service starts operating.
1914 First golf course opens.
1920 Population has dropped to 300.
1926 The 'butterfly' nugget is discovered.
1929 Railway extends to Esperance.
1935 Western Mining begins operating in the area.
1936 Water pipeline to Coolgardie is established.
1953 Olympic sized swimming pool opens.
1956 Road to Coolgardie is sealed.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
The publican at the local hotel had arrived recently from England and decided to place a sign advertising the business on the Eyre Highway.
He employed two somewhat shady characters to put the sign up and when they returned they showed him a small gold nugget that they claimed they had found while digging the post holes.
A mining lease was obtained and the publican hired the men to work the lease. He not only paid them but gave them free accommodation in the hotel.
In the mornings he would take them out and drop them off and in the evenings they would return to the pub. This went on for some time before someone let on to the publican that he was being
scammed and he promptly threw out the two con-men.
Fastest Beer in the Goldfields.
"The day the earthquake struck Meckering, we felt the shock waves in Norseman. I was underground at the time and I thought the whole bloody place was coming in. The force was enough to buckle steel rails in the shaft.
Old Wally was in the Workers' Club at the time and the beer he'd ordered had just been placed on the bar. When the tremor started, Wally grabbed the bar rail with one hand and hung on for dear life. Then he wrapped the other hand around his beer and sank, what those present considered to be, the fastest schooner in the history of Goldfields drinking.
Later they asked Wally why He'd been in such a hurry to drink his beer, so he explained, 'As yer know, I've already had two heart attacks, so when all that shakin' started I said to myself, Bloody hell Wal, this is it mate, this is the big 'un. Then I saw me beer on the bar and thought, Buggered if I'm gonna waste that, so down she bloody went.'"
From: Gold Fever and Other Diseases by Peter Blyth.
When state premier Sir John Forrest arrived in Norseman from Esperance in 1909 to open the new railway from Norseman to Coolgardie, he was somewhat
red in the face.
Not, as you might expect, from the heat encountered during his journey be stage coach but from anger.
The premier asserted that he had been given a deliberately rough and uncomfortable ride in order to try and persuade him of the urgent
need of a railway line from Norseman to Esperance.
If that had been the intent, the plan failed remarkably badly as it not only angered the premier, no railway line was built for the next twenty years.
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(c) Donald Pugh
Beacon Hill Lookout,
Lake Dundas Mine,
Peak Charles National Park,
Dundas Coach Road heritage trail,
Statue of Norseman,
Old mine workings,
Norseman Men's Shed.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Eyre
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6450
Local Government : Shire of Dundas
Click on a thumbnail to see full sized picture.