Sandstone is located on the road between Mount Magnet and Leinster.
Although mining in the area has greatly decreased it still continues and prospecting is a popular activity. There is also a
pastoral industry operating in the shire and tourism is a growing industry.
The town is small but surprisingly attractive and is a handy place to stop and relax.
Closer to town is the unusual formation of London Bridge. This narrow spar of rock spans a hole that is large enough to drive
a car through. The rock formation is weathered basalt and is believed to be about 350 million years old.
On the way to London Bridge you will see a large hole bored into a rock face. This was once used as a brewery and the beer
was kept cool in the dark recesses of the tunnel.
In 1907 J.V. Kearney built a brewery up on a breakaway where the cellar was a large tunnel bored into the side of the
breakaway. The brewery operated until 1910 when the railway allowed easy access for other beers from other areas.
This is an old gold mining town which started its development in the 1890s. The town site was gazetted in 1906 and by 1913
it had reached a population of 6000. By the end of World War I it was virtually a ghost town and remains sparsely populated
The name appears to have originated with the rock formations in the area. It was named by Warden Lawlers who wrote in a
'I have since been to Black Range, but could not get the native name of the locality, and cannot suggest a suitable native
name. I would recommend the town be called 'Sandstone' or 'Sandhurst'. The place is now well known as Sandstone but a small
change such as to Sandhurst would not take the public long to get into the way of calling the town by the correct name, but
I would prefer the name 'Sandstone.'
Ernest Shillington was the first to discover gold in the area in 1894.
In 1903, Wilton and Thodore Hack with their partner George Dent found gold and established the Adelaide mine. They sold the
mine to Hans Irvine in 1903.
700 tons of ore was extracted from the mine between 1903-1916. From that, 930,000 ounces of gold was recovered.
A state run battery operated in the town from 1904 to 1982. The remains of the operation can still be seen off Menzies Road.
By 1907 there were four hotels, four butchers, two banks, a police station and many shops.
In 1910 the railway from Mount Magnet was completed and a dam was constructed at Jundoo west of the town to provide water for
the steam engines. The dam still exists and is a popular overnight stop for travellers.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
1. At one time foot races were popular in Sandstone and punters made bets on the outcome with prize money being awarded to the winner.
One day a stranger arrived in town and got wind of the races. He wanted to join in but was seen to be quite a poor runner. The locals,
who were fond of a practical joke persuaded him to wear a pair of blinkers (like those worn by horses) to keep him pointed in the right
direction. The local runners were persuaded to let him win a couple of practise sessions while wearing the blinkers in the hope that they
could get him to wear them during the real race meeting. After ‘winning’ the practise rounds the new chum duly entered the races and
the locals gathered in great numbers to see the show.
On race day fantastic odds were offered for the ‘blinkered’ runner but none of the locals were keen on laying a bet. An old bushy put
on a pound (a large sum for the day) and when the competitors walked out, sure enough, the new chum had his blinkers on.
The crowd applauded and cheered to see such a sight but when it was time for the race to start off came the blinkers and the new chum
said ‘Now I will show you how to run’. He won every race that day and along with his ‘bushy’ friend cleaned out the bookmakers before
departing quickly on the next stage out of town.
2. Some time later a couple of odd characters arrived in town. One small and spindly wearing a suit some sizes too big, another tall
man wearing a suit some sizes too small.
The large man was very fond of a drink but became aggressive and picked fights with the locals every time he got drunk. Trouble was
he lost every fight getting a complete thrashing into the bargain. It was said that even a 60 year old gave him a hiding on one occasion.
Each time he sobered up he was very apologetic and meek. Without the booze inside him he was a complete gentleman but each time he got
drunk he would pick another fight and take another beating.
This went on for some days before he singled out the largest of the locals and tried to goad him into yet another brawl. The local man
would have none of it until the stranger wagered five pounds that he could take him. The fight took place with the usual results and
the next day the stranger went round to apologise asking for the return of his money as he had been drunk and was not responsible for
his actions the night before.
Surprisingly the local man agreed but warned him that should it happen again he would not return any money.
Of course as soon as he was ‘in his cups’ the stranger sought out the local again and challenged him to yet another fight. This time
he was waving a fist full of notes and so it was agreed to arrange a fight for the next day.
The locals gathered and bets were placed on the outcome. The small stranger, who had kept a low profile, placed a number of bets on his
large companion and soon it was time for the fight to begin.
It was all over almost as soon as it started but this time it was the big stranger who was the victor. After collecting his winnings he
sought out each man who had given him a hiding and returned the favour two fold – all except the 60 year old who he congratulated on his ‘pluck’.
The two left town with bulging wallets and some time later it was found that the big man was a professional boxer from the east and
his small mate was his trainer.
Spirit of the goldfields.
A woman and her 3 children arrived in Sandstone on an old rickety cart being pulled by a worn out old horse. There was a wrapped bundle in the
back of the cart that turned out to be the woman's dead husband.
The family had fallen on hard times and the husband had been so ill he could not work. The woman found what work she could but there was never
enough money. They had decided to head for the coast hoping that with better conditions the man's health would improve.
As they made their way west they were helped by other travellers who gave them what food and water they had to spare but the man died before
the family reached the coast and now the woman and her three children were destitute.
Arrangements were made in Sandstone for the man's burial and the 'hat' was passed around, as it usually was on such occasions, to raise money
to pay for the burial. There was a small amount left over which was given to the woman.
As the family was now to be sent to the coast they had no further need for the old horse and cart so an auction was held. It was sold for
12 pounds, but then its new owner decided he had no use for it and it was put up for sale again. The next 'owner' paid 10 pounds but he
too decided the rig was not for him and again the horse and cart were put up for sale. This happened until over 100 pounds had been paid
and the rig was eventually given to an old prospector who thought he could use the horse but not the old cart.
In the true spirit of the goldfields, all the money from these various 'sales' was handed over to the widow and her children.
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Video available from September 13th 2023
London Bridge, Peter Denny lookout, Black Range chapel, Wildflowers, Museum, Jundoo Dam, Contradiction Well.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Black Range chapel, hotel, miner's cottage.
State : Kalgoorlie
Federal : Durack
Postcode : 6639
Local Government : Shire of Sandstone
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