Although Yalgoo is not located on any of the main tourist routes, it is still worth while making the effort to travel
between the main coastal road and the inland highway to see this interesting town and surrounding area.
Yalgoo has always depended on the mining and pastroal industries for its survival but today tourism is increasing in
Fossicking for gold attracts many people to the area and during wildflower season (August - October) the bush comes
alive with a carpet of colours.
Exploration dates from 1846 when A.C. Gregory
travelled through the area. He was followed in 1854 by Robert Austin
and John Forrest in 1873. Gold was discovered
in the 1890s but it is uncertain who was first to find it.
Local legend suggests that in 1892 five men, Evans, Knight, Moxon, Parsons and Rice were prospecting in the area when they came across the camp of a shepherd
(William Pearce) who was with an Aboriginal woman and some children. The prospectors noticed that some rocks the children were playing with contained traces of
gold and asked Pearce where they had come from. Pearce - who seemed unaware of the value of gold - showed the men who promptly pegged out a claim that was to
become the Emerald Reward Mine. It is unclear whether Pearce shared in their good fortune.
Soon afterwards anther prospector (Richard Robinson) arrived and pegged a claim not far north that became the Star of Hope mine. By the end of that year all the
land around these two leases had been taken up and a town slowly started to develop around a newly sunk government well.
First called Yalgu the town site was gazetted in 1896. A month later someone at Lands and Surveys had a change of heart and it became Yalgoo. This appears to not
have been officially recorded until 1938. The name is supposed to mean 'place of blood'. It is thought that the area was used by the local Aboriginal tribe as
an initiation site and in the Aborignal dialect of the area 'Yalgu' means blood.
Another theory is that the name refers to the red coloured sap of a native bush that grows there. The Aboriginal name for the bush being yalgru or yalguru.
By 1895 the population was estimated at 900 and in May the following year the first Road Board was established and lots on the town site were put up for sale.
By 1898 there were licenses for no less than 18 pubs in the area and it was said that the hotel trade was second only to mining. In the same year the railway
arrived from Mullewa and Yalgoo for a while was the 'head of the line'.
'The famous Emerald mine, situated close to the town, was sold for a large sum, and numerous other properties brought fabulous prices.'
Twentieth Century Impressions of W.A. 1901
Mining boomed until the early 1900s but soon after the turn of the century there was a down turn and many smaller mines closed down. By 1908 the
largest mine, the Emerald Reward had closed. During this time the pastoral industry was expanding and despite the First World War, the town
continued to do well into the 1920s.
Mining picked up again in the 1920s and electric street lights were turned on in 1922.
Accidents, violent deaths and suicide were common in Yalgoo and during one twelve month period none of the 13 deaths reported were from natural causes.
Some of the more superstitious residents may have been heard to mutter about the town's name and it's association with blood.
During the years of the Great Depression (starting in 1929) Yalgoo was supported mainly by mining. Pastoral properties did not do well as wool prices fell
and drought hit the area. When World War Two arrived the situation reversed with all mining coming to an end by 1942 but good rains and better wool prices
meant that the town once again did not suffer as badly as it otherwise might have done.
By the 1960s mining had almost ceased completely. It was now the pastoral industry that kept the town alive. 1969 saw nickel discoveries pump new life into
the town and with new extraction methods and higher gold prices in the 1970s, gold once again became profitable to mine and old workings were re-processed with some success.
In 1973 a museum was opened and shortly afterwards some of the older buildings including the chapel were restored as people decided to ensure that some of the town's
heritage was preserved.
In 1978 the railway closed down and the town saw yet another decline during the 1980s. Yalgoo continues to survive today as the economy swings back and forth from mning to
pastoral interests. A new tourist industry has also come to the area as metal detectors have brought a new wave of prospectors into the old gold fields.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
What was possibly the first letter bomb ever sent in Australia was delivered to the Yalgoo post office in 1903. It was addressed to Solomon William Lowns
who, on opening the package at the post office counter had one of his hands blown off. The person responsible for sending the bomb was brought to trial but
the outcome is not known.
The incident was reported in The Advertiser newspaper as follows:
'THE YALGOO OUTRAGE.
ACCUSED BEFORE THE COURT.
Perth, March 24.
At Yalgoo this morning Richard John Carlyon was charged that on February 13 he, with intent to do bodily harm to Solomon William Lowns,
sent him an explosive, namely an explosive bomb.
Mr. Duboulay objected to Mr. F. Wallace, M.L.A., sitting on the bench, owing to opinions he had expressed on the case. Mr.
Wallace then retired.
Solomon William Lowns said - 'I am a storekeeper, residing at Yalgoo. I have known the defendant since 1895. I remember serving him with a Local
Court summons at the suit of Mrs. King, some time about December 31, to appear at this court on February 12. I saw the defendant in February near
my store. I spoke to him, and called him a "completed liar." He replied, "So are others." I did not hear him state in court that there was a conspiracy
between myself, Mrs. King, and McMurtrie, but others told me, and he admitted having said so.'
The witness then detailed the particulars of the quarrel with the accused. He continued 'On February 13 I went to the post office and got a parcel.
It was handed to me by Arthur Dewar, who said, "We think there is gold in it; you must open it in front of me." The parcel was covered with paper.
I noticed that the name on the addresses was spelled "Lowndes." I found that I could not get the upper lid off with my fingers, and Mr. Dewar gave
me a knife. I took the paper off. It was thickly gummed at both ends, and I found a small cylinder 4 in. long and 3/4 in. in diameter. The cylinder
was made of tin. I was pulling the tin, when I saw a flame, and then followed an explosion, the result being that I was knocked down. I got out of
the Post-Office somehow, and sat down on the road. I had a good look at my left hand, and found that it had been completely blown away, except a
little flesh of the back. My hand has since been amputated.'
Cross-examined, the witness said 'I called the accused a "completed liar." I consider him a "perfect" man at lying. I think the bad friendship must
have commenced in court on February 12, when he charged me with conspiracy. The explosion took place on February 13. My proper name is Solomon William
Lowns. The packet was addressed "Lowndes," which is not my name. I never saw the initials. It may not have been for me, but it was well understood
that it was for me. The bomb must have been a very complicated piece of machinery, which would take sometime in its construction. I don't know what the explosive was.'
Evidence was also given by Willam, Meleng (postmaster) and Dr. Wills.'
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