Discovered in 1869 by John Forrest, Gwalia is a must see when visiting the Goldfields.
The Gwalia Museum and Historic Precinct sits alongside the historic gold mine, Sons of Gwalia, which has been worked since 1896. The Precinct includes abandoned miners cottages and huts and shops – walk through and experience how the early miners lived.
Gwalia is a ghost town, although still home for some old and new residents. The old store, guesthouse and many other cottages can be viewed first hand. The State Hotel was the first of Western Australia’s State Hotels built (in 1903) at a cost of £6,000 for building and furnishings (now the ‘St Barbara Mines’ Mining Office).
The Mine Manager’s house (Hoover House), now an accommodation facility, old mine office (now the Museum), original headframe and winder room can be seen surrounded by the more recent mining activity. The museum, top of the hill, provides fascinating displays of early history and lifestyle in Leonora-Gwalia and the North Eastern Goldfields. This fantastic, jam-packed museum also tells the story of Herbert Hoover, the first Sons of Gwalia Mine Manager and future United States President.
‘Ken’ is a small locomotive that was used on the extensive narrow gauge ‘woodlines’ which were established to collect 30,000 tonnes of mulga timber each year to fuel the mine. ‘Ken’ can be found near the State Hotel.
When viewing Gwalia, remember that the whole area was covered in miners’ huts where families lived, kept chickens and grew vegetables. Children played and went to school, and sometimes went to Leonora on a tram which operated between the towns. The park near the Railway Station area is an ideal picnic spot and a climb to the top of Mt Leonora could help you imagine yourself in Forrest’s shoes over 100 years ago.