Look no further than these brilliant Western Australian locations for a true-blue taste of the Goldfields.
Laverton is nestled in nearly inhospitable soils in the Northern Goldfields, on the fringe of the Great Victoria Desert. About as remote as the Golden Outback gets, this far-flung patch of civilisation once epitomised Australia’s Wild West, but now it’s a vibrant pit stop for intrepid travellers on the road to Uluru, or even Queensland.
Laverton’s history is one of resilience and gutsiness in the face of adversity. The townspeople have weathered the abrupt end of the gold rush, a ravaging cyclone, the removal of the rail that connected them to cities, and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today, this proud heritage, the town’s trove of Indigenous culture and its modern nickel-mining operations have breathed new life into Laverton.
Leonora is a quintessentially charming Goldfields town that lies 230 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie. Its streetscape is characterised by heritage miners’ cottages and Victorian shopfronts. Leonora survives as a thriving outback hub with a vibrant community, but the neighbouring town of Gwalia was not as lucky. Ghost towns like Gwalia pepper the Goldfields region, serving as eerie, 3D relics of bygone gold rush riches.
In the heart of Western Australia’s Goldfields country, Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a surprising cultural haven six hours east of Perth. The grand, colonial buildings that line Kalgoorlie’s streets echo the town’s gold rush prosperity, and today many of them house photography, painting and sculpture studios; art retail outlets; and exhibition spaces, which host regular competitions for local and visiting artists.
Head to the Museum of the Goldfields for a glimpse into Kalgoorlie’s golden glory days, when the unassuming outback town catapulted Western Australia onto the world stage. Marvel at the state’s most extensive gold bar and nugget collection, and other artefacts that convey the lifestyle and hardships of gold rush families.
At one point, Coolgardie was regarded as the ‘mother of the Western Australia’s Goldfields’, and had a 30,000-strong population, which has since depleted to fewer than 1000 people. Though the gold rush glory days have waned, Coolgardie’s streetscape – full to the brim with lofty arches and elaborate balconies – exudes all the pageantry of a town built on gold.
For a dose of remote desert vistas and untouched outback flora, why not embark on the two-hour Holland Track that that links Broomehill with Coolgardie? This drive is an unequivocal bucket list item for four-wheel drive enthusiasts, but be warned: it’s not for the faint of heart!