Looked around Leonora and then its twin town Gwalia this morning. Both were big mining towns in the late 1800s to mid 1900s. Leonora is still a reasonable size town servicing the still functioning mines and surrounding smaller (tiny) towns, as well there are still quite a number of individual prospectors who live or stay there. Leonora has a number of old buildings but Gwalia really is the gem. It is now a ghost town being mostly vacated in the mid 1960s when the mine shut down. It has been maintained a bit or at least parts haven’t been pulled down. As you can see by the photos the houses were mostly made from corrugated tin. The rather grand State Hotel was built in 1903 by the government to wipe out the sly grog shops. St Babara mining corp now use it as their offices and have re opened the Sons of Gwalia mine as a mini super pit.
I quite like the sense of humour of the person who created this ‘Pee Tree’ and ‘Tea Tree’
On the hill above the mine is Hoover House another flash building. It was built by Herbert Hoover, the future American president, when he was head of the Sons of Gwalia mine in the late 1890s it has been fully restored to its former glory and operates as a B&B and museum. Thoroughly fascinating, and drinks on the verandah mid morning was very pleasant. The museum was full of interesting stuff about mining. Two highlights both part of the same thing. The original mine head-frame and the enormous steam winder. This is the largest in the country and was used to lower and raise the men and ore in and out of the mine as well power the rock crusher.
We then continued on the driving tour. Next major stop was Lake Ballard. Here there are 51 sculptures by Antony Gomley placed on the massive salt lake flats of Lake Ballard. The sculptures were made by scanning 51 of the residents of Menzies, putting the dimensions through some computer program and coming up with the following to represent the ‘inside’ of Australia. A truely amazing exhibition in a spectacular place in the middle of nowhere.
We were trying to make it to Rowles Lagoon to camp however with the sun rapidly dropping, hungry boys and at least another 60kms to drive we decided to camp in the middle of nowhere. Actually near Davyhurst, which is an abandoned town which now is nothing, except a cemetery. But I didn’t tell the boys.
A very pleasant stop except for Ben who leaped out of the car without shoes landing in a field of prickles. The type that stick to your golf balls and clubs.
Quick dinner of refreshingly cold fried rice and hamburgers. We retreated to the prickle-less, fly-less and mozzie-less tent for a game of Sleeping Queens. Thanks Kloss’ we love it.
Music today was the soundtrack from Annie (due to Herbert Hoover link) and Jack Johnson (with no water, being hot and lots of flies we were trying to channel the surf feel)