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Goldfields and Wildflowers - Day 7 & 8 @ Menzies

Day 7
Leaving Lake Ballard this morning we hitched up & drove the 51km to Menzies. We got some washing out on the line, & headed by car alone to an abandoned Emerald mine that the group visited the previous day, with precise directions in search of tiny green emeralds,aquamarine & opals. With our bums in the air, & faces close to the ground, we searched for the glistening green rocks. No g- picks (geological picks) were required for this outing just a good eye for the coloured stones we were searching for. Deborah found some tiny emerald & aquamarine gem stones & of course we both found some lovely rocks we just had to bring home to add to our ever growing rock basket collections. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in dappled sunshine under the trees by the mine.

Day 8
It was an 8.30am start. We headed to an almost deserted Gwalia town site. Gwalia is still operating as a Gold Mine, however it is well known for the exodus of it's residents when the Sons of Gwalia Mine closed in 1963. The residents abandoned the small houses, some very tiny and over 1,000 people left to work on other mines including the Kalgoorlie Mine. It is now mainly a ghost town with about 15-20 people living locally. The Gwalia Mine site is of international significance as it was recommended to be developed in 1897 by American mining engineer Herbert Hoover who was later to become president of USA.
A very impressive new museum is set up to preserve the early history of the mine & townsite & includes Hoover House built as the Mine Managers house now operating as a Bed & Breakfast, & Cafe, overlooking the old open cut mine that is still operational as an underground mine.
The men only came to the office once a week to collect their pay, and they sure had to make sure it was correct weight.
Although one a few miles between the townsites of Leonora and Gwalia the electric tram ran from 1908 to 1923, a very advanced mode of transport for an out of the way place.

Many of the mine workers houses were tiny & built of materials that were cheaply available such as timber, corrugated iron, hessian walls & either dirt or brick floors.
This example was built by an Italian immigrant in the late 1930's, with basically 2 rooms...one bedroom and the other a kitchen with laundry bathroom the other room.

Mazza's Store
Built around 1910. It was truly a one stop shop selling everything from soap to oil & ammunition.
It also provided free delivery.

Patroni's Guesthome
Many miners were single & stayed at guest houses such as this. It was expensive compared to what they earned as boarders paid £5 for full board with weekly earnings in the 1940's being £7.10. There were around 16 rooms at the Patroni's guesthouse, each housing 2 single men. It did have a large kitchen to provide meals to the boarders and any other singles that might require meals.

The State Hotel
Built by the Government in 1903, partly to lessen the sly-grog trade.

Swimming pool at the mine site.
Built in 1921 for the residents. It was the second public pool built in Western Australia.

After a walk around the ghost town we drove into Leonora to the White House Hotel for a Fathers Day Pizza lunch together. There were some interesting signs on the wall.
And spot the mistakes on this poster.

On the way back to Menzies we took a detour to look in at the Kookynie Hotel & the Niagara Dam. We crossed the Dam wall and around the catchment area. There is free camping, toilets & a dump point around the Dam.
Kookynie is renowned for the horse that stands outside the hotel. Built over 100 years ago the Grand Hotel is now the only building completely left standing, although in its heyday of 1907, the town boasted a population of 3,500, eleven hotels, a turf club, several brass bands its own brewery and two sift drink makers.
Niagara dam was built in 1897 to provide water for the nearby towns. Unfortunately underground water was discovered just after its completion, so the dam was never really fully utilised. It took multiple trips by camel train to bring the resources to build the dam the 100's of kilometres up from Kalgoorlie.

Posted by iandeborah 12:26

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Oh Deb, you did paint a funny picture with your bums in the air, and noses to the ground. How wonderful that Gwalia has been preserved as a wonderful little museum town - fascinating. I’ve just said to Paul that we have to stop locking ourselves into Broome every year for the winter as it prevents us seeing these other places. When are you back Deb? Travel safe.

by Chris Riley

WA is such a beautiful place to visit. Reading about you're travels is adding to our list of destinations when we visit next. Hopefully, next year. 🤞
Stay safe and keep living the dream.

by Vicki Berkhout

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