Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Sunday 25 September 2022

Relics of the past - Gwalia - Western Australian Goldfields

Hi everyone, time is short for me this week, so I have gone back to an unposted draft to share with you. 

It is amazing the interesting stories one hears when Wandering Out Yonder 

and honestly in a state the size of Western Australia there is a lot to see and experience and a lot of stories to hear. 

Like the case of the Gwalia Beer Strike. 

We learnt about the Gwalia Beer Strike during a trip through the Western Australian goldfields a few years ago when we visited the fascinating living ghost town of Gwalia, three kilometres south of Leonora, 236 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie and 829kms east of Perth via the Great Eastern Highway (about 9hrs drive). You can see its location on the map below. 

Gold was discovered near Mount Leonora by prospectors J Carlson, F White and A Glendinning in 1896. The Sons of Gwalia mine was at one time the second largest gold mine in Western Australia. It was managed during 1898 by Herbert Hoover, who became the thirty-first president of the USA in 1929.  

Today the unique heritage site of partially renovated but abandoned miners’ cottages, gives you some insight into the life of the miners and their families. The cottages are simply built from corrugated iron with white washed hessian and pressed tin interior walls, with dirt or wooden floors. Imagine the heat during the summer! Around 1000 people lived here in the 1890s including Italian, Austrian and Yugoslav immigrants. Evidently galah and polenta was a local speciality. The mine closed on New Year’s Eve 1963 and the town’s residents virtually left over night.

There are many interesting stories about the town and its residents. One story involves the Gwalia State Hotel built by the State Government to combat the sly-grog trade, and to provide an alternative to the hotels in nearby Leonora. Designed by Perth architect Willian E Robertson, construction cost around 5000 pounds, and was more elaborate and expensive than the Government had envisaged. The hotel opened on 3 June 1903, the first in a chain of Government owned State Hotels in Western Australia. 

In March 1919 the hotel was involved in what is believed to be the State’s first beer strike.  Fifty residents drew up a list of complaints and vowed not to return to the hotel until their conditions were met.  They related to the price and brand of beer being offered, the size and cleanliness of the glasses, and the behaviour of the manager who they believed was watering down the ale, and who they insisted should be dismissed. There was also grievances over “margin scalping’ by increasing the “collar” on the poured beer making their “pints” less than they should be. 

The men began ordering supplies from a small gallon license holder and had it delivered to their camps. The police decreed this was illegal, and the liquor was seized.   

During the boycott Gwalia was hit by a pneumonia epidemic and the Health Department used the empty hotel as a hospital. 

The number of sly-grog prosecutions continued to increase even after the boycott ended in September.

The hotel was sold to a syndicate of local residents in 1960 and closed in January 1964. Some restoration work was carried out by Western Mining Corporation and Sons of Gwalia Ltd. It is now owned by the St Barbara Ltd mining company. 

The two story brick and iron hotel with its wide wrap around veranda and balcony presents an impressive sight from the street and is a fine example of Federation Filigree style typical of Australian hotels at the turn-of-the-century.

The hotel is listed on the Register of Heritage places by the Heritage Council of Western Australia, but as is privately owned can only be viewed from the street.

27 of the cottages in Gwalia have been partially restored by volunteers through the Adopt-a-Cottage Project 1995-96, with further conservation work commencing in 2013.  You can explore the history of Gwalia in the museum precinct

There is a fascinating display of old number plates at the old mechanics shop. 

There is accommodation at elegant
Hoover House  
There is also an free RV site outside the Museum for fully self contained vehicles. Please register at the Museum. 

My story about the Gwalia beer strike was published in On The Road magazine in Australia in March-April 2019 edition.

Where is it?: Gwalia is located 236 km north of Kalgoorlie via the Goldfields Highway and 3 kms south of Leonora. 

Looking for a free camp? I can recommend Niagra Dam, about 80kms south of Leonora. You can read about it on my blog post by clicking on the link. 

More information:
Gwalia Ghost Town & Museum: www.gwalia.org.au - including map
WA Heritage Council: www.stateheritage.wa.gov.au

Pressed tin work at Gwalia
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little bit of history. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

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