News Archive

Gwalia exhibition in Perth - 17 October until 4 November 2016 weekdays 11am to 3pm

Featuring tales of residents both past and present.

Gwalia's gold - its people and places

The lucrative Sons of Gwalia gold mining lease was registered in 1896. In 1898, Herbert Hoover worked as the mine manager - long before he became the 31st President of the United States. 

Hoover recruited migrants from Italy and Yugoslavia based on their industrious reputation and so began Gwalia - a makeshift miners’ camp in the Western Australian outback.

During its peak, the Sons of Gwalia mine was the sixth largest gold mining operation in Australia and Gwalia’s heart beat strong with community spirit - a hard-working and multicultural melting pot, who lived in tiny huts made of tin, hessian wire twitch and lime paint. 

But when the mine closed in December 1963, the majority of Gwalia’s population took what they could carry and left by train, chasing more tales of gold in nearby Kalgoorlie. 

Over fifty years have since passed and despite surrounding towns like Malcolm now nothing but rubble, Gwalia – located 800 kilometres north-east of Perth - still stands today and provides a rare insight into how life once was for gold miners at the turn of the last century.

And it’s that same old community spirit that has continued to breathe life into this tiny ghost town. The Shire of Leonora and local community have worked tirelessly to restore the cottages to their former glory, as authentically as possible. 

Gwalia still holds enduring memories for former residents, workers and their families and they often make the pilgrimage back to this makeshift miners' camp to reconnect with their past. 

In 2015, the Shire of Leonora commissioned Multimedia Journalist Kate Ferguson to capture the remarkable story of Gwalia’s people, places and preservation. 

Titled Gwalia’s Gold – its people and places -  the exhibition, funded by the Minara Community Foundation grant, consists of 90 photographs and a video documentary, featuring tales of residents both past and present. 

The exhibition launch will be held at The Palace Hotel on St Georges Terrace in Perth on Thursday the 13th of October and will kick off Heritage Perth’s "Perth Heritage Days 2016” event. H

Gwalia’s Gold - its people and places will run for three weeks in Perth, before returning to the Museum in Gwalia. Here’s the dates for Perth: 


17 October – 4 November: 11am – 3pm (excludes Saturday & Sunday)


Article by Kate Ferguson


« Return to news page