Australia’s diverse natural resources have led to booms and busts over the years, with small towns constructed to support the gold, pearl, and opal mining industries as well as telegraph stations and cattle ranches. After resources are depleted, these temporary metropolises are left behind as ghost towns. There’s no better way to experience the eerie beauty of Australia’s ghost towns than by taking a road trip through areas like Western Australia, home to the Gold Rush of the 1900s. The following are a few of the most notable ghost towns here as well as throughout the rest of the country.
A small town in the Brisbane Ranges of Victoria, Steiglitz was once home to nearly 1500 residents after gold was first discovered in the 1850s. Yet the population began to decline when the last gold mine in the area shut down in 1941, and today less than 100 residents call Steiglitz home. Visitors can still see a number of original structures in this historic town, including the well-preserved courthouse, post office, churches, and Scott’s Hotel.
Image Source: Melburnian/Wikipedia Commons
Big Bell, Western Australia
Once home to the Big Bell Gold Mine, the ghost town of Big Bell was established in 1936 and grew to include three churches, a railway station, a hospital, a pub, a police station, and two schools. The Big Bell hotel was also notable for having the longest bar in Australia before the mine closed for the final time in 2003. Today it’s nearly completely deserted, but you can still see the remainders of the original roads and remnants of many of the town’s buildings.
Shay Gap, Western Australia
The iron ore mining town of Shay Gap was developed by Goldsworthy Mining in the 1960s, and was once home to 1000 residents. The town boasted all the latest luxuries, including air-conditioned homes, cable television, and a shopping centre. Today little of this remains as Goldsworthy elected to close the town in 1994, and today it’s hard to believe a modern and fully functioning town stood here only 20 years ago.
Image Source: Micwhitty/Wikipedia Commons
Farina, South Australia
Farina was settled by farmers in 1878 who were hoping that the idea that “rain follows the plough” would prove to be true. However, drought plagued the town over the years. If you’re planning a drive to remote Farina, you’ll want to search carsales for a car with 4WD, as it stands at the edge of the desert near the Birdsville Track. At one time plans were laid out for a town with over 432 acres, with hopes that wheat and barley would flourish. At one time, the town had two hotels, a bank, two breweries, a church, a bakery, and a school. Yet today, all you’ll find on these dusty tracks are stone ruins.
Image Source: HSpirit/Wikipedia Commons
Kanowna, Western Australia
One of Western Australia’s most famous gold rush ghost towns is Kanowna, which is where over 12,000 residents called home at the turn of the 20th century. It also hosted a number of temporary visitors, who were housed in the town’s 16 hotels. Kanowna was also home to a post office, two breweries, a hospital, and a railway station providing links to other mining towns. Although gold was discovered here in 1893, the production volumes started to decline over the next few decades and the town was abandoned in 1953.
These remnants of Australia’s rugged past are fascinating to visit. The ones mentioned above are but a few examples of Australian ghost towns that you can see on any tour through the countryside.