WA Goldfields



The First Gold Find:

Although ultimately WA was to become one of the richest gold producing States in Australia, it is somewhat ironic that the official reward offered by the government of the day in 1872, the sum of £5000, to be awarded to the person who found the first payable goldfield in Western Australia, was never officially rewarded as the conditions that were to be met to claim the reward were quite demanding.

These conditions for payment of the reward stipulated that the field must lie within 300 miles (480 km) of a declared port, had produced at least 10 000 ounces (311 035 g) of gold within two years of the discovery, and that the gold had been shipped to Great Britain after clearance at a Customs House of the colony.

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Phil Saunders:

The first known gold find in WA was by a party of four prospectors led by a Phil Saunders who is credited with the finding of traces of gold in the East Kimberly area in August and September 1882 near the headwaters of the Ord River. Unfortunately one of their party became seriously ill, and they were forced to leave the area before they had sufficient time to fully trace the source, so due to these unfortunate circumstances, and it being the only remaining option that Saunders had at the time, he informed the WA Colonial Secretary of his find and his belief that payable gold probably existed in the area.

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John Forrest & H Johmston:

This report led to a further survey expedition to the West Kimberly area led by a John Forrest accompanied by a geologist named Edward Hardman however the party was unsuccessful in finding any sings of gold. A second survey expedition back to the East Kimberly area in 1884 led by a H Johnston, of which Edward Hardman was also a member did find gold. Hardman was successful in panning gold in several of the watercourses in the area,, with his best results being from the headwaters of the Elvire River.

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Charles Hall:

The report of these finds by Hardman accompanied by the map which he released in 1884 saw several prospecting parties journey to the area to take up the search. One such party of six members led by a Charles Hall travelled to where according to Hardman his best finds were made in the Elvire River area, and where on the 14th July 1885 the party did successfully find payable gold. This previously unnamed area was then named Halls Creek by the party, and while Hardman was recognised for the importance of his findings, it was Charles Hall who was ultimately recognised as being the first person to find payable gold in WA.

With the news of these gold finds Halls Creek was destined to become the first gold rush in WA, however only a few were lucky enough to locate payable alluvial or reef gold, while most had little or no success. Warden Price reported that there were about 2000 men at the diggings when he arrived, but it was estimated that the total number of diggers who joined the rush was in all probability four or five times that number. By the end of 1886 the rush had wanned, and by February 1887 there were only about 600 men remaining at the field. Halls Creek never really prospered, as the ore in the gold bearing reefs that were being mined petered out at depth, and the shallower alluvial gold was soon exhausted.

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Jimmy Withnell:

Two years after the Kimberley rush, gold was discovered in the Pilbara tableland region of Western Australia by Jimmy Withnell, these diggings were to prove to be rich in ore, and these finds were to ultimately lead on to further discoveries in the surrounding ravines, and across the tablelands onto Marble Bar and the Ashburton River area.

By 1888 the Yilgarn goldfield around Southern Cross in the colony's east had been proclaimed.

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Coolgardie & Kalgoolie:

The largest gold discoveries in WA came in 1892 at Coolgardie and in 1893 at Kalgoorlie with the discovery of rich alluvial gold deposits near Mount Charlotte. The three Irish gold prospectors credited with the original discovery were Dan Shea, Tom Flanagan and Paddy Hannan who alone had personally discovered 8 pounds of gold nuggets, and after the word got out Kalgoorlie's gold rush had begun. Within a matter of days up to 700 gold diggers were pegging out mining claims around Kalgoorlie and by 1903 the town boasted a population of 30,000, along with 93 hotels and 8 breweries. By the late 1890s Kalgoorlie's rich alluvial gold deposits had been largely worked out.

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Boulder:

Rich gold reefs and telluride minerals had been discovered at nearby Boulder an event which in this area was to usher in the era of the larger mining companies and this meant that the age of the independent digger was soon to draw to a close. By 1896 some 690 mining companies had been formed to work claims in the WA Eastern Goldfields and had floated on the London Stock Exchange, and from this period on to 1902 there were more than 50 gold towns established across the Eastern Goldfields most of which never survived for more than ten years or so. One of the more successful mining companies formed to exploit these recourses was the Great Boulder Mine which went on to discover and extract payable gold from 1500 feet below the surface.

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The Golden Mile:

Later Boulder Mining leases came to be known as "The Golden Mile" and by all accounts this area contained the richest square mile of gold reserves in the world. During the past 20 years the use of modern machinery and open cut mining technologies has seen the Golden Mile transform itself into a Super Pit. Current dimensions of the "Super Pit" are 290 metres deep by 1.5 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres long.

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The Largest Gold Nugget:

The largest nugget discovered on the Eastern Goldfields wasn't unearthed until 1931. Called the "Golden Eagle", it tipped the scales at 1136 ounces. Its discovery by 16-year-old Jim Larcombe Jnr came at a time when the gold industry was once again experiencing a boom despite the Great Depression. Over 700 men rushed to "Larkinville" where the nugget was found.

The following listing is of some of the areas where gold has been found in the years gone by, including many where gold may still be found to this day by using modern prospecting equipment and methods.

Prospecting in WA

Goldfields Resource Guide (pdf)

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Search Further Information:

To access further information of any individual gold field shown below simply highlight the name of the required gold field and then copy (Control C) and paste (Control V) into one of the search boxes provided below.


Agnew Goldfield
Aphrodite Goldfield
Ashburton River Goldfield
Bardoc Goldfield
Beasley Creek Goldfield
Beria Goldfield
Bindah Goldfield
Binduli Goldfield
Boddington Goldfield
Bottle Creek Goldfield
Boulder Goldfield
Bounty Goldfield
Bronzewing Goldfield
Burtville Goldfield
Butcher Well Goldfield
Calista Goldfield
Camel Back Goldfield
Challenger Goldfield
Cleo Goldfield
Cooper Pedy Goldfield
Copperfield Goldfield
Cue Goldfield
Davyhurst Goldfield
Dragon Goldfield
Emu Goldfield
Evanston Goldfield
Federal Goldfield
Granny Smith Goldfield
Golden Delicious Goldfield
Gwalia Goldfield
Harmony Goldfield
Harold Goldfield
Jupiter Goldfield
Kalgoorlie Goldfield
Kanowna Goldfield
Karari Goldfield
Keringal Goldfield
Kookynie Goldfield
Kundana Goldfield
Lake Carey Goldfield
Laverton Goldfield
Leinster Goldfield
Leonora Goldfield
Lotus Goldfield
Marble Bar Goldfield
Marda Goldfield
Meekatharra Goldfield

Menzies Goldfield
Mount Celia Goldfield
Mount Charlotte Goldfield
Mount Dimer Goldfield
Mount Gibson Goldfield
Mount Magnet Goldfield
Mount Morgan Goldfield
Mount McClure Goldfield
Mount Percy Goldfield
Mount Pleasant Goldfield
Norseman Goldfield
Ora Banda Goldfield
Paddington Goldfield
Panglo Goldfield
Parmellia Goldfield
Piantos Goldfield
Pilbara Goldfield
Red October Goldfield
Rowles Lagoon Goldfield
Success Goldfield
Sunrise Goldfield
Timoni Goldfield
Wendy Gully Goldfield
White Foil Goldfield
Windarra Goldfield
Wyoming Goldfield
Youamni Goldfield


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