Be drawn to Mount Magnet – the magnetic centre of the outback and longest continuous goldmining centre in Western Australia. Following in the path of early pastoralists, gold prospectors and astronomers, you’ll discover ancient landscapes and dazzling wildflower country.
You can reach Mount Magnet from four points of the compass on sealed roads. Along the way, spare a thought for the region’s first pastoralists, Watson and Jones, who walked their sheep from the coast in the late 1870s. Or colonial explorer Robert Austin who named the nearby hills Mount Magnet and West Mount Magnet in 1854, when he discovered the magnetic rocks interfered with his compass.
West Mount Magnet, which towers over the town offering sweeping views of the outback plains beyond, was later given back its Aboriginal name, ‘Warramboo’ meaning camping place. From May, when the over-arching emu constellation has particular meaning for the local Badimaya people, you can explore the night skies and discover their ancient culture. The Badimaya also invite you to the Wirnda Barna Arts Centre to discover the fine work of the region’s Indigenous artists.
There are ample opportunities to dig deep into gold rush history too – taking you back to July 1891, when rich deposits of reef gold were struck on the east side of the Mount and nuggets of alluvial gold were “dug up like potatoes” at Poverty Flats.
Mount Magnet was proclaimed a township soon after and much of its original architecture has been well-preserved. Marvel at stories of heroism, hope and hardship at the Mount Magnet Mining and Pastoral Museum, which also houses a world-class rock exhibition, including rare orbicular granite. Hit the heritage walks, take a daytrip to Cue, Yalgoo and Sandstone, try your luck at prospecting or explore the eerie remains of long-abandoned gold rush settlements.
To make it your outback base, check out the hotel-motels, a caravan park and self-contained units, or immerse yourself in outback life with a stay at an authentic sheep station.
Make the journey between July and September and you’ll see the desert plains carpeted in colourful blooms of Western Australian wildflowers.