Leonora is a mine of outback history and heritage, from the old world grandeur of its legendary State Hotel to the simple charm of iron and hessian miners’ cottages in the eerie gold rush ghost town of neighbouring Gwalia.
The best way to reach Leonora is to take the three hour drive north of Kalgoorlie, following the Golden Quest Discovery Trail and allowing a little extra time to stop at some of the interpretive sites along the way.
Since its early settler days, dating back to when John Forrest set up camp here in 1869, canvas tents, iron cottages and wooden shacks made way for much grander brick hotels and establishments as gold, nickel and silver mining brought fortune, growth and prosperity.
That said, even today the wide main street is lit by kerosene lamps, with many characterful buildings of the early 1900s serving their original purpose, including both of the town’s hotels, the post office, police station, courthouse and fire station.
More of the region’s rich gold rush heritage is revealed with a short drive to the ghost town of Gwalia. Lovingly restored remnants of its heyday, from establishment in 1897 to the closure of the Sons of Gwalia mine in 1963, make for an awe-inspiring journey into the region’s past. Take a walk through the precinct of 20 original miners’ cottages. Visit the Gwalia Historical Museum. Or spend a night in historic Hoover House – the former residence of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, who migrated to Western Australia to work as a mining engineer prior to pursuing his political career.
More accommodation options are available within Leonora itself, including the town’s original hotels, a motel and caravan park, providing a welcome break for tourists en-route to Alice Springs and North West Australia.
Make time for a little extra rest and relaxation with a visit to the favourite local picnic spot at Malcom Dam or the Leonora lookout at the top of Smoodgers Hill.