Southern Cross was named after the stars that guided early prospectors to their gold find. It’s surrounded by some of the largest farms in the State and stands at the western gateway to the world’s largest and healthiest temperate woodland – the Great Western Woodlands. Make a stop to admire some of the best spring wildflower shows on Earth, or immerse yourself in colourful gold rush history.
A convenient halfway house on the Great Eastern Highway and Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail that runs between Kalgoorlie and Perth, Southern Cross is a four hour drive east of Perth and a two and a half hour drive west of Kalgoorlie. It sits at the centre of Yilgarn Shire, Yilgarn meaning white stone or quartz in the local Indigenous language.
The area is spectacularly beautiful in spring, with wildflowers carpeting the surrounding outback plains and Great Western Woodland – a 160,000 square kilometre temperate woodland that has great significance to the world’s ecology, on a par with Africa’s Serengeti and South America’s Amazon.
Take a scenic woodland drive, pick from the locals’ favourite picnic spots at Baladje Rock, Frog Rock, Karalee Dam or Hunts Soak, or head up to Wimmera Hill Lookout for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding farmland, salt lakes and gold mines.
Gold was discovered in Southern Cross in 1888 by Tom Risely and Mick Toomey, marking the start of the eastern Goldfields gold rush. The first permanent courthouse in the eastern Goldfields and Western Australia’s first registry was built here in 1892, which now house the Yilgarn History Museum’s impressive collection of relics and artefacts, including a working model of a gold battery, a camel wagon, the local burial register and domestic memorabilia.
Stay a while to soak up more of its rich heritage with a night or two at the town’s country pub, originally built in 1892. There are more rooms and self-contained options available at the local motels, as well as a caravan park.