The Holland Track
Cave Hill, Burra Rock and the Woodlines
From Burra Rock it is an easy drive via the gravel Burra Rock and Napean Roads to Coolgardie.
Bayley and Ford discovered gold at Fly Flat, near Coolgardie, in June 1892 - a year before Hannan, Flanagan and Shea found gold in Kalgoorlie. The discoveries lead to a gold rush which rivaled the Californian and the Klondike gold rushes, and said to be the greatest movement of people in Australia's history.
Prospectors piled their possessions onto wooden carts, horse-drawn wagons, on horseback, or even walked pushing wheelbarrows to travel overland from Fremantle, Perth, Esperance and Albany to the goldfields. (I told you a bit more about this in my Holland Track post).
On the goldfields they lived in tents or rough bush shelters, like the one you see below on display at the Kalgoorlie Mining Hall of Fame. (That is a mine head you can see in the background).
My grandfather and great-grandfather came to the goldfields from Victoria, before working on the pipeline and Mundaring Weir projects, and then finally settling at Narrogin and Bilbarin.
A couple of years ago we discovered that my husband's Grandfather was buried at the Coolgardie cemetery in a plot only marked by a number. Since then we have had a headstone erected, and on this trip we went to see it. Now his life and his final resting place have been marked. You can see the Coolgardie Cemetery in the photos below. Located on the western side of town on the Great Eastern Highway, it is an interesting place to visit as there is a lot of history recorded on its headstones.
Coolgardie was declared a townsite on 24 August 1893 and at its peak had a population of 16,000, with another 10,000 in the surrounding area, 7 newspapers, 2 stock exchanges, 6 banks, 23 hotels, and 3 breweries. Today its heritage precinct is a 'living museum' where you can learn about the history of the gold rush. It really is worth stopping to look at the magnificent architecture and building.
Below you can see the Coolgardie Town Hall, government offices and Court House, which houses an excellent museum. Completed in 1898, this building is one of the finest examples of early Australian architecture.
A lot of the original buildings were probably built of wood boughs or corrugated tin. However the Government buildings were often built from local stone quarried in the area, and reflected solidarity, the wealth of the goldfields, and their prospects for the future. Now, in Coolgardie, as in other similar early mining towns, the solid stone buildings and a couple of hotels are all that remain. (Cue in the Western Australian mid west is another good example).
The area is dotted with mine shafts, so you need to be careful if you go walking. Here is a photo of a minehead located on a look out hill overlooking the town.
Today the Coolgardie only has a small population mostly involved in gold and nickel mining and pastoralism. Below you can see the main street of Coolgardie (the Great Eastern Highway), now very quiet and very different to what it was during the gold rush era. The road is very wide to allow camel and bullock trains to turn in the street.
|From Western Australia|
In the hot dry conditions of the goldfields, water was scarce, and was distilled and sold by the can. In 1895 the first plans were prepared by Engineer-in-Chief CY O'Connor, for an engineering feat that would stagger the world — an attempt to pump fresh water uphill 560 km, from Mundaring Weir in the hills near Perth to the goldfields of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
The pipeline was completed in 1903, and is still in use today supplying water through 8000 kilometres of pipe to over 100,000 people and six million sheep throughout the goldfields and surrounding agricultural areas, over an area covering 44 000 square kilometres.
(I will be back to tell you about that another day).
The pipeline is a major feature of the Great Eastern Highway on the way to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
From Coolgardie we decided to go south along the gravel Victoria Rock Road to Gnarlbine Rock - 29km to the south. Explorer Henry Maxwell Lefroy camped here and discovered water on 8 June 1863, followed by Charles Cooke Hunt on 16 August 1864. Hunt improved the well and recorded its indigenous name, Mullinquirt. The rock, soak and well were one of the principal water supplies for the Coolgardie goldrush before the building of the pipeline. John Holland and his party arrived at Gnarlbine on 16 June 1893, and reached Coolgardie on 18 June 1893.
As you can see in the images below, the well is now disused, but you can see the dry- stone wall construction, typical of hand built wells of that era. The rock is a great place to take a break, go for a walk or have lunch. Our children enjoyed looking for tadpoles in the gnamma water holes on the rock.
My exploration of both Charles Cooke Hunt and John Holland with started a few years before when we found a "H" blazed on a tree near Cave Hill, intersected at Gnarlbine.
In the Coolgardie Pioneer cemetery is Agnes and John Holland's headstone - Agnes, died on 7 May 1894 at the age of 25, and John on 10 November 1936 at the age of 80.
Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing from you and hope you have enjoyed the next part of our tour, but it is not over yet. We still have more granite rocks to explore, history to discover, and camps to camp.
Do you like deliving into your ancestor's and country's history? I think the older I get the more interested I become. How about you?
I am linking up with Mosaic Monday, Our World Tuesday and Travel Photo Thursday. Please click on the links to see contributions from around the world.
Our World Tuesday
Travel Photo Thursday
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