Meekatharra

An old gold and copper mining town in the East Murchison Goldfields, it was once an important cattle railhead for stock overlanded from the Northern Territory.

Meekatharra was once an important cattle railhead for stock overlanded down the Canning Stock Route from the Northern Territory via the Gibson Desert or another stock route, known as the Madman's Track, from stations to the north west.

A 2,181-metre runway, now known as Meekatharra Airport, was built by the Americans during World War II. It today serves as an important ETOPS diversion airport for inbound transcontinental flights to Australia when Perth Airport is closed.

Regional Ghost Towns in the Area is an excellent booklet is the comprehensive Shire of Meekatharra Information Directory which is a 'must' for anyone interested in exploring the ghost towns in the area. It has detailed directions and potted histories relating to Nannine, Garden Gully, Abbotts, Gabanintha, Peak Hill and Horseshoe.

Meeka Rangelands Discovery Trail

The trail provides a fascinating insight into the history and natural and cultural heritage of Meekatharra, along an easy 3 kilometre walk around Meekatharra Creek. The trail also includes the Meeka Lookout, an opportunity to take in the vast red rangelands and appreciate the beauty of the outback landscape.

State Battery

acknowledges the early prospectors and miners who followed them. Located on Meekatharra Creek with other interesting relics from Meekatharra’s gold mining past.

Peak Hill

One of many locations around town with mining pits, providing a fascinating insight into the district’s rich gold mining heritage.

Peace Gorge

(3 km): an area of granite rock formations. Its reputation for picnics dates back to World War 1 when Meekatharra’s servicemen were welcomed home with a gala picnic and sports day at the granites. Since that day, the area has been known as Peace Gorge.


Nannine

Nannine, formerly a gold mining town, is now a ghost town. Located on the northern bank of Lake Anneen, approximately 35 kilometres south-southwest of Meekatharra, Nannine came to life when John Connolly discovered gold at the site in 1890, prompting a gold rush to the area. A town was proclaimed in September 1891 and gazetted in 1893. It is claimed that it was the first town in the region.

By 1894 the town was large enough to be given its own electoral district, and in 1896 construction began on a Northern Railway between Nannine and Cue, which was completed in 1903. The continuation of the line to Meekatharra was begun in 1909. By 1919 the town was in deep decline.

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Mount Augustus National Park

(348 km north west): Mount Augustus is an inselberg that stands 1106 m above sea level, or approximately 860 m above the surrounding plain. Mt. Augustus is more than twice the size of Uluru, but unlike Uluru, which is devoid of plant growth, Mt. Augustus has plant growth on it. Mt. Augustus is surrounded by other fascinating geological formations, Aboriginal rock art and engravings plus a wealth of animal and bird life. The journey to Mount Augustus is far from easy (4-wheel drive only) but the result of the effort is a rare opportunity to see one of the wonders of Australia.


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Where is it?

764 km north east of Perth; 109 km north east of Cue; 365 km north east of Mullewa; 379 km south of Newman.


Collier Range National Park

(227 km north) Collier Range National Park is an extremely remote area in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The terrain varies from low hills to high ridges with many cliffs. The vegetation found in the area is mostly spinifex and mulga with creeklines being surrounded by eucalypts. Mulga scrub and mulla mulla are found in dense scrubland in the northeastern plains with spinifex and sand dunes being found in the western end. There are no facilities in the Park, which is baited for wild dogs and suffers damage from feral donkeys and wandering cattle.

The nearest major town to the park is Newman located about 166 km north near Kumarina. The park is one of many in the Pilbara and was established in 1978.


Brief history

Gold was discovered in the area in 1895 and the town boomed until the outbreak of World War I when it went into a rapid decline from which it would never recover. Gold is no longer mined, but other minerals such as nickel now bring prosperity to this arid region.

In 1906 Alfred Wernam Canning was appointed to develop a stock route from the East Kimberleys to the Murchison. The stock route, comprising 54 wells, was completed in 1908 and, when the railway arrived in Meekatharra in 1910, the town became the railhead at the end of the route. In many ways the railway ensured the town's survival. In 1910 it took the first shipment of wool out of the area and it continued to serve the local pastoral interests until it was closed down in 1978.

The claim of three prospectors, Meehan, Porter and Soych, who first found gold in late 1895, was near Meekatharra Spring, the Aboriginal name of a watering point that had appeared on maps since 1885, and it is from this spring that the townsite's name is derived. It is believed that the name means, "place of little water".

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