Nine Fascinating Western Australia Gold Rush Hubs That Are Now Ghost Towns

Even today, the mining sector brings people from all around the world to temporary communities in outback WA.

The 1900s gold rush was responsible for several of the state’s ghost towns. Others were established in coastal areas to support the pearling industry or as telegraph stations.

Here are nine fascinating abandoned settlements. There’s a longer list of WA Ghost Towns here.


Cossack was founded in the 1860s and named after the HMS Cossack in 1972. Cossack, located on the north coast of WA, was a pearling port with up to 80 luggers operating in the area by the 1870s.

In 1894, Cossack was home to more than 400 people, including 225 Asian immigrants. The town had a court house, post office, Chinatown, bank, customs house and police barracks at its peak.

The area is prone to violent storms and cyclones. Cossack's pearling industry moved to Broome in 1886, after a particularly damaging cyclone in 1881.

Cossack was all but abandoned by the 1950s.

Shay Gap

Shay Gap, in Western Australia's Pilbara Region, was an iron ore mining town of up to 1000 people. It was developed by Goldsworthy Mining in the 1960s.

According to a Canberra Times report from 1973, Shay Gap had a school, shopping centre and a club. Houses were air-conditioned, and there was an underground trench for irrigation, sewerage, power, telephone and TV cables.

A former Shay Gap resident has posted 1970s video footage of the town on YouTube. Goldsworthy disassembled Shay Gap in the mid-1990s; there are few signs of it left.


Gwalia sits beside a kilometre-wide hole in the ground in WA's Great Victoria Desert. The town formed at the turn of the 20th century and was populated by Sons of Gwalia mine workers.

The town had a population of about 1,200 people at its peak but was all but abandoned in 1963, when Bewick & Moreing closed the Sons of Gwalia mine.

Gwalia is now a tourist attraction, with miners' cottages, single men's camps, a steam engine and store managed by the Leonora Shire.

Israelite Bay

Israelite Bay, on WA's south coast, was a telegraph station from 1877 to 1927.

The station was originally constructed in timber, and later replaced by a stone building in 1896.

Ruins of the station, a cottage, and the old jetty remain today.


At its peak, Kanowna was home to some 12,000 people, 16 hotels a hospital, railway station, race course, school, post office and 2 breweries.

It is located about 20km east of Kalgoorlie, where gold is still mined today.

Gold was discovered in the Kanowna area in 1893, but mine production volumes declined over time. The town was abandoned by 1953; there's little trace of the settlement in the area today.


Kunanalling, also known as Connanalling and 25 Mile, was established in 1896 and grew to a population of about 800 people.

The town supported the nearby Blue Bell goldmine. It was gradually abandoned from about 1940. Ruins of the Kunanalling Hotel remain.


The City of Kalgoorlie describes Kookynie as a 'living ghost town'. Only 13 people lived there as of 2010.

Located in WA's Eastern Goldfields region, Kookynie was established at the turn of the 20th century.

The town once housed 3500 people, with 11 hotels, a chemists, banks, a brewery, red light district, churches, a hospital and a public swimming pool.

It now has one pub and hotel for tourists.


Goongarrie homestead

Goongarrie is another abandoned gold mining town in WA's Goldfield region.

It was formerly known as 90 Mile, which is its distance from the larger, nearby gold mining town of Coolgardie. Goongarrie was gazetted as a town in 1895.

Goongarrie once boasted several shops and restaurants, a post office, rail line, coach service, two hotels and a boarding house. The site later became a pastoral area and is now part of the Goongarrie National Park.

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