In 1890 JF Connolly discovered gold 50 kms south of Meekatharra, his find started a gold rush that lasted for decades. The Murchison region of Western Australia is fascinating and rugged outback country which present interesting challenges to those seeking their fortunes. Today many visitors try their hand at prospecting with surprisingly good results.
Situated on the Great Northern Highway, Meekatharra is the largest centre in the Murchison. There are many heritage buildings in the town centre, and the Museum is the best place to learn about the local history. When in town you'll find everything you need: motels, hotels, caravan park, restaurants, health facilities, supermarket, petrol stations, post office and an outdoor cinema.
During the 1890s, sheep stations in the Murchison region were coping with periods of extreme drought. Many wells and roads were built to service the stations, including Annean station established by the Cruikshank brothers in 1882. Nannine, the first mining town in the region is named after this station.
Gilles McPherson is reputed to be the first to find gold in Nannine, but JF Connely and William Douglas were the first to reach Geraldton and claim the government reward for a new goldfield. In 1891 the Murchison Goldfield was proclaimed, and McPherson formed the Nannine Gold Mining Company. The telegraph line reached Nannine in 1894, and the railway was connected three years later.
Named after a waterhole in the area, Meekatharra is a variation of the Wadjari word 'Mikadah'. The town is built near a mine established by prospectors Tom Porter and Luke Soich, originally called Meekatharra and later became known as the Centaur.
Meekatharra did not experience the spectacular growth of other Goldfields towns, but with the railway Meekatharra usurped Nannine's position as a depot for the wool and livestock industries. The town invested heavily in its future and could boast a school, hospital, hotels, churches, and its own newspaper the 'Meekatharra Miner'.
The 1920s saw a decline in the price of gold due to the increased cost of mining equipment, and a shortage of skilled labour as workers left to fight in the First World War. These factors had an profound effect on all towns in the Goldfields.
The friendly staff at the Shire of Meekatharra are there to help you enjoy your stay and see the sights.
Meeka Rangelands Discovery Trail:
At the Shire pick up a guide for the Discovery Trail, which takes you to Meeka Lookout and through the town during an easy 3 km walk around Meekatharra Creek.
Located in the library of the Shire building, the museum has many photographs and interesting memorabilia on the history of Meekatharra. Most items have been donated by local people who want to preserve the town's heritage. The Meekatharra Museum is open from 8:00 am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
In Meekatharra's Centenary Year of 1994, the State Battery was relocated to Main Street in acknowledgment of the early prospectors and miners. It stands proudly near Meekatharra Creek with other interesting relics from Meekatharra's gold mining past.
Royal Flying Doctors Base:
The Flying Doctors are synonymous with the outback, and in Meekatharra you can tour the base located at the northern end of Main Street. Visitors are welcome between 9am and 2pm daily to learn about the integral role of this vital service.
Meekatharra Meteorological Office:
The Meteorological Office is loacted at the airport 5 km from town, call 9981 1191 to arrange a tour. The office is part of the Bureau of Meteorology network, and weather balloons are launched twice a day.
One of the last outdoor cinemas in Western Australia, the Picture Gardens regularly screen new and old movies.
Just 3 km from town the gorge has fascinating granite rock formations, and is an ideal picnic spot. Its reputation for picnics dates back to World War I when servicemen were welcomed home with a gala picnic at the gorge. Since that day, the area has been known as Peace Gorge.
25 Mile Well:
The well has been restored as a tribute to the old drovers and stockmen. Locted 40 km north on the Great Northern Highway.
Wildflowers & Wildlife:
Meekatharra is surrounded by wildflowers after the winter rains, and flora enthusiasts will see the Red Sturt Pea (signature flower of Meekatharra). While you're out and about you may also see emus, kangaroos, wedge-tailed eagles and bungarra lizards which are prevalent in the area.
Gold Mining Pits and Prospecting:
The region around Meekatharra shows evidence of the Murchison's rich gold mining heritage. Many gold mines are operating in the district, with old and new pits providing a fascinating and spectacular site. There are prospecting sites around the town such as Peak Hill to the north, a particular favourite for visitors which yields regular finds.
Located between Cue and Meekatharra, this picturesque lake is a great spot for a picnic, camping or bushwalking.
Mt Gould Police Station:
Built in 1888, you can visit this old police station located 156km west of Meekatharra on the Meekatharra-Carnarvon Road.
Distance from Perth (km): 764
Area (sq km): 99,973
Length of Sealed Roads (km): 607
Length of Unsealed Roads (km): 2375
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