Places Of Interest
Leonora, with its wide main street and many old buildings (some retaining their original uses, like the two hotels, others remaining vacant or put to alternate use) exhibits some of its past character while providing modern facilities and services. Many of the older buildings are constructed of corrugated iron and hessian, as this was a versatile material and lightweight to transport. Similarly, many of the newer buildings are transportable.
A general store, supermarket, butcher, and café provide for local shoppers and carry most requisites for travellers. Two service stations, a motel, two hotels and a caravan park provide accommodation, take-away food and dining facilities.
Townspeople make use of a large grassed oval, eighteen-hole golf course, gun club and racetrack for recreation. Leonora boasts a lovely new recreation centre where all indoor sports are catered for with a state of the art Aquatic centre attached. Annual open events at golf and clay target shooting, as well as race meetings, attract many visitors with the main event being the Golden Gift weekend conducted in early june of each year.
Many of the older buildings are worth a glance:
• The old police station (1903) - corner of Rajah and Gwalia Streets
• Courthouse (1903) - corner of Gwalia and Trump Streets
• Masonic Lodge - opposite Courthouse
• The old fire station (1903) - Gwalia Street opposite Catholic Church
• National & WA Bank - Tower & Trump Streets (now Leonora's Visitor Information Centre & Library)
• Post Office (1903)- Tower & Trump Streets
• A good overall view of Leonora can be obtained from the top of Smoodgers Hill (Tank Hill)
• Shire Office including World war 1 & 2 Honour Rolls
• Anzac War memorial- Tower Street park
Now a ghost town, Gwalia is still home to some old and new residents. Mazza’s Store, Patroni’s Guest Home, the State Hotel and many miners’ cottages and camps can still be viewed first hand. Built in 1903, the State Hotel was Western Australia’s first and longest running government operated hotel.
Up on the hill are the Sons of Gwalia Mine management buildings, along with the original timber headframe and winder. The exhibits in the old Mine Office provide fascinating displays of the history and social life of Gwalia and Leonora. You can enjoy cafe style refreshments on the verandah of the old Mine Manager’s House (Hoover House Bed & Breakfast), while observing current mining activity across the open cut pit. Gwalia Museum is open daily from 9am to 4pm. For more information click here
When wandering around Gwalia towniste, remember that the whole area was once covered with miners’ cottages where families lived, kept chickens and grew vegetables. Children played in the yards and on the roads, went to the Gwalia State School and swam in the swimming pool half way up the hill. They sometimes went to Leonora on a tram service that operated between the two towns.
The park opposite the State Hotel is an ideal picnic area and a climb to the top of Mt Leonora could help you imagine yourself in John Forrest’s shoes over 100 years ago.
Images: Serana Pearce/Code Lime Photography