In 1869 explorer John Forrest and party, in search of the lost Leichardt Expedition, made camp near a hill and named it Mount Leonora. Twenty five years on, prospectors moved through the area and by 1896 mining claims were pegged and gold discovered, leading to the establishment of the twin towns of Leonora and Gwalia, along with the smaller town of Malcolm. A railway link from Kalgoorlie opened in June 1902 and still operates today.
Leonora became the largest centre on the North Eastern Goldfields and by 1908 boasted 7 hotels, general stores, chemists, tailors and bakeries. Mining has continued uptil the present day with gold, and now nickel, being produced in large quantities.