Leonora Heritage Trail

Your journey begins at the Leonora Information Centre & Library, follow the markers on the footpath and take a walk through history!

The thriving town of Leonora grew from the resourcefulness of early gold prospectors and miners and the tenacity of pastoralists.

In 1896 Leonora was a small settlement of hessian and timber shacks. Within a few years, the growing town boasted many of the buildings on the Leonora Heritage Trail.

Follow the Trail along Tower and Gwalia streets to the site of the former Cobb & Co depot and imagine coaches rumbling into town. See where the Willey Brothers Bakery produced fresh bread and the hotels where miners quenched their thirsts after long shifts underground. Housewives bought groceries in the Lamont Brothers General Store and gossiped in the Cosy Tea Rooms. Balls were held in the Barnes Federal Theatre and movies shown at the open-air Olympia Picture Gardens.

The first Europeans to explore the region were John Forrest and his party in 1869. In 1894 prospectors came seeking gold. On 11 March 1896 the first lease in the Mt Leonora area was pegged. Soon afterwards a meeting of settlers called for a town site and Leonora was established.

Leonora Heritage Trail - Shire of Leonora from VISAGE Productions on Vimeo

Find the markers - Follow the trail

Explore 30 historical sites showcasing Leonora’s history and heritage with our online interactive map!

Guidebooks are also available for free at the Leonora Information Centre.


Points of Interest

The National Bank of Australasia

"Bullion, Cash and Deposits"

The National Bank of Australasia Ltd opened in Leonora as an Agency in November 1897, with the Mt Malcolm branch manager visiting weekly to deliver a banking service. In May 1898, with Mr Leslie JC Magennis as manager, a permanent Leonora branch opened in a hessian and iron building transported from Mt Malcolm.  

A more solid structure was built after a bank heist in October 1902 when daring robbers, taking advantage of the temporary absence of the teller, leaned over the counter and stole £400 ($800).

The new building, designed by architectural firm Porter & Thomas, was constructed by Joseph Hart. Tenders were called in late September 1903 and work started in October on the Federation Free Classical style building. A month later, on 1 November 1903, the new National Bank building opened for business. The façade of the building has remained unchanged over the years and is the only known example of a weatherboard and corrugated iron clad bank building in Western Australia.

The Sons of Gwalia Ltd was a major client for the National Bank, which provided an escort service for the mine's output of gold bars from Leonora to London at one shilling and ninepence (19c) per oz. The bank manager and the local police constable accompanied the bullion on the Cobb & Co coach to the railhead at Kalgoorlie, from where shipment to the London Mint was organised. 

In the early 1900s, fire regulations banned the use of weatherboard as building material. The local council made an exception for the National Bank as the blocks on either side of the building were vacant and it was considered unlikely that a fire would spread. However, rate notices of 1904 show that buildings had by then been erected next to the bank.

As was common at the time, the manager's residence was at the rear of the bank. The turnover of managers in Leonora was steady, with 19 serving between 1897 and 1944. In 1944 Mr EA Thackrah was appointed manager; he would become the longest serving manager of the Leonora branch, staying for 16 years. WEJ (Bill) Harris was appointed manager in 1961 and remained until the National Bank ceased operations in Leonora in 1966. 

In c1943 the National Bank acquired the former Bank of New South Wales premises (the current Shire Office) as a bank and manager’s residence and moved across the road. The former National Bank building was sold and then rented back to the National Bank as staff accommodation. 

After the closure of the National Bank, the building was leased as accommodation until 1981, after which it had successive owners until the Shire of Leonora purchased the property in 2003. Two years later the building reopened as the Leonora Information Centre and Library.


Central Hotel

"The Miners Home"

The Central Hotel was built for its first owner Linton R Ritchie and opened by the first lessee, John J Williams, on Tuesday 3 July 1900. 

One of the finest buildings in Leonora, the Central was constructed of burnt bricks and was the fourth hotel to be built in the town. It boasted a beautifully furnished spacious dining room, a billiard room and a large kitchen manned by a first-class chef who had the latest appliances at his disposal. 

Accommodation was provided in a separate timber building almost 5 metres away containing 7 bedrooms, each with 2 large single beds, a washstand and chest of drawers. Patrons could also hire a horse and buggy from the hotel's livery stable situated behind the building. 

In late 1903 the Central Hotel was purchased by Peter Hill. Born in 1861 in County Wexford, Ireland, Mr Hill was the first Mayor of Mt Malcolm and a prominent local identity with interests in hotels, mining and horse racing before he turned his business focus on Leonora. The following year he carried out extensive alterations to the hotel, including the raising of the front parapet by 5 feet (about 1.5 metres). Fire damage in later years led to further alterations.

Peter Hill became the Central Hotel's longest serving licensee, retaining the freehold of the building until his death in Kalgoorlie in 1945 at the age of 84 – at the time, he was one of the oldest hoteliers in the Northern Goldfields.

Since then, this hotel in the heart of Leonora has passed through many hands and remains a popular meeting place today.


Lamont Brothers Shops

"The Cheapest Merchants in Town"

The line of nine shops extending along Tower Street from the Central Hotel was built by the Lamont brothers in the early years of Leonora. The first three shops situated to the right of the Central Hotel were built by Robert Lamont in 1898.

The fourth shop along the line of premises was the first brick building erected in Leonora. It was built in 1897 for Robert’s brother, Henry George Lamont, and designed by architect Joseph Douglas. Made of sun-dried brick and iron, this building served as the Lamont Brothers General Store, selling groceries, wines and spirits, ironmongery, men’s clothing, boots and shoes. Deliveries were made using three horse-drawn carts and buggies.

In 1900 the Lamont brothers erected the next three buildings to the right of the general store; these were also designed by Joseph Douglas.

The premises next to the former general store became the first pharmacy in Leonora. It was owned by Louis Landauer and managed by pharmacist Alfred G Highman. In June 1901 Mr Highman purchased the business and advertised that his stock could be “procured at less than Kalgoorlie prices” (Mount Leonora Miner June 1901).

Two more stores were built on Lot 35 for Robert Lamont in November 1904 by Gamel and Trim Contractors. The buildings were designed by Robert Stuart, who served as the Town Clerk of the Municipality of Leonora from 1904 to 1905.

Constructed of brick, they were roomy and well-lit with neat plate-glass façades. Leigh Harris was responsible for the painting and decoration. These later buildings completed the Lamont Brothers’ commercial sector on Tower Street’s Lots 34 and 35.

Henry Lamont left Leonora in May 1905, leasing his shop to David Schulman who purchased the building in 1922.

Robert Lamont continued to live in Leonora as a businessman and prospector until the mid-1920s.

All of the above buildings still exist today.

  • Please take care when crossing Tower Street to view the next site, Willey Brothers Bakery

Lamont's Well

Lamont's Well, sunk behind the first shop from the Central hotel, was listed in the Leonora rates book in 1897.  The well originally supplied water to the Lamont stores. Later, after a steam pump and storage tank was installed, a system of pipes along the rear lane supplied water to other premises. This was the first reticulated water supply in Leonora. The well and its pump house no longer remain. (Please note the above building is unavailable for viewing).

Previous Businesses

Since 1897 these buildings have housed many businesses, including:

  • General Store – HG  Lamont
  • Chemist – AG Highman
  • Boot Emporium – R Lamont, GJ Ree, E McKinnon
  • Hairdresser & Tobacconist – McGrath & McGrath
  • Victoria Cafe – Jack Brown
  • Newsagent – GE Cogan, RB Millar


Willey Brothers Bakery

"Our Daily Bread"

Leonora pioneer James Clarke purchased the site on 3 March 1897 and erected a sun-dried brick and iron building on it. Several years later he sold the property to Edward Trim who erected a new building in May 1905 and applied for a liquor licence.

In 1906 Mr Trim rented the premises to Agnes Kelleher who opened the Cosy Tea Rooms. Two years later the building was refitted as a boarding house which was run by Louisa Maria Frearson.

In 1922 Caroline and Michael McAppion owned the building, which is understood to have continued to operate as a boarding house until the early 1930s.

The site’s long history as a commercial bakery began in 1936 when George A Willey and his brother Edward opened their business, believed to have been situated at the rear of the former tea rooms.

The Willey Brothers Bakery was one of a number of baking establishments that operated in Leonora at various times from 1898. These included Heron Brothers, Callaghan and Brennan, Cornelius Brothers, C Hendricks, Hughes & O’Brien, Muller Brothers, Tyler Brothers and Hunt Brothers of Gwalia.

In 1939 Miss Kath Hill opened the Gloriette Hairdressing Salon in a new building in front of the Willey Brothers Bakery. This is believed to be the present shop that fronts Tower Street. The bakery is visible behind the right hand side of this building.

The Willey Brothers purchased the Gwalia Bakery from the Hunt Brothers in 1950. They operated their bakery business from Gwalia while doing extensive renovations and extensions to their Leonora premises, including the installation of a new oven and mechanical dough mixing machine. When the Leonora bakery reopened, the Gwalia premises closed and the Willey Brothers Bakery supplied baked goods to residents in both Leonora and Gwalia.

A few years later, the brothers decided to concentrate on their Kalgoorlie branch and leased the Leonora premises until c1978, when Mr P Piggot of Kalgoorlie is listed in the Leonora rate books as owning the bakery and residence next door.

Today the buildings, including the bakery, shop and adjoining residence, are a private home.

  • Please take care when crossing the street to view Site 5, Russell’s Buildings


Mrs Russell's Buildings

"Unequalled in Style, Fit and Finish"

Mary Ann Russell bought Lot 36 in September 1900 from Mathew Edwards of Guildford, Western Australia, and built premises to begin business as a dressmaker, draper and milliner.

Mary Ann and Thomas Russell and their family lived at the rear of the shop. The family suffered successive tragedies: their eldest daughter Olive died in 1903, Thomas passed away in 1905 and their only son William, who in 1916 enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force to serve in World War 1, perished from his wounds in 1918.

Mrs Russell continued as a dressmaker, draper and milliner until June 1933, when she sold her business to Miss Teresa Spinelli. After Miss Spinelli married in 1937, Mary Ann Russell’s surviving daughter Minnie Bond took over the running of the shop. Mary Ann assisted in the business until a few weeks before her death in 1940 at the age of 80. The Northern Grazier & Miner newspaper described her as “the most highly respected resident of Leonora”

Occupiers of these premises on the south side of Lot 36 between 1900 and 1972 included:

  • Mary Ann Russell, Dressmaker, Draper & Milliner (1900-1933)
  • Teresa Spinelli (1933-1937)
  • Minnie Bond (July 1937-1946)
  • Herbert Smith (1946-1955)
  • Robert James Howard (1955-1959)
  • Charles Leaney (1959)
  • Giuseppe Zorzut (1959-1972)


The land was sub-divided in 1901 and sold to Mary Ann Russell’s son-in-law Louis Collins, who built another two stores.

Shops on the centre portion of Lot 36 included:

  • Leonora Cafe (1901-1905)
  • Butcher & Uhr Butchers (1905-1909)
  • Henry Corné – Watchmaker & Jeweller (1909-1912)
  • Mary Ann Russell (in 1912 she re-purchased the premises which she held until her death in 1940).

The last shop on Lot 36 (adjacent to the present-day office of Ross Norrie Accountant) has housed businesses that include:

  • Ernest Henry Bird – EH Bird Drapery Store (1901-1907)
  • Birchley & Coates – Drapery Store (1907-1909)
  • Mathew E Punch – Punch’s Drapery Emporium  (1910-1923)
  • Minnie Bond – Merchant & Drapery (1940-1955).
  • Vic, Imelda and Dino Mazza – Drapery Store (1955-1967)
  • Albert Clarence Poletti – Merchant (1967-1970)
  • Alfred Dorph-Peterson – Business Proprietor (1970-1984)

Since then the façades of the buildings originally owned by Mary Anne Russel have been renovated. In recent years they have housed a range of businesses including a supermarket, art gallery, government agencies and an accountant’s office.

Leonora Cafe

The Leonora Café was housed in a burnt brick building with a concrete façade erected in 1901 for Louis Collins, the son-in-law of Mary Ann Russell. He was married to her daughter Olive who passed away in 1903.

The contractor was local builder Joseph Wild. The dining room measured 30 feet (9.14 metres) long and the walls were 13 feet (3.96 metres) high, making the shop cooler in summer. The ceilings were of pressed metal. Rooms at the rear of the Leonora Cafe were used as a boarding house.

Charles W Smallhorn leased the Leonora Café from Mr Collins until it closed in 1905. It was then converted into a butcher’s shop owned by the firm Butcher & Uhr.

Butcher & Uhr Butchers

Butcher & Uhr renovated their shop with marble counters and double steel rails and added a smallgoods department. The wooden cutting blocks were obtained from Gum Creek, about 13 kilometres from Leonora.

Rooms at the rear were converted into living quarters for the manager, Mr Kinnane.

Water was supplied via pipes from Lamont’s Well to horse stalls and chaff sheds in the back yard. Butcher & Uhr closed in 1909 after the death of the proprietor Darcy Wentworth Uhr.

Ernest Henry Bird

The Best Goods at Bottom Prices

Ernest Henry Bird arrived in Western Australia from Adelaide. He walked from Southern Cross to Menzies in 1895 and established a drapery business in Menzies with his brothers.

They extended this business to Leonora in 1897 and, in 1902, Ernest Bird dissolved his partnership with his brothers and ceased his interest in the Menzies business to take on sole proprietorship of the Leonora drapery store.

This shop catered for the ladies of Leonora, selling drapery, boots, children’s clothing, millinery, patterns and dress materials.  A dressmaker was also employed for special orders of clothing.

In 1899, Ernest Bird employed as manager Charles Bevan who was involved in many sporting activities in Leonora including the Rifle and Racing clubs. In 1901 he was elected to the first Municipal Council.

Mr Bird sold his interest in the business in June 1907 to the firm of Birchley & Coates, which traded until 1909. Ernest Bird returned to Adelaide where he died in 1944.

Drapery Stores

Punch’s Drapery Emporium

Mathew Ernest Punch and his wife Rose came from Mt Morgans in 1910 and set up his own drapery business in the former Birchley & Coates premises. Mr Punch involved himself in many community projects and was elected Mayor of Leonora in 1914.

Two of their daughters became Roman Catholic nuns – Joan Punch (Sister Mary Bernadette) who taught at the Leonora Convent and Mary (Sister Mary Philomena).

Mazza’s Drapery Store

Imelda “Melda” and Vittorio “Vic” Bernardo Mazza traded as a retail, drapery, clothing and shoe store from 1955 to 1967.

Vic Mazza was one of six sons of Gwalia residents Bernardo and Elena Mazza. He and Melda also operated VB & MM Mazza’s Store in Gwalia.

When the Sons of Gwalia Mine closed in 1963, Vic and Melda and their two children moved to Perth.

Their drapery store in Tower Street, Leonora, was managed by Vic’s brother Dino. The Mazza Drapery Store closed in c1967.



Butcher shops

"Prime Beef, Pork, Mutton and Small Goods"

The first businesses on Lot 37 Tower Street were mainly butcher’s shops. A general merchant and draper’s retailing establishment were also built on the lot in the early years of Leonora.

The original butchery, constructed of hessian and timber, was opened in 1897 by Mr J Horan. In 1898 he sold his business to another butcher, John Bayes, who replaced the shop with a brick and iron structure, later erecting additional brick buildings.

The firm of Tulloch & Co began in the Murchison area in 1894 as a partnership of John Aeneas (Jack) Tulloch, William (Bill) Kerr and James Bett Willis supplying meat to a number of towns including Leonora. Jack Tulloch died of thirst at the age of 35 while herding sheep between Lake Way and Lawlers in January 1897.

James Willis and Bill Kerr continued to run the business as Tulloch & Co, setting up a chain of butcher’s shops in Leonora, Cue, Gwalia and Kookynie, all trading as Tulloch & Co. The Leonora rate books show that the firm of Tulloch & Co still owned the buildings as recently as 1978.

The first supplies of meat into Leonora arrived in 1898 as cattle overlanded from the Oscar Downs Station in the West Kimberley. James Bett Willis (1863-1951) was one of Leonora’s earliest pastoral identities. He later became the owner of Wongawol, Windibba and Clover Downs, supplying cattle and sheep to the Leonora, Kalgoorlie and the Perth markets. The slaughter yards were 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) out of Leonora.

Tulloch & Co decided to concentrate on their pastoral interests and leased their Tower Street butcher store to various butchers over the years, but continued to supply meat to the butchers in Leonora.

According to Tulloch & Co’s advertisements in the Mount Leonora Miner, all the best cuts of “prime beef, pork, mutton and small goods” were sold. The main supplies of meat were purchased from pastoral stations in the Ashburton and Gascoyne regions to the north.

In 1915, Mr Willis supplied many of the horses that were sent with the Australian expeditionary forces for service in World War 1.

The former Tulloch and Co premises was occupied until the early 1990s by Leonora's only remaining butchery, Biggs's Butcher, before it relocated to its present site.

Bigg's Butcher

The shop of Robert Mutton, General Draper, became Barton’s DIC (Direct Importing Company) in 1924. This premises, which stands on the site originally owned by Margaret Barnes, is now Bíggs's Butcher shop. The shop is run by Neil Biggs, Leonora’s only remaining butcher

The Biggs family, who have resided in Gwalia and Leonora for many years, originally operated the business in the former Tulloch & Co butcher shop until the early 1990s when they moved to their current location.

Lot 37 businesses

Early businesses on lot 37 

  • J Horan Butchers (1897-1898)
  • Rockliffe & Co (1897-1899)
  • J Bayes (1898-1899)
  • Tulloch & Co Butchers (1899-1900)
  • Morgan & Reid Butchers (1900-1901)
  • Neil & David Willis Butchers (1901-1903)
  • Oscar Miller Butchers (1912-1920)

Lot 38 businesses

Early businesses on Lot 38

Lot 38 was listed in the Leonora rate books as originally being owned in 1897 by Mrs Margaret Barnes, who ran a business selling “fermented liquor” from a hessian and timber building.

Early shops located on Lot 38 housed the following firms:

  • Harris Cohen, retailer and wholesaler (1904-1922)
  • John Brown Cadzow, saddler (1910-1932)
  • Robert Mutton, drapers (1909-1924) and the Direct Importing Company (1924-1935)



Commercial Hotel

"The Traveller's House of Call"

Leonora’s first and only two-storey building, the Commercial Hotel, was erected on this site in 1902 by Robert Lavery Thompson who opened a brickworks west of the town to manufacture the 200,000 bricks required to build it.

Excavation of the cellar began in February 1901 and the hotel opened in early October 1902. The Commercial was described as the biggest hotel north of Kalgoorlie, featuring a large dining room and a balcony off all the bedrooms.

In an interview with the Kalgoorlie Miner on 18 September 1905, Mr Thompson boasted that the bricks of his hotel contained free gold, declaring a sample had assayed at 22 pennyweight (1.2 ounces) to the ton. He declared that the top 4 feet (1.22 metres) of the soil near his factory – in what was clearly gold-bearing ground – had been used to make the bricks.

The Commercial Hotel was the last hotel built in Leonora. In 1905 the State’s Liquor Licensing Board decided that Leonora had sufficient hotels and refused further applications for licences.

In 1906 Mr Thompson leased the hotel to Mr WS Price and a large brick billiard room and saloon bar were added.

Many a celebration and community event were viewed from the balcony of the hotel – from the opening of the steam tram in 1903 to watching the Leonora Brass Band playing in Tower Street on a Saturday night. From 1916 the balcony was also a popular vantage point from which to watch Anzac Day parades in Tower Street.

Two notable owners of the Commercial Hotel were Thomas (Tom) Crameri and his wife Margherita (Marj), who took it over from Mr T Moore on 25 June 1924.

Thomas O’Shaughnessy became the licensee after Mrs Crameri and is listed in the 1959 Leonora rate books as occupying the now de-licensed hotel.

The hotel was demolished in the late 1990s and the present building constructed on the site.

  • Please take care while crossing Tower Street to view Site 8, the Exchange Hotel.

The Leonora steam tram

The official opening of the Leonora-Gwalia steam tram on 6 October 1903 was such an important community event that the day was proclaimed a public holiday. The long-awaited steam tram was intended to entice Gwalia shoppers into Leonora.

The opening of the tramway was described by the Kalgoorlie Western Argus on 13 October 1903:

 “A large procession headed by the Gwalia-Leonora Band led a colourful parade down to the corner of Tower Street and Rajah Street where the tram drew up, pulling two double-decker carriages. A blue ribbon was held across the lines by the Mayoress Mrs Snell and Mrs Lamont. As the engine broke the ribbon, the cracking of a bottle of champagne over the tram wheel could just be heard amongst the loud cheers of applause as the line was opened by Mayor Snell.”

Thomas Crameri

Mr Crameri came from the Poschiavo Valley in Switzerland and his wife was from Tirano, Italy. The couple married in Leonora in 1903.

The pride of place in the hotel was the Mazzoletti Delebio automatic piano. This piano was imported from Italy by Mr Crameri. When he died the piano was stored in a shed and rediscovered 40 years later.  It is now on display at the Gwalia Museum.

Tom Crameri died in 1930 and his wife continued to run the Commercial Hotel until 1954. The hotel was de-licensed in 1956 when Mrs Crameri, then living in Claremont, Perth, was shown as still owning the premises.


Exchange Hotel

"Accommodation Unsurpassed"

The original Exchange Hotel was built of timber and iron by Evan Alexander Wisdom in Fremantle in March 1897. The building was transported in pre-fabricated sections, first by train to Coolgardie and then hauled the 135 miles (217 kilometres) to Leonora by camel and bullock teams.

The hotel boasted a double entrance facing Tower Street, a large bar, a generously proportioned dining room, two small sitting rooms and 10 bedrooms.

Mr Wisdom and his wife Agnes lived in a hessian camp while the hotel was built. Once completed, the hotel was leased to Mr WH Robins who went on to be the first manager of the State Hotel in Gwalia. The next lessee was Charles W Parer who ran the hotel from October 1899 to c1902.

The hotel was also the original arrival and departure point for the Cobb & Co coaches to Leonora.

In June 1903 the wood and iron hotel was burnt to the ground while leased by Otto Vetter, one of Leonora’s pioneers. Early the following year a new brick hotel was constructed by Leonora contractors Gamel & Trim.

James W Farlie leased the hotel from 1905. The hotel operated until it was de-licensed in 1925, after which it was run as a boarding hostel. In later years the Shire of Leonora acquired the site and a decision to demolish the building was made on 15 April 1986. The Leonora Recreation Centre now stands on the site.


Cobb & Co

"When Cobb & Co Were King"

Cobb & Co Ltd established its first depot in Leonora in 1898 when the company decided to include Leonora on its Coolgardie-Wiluna passenger and mail route.

James Nicholas was a pioneer driver of Cobb & Co in the eastern States in 1870 when he joined forces with Sidney Kidman – later known as “The Cattle King” – who supplied horses for the coaches. In 1896 Mr Nicholas bought the Western Australian Cobb & Co company in the name of Nicholas & Kidman. Coaches would run between Coolgardie and Mt Magnet. 

Sidney Kidman sold his stake in Nicholas & Kidman in about 1904, leaving his younger brother Charles Nunn Kidman and James Nicholas the major shareholders of the company, which also owned butcher shops and cattle stations. In c1907 Charles Kidman sold his share to James Nicholas and became a horse trainer. He died in South Australia on 31 March 1940, aged 82.

Passenger and mail services were provided to areas north of Leonora, with a coach leaving David Willis’s Butcher Shop (Tulloch & Co) on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The passenger fare was 5 shillings (50 cents).

Cobb & Co made a fortune for its owners. The annual turnover of £12,000 ($24,000) meant Charles Kidman and James Nicholas were able to recoup their investment of £10,000 within a year. Revenue came from the transport of the Royal Mail, fare-paying passengers and the fee of 4 pence (4 cents) per ounce for carrying gold bullion from the mines to the banks.

A newspaper advertisement in the Sunday Times on 12 January 1913 described this Leonora property as “a quarter acre consisting of the office of Cobb & Co and behind this was a 10 stall stable and a good feed house, motor-car house and men’s room together with three very good brick shops”. The brick-built shops were situated to the left of Cobb & Co’s offices.

The building was used as a mail depot for some years. State Government offices later constructed on the site were still in use in 2016.

Motor Coaches

By January 1910 the advent of the motor car had brought new challenges and opportunities to the transport industry. Cobb & Co purchased three motor coaches which ran between Lawler’s and Leonora. In a horse-drawn coach this trip took 2 days, but the motor coaches took only 4 hours. Cobb & Co was the first company in the Goldfields to carry mail by motor transport.

In 1913 James Nicholas decided to sell up due to his own ill health and the closure of the Lawler’s mines. He sold the entire Leonora coach business, including 120 horses. By this time he had been involved in the coaching industry for 50 years. 

Mr Nicholas died in 1929, leaving a wife and 4 children, including one daughter named Hope Margaret Nicholas. In 1947 Hope married George Langley Hancock, known as the “Iron Ore King” and, in 1954, gave birth to a daughter who would later to become the richest women in Australia – Gina Rinehart (née Hancock).


Andresens' Residence

"A Most Hospitable Abode"

The gracious residence on this lot was owned by Christian Alfred Andresen and his wife Esther from c1905.

Married on 28 February 1898, the Andresens were the first couple to wed in Leonora. Their home in Tower Street was described by the Mount Leonora Miner as “a most hospitable abode” and the couple were regarded as Leonora’s social leaders. Many distinguished visitors to the region enjoyed the Andresens’ generous hospitality and the numerous functions they hosted were attended by up to 150 guests.

Celebrated as the largest house in Leonora, the residence consisted of 8 rooms, all lined with Wunderlich steel in beautiful pressed metal designs. The house had a dining room and lounge, a kitchen, 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. A staircase still leads to a turret for viewing the spectacular Leonora sunsets.

On 13 January 1900, Christian Andresen announced in the Mount Leonora Miner that he had erected a bottling plant, named the Eureka Bottling Works with the slogan Bottling Done Day and Night, on his Tower Street property, for the cost of £2000. He operated the factory until 1912 when he leased it to John Francis Hayes. The bottling plant was closed in 1918.

A boiler from the plant remains in the back yard of the former Andresen home as a reminder of the tenacity of the business people of Leonora in the early days.

Reginald Blythe Millar and his wife Mabel bought the property in 1920, including the former bottling works and cordial factory behind the house.

The house on Lot 68 has had just 4 owners since it was built – the Andresen, Millar, Dorph-Peterson and Demasson families. It remains in the Demasson family today.

Christian Andresen

From 1897 to 1901 the Andresens owned and ran the Challenge Hotel and adjoining general store (see Site 18).

When he passed away on 3 May 1931, his obituary in the Northern Grazier & Miner described Christian Alfred Andresen as a “most versatile genius, engaging in such varying projects as hotel owner, cordial manufacturer and bottle works controller, engineering in all its forms, mine owner and manager”. Described as the proud owner of one of the first motor cars in Leonora, “Andy”, as he was known, often drove around Leonora with many a terrified passenger at a “furious 20 miles per hour”.     

Mr Andresen was also involved in mining, in 1910 holding a tribute of the Great Western Mine at Wilson’s Patch and leasing the battery there. He invested in other mining ventures over the years.

Miller Family

Reginald Blythe Millar and his wife Mabel bought the property in 1920, including the former bottling works and cordial factory behind the house.

For many years Reginald Millar and his father William Roy ran a newsagency and photography shop situated on Lot 35 Tower Street. Roy Millar was the first photographer on the Coolgardie goldfields, taking photographs in Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Boulder and Leonora.

Reginald Millar was a local JP, a chairman of the Leonora Road Board for 13 years and the owner of the Desdemona Station until his death in 1938. Roy died while visiting his son in Sydney on 9 April 1942, aged 91. He outlived all but one of his 5 children as well as his wife who died in Kalgoorlie in 1901.


Barnes Federal Theatre

"Fun, Laughter and Gaiety"

The Barnes Federal Theatre building is a product of the optimism, enthusiasm and energy of David and Philip Barnes who also owned the Leonora Hotel that once stood next door.

In September 1900 it was announced in the Mount Leonora Miner newspaper that David Barnes was “erecting a structure which would fill the long felt want in the town of a large hall, suitable for community activities”.

Built to accommodate 1000 people and opened in April 1901, the Barnes Federal Theatre was known as the best hall outside Perth. The building was utilised for many community concerts, Poster Balls, dances and meetings. At Poster Balls, a form of fancy dress ball popular in the early 20th century, patrons dressed as poster advertisements to promote well-known products. Regular films were also screened at the theatre.

The theatre’s hall measured 80 x 30 feet (24.38 x 9.14 metres), with the depth of the stage area approximately 20 feet (6.10 metres). The roof was domed with moveable skylights and the original flooring was of Kauri pine.

Access to the front seats was gained from the southern entrances while the rear seats were accessed from the main Tower Street entrance. A separate entrance led to a private parlour which was connected with a saloon bar 18 x 20 x 13 feet high (5.49 x 6.10 x 3.96 metres high).

The façade was of dark-hued bricks with the cornices, mouldings and facing rendered in Portland cement. The pediment consisted of an iron frieze. The work was carried out under the supervision of Will Kelly, a well-known architect and also a popular comedian and dancer. The stone for the building was most likely procured from Frederick Fessey’s Leonora Quarry, situated on the Menzies Road a quarter of a mile (0.4 kilometre) from the Leonora Post Office.

In 1911 David Barnes opened the Glideaway roller skating rink adjacent to the theatre and skating became a popular past-time in Leonora.

The Leonora Roads Board bought the building and Glideaway Rink in May 1927 for £325 ($650), when it officially became the Leonora Town Hall. As the Town Hall, the building was used by a variety of community groups. In the mid-20th century the roof blew off during a storm and was only rebuilt in 1981, but with a gable roof. A fire in 1986 caused damage to the kitchen, floors and ceiling.

In 1988 the Leonora Tourism Committee Inc. became the owner and the Leonora Community Telecentre occupied the building from 2000-2007. It has been unoccupied since early 2007. A proposal to restore the Barnes Federal Theatre is under consideration.


Barnes Leonora Hotel

"Home of the Working Man"

This vacant lot is the site of the first hotel to be erected in Leonora. Originally built of hessian and timber and opened in February 1896, its first owners were Phillip Barnes and Linton Robert Ritchie. In April 1898 the partnership was dissolved and Phillip Barnes bought out Mr Ritchie’s share for £900 ($1,800).

Phillip Barnes and his brother David continued to run the hotel, refurbishing the building in July 1898 to include a dancing platform and a large hall which also served as a dining room.

The hotel was known by various names such as the Barnes Hotel and Music Hall and the Barnes Tivoli Theatre.

Phillip Barnes sold his interest in the hotel to his brother David in 1901 and David Barnes and his wife Sarah continued to run the hotel until David’s sudden death on 11 November 1920. He was a foundation member of the Jockey Club and Rifle Club and was in the forefront of the campaign to have the Leonora District Hospital subsided by the Government. At the time of his death David Barnes was the longest serving local Councillor. When he died flags were flown half-mast on public buildings in Leonora.

Sarah Barnes continued to operate the Leonora Hotel until 1926, when the Hotel Licence Reduction Board de-licensed it after an assessment that there was an excessive number of hotels in the region.

Sarah Barnes was paid a total of £590 ($1,180) as compensation for the loss of the Leonora Hotel licence. She left Leonora in early 1926 for Sydney, where her daughters resided. The lot has been vacant since the demolition of the hotel in 1927.


WA Snell & Co

"A Popular Persuader"

This is the site of the business of William Albert Snell, one of the most popular of Leonora’s pioneers. William Snell was amongst the earliest pioneers of the Western Australian Goldfields, arriving shortly after Paddy Hannan in 1893. After many mining pursuits at Kanowna and Niagara, he eventually set up business in Menzies and then Leonora in 1898.

He started WA Snell & Co, a general merchant and importing firm, in partnership with Charles Hunter. Their first premises, erected in 1898, was constructed of hessian and iron. The partnership was dissolved in 1905 and William Snell continued as the sole proprietor of the business.

It was quite a common sight to witness three trains of camels arriving in Leonora, laden with many tons of flour, chaff and other commodities, all bound for WA Snell & Co. Mr Snell was known to have a good relationship with the Afghan transporters who brought goods to his store and was also known to have a good knowledge of the Koran.

A large stone warehouse with walls 10 feet high (3.05 metres) was erected in 1900 at the rear of the premises together with a well 150 feet deep (45.72 metres). This well provided water from which 15,000 gallons (56,781 litres) were raised daily by a large windmill and pump. Water pipes were installed throughout the premises, providing water to the yards, troughs and stables with taps placed at regular points. Leonora’s first fire-fighting system was designed from this early water scheme.

William Snell became Leonora’s first Mayor in 1900 and was elected 6 times. He departed Leonora in 1907, leaving an enduring mark on the town. He was credited with inaugurating the move for the creation of the municipality and the planning of the initial water supply scheme.

Mr Snell was known as a clever man and a keen sportsman. He rode from Menzies to Melbourne via Adelaide looking for pastoral land, doing the trip in 26 days, and is recorded as being the first to undertake this journey.

William Snell died in 1942 at his camp on the Canning Stock Route.

In 1906 a portion of the land and buildings was sold to Ellen Simon, whose husband James Louis Simon operated his bakery business from these premises.

The property was owned at various times by Christian Andresen, Joseph Semken, Thomas Crameri and Peter Hill. A four-roomed dwelling and brick bakehouse was situated on the land at the time of Peter Hill’s death in 1945.

A private residence stands on the site today.

A poem in honour of WA Snell

When WA Snell left Leonora in 1907, the Mount Leonora Miner published a poem in his honour.  

Goodbye Billy I must leave you
On your bike to sally forth,
Something tells me I must grieve you
When you travel to the North.
Now if we write to the Departments
They’ll say we can go ‘ell,
If you want any money Leonora
Send down Billy Snell.


Court's Cycle Agency

"Civility and Attention"

Arthur Henry Court’s Cycle Agency was built on Lot 60 Tower Street by Wild & Co in October 1898. The 29 October 1898 edition of the Malcolm and Leonora Advertiser described it as the “prettiest building outside Coolgardie”.

Mr Court arrived in Western Australia in 1894, initially travelling to the Coolgardie goldfields and moving to Leonora in 1896.

His first work was for the Sons of Gwalia Mine as a special bicycle rider between Leonora, Mount Morgans and the outlying districts. Cycling was a popular form of sport in Leonora in those days and a local bicycle club was formed in 1898.

An active Leonora community member, Mr Court was on the first Progress Committee, served as the first secretary of the Board of Health and in 1900 became a member of the first Municipal Council. He was elected Mayor in 1905 and again in 1910. He worked hard at having the streets formed and cleared and lobbied for the Leonora Public Library to be built in Tower Street.

Mr Court leased the Challenge Hotel in 1908 and was responsible for installing the first gas generator to produce electricity for the hotel.

Arthur Court married the Leonora Hospital founder, Nurse Laurine Warren Armstrong, in 1900. He sold his business interests to HH Murray who ran the Leonora Cycle and Motor Agency. Mr Court left Leonora in 1914 to live and farm in Dalwallinu until 1933 when he moved to Caulfield in Victoria. He died at Beechworth on 23 August 1946.

A private residence stands on this site today.


Semken's Undertakers and Stables

"Dearly Departed"

Timothy Morrisey, one of Leonora’s early pioneers, owned this lot in 1898 before selling it to Joseph Curtes Semken in September 1902. Joseph Semken came to Leonora in 1900 to establish an undertaking and livery stables.

He constructed three buildings on the site with stables at the rear. The undertaking business was a demanding one in Leonora and Gwalia due to the high number of mine and infant fatalities as well as deaths from typhoid fever and influenza epidemics. Suicide was also common at the time.

The hearse was originally a horse-drawn buggy. After World War 2 it was mounted on a 1926 Chevrolet chassis and converted to a motor vehicle, with the shafts replaced by a drawbar. This hearse is now on display at the Gwalia Museum.

Joseph Semken was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1905 by the State Government under Premier Newton Moore. He was elected chairman of the Leonora Water Board in 1907 and served as Mayor of Leonora from 1907-1908 and 1914-1916.

In June 1916 Mr Semken sold his business to a blacksmith, Alexander Lamont, who operated his blacksmith’s trade and continued the funeral and undertaking business. In 1922 Mr Semken left Leonora and later died in the Eastern States.

Today this is a vacant site.


Birchley & Coates Store

"Store of Great Values"

Brothers Francis George and William Heron purchased this site on 12 November 1898 and built a butcher’s shop which they ran together until 1906 when it was sold to a Leonora miner, John Cameron. 

In 1906 the property was purchased by Percy Birchley and William Coates who engaged local contractors Gamel & Trim to construct a second building on the site in January 1907. The new shop opened on 2 February 1907 as Birchley & Coates General Merchants.

In the same year, a cottage was built adjacent to the right hand side of the premises to house Percy Birchley and his soon-to-be wife Mabel, and the butcher’s shop was demolished.

The new retail premises was described as measuring 70 x 26 feet (24.38 x 7.92 metres). The original coved ceiling, featuring Wunderlich stamped steel, remains a feature of this building which still stands on the site today.

William Coates left Leonora in 1910 for Perth while Percy Birchley continued to run the business until early 1913, when he and Mabel also returned to Perth.

Joseph Semken then leased the premises for his undertaking business which had an office and a showroom for the sale of coffins. 

Thomas Crameri took over the shop on 13 March 1916. On 8 February 1932 Richard William Ainsley purchased the building and rented it out as retail premises.

When Mr Ansley died the building was transferred to his wife Elizabeth, who remained living in the cottage and later used the adjoining former shop as her lounge.

Other owners of the cottage have included the Crameri, Ainsley and Demasson families. Now known as Miranda Cottage, it remains a private residence today.

Miranda Cottage

This dwelling was erected in 1907 by Percy Birchley and William Coates next to their general merchant premises to serve as a residence for Mr Birchley and his wife Mabel (née Finemore).

The residence is of high quality Federation workmanship, featuring panelled doors with coloured glass sidelights, double-hung sash windows, Wunderlich ceilings with decorative pressed metal roses, beautiful mirrored and carved fireplaces and Kauri pine floorboards.

Percy and Mabel Birchley lived in this cottage from the time they married in February 1908 until 1913, when they left Leonora and returned to Perth.

Other owners of the cottage have included the Crameri, Ainsley and Demasson families. It remains a private residence today.


Andresen's General Store

"A Splendid Assortment"

Constructed of sun-dried bricks in July 1899 and situated on the same lot as the now demolished Challenge Hotel, this building was erected for Christian Alfred Andresen and his brother and business partner, John Andresen.

The foundations were constructed to accommodate a second storey to be erected when finances permitted, but this never eventuated. The heavily-reinforced foundations may have ensured the survival of this building, which was originally a general store with a liquor licence selling fermented and spirituous liquor.

Christian Andresen left the business in 1900 and his brother John continued running the store and transport firm for many years. By 1919 the store was used as a barber’s and tobacconist with billiard saloon at the rear. John Andresen died in Leonora in September 1929 at the age of 64.

The interior of the building features timber floorboards throughout, pressed metal ceilings with decorative ceiling roses and the original wall vents.

The former general store was owned by the local Druids Society between 1959  and 1965 and used as a meeting hall.

In 1965 the United Aborigines Mission purchased the building and utilised it as the Leonora Christian Centre. Although the building is no longer used for this purpose, it is still owned by the United Aborigines Mission.


Challenge Hotel

"Most Comfortable and Commodious"

The Challenge Hotel was the third hotel to be erected in Leonora and, as with the other hotels, was a focus of social life in the town.

It was constructed of hessian and iron by Magnus J Thompson and his wife Elizabeth Ann in early 1897.

The hotel was purchased by Christian Alfred Andresen and his new wife Esther Ann in November 1898, two months after the death of Elizabeth Thompson. The Andresens replaced the hessian walls with mud bricks and carried out extensive renovations. The hotel consisted of 7 bedrooms, a dining room, 3 sitting rooms, a kitchen and a storeroom.  The “Leonora Beetles” made their debut in May 1899 at the hotel.

In late September 1899 Robert Lavery Thompson and his wife Ellen, formerly of Menzies, secured a 5-year lease on the Challenge Hotel. They had the dining room artistically painted and decorated. They also installed a movable stage with drop scenes, making it a fine music hall where Mrs Thompson intended to host a concert in aid of the Leonora Hospital.

On 29 December 1905 John Minogue purchased the hotel from the Andresens. On 3 August 1908 Arthur H Court and his wife Laurine (née Warren) installed a steam engine and electric generator which supplied the hotel with its first electric power.

Thomas Crameri leased the hotel from the Courts in 1909, purchasing it in December 1913. Due to the Crameris’ Italian connections, the Challenge became the drinking spot for many of the Italian men from Gwalia. Tom Crameri ran the hotel until 1924, when Richard Ansley leased it. Mr Crameri still owned the hotel at his death in 1930. In 1939 Peter Hill took it over and it was transferred to his daughter Mary Agnes Hill after his death.

The hotel was de-licensed in 1926 and demolished in 1948 when the structure was found to be unsafe. A pleasant surprise was in store for the contractor, who discovered a 4 pennyweight (6.2 gram) gold slug amongst the mud bricks as he demolished the building.

In 1949 Herbert J Smith, Alfred A Roe and Charles GL Leaney formed a partnership to buy the vacant land, which was transferred to the United Aborigines Mission in 1965. The land has remained vacant ever since.


Police Precinct

"Law and Order"

Prison life in Leonora in 1896 was very simple – the prisoner was chained to a log, according to an article in the Kalgoorlie Western Argus on 13 July 1899.

Leonora’s first police officer, Constable Gerald Uniacke, initially lived in a small hessian camp on this site.

When Western Australian Premier Sir John Forrest visited the town in April 1899 he was met by a delegation of local residents in the Mechanics Institute in Gwalia Street. One of the requests put to the Premier was for an adequate lock-up and police quarters.

The request was granted and tenders were called in July 1899 for a new lock-up and police quarters for Leonora. Initially consisting of 2 cells, a charge room and storeroom with verandahs on either side, the lock-up was built by Thomas H Parsons at a cost of £360 ($720).

New quarters for the police staff were added to the building the following year. Erected by Mr Mackesy and completed in May 1900 for the cost of £342 ($684), the quarters consisted of 1 bedroom, a living room, kitchen and charge room. The new building incorporated the original 1899 lock-up cells.

In March 1900 the stables situated at the rear of the block were completed to provide stabling for 3 horses and a harness and feed room. Added to this was a shower room for the prisoners. The cost of these additions was £170 ($340).

A court room with a small public gallery was added to the police building in 1902.  It provided far better conditions than the first court session in Leonora on 21 June 1899, which is believed to have been held in Constable Uniacke’s hessian camp.

Harry James JP presided over the first case – against a young man named William Phillips who had been charged with wilfully damaging property at a French brothel in Tower Street.

In November 1902 tenders were called for 2 new cell blocks with an exercise yard for male and female prisoners. These were erected at the rear of the police building by contractor Joseph Hart for the sum of £313 ($626) and completed on 9 March 1903.

In 1906 another men’s cell was added to the existing cell block with a new kitchen and bathroom added to the police quarters for the cost of £250 ($500). In 1909 tenders were called for the conversion of the old police court to police quarters for a married Constable.

In 1911 the weatherboard Sergeant’s quarters were erected on the corner of Rajah and Gwalia streets. The quarters consisted of 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and lounge.

All these buildings, including the original cells, stables and exercise yards, still exist on the site and may be observed from Rajah Street. The women’s cell block is nearest the fence and the men’s lockup, with its four chimneys, is visible behind it. The stables are at the rear of the men’s block.

After a new police station was erected in 1973 in Tower Street, the former police complex was sold and is now a private residence.


Fire Station & Mechanics Institute

"Fire and Rescue"

This is the site of the original Leonora Fire Station. The twin buildings once housed both the Mechanics Institute Hall and the Leonora Fire Brigade, although the hall was built in 1898, five years earlier than the fire house.

In 1911 the hall and the fire brigade were officially combined into one building and the Mayor, Mr WS Price, opened the new Leonora Fire Station on 7 January.

The original Mechanics Institute Hall, the building on the right, opened on 24 May 1898 with a grand ball, the first of many community functions.

The hall was also Leonora’s first library, public polling place, band headquarters and venue for religious services before churches were built.

In 1903 the fire station was built on the left side of the Mechanics Institute Hall, providing the volunteer fire brigade with its first premises.

The present fire station was built in Tower Street in 1987 and the fire station bell was moved to the new premises.

This building is today a private residence.

Leonora Fire Station

In 1902 the Leonora Municipality sank a well about half a mile (0.8 kilometre) from town and, by means of a windmill, pumped water to the three 9,000 gallon (34,067 litre) tanks on top of nearby Tank Hill. 

Eight hydrants were placed every 50 yards (45.7 metres) along Tower and Gwalia streets for use by the fire brigade. The tanks were 250 feet (76.2 metres) higher than the town, enabling a strong water pressure which quickly quelled any blazes.

In 1903 Leonora’s first fire station was built, abutting the left side of the Mechanics Institute. It consisted of an office, meeting room and storage for reels and appliances.   

The building was designed by Mr G Lavater and erected by local builder Joseph Wild at a cost of £558 and 5 shillings ($1117). The fire station was officially opened on 13 February 1903 by the Leonora Fire Brigade president, Mr WA Snell.

Initially the fire brigade operated as a volunteer association under the control of Captain Ferguson. The volunteer brigade was formed in the early years of Leonora but it was not until 1903 that it had its own premises.

The volunteers frequently ran night sports with sprinting and ladder races at which the Afgan population reportedly excelled. Brigade members competed in the State Championships and won many events over the years. 

Leonora Fire Brigade volunteers received their first uniforms and badges in 1907 and in 1909 local company Bridge & Co donated helmets at a cost of £30 ($60). The Leonora Volunter Fire Brigade came under the jurisdiction of the WA Fire Brigade Board in 1911.

These adjoining buildings have been a private residence since the present fire station was built in Tower Street in 1987. The old fire station bell was moved to the new premises.

Mechanics Institute 

The original Mechanics Institute Hall is the building on the right of the twin structure that can be seen on Lot 23 today.

Built by Mr J Wallace in April 1898 at a cost of £205 ($410), the hall was officially opened on 24 May 1898 with a grand ball, the first of many community functions. The Mechanics Institute was managed by a committee on behalf of a trusteeship.

On 9 April 1899 a public meeting was held in the hall to initiate formation of the Leonora Municipality. The Mechanics Institute was also used as Leonora’s first library, public polling place and the headquarters for the local band.

In 1899 the hall was the venue for early church services for the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Wesleyan congregations before their respective churches were built.

In August 1907 the trusteeship of the institute was transferred from the Lands Department to the Leonora Council on a 99-year lease.

The building was described in The Western Argus 23 August 1910 as “one of the oldest landmarks in the town”. About that time the Leonora health inspector condemned the building after it was discovered that the front foundations had settled. The hall fell into partial disuse, although the local band continued to hold its practices there.

After much debate, the municipality voted to repair the building and it was saved from demolition.


Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church

"Care and Compassion"

The Sacred Heart Church has hosted many a wedding, funeral and christening since its doors opened for the first time on Sunday 28 August 1901. It was the first Roman Catholic Church erected in the Mt Margaret district and the large congregation was served by the Reverend Father E O’Malley.

The 22 x 58.5 feet (6.71 x17.83 metre) church was constructed of corrugated iron and timber by contractor Charles W Smallhorn. In September 1901 tenders were called for the erection of a Presbytery at the rear of the church.

Two Dominican Nuns opened a primary and secondary school in the church in August 1903. They also provided “finishing classes” for young ladies who had left school. These classes included music, painting, needlework, singing and art.

The church bell, cast by the well-known Mathew Byrnes bell foundry in Dublin, Ireland, was hung on St Patrick’s Day 1906.

Three years later, in early 1909, local builder George Wilson was contracted to renovate the church. New interior walls and ceilings were added with stamped steel in 3 ecclesiastical patterns, while ruby and green glass windows were added in the sanctuary. The roof was fitted with 3 patent Boyle ventilators to reduce the interior air temperatures in summer. Reverend Dr Graber was the priest during the time these alternations were made.

Today, the Sacred Heart Church has no resident priest and the district has been served since 2002 by Sister Annette Dever of the Good Samaritan Sisters of the Order of St Benedict. Sister Annette also regularly conducts services for congregations in Laverton and Leinster.


Masonic Lodge


These two buildings were constructed in 1907 for Alexandra Lodge 64 as a Masonic Temple and Masonic Club at a total cost of £1,200 ($2,400). The buildings were officially opened on 22 May 1907.

The temple, situated on the left of the site, comprises a large hall with a foyer. Although virtually unused today, the temple still retains many of its original furniture and fittings. The building on the right, the Masonic Club, comprises a members’ room, a visitors’ room and the secretary’s office.

Freemasonry began in Leonora on 19 September 1900 when Leonora Lodge 913 was formed under the Scottish Constitution with a membership of 14. Before the Masonic Lodge was constructed, local Lodges held their meetings in the Mechanics Institute. Thereafter, the various Lodges met in the new complex.

Freemasonry was very strong in the Goldfields until the outbreak of World War 2, but during the war many mines closed, the population diminished and Lodge membership declined. 

The Lodges focused on community fundraising to benefit many local institutions including the hospital and schools. The Leonora United Lodge is the last remaining Masonic Lodge in the Northern Goldfields region. Members now meet in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where the majority of members live.

Lodges in the Leonora Area 

Lodges in the Leonora area  

  • Leonora Lodge 913 (14 members) opened 19 September 1900.
  • Gwalia Lodge 914 (15 Members) opened 19 September 1902. Members transferred to Leonora Lodge in 1904 when the Gwalia Lodge charter was surrendered.
  • Alexandra Lodge 64 WAC (12 Members) opened 15 June 1903. Mr GG Lavater was the Foundation Lodge Master.
  • Leonora Lodge 913 and Alexandra Lodge 64 amalgamated in August 1946 to become Leonora United Lodge 64 WAC.


Warden's Court and Mining Registrar's Office

"By Order of the Court"

In 1899 a campaign began for a Mining Warden’s Court in Leonora to save the 20km trip to Mt Malcolm, then the main centre of the Northern Goldfields where all mining claims were registered.

All requests were rejected by the district’s first Mining Warden and Magistrate, Archibald Burt, who served from 1897-1908.

Soon after Warden Burt left, the Warden’s Court building (facing Trump Street) was relocated from Mt Malcolm. The first sitting of the Leonora Warden’s Court was on 7 April 1909. 

In 1911 the Mines Inspector’s office was relocated from Mt Malcom to the corner of Gwalia and Trump streets.

The Department of Mines vacated the old Warden’s Court and Mining Registrar’s buildings in 1978. The present Mining Registrar’s office is in Rochester Street.

Both these buildings are now used as classrooms for the Leonora District High School.

Warden's Court

In the early days of the gold rush, Mt Malcolm was the Northern Goldfields’ main centre where all mining claims had to be registered. The Mining Warden’s Court was constructed there in 1898 by contractor Alfred Ebenezer Hartshorn and the timber and iron structure was described in the Mount Leonora Miner as a “credit to the builder”.

The following year, Leonora residents dissatisfied at having to travel the 20 kilometres to Mt Malcolm to register their claims and conduct other mining-related business began campaigning for a warden’s court in their own town. All requests were rejected by the district’s first Mining Warden and resident Magistrate, Archibald E Burt, who served from 1897 to 1908.

Soon after Warden Burt left the district, the Warden’s Court building was relocated from Mt Malcolm to Lot 157 Gwalia Street, facing Trump Street. The first sitting of the Leonora Warden’s Court was on 7 April 1909. 

Mining Registrar's Office

The office of the Mt Malcolm Mines Inspector was relocated in 1911 from Mt Malcom to this site by contractors Gamel & Trim. It was established on the corner of Gwalia and Trump streets to the right of the Warden’s Court. Arthur Wyliffe Martin, previously the mining registrar at Malcolm for many years, was appointed Leonora’s first Mining Registrar.

This building consisted of 5 rooms including offices for the public, the Clerk of Court, Inspector of Mines, Inspector of Machinery and the surveyors.

In July 1978 the Department of Mines vacated the old Warden’s Court and Mining Registrar’s buildings which are now used by the Leonora District High School as classrooms.

The present Mining Registrar’s office is in Rochester Street.


Leonora State School

"Reading, Writing and Arithmetic"

The first school in the area was opened in a tent by Miss Eileen Wigg in 1899 near Half Way Creek between Leonora and Gwalia. 

Miss Wigg’s school was later closed down by the Leonora health authority and tenders were called in February 1901 for a Government school to serve both Leonora and Gwalia. The Central State School opened at Half Way Creek later that year.

With the advent of the railway a large number of families settled in Leonora and it was obvious the town needed its own State school, especially as the extremely high summer temperatures made it too dangerous for young children to walk the 2 mile (3.2 kilometre) distance twice daily. The Central School building was relocated to this site.

While additions were made to the building, children attended classes in the Mechanics Institute. The first Leonora State School opened on Monday 11 June 1906 with Mr Ulbrich as the headmaster.

An additional room and washhouse was added to the school in 1909 and in 1912 the building firm of Gamel & Trim was awarded the contract to erect quarters and fencing at a cost of £88 and 8 shillings. The number of enrolments increased and in 1913 a new classroom was added to the school building to accommodate them.

The school was described in the 4 September 1931 edition of the Toodyay Herald by a young pupil named Neil Millar:

“My school is in Gwalia Street, Leonora. It is made of galvanised iron and is lined with asbestos. It consists of 3 large rooms; the class room is larger than the other 2. One room is used for woodwork and has three large benches in it.”

The old Central School building was later relocated to the back of the Presbyterian Church where it remained until it was dismantled in 2004.

Today the Leonora District High School is on this site.


Presbyterian Church

"Prayer, Praise and Song"

Town Lot 2 was granted to the Presbyterian Church in 1898, but the church was only erected in 1910. 

The plans for the church were drawn by Herbert W Collins, an engineer at the Sons of Gwalia Mine. After tenders for the church were called in October 1910, the contract was awarded to local contractors Gamel & Trim. The work was carried out under the supervision of Joseph Semken.

The building was described in the Leonora Miner newspaper on 10 December 1910 as having a galvanised iron exterior, with the interior featuring jarrah dados and stamped metal. An electric fan donated by a member of the congregation helped alleviate the fierce summer heat.

The church was officially opened on Sunday 4 December 1910 by the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Western Australia, the Right Reverend William Agnew, assisted by the local minister, Rev John R Thrum.

Before the church was built, services for the Leonora Presbyterian congregation were conducted from 1905 in the Mechanics Institute. The first sermons were delivered by Rev J Haynes who travelled from Kookynie.

Leonora’s first resident minister, Rev Thomas Gray, arrived in Leonora from Victoria with his wife Isobella and their daughter Isobell on 3 April 1906.

The minister and his wife worked hard to raise funds to build the church, however they left Leonora in early 1908.  Mrs Gray and her daughter Isobell were renowned for their beautiful singing voices and these were greatly missed when Rev Gray and his family left Leonora. The Grays returned to Leonora in 1918 for another 4 years of service to the church. Rev Gray died in Perth in 1922 at the age of 62.

This is a rare example of the type of Federation Churches built in the northern part of WA’s Eastern Goldfields in the early days. There are only approximately 7 iron-clad churches left in existence in Western Australia and Leonora is privileged to have 2.

In the 1930s the church was often used for Anzac Day services. A public service was conducted next to the post office, the mine whistle giving the signal for the minute’s silence. After this, a church service was held in the Presbyterian Church. 

In 1938 the Armistice Day service was conducted in the evening at the Prestbyterian Church by the Moderator, the Right Reverend Dr JA Munro-Ford.

This church was utilised as the Australian Inland Mission Church until a few years ago and it is now the Christian Fellowship Church.


Grand Hotel & Picture Gardens

"Lasting ornament to Tower Street"

The Grand Hotel, with its intricately decorated façade and beautiful Wunderlich pressed metal ceilings, is a charming example of early 20th century public house architecture.

The hotel was constructed of brick in 1900 by Kalgoorlie architect DT Edmunds for fruit merchants Abraham Silbert and Joseph Sharp. The Mount Leonora Miner described the building as “a lasting ornament to Tower Street”.

The following year, in 1902, the Kalgoorlie Miner reported that the Grand was “one of the best known northern houses” featuring “a parlour, main bar, music and commercial room, Wunderlich ceiled and skylighted… saloon bar and fittings, hall and stone cellar”. The hotel also had 2 kitchens and “the most complete bar conveniences north of Kalgoorlie”. Its large stone cellar measured 27 x 18 feet (8.23 x 5.5 metres).

The hotel’s first lessee was John Moher, a pioneer prospector at Nullagine and later a successful butcher. Mr Moher ran the hotel until 1903 when he left to manage pastoral stations at Roy Hill, WA. In 1904 William Price took over the hotel.

In November 1910 an open-air cinema, the Olympia Picture Gardens, was built by contractors Silbert & Sharp adjoining the left side of the hotel. Movies were screened there on summer nights and the cinema was very popular. The Olympia Picture Gardens later closed.

Kitty Schimlack purchased the Grand Hotel and the adjacent Olympia Picture Gardens in February 1915.

In 1925 the hotel was de-licensed and in December 1934 Miss Schimlack advertised the Grand – by then a hostel – for sale “with or without furniture”, describing it as “all freehold… (and) all in good order”.

It ran as a hostel until the 1970s when it was taken over by the Shell Company of Australia. Fuel pumps were installed on the left side of the building on the site of the former Picture Gardens. The old parlour became the service station shop and the 2 shops fronting Tower Street are now used as storage rooms.

Kitty Schimlack

Catherine Jane Schimlack was born in Daylesford, Victoria, in 1868. She was among the passengers aboard RMS India bound for Fremantle in January 1905.

Kitty Schimlack is believed to be the first woman to own and operate a hotel in the Northern Goldfields. When she purchased the Grand Hotel and the adjacent Olympia Picture Gardens in February 1915, Miss Schimlack was already well-known and respected in the region as a publican and businesswoman. She ran the Mertondale Hotel before moving to Leonora.

She lived for many years in Leonora, where she contributed to community life – in December 1917 she was among those mentioned in the Leonora Miner’s account of the Leonora State School break-up celebrations as having “… helped to make the afternoon such a success”.

In March 1918 Kitty Schimlack was sued for a week’s unpaid wages in the Leonora Police Court by former Grand Hotel employee Annie Giles, who also accused her of assault. The assault case was dismissed but Miss Schimlack was ordered to pay Miss Giles £1 12 shillings.

The same year, Miss Schimlack and the Olympia Picture Gardens movie operator Harry Bradshaw were at the centre of a dispute with the Leonora-Malcolm Local Health Authority over regulatory issues. The Olympia Picture Gardens later closed.

Kitty Schimlack, who never married, died in July 1942 and is buried in the Leonora Cemetery.


White House Hotel

"First Class in Every Detail"

The White House Hotel was built in 1902 for Thomas and Annie Webb by contractor Mr CW Arnott and opened on New Year’s Day 1903.

In 1896 the Webbs ran the Menzies White House Hotel which had been constructed of local white stone. When the family moved to Leonora to build a new hotel, they took the name with them.

Leonora’s White House Hotel was built from locally-made burnt mud bricks and featured a decorative parapet in the Italianate style. The hotel consisted of 25 rooms – 11 were bedrooms with 3 set aside as quarters for the Webb family.

The saloon bar was known for its unique wall decorations and Wunderlich pressed metal ceilings which can still be seen today in the hotel. The cellar, situated directly beneath the front bar, measures 18 x 18 feet (5.49 x 5.49 metres) with very thick 8 foot (2.44 metre) walls.

Thomas Webb and his stepson Herbert George Webb ran the hotel until 7 August 1912 when Mr Webb (Senior) died from an accidental gunshot wound to the head. He was just 49 years old. Herbert Webb continued to run the hotel until his own death in 1959. Herbert also served on the Council from 1916-1920.

The dining room and kitchen are still in the same position as when the hotel was first erected.

Ever since, the White House Hotel has continued to be a popular family-run business.


Mount Leonora Miner Newspaper

"Truth, Liberty and Justice"

This building, constructed of timber, iron and stone, housed Leonora’s first newspaper, the Mount Leonora Miner. The first edition appeared on Saturday 8 July 1899 and the paper was published weekly and circulated throughout the Goldfields.

The first proprietor was Walter Henry Barker who was born at Burrowa, NSW, and served his printing apprenticeship at the Cootamandra Herald. Arriving in Western Australia in 1895, Walter Barker ran the newspaper until July 1905 when he sold it to William Snell. Mr Snell, the first Mayor of Leonora, managed the paper until he left Leonora in 1907.

The name of the newspaper changed several times during its lifetime from 1899 to 1946. 

The newspaper was the longest operating of any Goldfields newspaper, except for the Kalgoorlie Miner.

Leonora’s final newspaper was the Leonora News, published from 1946 to 1947. This publication was produced by James Clark, a pioneer of Leonora and editor of the Northern Grazier & Miner during World War 2. His wife Martha also helped with the production of the paper.

This building is a private residence today.

Newspaper name changes

The name of the newspaper changed several times from 1899 to 1946. 

  • Mount Leonora Miner – 9 July 1899 to 5 March 1910
  • Leonora Miner – 5 March 1910 to 2 March 1929
  • Northern Grazier & Miner – 2 March 1929 to 22 July 1944

In November 1929 it was reported that the paper was no longer printed entirely in Leonora, printed instead by United Press Ltd in Perth.

Newspaper proprietors

  • Walter Henry Barker – 1899-1905
  • William Snell – 1905-1907
  • Sydney C Fowler – 1907-1928
  • Alan A Kirk – 1928-1929
  • Frank O’Brien – 1929-1930
  • James Clark – 1930-1945
  • Robert W Williamson – 1945-1946


Leonora Post Office

"Mail, Money Orders and Telegraphs"

This prominent landmark building in the centre of town is the fourth post office to be erected on this site.

In 1897 Leonora’s mail was delivered to the premises of James Clark & Co on the corner of Trump and Tower streets, where residents would collect it. As the population grew, so did the volume of letters and parcels.

Eventually the proprietor of Clark & Co had had enough. According to a report in the Malcolm Chronicle & Leonora Advertiser, he declared that unless a proper postal department was established his staff would “throw the mail bags onto the footpath for all to ruffle through”.

The first post office in Leonora was a temporary hessian camp on a frame of iron telegraph poles and wire stays with a bough shed attached. A new building was constructed by Muir & Wright at a cost of £575 ($1,150). The second post office opened in January 1898 with Mr Johnson as postmaster. A skilled telegraphist, he volunteer his service for the South African War in 1899.

The Leonora Post Office handled more than £17,000 ($34,000) in money orders and nearly £24,000 ($48,000) in saving bank deposits in 1900.

A third post office building was erected in 1901 at a cost of £1,200 ($2,400) and built of more substantial materials: a timber frame with a galvanised iron roof. However the building was too small and customers were forced to wait for an hour or more at the counter. Plans were soon drawn up for a more substantial post office building.

The current post office building was constructed in 1903 of brick on the corner of Tower and Trump streets by builder Joseph Hart. Described as a half bungalow design, the building consisted of a public office, mail room, telegraph operator’s room and postmaster’s office surrounded by verandahs. The contractors handed over the post office on 28 December 1903.

The postmaster’s residence was constructed at the rear of the post office in 1906 by builder Peter McInnis. This residence is still occupied by the postmaster today.


Leonora Shire Offices

"Rates, roads and rubbish"

The original Bank of Western Australia opened in Leonora in April 1898 under the management of Mr DL McLeod. The current site was purchased in 1901 and a timber and iron building erected.

The Bank of Western Australia merged with the Bank of New South Wales in 1927. The original bank building was demolished in 1939 and a brick building erected for the Bank of New South Wales by builders Mortimore and Thompson and designed by architects Hobbs, Forbes and Partners.

Costing £3,738 ($7,476) and built of cement blocks, the building spanned a frontage of 30 feet (9.14 metres) on Tower Street and included a public banking chamber, a manager’s room and strong room.

The attached manager’s residence comprised a lounge, dining room, 2 bedrooms, a maid’s room, kitchen, laundry, servery, bathroom and sleep-out with a garage at the rear.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

The Bank of New South Wales ceased operations in Leonora on 25 January 1943 and customers’ accounts were transferred to the Kalgoorlie branch. The National Bank of Australasia moved its Leonora branch into the former Bank of New South Wales building in the same year and continued to utilise the building until the National Bank ceased operations in May 1966.

Shortly afterwards the property was sold to the Shire of Leonora after the Shire offices burnt down. Memorial Park now occupies the site of the former Shire offices.

In 1993-1994 many of the original fittings were removed when the Shire offices were renovated, although the strong room from the building’s banking days remains in the reception office.

The building remains the administration hub of the Shire of Leonora

Leonora Local Government Facts 

The Leonora Municipality was proclaimed on 29 August 1900 by Sir Alexander Campbell Onslow, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Before this date Leonora was administered by the members of the Leonora Progress Committee with Mr JE Smith as chairman.

The first elected Mayor of Leonora was William Albert Snell, while the first 6 Shire Councillors were Messrs AE Trim, O Vetter, HG Lamont, AH Court, D Barnes and C Bevan. The first Town Clerk was Mr PG Lavater.
1900-1917 Municipality of Leonora.

  • 1 July 1917 Municipality of Leonora dissolved, Leonora-Mt Malcolm Road Board formed.
  • 1930 renamed Leonora Road Board.
  • 1961 Shire of Leonora inaugurated.

Thank you for visiting 

This site marks the end of the Leonora Heritage Trail. The Shire of Leonora hopes you, our valued visitor, have enjoyed this fascinating insight into the history of our town.

There is much more to see and do in and around Leonora and Gwalia – return to the Information Centre for more details, maps and booklets to help you enjoy your stay in this fascinating region.


Back to Maps