1930 - 1963

The end of this period is marked by the closure of the Sons of Gwalia mine, an event that was to have a significant effect on both Gwalia and Leonora.


Mining Operations - Closure Of Sons Of Gwalia Mine

World War II bought labour shortages, exacerbated by the internment in 1940 of the Italian nationals amongst the workforce. Production fell sharply. The internal shaft at Sons of Gwalia was fitted with its own electric winder, and eventually reached 527ft in depth in 1948, making the mine's total vertical distance 3,778 feet.

The end of the war had not eased labour shortage. In an attempt to replace the Italians, few of whom had returned to Gwalia from the internment camps, the company shipped 67 miners directly from Italy in 1949, but only 31 of them were still at the mine a year later and recruitment of labour became a standing concern. By the 1950s, Sons of Gwalia was in its final- decline, battling hard to remain efficient: Mechanical scrapers and loader appeared in the stopes, replacing men wielding shovels. In 1955, underground horses were retired, and replaced by electric locomotives.

By 1963, in a bid to stay afloat, the company owed the State £366,000 and was running at a loss every year. On 6 December 1963, the directors met to consider the latest geological reports and learned that the ore in sight was of pore quality. There was no option but to close the mine.

On 13 December 1963, the announcement was made that the mine would close on New Year's Eve. An accident intervened on 27 December when an orecart was '" overwound, damaging the headframe, and putting the southern shaft out of action. Ore haulage ceased immediately, and the mine was finished.

The population of Leonora and Gwalia was about 1,700, of whom at least two­tbirds were financially dependent on the mine. The closure caused dislocation, but little distress, for the workforce of 250 were rapidly absorbed by the mines of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The exodus began immediately, encouraged by concession railway fares and housing subsidies. When it closed at the end of 1963, the Sons of Gwalia mine was probably the sixth-largest gold producing mine in Australia's history, and one of the only two mines outside the 'Golden Mile' of Kalgoorlie-Boulder which could measure its gold output at over two million ounces.

Social & Civic Activities

In 1957, the Co-op closed in Gwalia, leaving Mazza's Store as the town's, one shop. The Pictures closed the following year, and the State Hotel was sold to a syndicate of local residents in 1960.

Outside Influences

State And Federal Government

The influence of State and Federal Government has pervaded almost every aspect of community life, including employment, education, welfare, health and transportation.

World Wars And Depression

Although there have been a number of external events and influences which have shaped the development of Leonora, the two World Wars have been particularly significant, impacting as they did on the district's social fabric and economy. The onset of both wars resulted in many people leaving the district either to join up or to seek employment elsewhere. The wars also effected the price of gold and consequently, during both wars, a number of mines in district ceased operations.

The economic depression of the 1930s resulted in a substantial curtailment of the activities of government authorities.

Leonora Electoral Roll for 1958