Steeped in over 100 years of gold rush history, Laverton is the starting point of the Outback Way which links Kalgoorlie and the Northern Goldfields with Alice Springs and Winton in Queensland.
In 2012 I arrived in the regional town of Laverton to complete my 88 days of regional work for my second year visa. I endured 5 months of the sparse, desolate and arid countryside, the sweltering desert heat and those pesky flies!! My partner however, stayed on and off for almost a year. The above map shows just how far Laverton is from any of Australia’s well-known cities. Laverton lies almost 1000kms from Perth and a four hour drive from the nearest Coles Supermarket which can be found in one of the largest Outback cities, Kalgoorlie. At face value the town didn’t have much to offer, there was a petrol station, a local pub, a caravan park, local swimming pool and very few resident’s. The 2011 census estimated a population of 417 yet I never quite discovered where exactly all of those people lived. I wondered if it counted the people with no permanent residence? Over one third of the population were indigenous people who would often make their way out from the bush into the town to purchase their smokes or other items they deemed necessary. Did it count the miners who lived in the area for three weeks of a month? Because there certainly wasn’t many houses around! Many of the buildings in the town were closed up and it had a very eerie feel to it.
Laverton was home to a growing number of Miner’s working in near by mines, a stop-over for tourists on their travels to Alice Springs and a popular spot for prospectors in search of gold. My job in Laverton was park attendant at the local Caravan Park which also accommodated a number of Miner’s. Our home was the pre-fabricated building in the photo above that my partner and I shared with up to three other backpackers at any one time.
Sometimes working a 50-60 hour week there was little down time where we wanted to do anything other than chill out at home in the air-con. We did enjoy taking the work Ute on an exploration though, armed with the boss’s dog! Any drive would consist of dodging kangaroo’s and some harsh breaking to let the resident emu’s pass. The sunrise and sunset was pretty amazing out there too and I never got bored of watching it. However, when there was an opportunity to find some real entertainment in a town so desolate we made the most of it! Here is the low-down on things to do in and around Laverton.
Being a popular mining town, the area was full of abandoned mines that have filled with water and are perfect for swimming in. ‘The Wedge’ as known by the locals was one of the most popular and the ideal spot to cool down and have a few beers! Why not set yourself the goal of finding as many as you can… there’s a fair few out there, but what’s lurking at the bottom I don’t know 😉
The Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame
The Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame brings to life the characters and stories of the past. Step back in time and listen to recounted stories of explorers who led challenging expeditions through central Australia during the mid to late 19th Century. You are able to discover what it was like for women and pioneers of the Goldfields during the early days and learn about the valuable industries that sustained the inland. On the grounds there is also a local Visitor Centre, Horizons Café and a gift/souvenir shop. A stop here will give you all the information you will need on other unique attractions within the town and surrounding areas and they can arrange for any transit permits you may need for your onward travels.
Laverton Race Day
A great opportunity to dress up for the races in 40 degree heat!! Place your bets at the 6-race event and watch the horses zip past with a cloud of red dust. This is also a unique opportunity to play the famous ‘Two Up’ a gambling game that is only legally to be played in public on special day’s such as Anzac Day.
Gwalia in Leonora
Gwalia is simply a fascinating, living ghost town. It’s a great place to visit if you want a snapshot of Western Australia’s rich mining history. The Gwalia settlement grew up around the Sons of Gwalia Mine in the late 1890s which thrived until on 28 December 1963 it closed putting 250 men out of work. Gwalia’s 1200-strong population fell to just 40 in less than three weeks. Take a look for yourselves at the abandoned homes and businesses of Gwalia and transport yourself to to a different era.
Gwalia is located in the town of Leonora some 125kms or so from Laverton. Leonora has a little more to offer in terms of eating options, a few retail stores and it also has an IGA. The local pub had a little more going on too… if backpackers and skimpies are your thing!
For me, Kalgoorlie was a real treat and what felt like the ultimate day out with a 4 hour drive from Laverton. It was an opportunity to be reconnected with the world. A chance stock up on food items from Coles, eat McDonald’s, buy clothes and even go to the cinema! Kalgoorlie is the largest Outback City in Australia and is also home to the ‘Super pit’ which stretches 3.5kms! It’s definitely worth a look.
The Outback Way (aka The Great Central Road).
The ultimate dirt road experience from Laverton to Alice springs. An opportunity to see the Australian Outback at it’s best. A raw and unique experience. If you’re lucky you might even spot a few wild camels!! You can read all about my Outback Way adventure here
Those five months in Laverton made for a unique outback experience I will never forget and to this day is one of the most fascinating places I have ever lived… help keep Laverton on the map in these uncertain times for the mining industry and roster a stopover into your travels!