Gwalia Ghost Town – Leonora, Australia - Atlas Obscura

Leonora, Australia

Gwalia Ghost Town

This once-booming gold mining hub was basically abandoned overnight. 

In the outback east of Perth lies a gold mining town practically untouched by time. Its buildings stand like rusting time capsules of rural Western Australia. 

Gwalia began as a shanty town that sprouted up around the Sons of Gwalia Mine, once the deepest mine of its kind in Australia, in the late 1890s. Men soon flocked to the town to work in the mine, turning the desert settlement into a booming community. At its peak, 1,114 people called the town home.

A nasty mine fire in the 1920s closed the mine for three years, signaling the start of the town’s demise. Workers left in search of jobs in other mines, and Gwalia’s population never quite recovered even after business kicked back up again. The mine, too, never fully bounced back.

Decades of extraction depleted the mine’s resources. It closed for good in 1963. After it shuttered, the town of Gwalia nearly emptied overnight. In fewer than three weeks, the town’s population had fallen to just 40 people. It wasn’t long before most of them, too, had moved on and the town seemed destined for demolition.

A historical preservation effort started in 1971 to preserve the mine’s original structures as well as the town’s remaining buildings and homes. A handful of the houses are even still lived in today. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the empty, dusty streets and experience the eerie silence of a village with hardly any people. There’s also a museum within the ghost town, full of images and information about its former glory days.