Shire of Coolgardie “the Mother of the Goldfields”

The Shire of Coolgardie is the number one producer of minerals in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, with gold and nickel mining operations supporting globally significant regional exports. It comprises the towns of Coolgardie, Kambalda, Widgiemooltha and the Aboriginal community of Kurrawang which are all rich in history and heritage.

Coolgardie saw the biggest movement of people in Australian history when gold was found in 1892. At the height of the gold rush in 1897, Coolgardie was Western Australia’s third largest town servicing a population of 25,000 residents and over 700 mining companies.

The name Coolgardie is derived from the Aboriginal name “Kurl-Kurti” that refers to a type of Mulga tree which grew near a waterhole. The waterhole was shown to the first Europeans in the area by Nyunbuning.

Coolgardie has some of the grandest surviving goldrush-era historical buildings and collections which include the Goldfields Exhibition Museum, Post Office Complex and Warden Finnerty’s Residence.

Kambalda, established in 1897, was also a gold mining town until 1966 when the first of many large deposits of nickel was found in the town.   These rich nickel deposits were profitably developed by Western Mining Corporation which marked the beginning of Western Australia’s ‘nickel boom’.

Widgiemooltha is located between Kambalda and Norseman on the southern shoreline of a significant salt lake and tourist attraction called Lake Lefroy. In the 1890s, gold was discovered in the area and Widgiemooltha had a population of 112 people. The name of the town is Aboriginal in origin and is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word Wadjimoola (meaning crows nose).

Kurrawang is an Aboriginal community located between Coolgardie and the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. It was established as a mission settlement in 1953 on a Crown Land Title reserve and in 1995, the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Community was issued with the title to land in freehold. Today, the community hosts a range of facilities including a school, shop, and adult learning centre.