Sunday History Photo / Sandstone WA

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 04:54
ThreadID: 130500 Views:4406 Replies:5 FollowUps:1
This Thread has been Archived
The town was first settled in 1894 as part of a gold rush after a team of prospectors including Ernest Shillington first discovered gold about 20 km south of the present townsite. Following the influx of miners the local progress association requested that a townsite be declared in 1905. Correspondence of the time shows that the area was locally known as Hans Irvine's Find and that a large amount of money had been spent on building hotels, banks and other services required by the residents. The townsite was gazetted as Sandstone in 1906.

The first European into the area was John Forrest who, in 1869, led an expedition through the East Murchison in search of the remains of Ludwig Leichhardt.
By 1907 the population of the town had swelled to 6,000 to 8,000 and it boasted four hotels, four butchers, two banks, a staffed police station and many other stores. A brewery was also constructed in 1907 by an Irishman, I.V. Kearney, to satisfy the local demand. He built the brewery on a breakaway on top of a cliff about 35 feet high. Water was pumped to the top level for brewing and the beer was stored in the cellars below to keep it cool even in the hotter weather.

Gold mining at the Sandstone area stretches back over the past century. In 1894 a prospector discovered gold about 20 km south of present day Sandstone and, in 1903, gold was found within a few hundred meters of the town. From 1903 to 1916, 930,000 ounces of gold were mined in town. With the outbreak of the First World War, the fortunes of the mine, and the town, declined and the population in Sandstone fell from a high of 8,000 in 1906 to approximately 200 in 1919
In 1910 the railway was completed between Mount Magnet and Sandstone but the population had declined to about 200 people and many buildings had been pulled down, removed or left derelict. The Jundoo Dam was completed in 1910 to provide water for the steam trains; the dam could hold three-and-a-half million gallons of water and cost £5,000 to build. Most of the original dam works still exist today.

By 1912 Sandstone had a population of 8,000 and nearby Youanmi had a population of 300. The first pastoral leases including Youanmi Station, Yuinmery and Lake Barlee Stations were being established at this time.
A state-run battery operated in the town from 1904 to 1982. The remains of these are located along the Menzies Road.

Today, Sandstone is the administrative centre of the Shire of Sandstone local government area. A local sight to see is London Bridge, a natural bridge that is part of the Sandstone Heritage Trail. Sandstone was the inspiration for the mining town in Randolph Stow's 1963 novel Tourmaline. The smallest of the hotels built in town, the National, constructed in 1909 from locally made bricks, is the only one left remaining.

gift by Daughter

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

Back Expand Un-Read 13 Moderator

Reply By: Phil B (WA) - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 11:44

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 11:44
Thanks Doug for another most enjoyable read.

There is a lot of difference between
‘Human Being’ and ‘Being Human’.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 591137

Reply By: disco driver - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 16:22

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 16:22
Thank Doug,
With a mate, I went through there a month or so again, saw all the places mentioned too.

The National Pub does great meals at good prices.

There were lots of guys with metal detectors running around when we were there. Don't know how they went, everyone kept quiet about where they went and what they found.
Not really surprised about that.

We found the Cemetery, lots of child deaths, mainly typhoid or infancy and not surprisingly adult males of varying ages where cause of death was mine accident
They were hard times, the young of today have no idea what hard times are.

AnswerID: 591154

Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 21:21

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 21:21
Thanks Doug for another interesting Sunday History story photo.
Just a little bit of editing and correction needed there. Sandstone did not decline to a population of 200 people until 1919, which is omitted in your paragraph.

As with all goldfields towns in W.A., WW1 hit Sandstone hard. Blokes walked off the mines to sign up to fight, as soon as the punch-up with "Kaiser Bill" was announced.
As a result, the bigger mines stopped operating because of the almost total lack of labour.
Even small shows were abandoned - many of the prospectors decided that 6 shillings a day in the employ of the 1st AIF and a chance to bump off a few intensely-disliked Huns, was a lot more attractive than scratching for a tiny bit of occasional gold in the Sandstone dust.

The 1st AIF pay was so generous, it grated with the Poms - and the Diggers were often referred to by the Poms, in a derogatory fashion, as the "six-bob-a-day-tourists".
Of course, the Pommy soldier was only being paid a fraction of that, thus the jealousy.

Once WW1 was over, very few miners returned to the W.A. Goldfields - most went on to agricultural pursuits as farming boomed between 1919 and 1929.
The "Soldier settlement" scheme by the W.A. Govt helped this change along, too. The W.A. Govt gave solid assistance to returned soldiers in three ways.

1. The Govt would buy farm land and set up the returned soldier on it. The soldier was given 40 years to pay for it, with lower interest rates for the first 5 years and the option to defer the first 5 years payments if the soldier was unable to make the payments, due to poor seasons or other factors.

2. The soldier could buy a farm with assistance from the W.A. Govt owned, Agricultural Bank of Western Australia (later called the Rural & Industries Bank, today known as Bankwest). The ABWA had been established in 1895 to assist W.A. farmers.

3. "Assistance" that is not listed in detail, was also given to other soldier settlers. It's possible these were soldiers who already had some farming assets and who required additional land, or it is possible these soldiers were granted pastoral properties in places such as the Murchison and Goldfields.

In W.A., the Soldier Settlement scheme was probably a lot more successful than in the other states, as the rainfall was more reliable, and the scheme was well-administered.

As at the 30th June, 1924, the area of W.A. farmland acquired or set apart for WW1 soldier settlement was 9,094,711 acres - of which 253,478 acres comprised private land purchased at a cost of 607,215 pounds ($1,214,430).
This total acreage comprised 1,095 soldier settlement farms.
In addition, another 3,170 properties with an area of 25,353,775 acres were purchased by returned soldiers with the assistance of the Agricultural Bank.
Assistance was also given to an additional 859 soldier settlers who occupied areas totalling another 2,789,200 acres.

For value comparison indications, a new Ford Model T car in 1919 cost 255 pounds ($510) and the basic wage in 1919 was around 10 shillings ($1.00) a day or 3 pounds ($6.00) a week.

So, as you can see from the figures, the move from mining into farming in W.A. after WW1 was pretty substantial, with more than 5000 new farms being commenced as a result of the W.A. SS scheme.

Cheers, Ron..
AnswerID: 591170

Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 01:43

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 01:43
There's some interesting historical pics from the Sandstone area on the W.A. State Library site.
There are about 380 of them, here's just some of the ones I thought were interesting;

I can't link directly to the pics - just open the SLWA website from the link below - copy and paste the image number into the search menu, and select "Call No".

Boundary riders on bicycles in the late 1920's! - image Ba1361/253

Hack St, Sandstone, circa 1908 - image Ba1361/261

National Hotel, circa 1940's - image Ba1361/292

Bogged 1949 Ford V8 truck (1955) - image Ba1361/293

Sandstone hospital, complete with morgue (early 1930's) - image Ba1361/303

The Lehane family moving from Sandstone to Youanmi (1912) - image Ba1361/309

Prospectors near Sandstone, with gear (1905) - image Ba1361/311

First double decker stock truck in the Sandstone district (1933), at Kaluwiri Station - image Ba1361/313

Oroya Black Range Gold Mine, Sandstone (1912) - image Ba1361/327

Commencement of shaft, Lady Seddon Gold Mine (circa 1908) - image Ba1361/331
(the Lady Seddon is reported in State Battery returns of Sept 1909, as producing 48 ozs of gold from 42 tons of ore!)

This 1933 Dodge roadster (circa 1940) would be worth a fortune today - image Ba1361/342

Hacks Black Range Gold Mine (1908) - image Ba1361/378

Hacks Black Range Gold Mine (1907) - image Ba1361/379

Bogged 4 cyl 1920's Dodge tourer (1930's) - image Ba1361/387

And finally - the pic that shows exactly how the "roads" were! - and how good we have it today!

Fred and Alf Watson on road to Curran's Find (1914) in what appears to be a Model T Ford - image Ba1361/185

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 859244

Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 08:06

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 08:06
Great read Doug, thanks . . . a bit of normality to the 'turmoil of change' :)
(The forum is greatly improved, with improvements in some cases too !!)

The sandstone (?) arch looks interesting.
AnswerID: 591180

Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 00:43

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 00:43
Thanks Doug.Sandstone was the surprise of our 2008 trip. We went to see the arch - that was well known, but instead of just overnight, we stayed three nights in their wonderful caravan park, and three touring days in the area. Such a neat town in a large Shire with a tiny population.

Red desert dreaming

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 591240

Sponsored Links