View of Meekatharra from the local lookout
|Population||708 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||517 m (1,696 ft)|
|LGA(s)||Shire of Meekatharra|
|State electorate(s)||North West|
Meekatharra is a town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Meekatharra is a Yamatji word meaning "place of little water". At the 2016 census, Meekatharra had a population of 708, with 34.0% being of Aboriginal descent.
Meekatharra is a major supply centre for the pastoral and mining area in the Murchison region of Western Australia. It is located 764 km (475 mi) north-east of Perth and may be reached by the Great Northern Highway. It is a centre for sheep and cattle transshipment, initially by rail but now by road trains. It is also a regional home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. It is connected by public transport to Geraldton with connections to Perth via Transwa coach service N4. No viable horticultural industry exists in the area, although extensive but poor cattle stations in the Murchison and Gascoyne exist.
Meekatharra underwent a significant gold rush during the mining boom of the 1980s, with mining continuing until May 2004 at St Barbara Mines's Bluebird Gold Mine. Exploration restarted in the area and St Barbara sold out to a company known as Mercator Gold in October 2005.Mercator Gold then conducted an extensive drilling programme and re-opened the mill, commencing production in early October 2007. This mining phase however was short lived, with Mercator going into administration in October 2008 and closing the mine.
Meekatharra is a former gold rush town. It seems the first settlement at Meekatharra occurred in 1894 and that, in May 1896, after the prospectors Meehan, Porter and Soich discovered gold, miners moved to the new settlement from the other East Murchison fields and mining grew rapidly in scale and sophistication. The Peak Hill mining town was founded in 1892 approximately 100 km up the road during this initial gold rush.
Success on the Meekatharra field was short-lived. It was only because a second gold discovery occurred in 1899 that the town survived. In 1901 the Meekatharra State Battery began operation and by Christmas Day 1903 the township had been officially gazetted.
In 1906 Alfred Wernam Canning was appointed to develop a stock route from the East Kimberley to the Murchison. The stock route, comprising 54 wells, was completed in 1908 and, when the railway arrived in Meekatharra in 1910, the town became the railhead at the end of the route. In many ways the railway ensured the town's survival. In 1910 it took the first shipment of wool out of the area and it continued to serve the local pastoral interests until it was closed down in 1978.
The town and surrounding stations were isolated by flood waters in 1926 resulting in provisions in the town running low after supplies were unable to get through after a week.
From 1927 until 1931, a railway line operated from Meekatharra to the manganese mine at Horseshoe, some 80 miles (128 km) distant.
A substantial gold deposit which lies just south of the townsite called the Paddy's Flat area was explored and mined by Western Mining Corporation and Dominion Mining Ltd in the 1990s.
The climate is hot and dry. The annual rainfall is between 200 and 300 millimetres (7.9 and 11.8 in). The driest months of the year are August through to November.
|Climate data for Meekatharra (Meekatharra Airport)|
|Record high °C (°F)||47.1|
|Average high °C (°F)||38.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||24.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||12.2|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||29.7|
|Average precipitation days||4.5||4.6||4.5||4.1||4.4||6.0||5.4||3.6||1.9||1.7||2.5||3.2||46.4|
Meekatharra was an important location in the Western Australian Government Railways system - being the northernmost location in the Northern Railway railway network, apart from the isolated Marble Bar Railway branch out of Port Hedland. For a while a further branch line continued eastwards to Wiluna. The line was closed from Mullewa and pulled up in the 1970s. In the 2000s, new iron ore prospects may see the railway return.
A 2,181-metre (7,156-foot) runway, now known as Meekatharra Airport, was built by the Americans during World War II. It serves as an important ETOPS diversion airport for inbound transcontinental flights to Australia. Skippers Aviation provide services to Perth on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Transwa operates coach services from Geraldton to Meekatharra on Mondays and Thursdays, returning Tuesdays and Fridays with connecting services to Perth.Integrity Coach Lines operates services between Perth and Port Hedland on Tuesdays, stopping in Meekatharra. The return service operates on Thursdays.
Meekatharra is mentioned in Kevin Bloody Wilson's 1985 song Living Next Door To Alan .
Wiluna is a small town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. It is situated on the edge of the Western Desert at the gateway to the Canning Stock Route and Gunbarrel Highway. It is the service centre of the local area for the local Martu people, the pastoral industry, the Wiluna Gold Mine, and many more people who work on other mines in the area on a "fly-in/fly-out" basis. Wiluna's climate is hot and dry, with an annual rainfall of 254 millimetres (10.0 in). Mean maximum temperatures range from 19 °C (66 °F) in July, to 38 °C (100 °F) in January.
The Public Transport Authority (PTA) is a statutory authority that oversees the operation of all public transport in Western Australia.
Transwa is Western Australia's regional public transport provider, linking 240 destinations, from Kalbarri in the north to Augusta in the south west to Esperance in the south east.
The Mid West region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is a sparsely populated region extending from the west coast of Western Australia, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north and south of its administrative centre of Geraldton and inland to 450 kilometres (280 mi) east of Wiluna in the Gibson Desert.
Cue is a small town in the Mid West region of Western Australia, located 620 km north-east of Perth. At the 2016 census, Cue had a population of 178. It is also known as the "Queen of the Murchison". Cue is administered through the Cue Shire Council, which has its chambers in the historic Gentlemans Club building. The current president is Ross Pigdon. The Cue Parliament is held twice yearly in May and November.
Mount Magnet is one of the Mid West region’s original gold mining towns, and the longest surviving gold mining settlement in Western Australia. The prominent hill that is adjacent to the current townsite was called West Mount Magnet in 1854 by explorer Robert Austin, having named a smaller hill 64 km away, East Mount Magnet. Both hills had an extremely high iron content which affected the readings of his compass. West Mount Magnet had its Aboriginal name reinstated by the Surveyor General in 1972, 'Warramboo," meaning campfire camping place. The magnetic variation at Mount Magnet is zero: magnetic north equals true north.
Skippers Aviation is a small regional airline based out of Perth Airport that specialises in charter flights for companies with fly-in fly-out workers. They also cater for executive charters and general flying for the mining industry in Western Australia, as well as some scheduled regular public transport (RPT) flights. Primarily serving the northern Goldfields, Skippers also has a secondary base in Broome in order to service the Kimberley region.
The Murchison is an interim Australian bioregion located within the Mid West of Western Australia. The bioregion is loosely related to the catchment area of the Murchison River and comprises 281,200 square kilometres (108,600 sq mi). Traditionally the region is known as The Murchison.
Nannine is a ghost town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. It is located on the northern bank of Lake Anneen, approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) south-southwest of Meekatharra, and 735 kilometres (457 mi) north-northeast of Perth.
Railways in Western Australia were developed in the 19th century both by the Government of Western Australia and a number of private companies. Today passenger rail services are controlled by the Public Transport Authority through Transperth, which operates public transport in Perth, and Transwa, which operates country passenger services. Great Southern Rail operates the Indian Pacific.
The Northern Railway has had a number of meanings in Western Australian railway history.
Pilbara newspapers is a selection of newspapers published in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Day Dawn is a ghost town in the Mid West/upper Murchison region of Western Australia. It was a significant mining town and mine in the late nineteenth century. Located a short distance south-west of Cue, rich gold deposits were discovered there in 1891 by Ned Heffernan, who pegged out what became known as the 'Day Dawn Reef'.
Sandstone is a small town in the Mid West region of Western Australia 157 kilometres (98 mi) east of Mount Magnet and 661 kilometres (411 mi) north of the state capital, Perth. At the 2016 census, Sandstone and the surrounding Shire of Sandstone had a population of 89 people, including 19 families. Sandstone is the administrative centre and only town in the Shire of Sandstone local government area.
Peak Hill is the name of a goldfield, locality and the site of a gold mining ghost town in the Murchison Region of Western Australia. The gold mine covers 2,162 hectares and consists of four open-cut mines, titled Main, Jubilee, Fiveways and Harmony.
The Bluebird Gold Mine is a gold mine located 15 km south-south-west of Meekatharra, Western Australia.
Gold mining in Western Australia is the third largest commodity sector in Western Australia, behind iron ore and petroleum, with a value of A$11.9 billion.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, discoveries of gold at a number of locations in Western Australia caused large influxes of prospectors from overseas and interstate, and classic gold rushes. Significant finds included:
The Meekatharra to Wiluna railway was a 113 miles (182 km) branch line of the Western Australian Government Railways that extended the Mullewa – Meekatharra railway from Meekatharra to Wiluna. Wiluna was the furthest rail terminus from Perth on the Western Australian Government Railways system and Paroo the highest station at 1,916 feet (584 m) with the highest point on the Western Australian railway network at 2,134 feet (650 m).
Geraldton railway station was located on the Kwinana-Geraldton and Northampton lines in Western Australia. It served the city of Geraldton.
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