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History

Located 957km North East of Perth, Laverton is a small town with natural, cultural and historic riches, appealing to a huge range of visitors with a range of diverse interests.

The area was first explored by Europeans when Lord John Forrest travelled through the area in 1869 on an expedition to search for the remains of Ludwig Leichardt.  Along with Aboriginal tracker Tommy Windich, Lord John Forrest covered over 2000km which took him past the future sight of Laverton.  Lord John Forrest named many well-known sights of today including Mt Ida, Mt Leonora, Mt Margaret and Mt Weld before returning back to Perth.

Following Lord John Forrest were many other explorers including Frank Hann and David Carnegie.

The early explorers of Western Australia and the Central Australian region are recognised in The Great Beyond Visitor Centre – Home of the Explorers Hall of Fame.

During the 1870’s and 80’s, sandalwood cutters travelled through the area looking for supplies of the valuable aromatic timber.  Sandalwood cutters have exported tons of sandalwood timber from this area.  There are few pastoralists in the area still licensed to harvest sandalwood.  A huge range of sandalwood merchandise can be purchased from the Great Beyond Visitor Centre, located in the town’s main street.

In 1886, gold was discovered in the area. Suddenly, bright eyed prospectors from Coolgardie arrived in the area hoping to find goldfields richer than the ones they left behind.  The ever growing settlement was called British Flag, after the first successful gold mine.

One keen prospector was Dr Charles W. Laver, a British Doctor who rode his bicycle from Coolgardie to the Laverton area in the search of gold.

Dr Laver became an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of the region.  His priority was to attend to the sick people of the area and, in his spare time, prospect and mine some of his leases.  He had excellent rapport with his co-workers and patients, including the Aboriginal people.

Dr Laver travelled back to Britain a number of times to raise funds to finance many mining ventures.  It is believed that without Dr Laver’s finance, the Laverton area would not have been part of the Gold Rush Era.

One of the most successful mines was Craiggiemore, and by 1897 a residential and business area had sprung up on the west side of the mine.  This area came to be known as Laverton, in honour of Dr Laver.  In 1899, the residents sought to have the town surveyed but by then the original town had become unsuitable, so a new site was chosen about three kilometres from the original lots.  The site was surveyed in July 1899 and the town of Laverton was gazetted in July 1900.

Residents from many close settlements including British Flag and Euro moved to Laverton.

By the late 1960’s Laverton was in decline.  With a very low price of gold, interest was lost in Gold Mining.

But in 1969 a prospector, Ken Shirley, discovered Nickel bearing rocks at Mt Windarra prompting the famous Poseidon boom.  The deposit was developed into the Windarra Nickel Project which mined and processed Nickel for over 20 years.

Poseidon’s Town Development Plan saw an influx of houses being built and the town re-structured as it is today.

Windarra’s closure in 1995 saw many of the town’s houses and major structures auctioned and removed from the town site.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows during this time the population fell from just over 2000 people to 700.  From 1995 to 2005 this number has fallen even more to just over 300 people.

With ongoing mining exploration and expansion of existing mines in the Laverton area, the population has risen to just over 1000 in 2011.

Recent mining activity in the area has seen the re-opening and exploration of the Windarra Mine by Poseidon Nickel.

Other mining activity in the area includes the opening of the Duketon Project by Regis Resources and the construction of the Mt Weld Rare Earths project by Lynas Corporation.

Amongst its many positive features, Laverton is the gateway to many Outback destinations.

Laverton is;

  • The most western point of the Outback Way which leads travellers straight to Australia’s heart and onto Winton in Queensland.
  • Gateway to the Anne Beadell Highway which goes from Laverton to Coober Pedy, through the desert and the Woomera Rocket range.  This track is for the avid, self-contained four wheel driver.
  • Gateway to the David Carnegie Road which in turn leads travellers to the Gunbarrell Highway and Canning Stock Route, linking Australia’s Golden Outback to Australia’s North West.

Laverton

Population

1023 (2011 Census)

Established

1900

Postcode

6440

Elevation

461m (1,512 ft.)

Location

957km (595 mi) from Perth

 

356km (221 mi) from Kalgoorlie

 

124km (77 mi) from Leonora

Mean Max Temp

27.3°C (81°F)

Mean Min Temp

13.2°C (56°F)

Mean Rainfall

232.5mm (9.2 in.)