Six of the best ghost towns

By Bridget Brennan | May 21, 2010

Colonial Australia still rattles its chains in these dwindling outback settlements.

Click here to read an updated version of this article published in June 2016. 

1 Kanowna, Western Australia
If you’d visited Kanowna in 1905, you’d have found a bustling town of 15,000 people – mostly miners hoping to strike gold. In a bid to stop people leaving, local priest Father Long lied about finding a gold nugget weighing 100 pounds (45 kg).

2 Arltunga, Northern Territory
Central Australia’s first official town was at one time larger than Alice Springs although, at its peak, it boasted only 300 residents. This old gold-rush settlement is now a historical reserve with self-guided tours, gold-panning and a slide show.

3 Farina, South Australia
Farina was settled in 1878 under the misguided notion that “rain follows the plough”. By the 1930s the drought-ravaged outpost was emptying. The cemetery, a hotel and the once-busy hospital building stand as testament to Farina’s halcyon days.

4 Silverton, New South Wales
Long before it was a filmset for Australian productions such as Mad Max 2 and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Silverton was a silver-ore-mining centre with up to 3000 residents. There are many hardy colonial structures still standing in the town, including a surveyor’s cottage and a public-school building.

5 Steiglitz, Victoria
Once a busy mining town and home to about 1500 residents, Steiglitz began to empty in the 1940s when the last large mine closed. The elegant 135-year-old courthouse building is now a visitor centre, and Scott’s Hotel, the post office, two churches and several other structures still stand in memory of more prosperous times.

6 Ravenswood, Queensland
Although its 100-odd residents will say they’re very much alive, thank you, Ravenswood is a late-19th and early 20th century mining centre frozen in time. The opulent Imperial Hotel even has a set of swinging saloon doors, in true Hollywood
Wild West style.

Source: Australian Geographic Issue 97