Six of the best ghost towns
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