Greenough Street

Greenough rests along the Brand Highway in Western Australia's 'Midwest' region - the heart of wheat and sheep country.

405km north of Perth and 22km south of Geraldton, the amazing Indian Ocean lies just to the west with the mouth of the Greenough River 10km north.

Originally named for Sir George Bellas Greenough (president of the London Royal Geographical Society), the area was first explored by George Grey in 1839.

Greenough Flats, as it was first known, was divided into small, 30 acre lots to encourage English settlers to develop the more rural areas of the fledgling Western Australian state.

Realizing the potential of this newly discovered grazing land, Greenough and the surrounding areas became the most northern outpost of the western colony and was settled by a variety of adventurers including convicts and ex prison guards alike.

The fortunes of Greenough were metered by the vagaries of nature and the experimental nature needed to farm this new region.

Cyclones, massive flooding, bush-fires, drought, and crop disease all took their toll on what had become a thriving town of around a thousand people.

By 1900 the town was depleted with many residents moving on to try their luck in the eastern goldfields near Kalgoorlie or to find a more hospitable region to raise crops, families and livestock.

Modern farming and fertilising techniques have seen the fields around Greenough return to their previous glory and the countryside continues to confirm its ability for regeneration with a spectacular annual display of native wildflowers.

Greenough never recovered from desertion, with many of the original buildings demolished or left to the harsh elements - elements that see tree trunks grow horizontally, bent over by the ocean driven wind.

Fortunately, Greenough has made a recovery of sorts, in the form of tourism and many of the old buildings have been restored, complete with furnishings and chattels.

A museum now resides in the former 'Home Cottage' - a colonial building of some distinction. Various other buildings including the court house and prison cells are restored and available for inspection. As is often the case, strong religious beliefs underpinned the early colonial days and various denominations are represented by a couple of classic country churches.


Unlike many abandoned towns you'll be lucky to have Greenough to yourself. A cafe, shop and various retail attachments ensure the old town gets a steady supply of tourists travelling the northbound Brand Highway but the restorations have an authentic feel and the place is big enough with enough to see to make the small detour, off the highway, worthwhile.

This article is part of a project to record the history of ghost towns in Australia. If you can contribute any information about any of Australia's abandoned towns please use the 'CONTACTUS' link at the top of the page to send us an email.

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