Perched on the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert, Laverton experiences a classic desert climate. With a highest ever temperature nearing 48°C and a yearly rainfall of just 230mm (8 inches), summer in Laverton can be uncomfortably hot and dry.
Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt disappeared while forging a trail from Queensland to Western Australia. Following reports that aborigines had killed a group of white men and their horses, another famous explorer, John Forrest, set out for Laverton in search of the lost party. Nothing was ever found.
In 1896, nearly 30 years after the Forrest expedition, gold was discovered in the area bringing the inevitable gold rush. Dr Charles Laver is reputed to have ridden his bicycle 400km to settle as the local physician and when the settlement was declared a town in 1899 it was named Laverton in his honour.
Laverton also received attention from sandalwood cutters who pushed ever outwards away from the goldfields in search of the prized fragrant timber.
As with many goldfields towns Laverton's decline began as the gold petered out and by the 1960's, with gold prices slumping, the town went into withdrawal. The Vietnam war saw a massive demand for nickel and a huge discovery near Laverton temporarily buoyed the towns flagging fortunes. Gold is still mined in the area but as is the case with many old mining towns the employees are mostly 'fly-in/fly-out' workers who rarely set foot in town.
A town that once housed 3500 people now has 300 residents but the prospects for Laverton aren't all doom and gloom. A progressive Aboriginal art gallery has sprung up in town which unlike many similiar enterprises sees it set up as a a cooperative with artists receiving 80% of the fee. The 'Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame' incorporates a cafe and official visitor centre and hosts a range of exhibitions celebrating the early adventurers who discovered the regions around Laverton.
Laverton has also become the staging point for various desert routes such as the 4WD trek across the Great Victoria desert to Yulara and Uluru(Ayers Rock). Known as the Great Central Road it's not the only iconic desert track that begins here. The Anne Beadell Highway also starts at Laverton, winding it's way over desert, scrub and dunes before reaching Coober Pedy in South Australia.
Today the outback town of Laverton is tourist friendly and relaxed and a far cry from the days when it was touted as 'The Wildest Town in the West'.
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