Menzies
Collage of Menzies.

In 1895, five years after it was pronounced a municipality, Menzies had a population of 10,000 and proudly boasted 13 hotels and two breweries. The town had it's own newspaper, a fire brigade and hospital, 3 banks, 4 churches, a post office employing 25 people, a public library, a school and importantly - a rail line from Kalgoorlie.

In 1910, just 15 years later, only one thousand residents remained and today the population fluctuates around one hundred. 1905 had seen 35,000 ounces of gold drawn from the areas various mines but 4 years later production had dwindled to less than 3000 ounces a year. World War 1 called many of the able bodied men overseas to fight, most failing to return.

In 1894 Leslie Robert Menzie had stumbled across good gold-bearing rocks and the location quickly became the famous Lady Shenton mine. Water was always a problem on the Western Australian goldfields and Menzies was no exception. For the first five years of the towns existence water was carted by horse and dray from outlying salt lakes or wells and then condensed to make it palatable. It wasn't until 1901 that the first supply flowed from a government built dam.

Menzies is a reasonably remote township but in 1895 with the biting summer heat, flies, disease, poor food supply and constant risk of fire through the shanty town, it must have been unbearable.

Even though Menzies glory days were short lived the town was progressive and forward thinking. Many fine buildings were erected in Menzies displaying some of the magnificence of early goldfields architecture. The stoic town hall is just such an example. It remained 'clockless' till the millennium in 2000, the original having been lost at sea near Rottnest Island at the end of it's voyage from England. The old Railway Station and School, Police Station and Nurses Quarters all pay testament to the determination and pride of the original townsfolk as do the old Post Office and State Battery, both of which are now privately owned.

55km from Menzies lies Lake Ballard, a normally bone-dry salt lake. In 2003 international artist Antony Gormley installed 51 steel sculptures across a 7 square kilometre area. The sculptures are mostly of Menzies residents who were bold enough to strip for Gormley in order to be digitally scanned and mapped in 3D before their images were cast in sand. The grouping is known as the 'Inside Australia' exhibition.

Menzies is a point of interest along the 'Golden Quest Discovery Trail' - a 965km drive through Western Australia's goldfields.


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