The September 1893 edition of the 'Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal' announced that…"Messrs. Brown, Crossman, Everard and Begelhole arrived here with 4200 ounces of gold from Southern Cross." The Bathurst Journal was referring to their arrival in Perth and the quantity of gold they had won from the ground around Southern Cross was a common occurrence. In todays money it's worth more than 7 million dollars.
Southern Cross is the administrative centre of the Shire of Yilgarn and the district was the site of the first discovery in the eastern goldfields. Gold had been found at Northam, just north of Perth, with other substantial finds in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions but Southern Cross started the big rush into the Coolgardie/Kalgoorlie region.
Explorers such as Lefroy, Hunt and Forrest had investigated the district as early as 1863 with Hunt establishing a series of wells. Their reports were of promising agricultural land. In the early days of Australia the colonial governments were loathe to promote or publicise gold discoveries in fear that a rush would be created leading to the abandonment of new settlements. When men began to leave for the goldfields of California and New South Wales, colonies like Victoria and Western Australia decided to promote the search for gold. Their decision proved to be wise because not only did the gold rushes bring a labour force from across Australia, it brought thousands of new settlers from all over the world.
Prospectors Risely, Toomey, Crossland and an Aboriginal guide that had been nicknamed 'Wheelbarrow' had been prospecting in the area. They were desperate for water and located one of Hunt's wells only to find it dry. Deciding to return to their camp in the cool of the night they navigated the 40 miles by the Southern Cross star group. Crossland's navigational ability probably saved their lives and when they found gold not long after they named the place Southern Cross. The year was 1888.
For a time Southern Cross was the most important town in the region. A courthouse, telegraph line and railway head were quickly established but the discovery and subsequent rush were the impetus for discoveries further afield. Places like Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie quickly overtook Southern Cross in terms of gold processed and civic importance.
Farming has become the dominant industry in the region but the sense of history is still maintained. The Southern cross Club Hotel is a magnificent example of a typical goldfields pub while the courthouse now serves as a museum. Frog Rock, Karalee Dam, Frasers Mine, Mt. Palmer, Wimmera Hill and Hopes Hill are all local attractions worthy of a visit while wildflower enthusiasts are treated to a carnival of colour from July through October.
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