Yalgoo
Collage of Yalgoo.

The entrance to the town proudly announces: "Yalgoo - The Outback Starts Here." There are lots of towns in Australia, all waving the same banner, but one look around Yalgoo and you will understand that the sign isn't lying.

The semi-arid countryside, red earth and scrubby bushland all conjure up images of a tiny isolated outback settlement. And that's exactly what Yalgoo is. Yalgoo only receives 260mm of rain a year, just enough to run sheep. Mining has long ceased being the major industry and Yalgoo's importance as the district railhead has long been forgotten. The origins of the name aren't exactly clear with some claiming the town was originally an initiation site and 'yalgo' was the indigenous word for blood. Others claim that 'yalguru' is another aboriginal word for the red sap of local bushes.

Whatever the origins of the name by 1895 nine hundred hopefuls were prospecting for gold and 18 hotels were relieving them of every cent they made. Yalgoo had a reputation as a wild frontier town where murder, suicide and theft were common. The 'Yalgoo Outrage' made national headlines when Richard Carlyon was accused of mailing dynamite to Solomon Lowns. Mr Lowns had his hand blown off as he opened the parcel at the post office counter. Carlyon was never convicted.

Monsignor John Hues was a English priest and served in the Church of England. He had received architectural training in London before being posted to America, Canada and the Bahamas. Oddly, he converted to Catholicism while in America. Around 1915 he was sent to Western Australia where he acted as priest, architect and builder. There are some odd examples of his work around the Geraldton/Murchison region and the Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth is no exception. It's a small chapel with a separate bell tower that wouldn't look out of place in Spain. The fact that it lies in a sparse red paddock in outback Western Australia lends a peculiar ambience to the whole scene. Even more unusual is his work at nearby Mullewa - The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The courthouse originally resided at Cue and was moved to Yalgoo in 1921. It's a fine example of West Australian bush architecture with fine stone and fret work accompanied by the essential full length verandahs. Today it acts as the local museum. The railway station is another Yalgoo building worth seeing while Thundarella Station welcomes tourists to take a look around at a working sheep station which is particularly scenic in wildflower season.


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