Collage of Kookynie.

Maybe it's the colourful history of Kookynie or maybe it's the elegant old goldfields architecture. Perhaps it's the Grand Hotel - the consummate outback pub or possibly Niagara Dam, a watery refuge in an unlikely place. Whatever the attraction Kookynie's population may actually be increasing while neighbouring settlements of the same era have long been abandoned and declared ghost towns.

Kookynie was home to 3500 residents in 1907 with the same number of itinerants. In the ten short years since it had been gazetted Kookynie had managed to amass technologies and civic disitinctions that many other towns only dreamed of. For instance electric street lighting had been installed and the first public swimming baths on the West Australain goldfields had been constructed. As was common of the times the pub-to-people ratio was pretty high and the Kookynie Brewery supplied eleven hotels and the Workman's Club. Soft drink and cordial factories quenched the thirsts of abstainers while two red light districts met the more basic needs of the largely male population. The brothels operated in Champion Street between the Kookynie Police Station and a church with another area close to the Grand Hotel. Seven brass bands supplied all the entertainment a turn of the century prospector could hope for while the turf club hosted three annual race meetings. Cicket, football and bicycle racing fulfilled the sporting needs of the burgeoning community.

Kookynie was the railhead from Kalgoorlie and for some time and it turned around four trains a day until the line was punched through to Leonora and Laverton. In 1898 the Railways Department constructed Niagara Dam not far from Kookynie township. The locomotives of the day needed vast amounts of water and the town of Niagara suffered from a severe water shortage. The building of the dam fulfilled both needs. The 8 metre high dam wall cost £62,000 more than £20,000 over budget. The huge amounts of cement used in the construction were hauled by camel train from Coolgardie, a distance of 220km. In an ironic twist of fate the gold ran out at Niagara, closing the town while a huge supply of artesian water had been discovered at Kookynie. Niagara Dam was superseded before it was finished.

Kookynie lies on 'The Golden Quest Discovery Trail' which is a tourist route promoted by W.A. tourism. It's a unique town with a bevy of history while the surrounds are littered with the discarded buildings and utensils of a bygone era. Don't miss the turnoff.

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