City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Boulder was built alongside one of the world’s richest gold ore bodies just a few kilometres from Kalgoorlie.
Paddy Hannan and his prospecting mates Thomas Flanagan and Daniel Shea may have found the gold that sparked the initial rush, but it was Will Brookman and Sam Pearce whose discoveries of the rich ore bodies of Boulder secured the region’s future.
Brookman and Pearce represented the South Australian Prospecting Company backed by Brookman’s businessman brother George with funds raised in Adelaide. The pair left Adelaide on 7 June 1893, just days before the Hannan party’s momentous discovery.
Initially bound for Coolgardie, the Brookman and Pearce heard the news of Hannan’s Find and decided to try their luck at the new field. When they saw that all the leases in the region of Hannan’s reward lease were fully pegged Pearce, an experience prospector, decided to investigate a range of low hills to the south.
His original discovery, the Ivanhoe lease, was the first of 17 leases secured by the pair for the syndicate. The second lease Pearce pegged was the fabulously rich Great Boulder Mine.
Other prospectors soon followed, and the scattering of tents and shanties grew into a fledgling township named Boulder, after the Great Boulder mine.
A town site was laid out and Boulder was gazetted in December 1896. The first town blocks went on sale in early 1897 and were snapped up. A second sale a few months later saw blocks sold for twice as much, according to the Coolgardie Miner newspaper.
The building of Boulder began in earnest, and what had been a collection of canvas tents and hessian shanties became a town of brick and iron buildings.
Boulder became a municipality in 1897. The first ordinary meeting of the Boulder Municipal Council was held on 10 November 1897 presided over by Mayor J.M. Hopkins.
One of its major landmarks, the Boulder Town Hall, was built in 1908 featuring a stage curtain by world-renowned designer Philip Goatcher. Dame Nellie Melba performed in the Town Hall in July 1914 (she also performed in the Kalgoorlie Town Hall). Celebrated pianist Eileen Joyce, who grew up in Boulder, also performed there.
In January 1989, Boulder and Kalgoorlie were amalgamated into the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Boulder retains its own distinctive character, with its streets of grand old homes that once belonged to wealthy mine owners and managers and the beautifully restored business premises in historical Burt Street.
Will Brookman and Sam Pearce quickly became very wealthy men thanks to their role in the discovery of the Golden Mile.
Brookman was elected Mayor of Perth in November 1900. He lost heavily on the London Stock Exchange and a few years later returned to South Australia in poor health. He died in Adelaide on 5 January 1910, his estate worth about £134 (equivalent to roughly $23,500 in today's currency).
The eternal prospector, Samuel William Pearce enjoyed the high life in Adelaide before returning to what he knew best, his travels taking him to the United States, Mexico and South Africa. Pearce died on 1 January 1932 and is buried in Adelaide.