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City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Ghost Town
20km NE of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

At the end of the 19th century Kanowna was a bustling community and district of 12,500 people with all the services of a modern town – shops, post office, a hospital, 16 hotels, two breweries and an hourly train service to Kalgoorlie.

Gold was discovered in 1893 and the town site gazetted the following year. Originally known as White Feather, the town was renamed Kanowna by H.C. Prinsep, the Under Secretary for Mines.

The name may be derived from “gha-na-na” meaning “place of no sleep” in the local Wangkathaa Aboriginal language. Other sources say one of the early Kanowna diggers came from Kanowna Station on Cooper Creek in South Australia, bringing the name with him.

Kanowna grew rapidly but the rich alluvial gold rush was diminishing by the close of the 19th century.

In 1898, perhaps in an attempt to keep people in the town, local priest Father D.P. Long was duped into believing that a long gold nugget weighing about 45kg had been discovered. He was sworn to secrecy but his excitement over the nugget could not be contained and the “Sacred Slug” or “Golden Sickle” nugget was soon common knowledge.

With the passing days, angry prospectors demanded to know where it had been found.  Eventually, Father Long dramatically announced the location to more than 1,000 anxious diggers from the balcony of Donnellan’s Criterion Hotel.

A short-lived rush ensued and many claims were pegged – but no gold was found. It had all been an elaborate hoax!  

In the early 20th century underground production declined and with it Kanowna’s population. The railway station closed in the 1930s, the school shut in the 1940s, the last hotel closed in 1952 and by 1953 the town had been abandoned.

The railway station platform, two cemeteries and mine workings are all that is left of Kanowna.

Mining recommenced in the area in 1986 and continues today.

Near Kanowna:

Gazetted in 1903, Gindalbie was originally to be named Vosperton, in honour of Frederick Vosper, the editor of the Coolgardie Miner, who was elected MLA for North Coolgardie in 1897.