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Shire of Leonora
237km N of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Leonora takes its name from nearby Mt Leonora, named in 1869 by explorer and Government surveyor John (later Sir John) Forrest.

In 1896 South African prospector Edward Sullivan and his partner Harry Widdick pegged the first gold lease in the Mt Leonora area, naming it the Johannesburg Lease.

Other leases were pegged and the settlement of hessian and timber shanties grew rapidly and in December 1896 Warden Owen approved the establishment of the Leonora townsite.

More substantial buildings were soon constructed and a butcher’s shop, banking agency and post office were established in 1897, along with the Exchange Hotel which was transported from Fremantle in prefabricated sections.

Leonora was gazetted in 1898. By 1899 there were three hotels, three bakeries, a wide variety of shops, a post office, police and fire stations, a school, banks, a Wesleyan church and a Cobb & Co service to Coolgardie.

The weekly newspaper, the Mount Leonora Miner, distributed its first edition on 8 July 1899 and was the longest-running newspaper in the region apart from the Kalgoorlie Miner.

Leonora also boasted a cordial factory, mechanics’ institute, a newspaper, a race course and a State battery to crush the mined ore.

With a population of about 1,000 people, Leonora was proclaimed a municipality in 1900. By 1902 Leonora was connected by a steam (later electric) tram service to another thriving township just 3.2km away – Gwalia.

Many early buildings still stand today, including the Grand Hotel in Tower Street with its magnificent façade. The hotel was constructed in 1900 and featured two kitchens and a large stone-lined cellar. Another impressive Tower Street building, The Barnes Federal Theatre, opened in 1901 with capacity for 1,000 people and was known as the best hall of its size outside Perth.

Today the Shire of Leonora has a population of close to 4,200 people.

Near Leonora:

Gazetted in 1897, Malcolm was the original administrative centre for the Northern Goldfields. By 1904 Malcolm had five hotels, a brewery, a variety of businesses and a population of 400. The town takes its name from nearby Mt Malcolm, named in 1869 by surveyor John Forrest after another member of his expedition, Malcolm Hamersley.