City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
66km NW of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Gold was found in 1893, first by George See, Cashman and Pope, and later the same year by the Weston brothers.
The town took its name from the Westons’ Ora Banda Mine. The name may have been derived from the Spanish for “Band of Gold” (literally, “banda de oro”).
The townsite of Ora Banda was later relocated to the site of a new promising discovery made in 1907 and known as Gimlet, situated about 3km to the south east.
Within a few years the town had about 2,000 residents, two stores, two butcher shops, a town hall, post office, police station, several churches, boarding houses, dining halls and billiard saloons.
There were also several hotels, including the Ora Banda Hotel, constructed of stone and brick in 1911 by Alfred E. Garnett.
Ora Banda was gazetted on 9 August 1912. A year later a five-head State battery was opened to crush locally mined ore.
Today the only buildings left of the town’s heyday are the State battery (now closed) and the Ora Banda Hotel, now known as the Ora Banda Historical Inn. Closed for decades after the town declined, the hotel reopened in 1981.
Gold is still mined in the area.
Near Ora Banda:
When Billy Frost and Bob Bonner found gold in the area in late 1893, the news sparked a major rush. An estimated 600 men set off for the new goldfield, despite warnings that there was no water there. Although reports at the time indicated that scores of men died of thirst before the remainder were rescued, recent research concludes that perhaps only two men perished. If the Government had not taken swift action by placing water along the track for the returning diggers, the number of deaths could very well have been in the scores.
The town was originally gazetted as Waverly in 1898, but was changed to Siberia in 1914. The last resident left town in 1954.
During the 1890 gold rush the site was known as the Forty Two Mile before the name Balgarri was chosen. The townsite was gazetted in 1898.