Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Ghost town: stories from the ruins

Ghost town: stories from the ruins

In the 19th and 20th centuries, bustling towns sprang up across the vast Western Australian landscape. People came in their hundreds and sometimes thousands for the promise of gold, pearls or simply a secure job.

Prosperity in some towns meant community members enjoyed luxuries such as public swimming pools, hotels, and rail connections.

There were hardships too, often a consequence of rapid growth of the settlements. Outbreaks of typhoid were common on the goldfields.

Eventually, profits fell, technologies became obsolete, and harsh climates took their toll. Townspeople moved on, almost as quickly as they had arrived. Once-thriving settlements were left to ruin.

See photographs, plans and other documents from the state and national archival collections that bring ghost towns to life.

Discover why places such as Gwalia, Cossack and Wittenoom continue to capture the public's imagination.

Follow the boom, bust and sometimes renewal of settlements that have played an important part in Western Australia's history.
  • Clock Icon

    Event Showings

    7 Nov 2022 to 30 Jun 2023
    Mon to Fri 9.30am to 4.30pm

  • Dollar Icon


    Free event

  • Location Marker Icon


    National Archives of Australia (WA)

    Ground Floor, William Square, 45 Francis Street

    Northbridge WA 6003