Meekatharra is a town in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Meekatharra is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning ‘place of little water’.
At the 2006 census, Meekatharra had a population of 798, with 44.0% being Aboriginal.
Meekatharra is a town with golden prospects.
Situated on the Great Northern Highway, Meekatharra is the largest centre in the Murchison, easily accessible with excellent sealed roads from Perth in the south, Geraldton in the west and further north into the Pilbara.
If you haven’t been to Meekatharra for a while, you are sure to notice the changes. The town has had a major facelift with the opening of the Meeka Rangelands Discovery Trail. Taking advantage of the town’s historical, tourism and cultural assets, the Discovery Trail has provided a new recreation facility for locals and a new attraction for visitors.
The town has a wide range of sporting facilities including a fabulous oval, basketball courts, tennis courts and a new squash court. There is also a gym and indoor soccer and cricket facility and the sparkling Meekatharra town pool is open from October to April.
It’s all moving forward at Meekatharra. It really is a town of golden prospects.
Meekatharra is a major supply centre for the pastoral and mining area in the Murchison region of Western Australia. It is located 764 km north-east of Perth and may be reached by the Great Northern Highway. It is a centre for sheep and cattle transshipment, initially by rail but now by road trains. It is also a regional home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air.
It is connected by public transport to Geraldton with connections to Perth via Transwa coach service N4. No viable horticultural industry exists in the area, although extensive but poor cattle stations in the Murchison and Gascoyne exist.
Meekatharra underwent a significant gold rush during the mining boom of the 1980s, with mining continuing until May 2004 at St Barbara Mines’s Bluebird Gold Mine. Exploration restarted in the area and St Barbara sold out to a company known as Mercator Gold in October 2005.
Mercator Gold then conducted an extensive drilling programme and re-opened the mill, commencing production in early October 2007. This mining phase however was short lived, with Mercator going into administration in October 2008 and closing the mine. The company hopes to sell Bluebird in 2010.
Meekatharra is a former gold rush town. It seems the first settlement at Meekatharra occurred in 1894 and that, in May 1896, after the prospectors Meehan, Porter and Soich discovered gold, miners moved to the new settlement from the other East Murchison fields and mining grew rapidly in scale and sophistication. The Peak Hill mining town was founded in 1892 approximately 100 km up the road during this initial gold rush.
Success on the Meekatharra field was short-lived. It was only because a second gold discovery occurred in 1899 that the town survived. In 1901 the Meekatharra State Battery began operation and by Christmas Day 1903 the township had been officially gazetted.
In 1906 Alfred Wernam Canning was appointed to develop a stock route from the East Kimberleys to the Murchison. The stock route, comprising 54 wells, was completed in 1908 and, when the railway arrived in Meekatharra in 1910, the town became the railhead at the end of the route.
In many ways the railway ensured the town’s survival. In 1910 it took the first shipment of wool out of the area and it continued to serve the local pastoral interests until it was closed down in 1978.
From 1927 until 1931, a railway line operated from Meekatharra to the manganese mine at Horseshoe, some 80 miles (128 km) distant.
Substantial gold deposit which lies just south of the townsite called the Paddy’s Flat area was explored and mined by Western Mining Corporation and Dominion Mining Ltd in the 1990s.