Yalgoo is a town in the Murchison region, 49499 kilometres (310 mi) north-north-east of Perth and 118 kilometres (73 mi) east-north-east of Mullewa.
Before it was settled as a town the Yalgoo area was used as grazing land for European settlers including the Morrissey and Broad families. Flocks of sheep were herded onto the rich pastures during the wet growing season and driven back to coastal properties for shearing before summer. Over time the graziers saw the value in the Yalgoo land and began to establish the first sheep stations.
Yalgoo is also a local government area in Western Australia.
Gold was discovered in the area in the early 1890s, and by 1895 there were 120 men working the diggings and buildings being erected. The goldfield warden asked for a townsite to be surveyed and gazetted, and following survey the townsite of Yalgu was gazetted in January 1896.
It was once the location of an important railway station (opened in 1896) on the Northern Railway. Yalgoo’s importance declined in the years after World War II after the forging of an all-weather road between Wubin and Paynes Find, across Lake Moore.
History Located 497 km north of Perth, Yalgoo is a tiny settlement on the road from Geraldton to Mount Magnet. The appeal of the town is that it is genuinely historic. There’s very little left of this once thriving town and what does remain is old and pretty much untouched. There is an endearing old world charm about the place.
Typically there is some confusion over the origin of the town’s name with some sources claiming that it is derived from an Aboriginal word yalguru meaning blood, thus suggesting that the area was connected with initiation rites. Other sources, however, suggest that the name comes from Eyalgru meaning bloodwood.
Europeans passed through the area as early as 1854 but it wasn’t until the 1870s that pastoralists moved in with sheep and cattle.
The area was first settled in the early 1890s when prospectors travelled through the region on their way to the Murchison goldrush towns of Cue and Mount Magnet. In 1892 five prospectors – Knight, Parsons, Rice, Moxon and Evans – discovered gold at Yalgoo and established the fabulously rich Emerald Reward Mine on a site which is now just behind the Shire Council offices. Yalgoo was declared a separate goldfield in 1895 and by the following year it had become a thriving town with 7 hotels serving a vast tent city.
The town continued to grow. In 1898 the railway line from Mullewa to Yalgoo was opened. It closed in 1978 but the station (on the south side of town) is still in near¬perfect condition. The town continued to prosper until about 1903 when the gold started to dwindle. In 1908 the Emerald Reward mine was closed down.
Since then it has been steadily in decline so that now it is a tiny settlement based around a shire office which administers nearly 3.5 million hectares of country where large sheep stations and speculative mining operations are the major industries. Yalgoo really has three major attractions. The Court House Museum, the Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth and Thundarella Station.
People wishing to know more about Yalgoo should refer to Alex Palmer¹s book Yalgoo published by Lap Industries, 18 Chalmers Street, Fremantle (it is available at Thundarella Station) and the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Trail booklet.
Yalgoo is an Aboriginal name first recorded for Yalgoo Peak by the surveyor John Forrest in 1876. The name is said to mean “blood” or “place of blood”, derived from the word “Yalguru”. An alternative view is that it is derived from the Yalguru bush which abounds in the area, and has blood red sap.
The spelling Yalgu was used because of spelling rules for Aboriginal names adopted by the Lands & Surveys Department (the letter u best representing the “oo” sound). Within a month the Lands & Surveys had decided reluctantly to use the original Yalgoo spelling, and this spelling has been used ever since. Some doubt about the spelling being officially changed resulted in an amendment from Yalgu to Yalgoo being gazetted in 1938.
The name Yalgoo is used as a name for a crater on the planet Mars, without specifically commemorating the town.
Yalgoo has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and mild to cool winters.
Just six hours north of Perth, or two hours east of Geraldton, Yalgoo is the ideal place to start your outback adventure. This historic mining town is the closest base for an outback experience from Western Australia’s capital.
Yalgoo’s rich gold mining heritage and many working sheep stations, a lot of which are now open for farm stays, make it a perfect escape for a true Aussie holiday. Catching glimpses of Australian wildlife, from kangaroos and emus to the large bungarra lizards, you can tap into the real Australia, making it an experience you will never forget.
Getting to and from Yalgoo, the main roads are two lane, sealed surfaces, ensuring a comfortable outback drive. When you get to town, you will find fuel, camping and food supplies to replenish your stocks, along with invaluable local knowledge on where and when to visit the local attractions.
Things to see:
Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth
Yalgoo also has one of the most interesting and unusual of all the church buildings constructed by the famous Western Australian architect¬priest Monsignor John Hawes. Between 1915¬ and 1939 Hawes designed and helped to build a large number of churches and church buildings in the Central West.
When Hawes arrived in Yalgoo, shortly after he had arrived in Western Australia from Europe, he was overwhelmed by the heat and isolation of the town. In a letter to a friend he described how he just flopped about and struggled to exist.
At the time Yalgoo was a small gold mining town in decline. In 1920 Hawes designed the wood and stone Dominican Chapel of St Hyacinth for the Dominican Sisters who were working in the town. Not only did Hawes design the building but he regularly travelled by horseback from Mullewa to oversee the construction and to work as a labourer for the local builder.
Local Heritage Architecture
Railway Station Complex Railway Station Group has a close association with the expansion of the Midwest Region due to the success of the Murchison and Yalgoo goldfields at the end of the nineteenth century.
The design of the railway station building and the fact that it was the largest on the Murchison line reflects the confidence the Government of Western Australia had in the development of the town and region.
Yalgoo Railway Station Group is representative of the late nineteenth century work of the Public Works Department, under the direction of Chief Architect John Grainger, when infrastructure works were occurring at a rapid rate in an attempt to keep pace with the rapid influx of population and the need to transport mineral ore, livestock and other goods.
Courthouse Museum The Court House, which was moved from Day Dawn near Cue in 1921, is now a museum with displays of old photographs, lots of gold rush history, the usual displays of old domestic items and some interesting Aboriginal artifacts from the local area.
Next to the Courthouse, the community has restored the old Yalgoo police station and jail. The old jail and police station were built in the town in 1896 and although the cells are very small they were a vast improvement on the stick and chain method previously used for incarceration.