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Broad Arrow, WA

"Gold ghost town" north of Kalgoorlie.

Broad Arrow is a ghost town. It literally has a single pub (the Broad Arrow Tavern) surrounding by remnants of a once-thriving gold mining community. Given that it is on the edge of the desert to the north of Kalgoorlie it has a certain outback romantic charm. Not surprisingly it is included in all the "Ghost Towns" tours from Kalgoorlie.

Location

The ghost town of Broad Arrow is located 633 km east of Perth and 38 km north of Kalgoorlie via the Goldfields Highway.

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Origin of Name

The local Aborigines, the Wangkathaa, called the area 'kurawah'. It was gazetted as Kurawah in 1896 but was changed to Broad Arrow in 1897 because when the gold prospector O'Mara left Kalgoorlie he told his nephew, who was planning to follow him, that he would mark the route with a number of broad arrows.

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Things to See and Do

Broad Arrow Tavern
This is a town that needs to be experienced rather than seen in terms of attractions. The one building is the Broad Arrow Tavern which was built in 1896 and is considered an authentic outback pub known for its cold beer and its excellent Broady burgers. Back in 1971 the pub featured in the long-forgotten movie, The Nickel Queen, which starred Googie Withers and radio announcer, John Laws. It was directed by Withers' husband, John McCallum.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited for thousands of years by the local Aborigines, the Wangkathaa people, who called the district 'kurawah'.

* Being desert it was not populated by Europeans until 1893 when the prospectors O'Mara, Quinn and Pike discovered gold. Suddenly there was a boom. The richest mines were the Broad Arrow Consols, Hill End (by 1895 Hill End was crushing 18 oz to the ton and had a ten head battery) and Golden Arrow.

* By 1896 the railway had reached the town, the town had been officially gazetted and by 1900 there were an estimated 2,400 residents. This rush of population resulted in eight hotels, (most were little more than tents and shanties), two banks, a cordial factory, two breweries, a hospital with a special fever ward, a stock exchange, a resident magistrate, a number of blacksmiths and even a Dramatic Society.

* By 1901 the population had dropped to 542 and by 1911 there were only 280 in the town.

* By the mid-1920s the rush was over. The miners moved on to other goldfields or returned to Kalgoorlie. Slowly the town, which had only lasted for 25 years, disappeared. This is the nature of gold mining towns.

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Visitor Information

The people at the pub are happy to help with any visitor information needed. There is also useful information available at the Kalgoorlie Visitor Information Centre, 316 Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, tel: 1800 004 653.

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Accommodation

Broad Arrow Tavern, Broad Arrow, tel: (08) 9024 2058.

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Eating

Broad Arrow Tavern, Broad Arrow, tel: (08) 9024 2058.

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Useful Websites

There is no dedicated website for the town.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

9 suggestions
  • My grandmother Mrs Elizabeth Walters nee Howells went from Wales to Creswick VIC where her mother died in childbirth 4 weeks after they arrived. She was 2. Then to Ballarat where she married a miner and had 10 children, then over to Broad Arrow with her husband and the family. Her daughter Maggie Rule died in 1906 and her husband shot himself in 1907. Her brother died in Coolgardie in 1910. She then ran The Black Flag Dining Room in Broad Arrow until the town died and her sons went off to war. She went to live in Kalgoorlie but eventually returned to Victoria. I admire her courage.

    Diane Penberthy
  • I’m trying to find the names of the original owners back in 1896. My Grandfather was supposed to be the licencee. His name was Frank Conen. His wife – my Grandmother – had three children: two girls and a boy. My mother was born at The Broad Arrow Tavern (Hotel). Can you please help me. Yours Faithfully Graham Stephens.

    Graham Stephens
    • My Granny’s family used to live in Broad Arrow.

      Alana Thompson
      • I find this fascinating. It must have been a hard life. In the desert far from the “civilisation” of Kalgoorlie. Thanks for that.

        Bruce Elder
    • Graham. This is Deb, June and Dick’s daughter from Sydney. Jean (Jane Reid Conen) was the daughter of Frank and Maggie Reid Conen. I remember her visiting Lou and George when she went back to “the West” for holidays. Maggie died at the age of 39 in 1909, and my grandma (Jane Reid) was sent to Sydney to live with cousins. While Lou and George remained in WA. Do you know any more of the history? You can contact Deb at debmcginn@gmail.com

      Deb McGinn
  • Should be grandmother on first comment.

    Diane Penberthy
  • First Station Master at Broad Arrow was Arthur Robert Webb.

    Roland webb
    • Hi Roland, There was still a lot happening around Broad Arrow in that time. My family owned the pub for about 60 years and Dad was born in it on 2/1/23. Your relo may of delivered him and some of my Uncles and Aunts. My Brother and sister also arrived there in the early 50s. The stories of the Arrow from this time would be a best seller. Unfortunately we lost Dad last year and right to the end he kept us amused with stories of the outback. Matron would have been a very important part of the community. If only the walls of the old pub could talk. The outback history centre in Kalgoorlie may have some info about her. Dad talked of the hospital. In fact I think he and mum rented it when they married to live in.

      Brian Oates.
  • My great grandmother and her sister, Ada Fortington emigrated from England as 20 and 18yr olds. Ada Fortington was the Midwife and the Matron of the Broad Arrow Hospital from 1913 to 1935 (she would have been 74 by then). However looking at the history of the town on this page it seems that there was nothing there around then????

    Maggie S