If you’re looking for amazing spots in Wiluna where you can book accommodation for all budgets, indulge in savoury takeaways to great dining experiences, discover captivating attractions, and experience different activities, these are some of the places to visit:
Located on the outskirts of the desert, Wiluna is a town situated 966 kilometres to the northeast of Perth. The town serves as the gateway to the Canning Stock Route and Gunbarrel Highway and offers a range of facilities, including a supermarket, fuel station, police station, hospital, and post office.
Lawrence Wells became the first European explorer to explore the Wiluna region in 1982. However, the discovery of gold by prospectors Woodley, Wotten, and Lennon on St. Patrick's Day in 1896 led to a gold rush and the birth of the township of Wiluna.
The town of Wiluna was initially called Weeloona before its name was changed to Wiluna. The meaning of the name Weeloona is unclear, but it is believed to be either derived from a native word meaning "Place of Winds" or the sound of the cry of some native curlew birds in the area.
Gold mining drove the growth and prosperity of Wiluna, with the population increasing to over 9,000 people by the mid-1930s. The town had several amenities, including four hotels and a regular railway service to Perth, at its peak.
The onset of World War II, however, had a severe impact on the gold mining industry and, consequently, on the population of Wiluna. Underground mining ceased after the war, and gold operations declined sharply. By 1953, only 357 people remained in the region; by 1963, the population had further dwindled to around 90.
Gold mining resumed in the Wiluna area in 1981, sparking a resurgence in today's industry. Additionally, the region's pastoral industry produces quality cattle and sheep, and there have been successful experiments with some agricultural ventures.
The town of Wiluna has a current population of about 521, including a significant population of Indigenous Australians.
Tjurkurba Art Gallery
At Tjurkurba Art Gallery, you can admire a collection of historical photographs and unique paintings by Wiluna's Aboriginal Martu artists, who frequently visit the gallery workshop. These artists create high-quality paintings available for sale.
Canning-Gunbarrel Discovery Centre
The Canning-Gunbarrel Discovery Centre showcases the region's rich history, including the Canning Stock Route, which spans 1,500 kilometres and is one of the most isolated 4WD tracks on the planet.
You can also see the Last of the Nomads statue, which pays tribute to Warri (1909-1979) and Yatungka (1917-1979), believed to be the last desert nomads leading a traditional lifestyle.
You can stroll around the elegant “Old Hospital”, the birthplace of numerous local Martu people, which now serves as the Canning-Gunbarell Discovery Centre. Major General Michael Jeffery, a former Governor-General, was also born here.
Red Hill Lookout
Red Hill Lookout is only 1,200 meters south of the town and offers a stunning view of Wiluna and the nearby gold mine.
Northern Heritage Trail Loop
The 17-stop loop of the Northern Heritage Trail features several locations that are no longer standing. However, their history serves as a reminder of Wiluna's lively past when it was a thriving mining town. Notably, some places are of particular significance:
The Club Hotel
According to the Heritage Trail, the original Club Hotel was constructed in 1898 to cater to the first miners and prospectors in the region. In 1918, Tom O’Shaughnessy (Sr) acquired the hotel, which remained under his family's ownership until 1970. When the elderly Tom passed away in the 1930s, his sons Barney and Tom (Jr) took over the hotel's operations. The original structure was demolished in 1933 and replaced with the current L-shaped brick and iron building. As the only surviving double-storey establishment in the area and the only remaining hotel out of the four that once operated in Wiluna, the Club is an important reminder of the town's checkered history.
The hotel has seen numerous celebrations, wild brawls, and kind acts. During the Great Depression, many jobless men came to Wiluna. Old Tom ensured that no one went hungry by giving them a hearty meal every night. During Christmas, the entire O’Shaughnessy family waited on tables on the back veranda, serving a fine meal to the out-of-work men.
The Methodist Church is the last remaining church in Wiluna. According to the Heritage Trail, before 1930, ministers from Meekatharra would visit Wiluna regularly. As the town expanded, the Australian Inland Mission collaborated with the Methodist Inland Mission to establish a "proper church" in Wiluna. The church was likely constructed soon after purchasing the block of land in 1934, and the decorative pattern of the concrete blocks adds visual interest to the otherwise simple building. The steeply pitched corrugated iron roof is typical of churches from that era. In the 1930s, an Anglican church (relocated from Day Dawn) and a Catholic church were also constructed in Wiluna.
Canning Stock Route
Alfred Canning was tasked with surveying and constructing a stock route from Wiluna to Halls Creek in 1906. After four years of hard work, the 1500-kilometre route through the desert was finally completed.
Today, the Canning Stock Route stands as one of the most remote tracks on the planet, presenting an immense challenge for any 4WD enthusiast daring enough to take it on. Despite the harsh environment, many adventurous souls take up the yearly challenge to conquer this unforgiving terrain.
Len Beadell explored and surveyed the Gunbarrel Highway, which saw its final section completed in 1958. This highway, which runs east to west across the centre of Australia, was the first of its kind. Nowadays, the Gunbarrel Highway is a well-known 4WD route that provides direct access from Western Australia to numerous popular tourist spots in central Australia. However, the journey can be challenging, as the road winds through a highly remote and sparsely populated part of the Australian outback, with infrequent towns and fuel stops along the way.
Distance from Perth: 966km North