Westonia is just a tiny outpost of a town, surrounded by beautiful woodlands way out east on the far edge of the Wheat Belt. You don’t have to travel far from Westonia before wheat paddocks give way to iron-stained red earth, gimlet gums and sheep stations of Western Australia’s vast Outback and Eastern Gold Fields.
Although Westonia is a long way off the usual tourist trails and not really on the way to anywhere else, it is a town well worth visiting both for the character and heritage of its spruced-up old townsite, and for the natural beauty of the surrounding shire’s woodlands and granite outcrops.
On This Page:
- About Westonia: Heritage and Today
- Where is Westonia in WA and How do you get there?
- Westonia Travel Guide – Visiting and Exploring Westonia Town and the Natural Wonders of the Surrounding Shires
Both an Agricultural and a Mining Town, Old and New
Westonia is a small town with a population of 278 in 2011. Its main industries are agriculture (wheat and sheep) and gold mining.
History: It began as a gold mining town in the 1910’s and 20’s. Ever since then the gold mines have been intermittently operational, bringing about some big fluctuations in prosperity and population over the years.
Throughout it all, the wheat and sheep industries have sustained Westonia, especially during the times when the value of gold was too low to keep the mines profitable.
Where is Westonia in Western Australia?
Westonia is located east-north-east from Perth; to the north of the Great Eastern Highway (the main road running east from Perth through the Wheat Belt all the way out to Kalgoorlie), and to the south-east of Mukinbudin, another town right on the edge of the Wheat Belt.
The closest big towns are Merredin, Southern Cross and Mukinbudin.
Driving: The 311km drive from the centre of Perth to Westonia takes about 4 hours. From Westonia to Kalgoorlie the drive time is closer to 3 hours, covering a distance of 301km.
Bus and Train: There is no public transport link to Westonia.
Westonia Travel Guide: Visiting and Exploring Westonia
As a travel destination Westonia has a fantastic combination of attractions and places to explore, including:
- Gold rush heritage
- Pristine woodland nature reserves and huge granite outcrops
- Striking scenery, on the frontier where farming ends and the vast Australian outback begins
- Quaint country town charm
- A contrast between old and new on the revamped main street
The Historic Westonia Townsite
The Westonia townsite is a curious mix of run-down and spruced up, faded and colourful, tired and old and bright and cheery.
The wide roads are well-maintained, the town is clean and tidy. When we visited, cheery colourful flowers were spilling out of corrugated iron planter boxes on the main street. Large date palms and yet more colourful flowers grow in the median strip running down the centre of Wolfram Street.
There are quite a few old buildings, as well as conscious references to local history in the form of the recreated original facades on some of the old buildings and artfully placed agricultural and mining equipment.
But at the same time, Westonia has the feeling of being a new town recently built on mining profits, or maybe even something not quite real – kind of like a movie set or an open-air museum.
About the Wolfram Street Facades
So much of Westonia’s unique old/modern character (and the slightly fake movie set feel!) has to do with the Westonia Facade Shop Front Project. In recent years this project has rejuvinated the town with a makeover that references the past and the industries that sustain the town.
Along with the shop sculptures and artistically placed pieces of old agricultural equipment, the facades of the original shops from the Edwardian Era are being recreated on some of the buildings. And going into the future, all new buildings on Wolfram Street will be built in a 1920’s style.
So some of the seemingly old buildings in town might not be as old as they look. Behind the facades of the original bank, café and green grocer’s, you will actually find the town’s library and shire offices. The facades of the old fire station, hotel and boarding house have also been recreated.
Scaled-down brightly painted sculptures of old shop fronts, like the ones at the entrance to the town, add extra colour and whimsical interest whilst referencing the past.
The Hood-Penn Museum opened in 2014 and so is a relatively new addition to Wolfram Street. It is housed in a building with the facade of the old Club Hotel, which was open on the main street between 1913 and 1922.
Inside the museum contains a large historical collection donated by the Hood-Penn family who used to own the Burracoppin Store. It also features a replica mine tunnel and recreated scenes of daily life in the olden days.
Click here for more info on the Hood-Penn Museum.
Exploring Beyond the Main Street :
The Westonia Common and the Gold Mines
Driving into Westonia from the South (from Great Eastern Highway):
You’ll find the official town entrance located on the corner of Carrabin-Westonia Road and Wolfram Street. This is the last turn before you reach town, if approaching from the south. Wolfram Street eventually turns into Westonia’s main street after a short drive through part of the Westonia Common. The Common is a 5.6ha reserve of beautiful woodland that surrounds the town.
The quirky Welcome to Westonia sculpture pictured above sets the scene, giving a clue that you’re in for a small surprise if you’re visiting for the first time. Scattered throughout the town centre are several more miniature models of old-fashioned shops that were open in the early days of the town’s history.
The cemetery, located in a clearing on the left side of Wolfram Street not long after the town entrance, is easy to miss and drive straight past but it’s worth a look before you head into the centre of town.
Things to See and Do North of Westonia
Heading north along Wolfram Street beyond the centre of town, keep an eye out for St Luke’s Anglican Church on the left. This cute wooden chapel has a surprising history and is is worth a quick look.
Turn left at the end of Wolfram Street to drive to the Edna May Lookout and Boodalin Soak.
The Edna May Gold Mine located to the north of town and less than 1km away. An official lookout platform with views of the minesite can be accessed via Warrachuppin Road.
By Marcus dawson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Another must-see attraction to the north of town within the Westonia Common is Boodalin Soak, located off Stoneman Road to the north-west of the town. Boodalin Soak is a pleasant place to stop for a picnic or even to set up camp for the night. In the old days it was a resting place for travellers and gold prospectors on the long journey between Perth and Kalgoorlie.
If you instead turn right at the end of Wolfram Street and follow Boodarockin Road north and east you will eventually get to the Sandford Rocks Nature Reserve – see below.
Explore the Natural Wonders of Westonia Shire and Beyond
Believe it or not, the main reason to head out to Westonia is not for the town itself but for the natural wonders of the North East Wheat Belt, particularly the granites.
Westonia Shire and the surrounding shires are home to some of the most spectacular granite formations and extensive woodland nature reserves in all the Wheat Belt. It’s worth spending several days in the area to visit and explore the granites and experience the vast, windswept and lonely feel of the Wheat Belt’s nature.
Granite Outcrops and Woodland Reserves Near Westonia
Westonia’s closest granite outcrop of note is the Sandford Rocks within the Sandford Rocks Nature Reserve. It’s about 10km north-east of town, as the crow flies. We visited late in the day around sunset and found it to be a strikingly beautiful rock to walk over, though lower and more spread out than some of the other granites in the area which are more dramatic.
Far away to the north about an hour’s drive away are Elachbutting Rock and Beringbooding Rock. These two are especially unique and spectacular. They are the two most well-known granites in the Westonia-Mukinbudin area, both nice spots to camp for the night and definitely not to be missed if you’ve driven out all the way to Westonia or Mukinbudin!
If you have more time, there are even more possibilities. Yanneymooning Hill, Billyacatting, Billiburning can all be visited on the way between to Elachbutting/Beringbooding Rock and Westonia. And another nature reserve that I particularly love is Eaglestone Hill to the west in Nungarin Shire.
Last Updated: 10th May, 2015.
First posted on 20th August, 2014 by Bonny.
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