Mid West Attractions
The coastal area round Geraldton, north of Perth, attracts many visitors. Geraldton, the 'Sun City', is a favorite holiday center, particularly during the cool, rainy winter of the south, and large new resort complexes have been developed in recent years. Off the coasts of the central mid-west region is a chain of islands and reefs. To the south of Geraldton is the old pioneer settlement of Greenough, which was soon abandoned because agriculture in this area proved unproductive but has now been well restored. To the north of Geraldton is Kalbarri National Park, with impressive cliffs and rock formations on the coast, scenic gorges on the Murchison River flanked by walls of multi-colored sandstone and a sea of wild flowers after rain. Inland are endless monotonous expanses of grazing land, punctuated by windmills drawing up the necessary water supply.
The little township of Cue (pop. 400) was the commercial center of the Murchison goldfields in the 1890s. After the end of the gold boom the town declined, and it is only in quite recent years that the population has begun to grow again. Evidence of the town's past prosperity is provided by the solid stone buildings which have survived. Other gold-digging towns in the area (e.g. Daydawn and Big Bell) are gradually being covered by sand.Among notable old buildings are the Masonic Hall in Dowley Street, a two-story building with a corrugated-iron roof, a tower and handsome window frames, and the government buildings of 1897, with a post office and police station in typical goldfields style.
Meekatharra (pop. 1000) was formerly of importance as the railhead for cattle which had been driven here from the tropical north. Later it prospered from the working of copper, gold and other minerals; and it is now the administrative center for the surrounding cattle and sheep farming area and a base of the Flying Doctor Service (259, Baedeker Special).The airport, with a 2000m long runway, is an alternative airport for Perth.The Royal Mail Hotel (1899) recalls the heyday of the gold boom.
Mount Magnet, Australia
The old gold-mining town of Mount Magnet (pop. 1000) has benefited in recent years from the reopening of some of the old mines (e.g. the Hill 50 Mine, previously worked from 1897 to 1915). Pastoral farming also makes a contribution to the local economy. The town lies at the intersection of the Great Northers Highway with the road running west via Mullewa to Geraldton.To the north of the town, at the Granites (rest area), are aboriginal rock drawings.
On the road from Geraldton to Mount Magnet, is the little township of Yalgoo (pop. 430), which after the finding of gold here in the late 19th C became an important center in the Murchison goldfields. Occasional nuggets of gold are still found in the area, and the old Emerald Mine has been reopened, leading to an increase in population.Features of interest are the old courthouse and a Dominican chapel (restored).
Badgingarra National Park
13,100ha.The park is an area of gently undulating areas of sand covered with heath vegetation which flowers in spring. In the park is found the rare kangaroo paw plant along with relics of a wetter flora of the past.There is good walking along the fire-breaks round and through the park; otherwise there are no tracks. There is a 2km long wildflower trail.
This little town of Morawa is the commercial center of a wheat-growing area in the Mid West. It is famed for its brilliant show of wild flowers in spring.The features of most interest are Holy Cross Church, designed and built by the priest and architect John Hawes (along with other churches in and around Geraldton), and the little hermitage behind it, which looks like a miniature church.
Tathra National Park
4300ha.Tathra National Park, which is surrounded by arable land, was established to protect the natural heath vegetation and woodlands on the sandy plains. It has a profusion of wild flowers, including rare species.
Useful tips: Best time to visit: spring (for wild flowers). Access on Brand Highway, turning off at Eneabba into the road to Carnamah (unsurfaced track for part of the way), which runs through the park. No accommodation and no visitor facilities; suitable only for day trips.