The Gold Rush Era

The Western Australian Gold Rush occured in 1885 in the East Kimberley region. It wasn't until 6 years later in 1891 that gold was discovered in the Murchison.

A £1000 reward was offered to the discoverer of a new and payable goldfind. In an effort to keep some record of what gold was actually being found and taken, miner's rights were introduced. These rights allowed miners to prospect for gold which they could then sell to licensed gold buyers.

There is much debate over who was the first person to find gold in the Black Range area, but the first recognised registered find goes to Ernest Shillington in January 1895.

The discovery of gold heralded the beginnings of the first township in the area, Nungurra. Due a number of factors, lack of water being a major one, a newer townsite was required. Four years later, in 1906, the town of Sandstone was officially gazetted. Within a year, Nungurra's population dropped to a mere 50-60 people. Shortly after, Nungurra became a ghost town.

Building materials were too expensive to just leave behind, so many of the buildings in Nungurra were dismantled and reassembled in Sandstone.

Prospector's camp early 1900's (E.Snell) Wanderie GM c.1904 (T. Allen)