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Halls Creek History

In 1879 Alexander Forrest first explored the Fitzroy River then pushed on in a North-Easterly direction to the Ord River. He reported that gold may be found in the East Kimberley and the land was excellent for gazing cattle. John Adams and Phil Saunders decided to test the rumour about the gold in the Kimberley and dollied a few ounces but did not find payable gold.

In 1883 the government sent the second Forrest expedition into the Kimberley and on this occasion the party included Mr Hardman a geologist. Hardman marked his map with several places that gold was likely to be found.

Acting on this information, Charles Hall and Jack was likely set sail in a skiff from Roebourne to Derby in early 1885. They traveled along the Fitzroy River, where they found the tracks of the Forrest party and followed the Elvire River.

Hall and Slattery found the first gold in 1885 in Halls Creek.

Gold was found at dead Finish Creek to the north, 12 miles to Brockman in the west and Mount Dockrell 70 miles to the south-west .Halls party struck payable gold almost from the start .After working for  a few week Halls returned to Derby with 200 ounces of gold and reported his find , the first in Western Australia.

Between 1885-1887 some 10,000 men landed in the Kimberley with the intention of finding gold but the conditions in Halls Creek were extremely rough with only a few finding gold of any quantity. Five thousand arrived at Wyndham and there was an endless procession from Queensland. Nobody knows how many died just getting to Halls Creek, crossing the waterless desert and crocodile infested waters - many simply turned back. When some of the men actually arrived at Halls Creek, dysentry,scurvy , sun- stroke  and simple thirst took it's toll.

In the early days of the gold rush no records or statics were recorded for either the arrivals or deaths. The Government had applied a gold tax of two shillings and sixpence an ounce. It was a very unpopular levy with the miners where gold was so hard to find in Kimberley , the diggers avoided registering and the Government had a great deal of trouble collecting the tax or statistics of any kind.

Halls Creek was now a real shanty town of wood , stone, canvas, tin, bark and spinifex. Among the humpies were two hotels, a post office and a gold warden.

A lot of gold went out of the Kimberley via the Northern territory and it was rumoured that a gold buyer was to have taken 3,000 ounces of gold at a time out of Halls Creek. It is estimated that as much as 23,000 ounces ( nearly 650 kg ) of gold was taken from the fields around Halls Creek , some unoffical estimates were as 100,000 ounces.

After the 1885 - 1887 influx many went away leaving the diggings and when gold was found at Nullagine more miners left for this new find.

The gold rush lasted only a few years as machinery was too costly to transport and the gold finds, although good, was not enough to cover expenses. The rush started in Coolgardie so most prospectors moved on leaving only the mine shafts and many unmarked graves.

Another rush occurred during the depression when men who had no money or work , tried to survive by finding gold

In 1955 Halls Creek town site was relocated 15 kilometres to the west for easier and quicker access to the airport and on less rugged terrain so that expansion of town could take place.

One mine the Ruby Queen Mine kept operating until 1954 and even today the battery is still standing. The mine is in a state of collapse but work is carried out on the creeks around the shaft.

 

 

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