Ghost town: stories from the ruins

Event details

Events and Exhibitions

Date & time

7 November 2022 to 30 June 2023

Monday to Friday
9.30 am to 4.30 pm


National Archives Western Australia Office
Ground Floor, William Square
45 Francis Street
Northbridge WA 6003



In the 19th and 20th centuries, bustling towns sprang up across the vast Western Australian landscape. People came in their hundreds and sometimes thousands for the promise of gold, pearls or simply a secure job.

Prosperity in some towns meant community members enjoyed luxuries such as public swimming pools, hotels, and rail connections.

There were hardships too, often a consequence of rapid growth of the settlements. Outbreaks of typhoid were common on the goldfields.

Eventually, profits fell, technologies became obsolete, and harsh climates took their toll. Townspeople moved on, almost as quickly as they had arrived. Once-thriving settlements were left to ruin.

See photographs, plans and other documents from the state and national archival collections that bring ghost towns to life.

Discover why places such as Gwalia, Cossack and Wittenoom continue to capture the public's imagination.

Follow the boom, bust and sometimes renewal of settlements that have played an important part in Western Australia's history.