Our next two destinations before hitting Great Central Road was Gwalia ghost town and Antony Gormley Inside Australia Lake Ballard sculptures.
Antony Gormley Inside Australia sculptures – Art Project Sculptures
The next morning, we left Kalgoorlie Boulder and headed to Menzies. Menzies is now an abandoned town and serves as a local attraction, reminiscent of the region’s heyday.
Today, only a few houses, a hotel where you can stay overnight, a large town hall, and a campground remain. It’s hard to imagine that 5,000 people once called this place home.
During its heyday, Menzies was a bustling town with several hotels, breweries, camel races, cricket matches, and even a forty-bed hospital.
After a short conversation with the lady at the information centre, who also manages the camping area, we unhooked the trailer and set off on a 51 km dirt road to Lake Ballard to see the famous Lake Ballard sculptures installation by Antony Gormley, called Inside Australia.
The installation features 51 sculptures mounted on a dry salt lake, representing the indigenous people who once lived in this area. It was created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Perth Festival.
We had never been to such a magical place before, and we were deeply moved by the mystical solitude of the area. It made a stunning impression, and we felt as if we were on a different planet.
Everywhere we looked, we could see human figures, and the best vantage point was a small hill that allowed us to observe the 360-degree view.
We later learned that the hill was known as “Oldest Sister” from the Dreamtime stories of the local indigenous people.
Seven Sisters Dreamtime Story
According to the Wongi Dreamtime story, the Seven Sisters, also known as the Pleiades constellation, were travelling across the sky when they spotted the beautiful Lake Ballard with its shining, salty surface.
They decided to come down and play on the lake, but were soon spotted by a man named Karimarra, who wanted to marry the sisters. The sisters, however, did not want to marry him and fled across the lake, leaving their footprints in the salt. These footprints can still be seen on the lake today and are considered a sacred part of Wongi culture.
Interestingly, there are seven hills that represent each of the hidden sisters. Standing in this amazing place, I couldn’t help but wonder how these seven hills emerged on a completely flat salt lake.
Camping at Lake Ballard – maybe next time
There was a campsite right by the lake, and I regret that we didn’t take our trailer with us to stay one day longer. Nighttime photography must be stunning at this place!
Leonora – last night before the Great Central Road
We stopped for the night in Leonora and could feel the spirit of the outback. Leonora is a small but very pleasant town with many buildings that recall the gold rush time. The town was named after the wife of the Governor of Western Australia, Lady Leonora in 1898.
Gwalia ghost town
After an early start at 8:30 am, we visited the abandoned Gwalia ghost town. I had expected it to be something similar to Ballarat in Victoria – an open-air museum that looked like an old village from the past, where tourists can walk around and see the early settlement dwellers dressed in period clothes.
I was mistaken.
Gwalia was left untouched when the town was abandoned over 100 years ago. No one lives there anymore, but everything has been preserved exactly as it was. It is hard to believe that such a place exists; a real ghost town that we had never seen before.
We walked from building to building, but I hesitate to call them “houses” because they were really low-ceilinged cells made of corrugated metal sheets.
As we looked around, sometimes even stepping inside, we couldn’t help but feel the spirit of past times. We were stunned by the conditions in which people used to live.
The houses were only 160 cm high, and the metal sheets that made up the walls did nothing to insulate them from the heat. The living area was no bigger than 10 square meters, and there was no running water, sewage, or electricity.
Many artifacts from that time were left behind, with pots and pans still on the stove and furniture and beds in the rooms. I was particularly surprised to see books on the table that had been published in 1935.
On a small hill nearby, there is a fairly large outcrop of a gold mine that has been closed for a long time. Additionally, there is a house belonging to Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States of America, who was the director of this mine before he became president.
As we left Gwalia ghost town, we were shocked by the realism of the place. Even though time has already taken its toll, we could still feel the tingling sensation on the back of our necks as we walked through the abandoned streets.
It doesn’t require much imagination to picture people on the streets and smoke coming from the chimneys.
After returning to the Leonora caravan park, we discussed what we had seen. The next day, we were ready to embark on a big adventure and conquer the Great Central Road.
From red dirt to tropical rainforest. Ten places anyone should add to their bucket list. Subscribe and receive ten colourful infographics.
Please subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter
Enjoy outdoors with Tentworld equipment
4WD Equipment Checklist
Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)
UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking
Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places