Dead Gwalia ghost town and 51 Lake Ballard sculptures

Lake Ballard Sculptures

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

Next day in the morning we left Kalgoorlie Boulder and drove to Menzies. Menzies is a place where no one lives anymore and it is only a local attraction reminiscent of the heyday of this region. 

Nowadays, it is literally a few standing houses, a hotel where you can sleep a night or two, a large town hall and a campground. It was hard to believe that 5,000 people lived there. 

Menzies was bustling with life as it had several hotels, breweries, camel races, cricket matches, and even a forty bed hospital!

Menzies
Menzies

After a short conversation with the lady at the information center, who also manages the camping, we unhooked the trailer and set off on a 51 km dirt road to Lake Ballard and the famous Lake Ballard sculptures installation by Antony Gormley. They are called Inside Australia. 

It is an installation of 51 sculptures mounted on a dry salt lake representing the indigenous people living in this area. Installation was done in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Perth Festival.

Lake Ballard Sculptures
Lake Ballard Sculptures

We haven’t been to such a magical place yet and we were deeply moved by this mystical solitude. The area makes a stunning impression and we had the feeling I was on a different planet. 

Wherever I looked, I could see human figures. The point from which I could fully admire this magical place was a small hill where I could climb and observe the 360-degree view. 

Later on I discovered it was the oldest sister. What sister you ask? Sisters from Dreamtime Stories of course.

Seven Sisters Dreamtime Story

Lake Ballard is a sacred place for Wongi people. The Dreamtime story of this place involves Seven Sisters also known as Pleiades constellation. 

The sisters traveled across the sky when they spotted beautiful Lake Ballard and its shin, salty surface. They decided to come down and play.

Lake Ballard Sculptures
Lake Ballard Sculptures - view from one of the sisters

While they were down at the lake a man showed up and started to chase the youngest sister. All sisters found some hiding spots and that’s how the story was created. 

There are seven hills that represent each of the hidden sisters. And knowing the story standing in this amazing place I started to wonder, how on a totally flat salt lake out of nowhere seven hills emerged.

Lake Ballard Sculptures
Lake Ballard Sculptures

Camping at Lake Ballard - maybe next time

There was a camp right by the lake, and I regret we didn’t take our trailer with us and 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. We could feel the spirit of the outback. Leonora is a small, but very pleasant town with many buildings that remember gold rush time. The town was named after the wife of the Governor of WA, Lady Eleonora in 1898.

Gwalia ghost town

After quite early, fast  packing (8.30 am) we went to visit Gwalia ghost town that was abandoned a long time ago. 

I was expecting something similar to Ballarat in Victoria – an open air museum that looked like an old village from the past. Tourists can walk around the early settlement dwellers that are disguised with the epoque cloths

Gwalia
Gwalia

Gwalia was left as is when people moved out one day. No one lives there anymore, but everything has been preserved as it was here over 100 years ago. 

It is hard to believe that such a place exists. It is a real ghost town that we have not seen before. We walked from house to house. I guess ‘house’ is an exaggerated term, because they were really low ceiling cells made of corrugated metal sheets.

Gwalia
Gwalia

We looked around or sometimes walked inside and felt the spirit of past times. We were stunned by the conditions in which people lived back then. 

The houses were 160 cm high and felt very hot inside, because there is no isolation, just bare metal. The living area is no bigger than 10 square meters with no water, sewage or electricity. 

Many artifacts from that time were left behind. Pots and pans were still on the stove and furniture and beds in the rooms. 

I was really surprised to see the books on the table that were published in 1935. 

Gwalia ghost town
Gwalia ghost town

On a small hill nearby there is a fairly large outcrop of a gold mine that was closed for a long time. Also there is a house of Herbert Hoover – the 31st president of the United States of America, who was the director of this mine before he became the president of the USA. 

We were leaving Gwalia ghost town shocked by the realism of this place. Even though time has already done its job, we could feel the tingling on the back of our necks while walking through this ghost town. 

It doesn’t require a lot of effort to imagine people on the streets and smoke coming from the chimneys.

We returned to Leonora caravan park discussing what we saw. Next day we are going for a big adventure to conquer Great Central Road.

 

Gwalia ghost town
Gwalia ghost town

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