Golden Valley

Golden Valley was named after Golden Scrub Wattle (not gold!) which covers slopes of the valley.

The township of Knutsford within Golden Valley is where the Shire of Yilgarn’s history really began in 1887 with the find of gold reef. This paved the way to Southern Cross and other gold discoveries within Yilgarn. Golden Valley was certainly no bonanza as gold pinched out at depths, however gold fever led to an ever increasing number of hopefuls flocking to the Valley. Most travelled by train to Northam then walked an average of 20 miles per day - the lucky ones came by horse. Some were experienced miners from Victoria and the Kimberley but most were from the City and had little idea of the hardship they would face and only a handful were to ever find gold.

Lack of water was the main obstacle facing Golden Valley as it had to be brought in from 10 miles away. The price of one gallon of water was 2/- (two shillings), a large sum of money in those days. A bore was later put down on the flat under Mt Caolreavy.

In 1888, a licence was granted to Mr Agreen to conduct the Wayside Nugget Hotel. This small building was bought in the same year by Thomas Farren. The Hotel became the centre for everything. Farren brought to the area pigs, goats and poultry which provided a welcome variation from the usual diet of kangaroo, wild turkey, mallee hen and pigeons. He later acquired a small flock of sheep which the natives learned to shepherd.

In 1894, the Wayside licence was transferred to J Yourell, who in the same year transferred it to Joseph Payne. Joe Payne, his wife and their seven daughters and one son had left Victoria in 1893, made their way to Fremantle then Southern Cross with wagons, buggies, horses, cattle, goats, household furniture and tools. After six months in Southern Cross, they moved to the Wayside Nugget Hotel at Golden Valley and the surrounding 50,000 acres of station property which ran cattle, horses and goats. For some time, all provisions for Southern Cross had to come through Golden Valley. The Hotel catered for prospectors and travellers going through to the Goldfields. Many happy parties and race meetings were enjoyed with the hospitality, meals and cool drink supplied by the little pub. Tables and chairs would be pushed back and dancing continued into the hours.

Joe Payne was kicked in the head by a horse in Southern Cross and died, with his son having gone north, this left his widow and five daughters to carry on running the Hotel come store plus station. Mrs Payne sold the station lease for £600 in 1912. She died in 1937 aged 87

The township in Golden Valley became known as ‘Knutsford’, however despite being gazetted, it was never proclaimed, due to the lack of lasting population. In 1912, the name was cancelled and the township reverted back to being known as ‘Golden Valley’.

At the census taken in 1903, Golden Valley showed a population of Men — Nil, Women — Five, Total — Five. Today only abandoned shafts, piles of red dirt and a large tunnel mark the passing of Golden Valley and the first town of Knutsford. The area is reserved and trusted to the Historical Society of the Yilgarn. More information can be obtained from the Museum.

Original house and battery, circa unknown.

Ruins of old house. 2021

Old battery, since fallen over. 2021

Original house and battery

Ruins of old house - photo by Linda Rose

Fallen battery - photo by Linda Rose

How to get there

Take the bitumen road to Bullfinch (36km). Turn right at the “T” junction of Bullfinch/Mukinbudin/ Mt Jackson Roads. Pass Radio Mine on your left, after 12kms turn left towards Golden Valley (sign posted).

Continue along this road for approximately 15kms to reach the windmills. Continue following the road past the windmills to find remnants of old stone house, battery and machinery.

Note: this is not an all weather road. Drive with care.