West Wyalong is an attractive country town which many hundreds of thousands of people pass through each year. It is rich in the history and romance of the past. In their heyday the gold fields of West Wyalong were the largest fields in the country.
Situated at the intersection of the Newell and Mid Western highways, West Wyalong rose from the plains following the discovery of gold in 1893. Its position on the Newell Highway, about half way between the southern states and Queensland, makes it an important stop for travellers.
This country NSW town pays tribute to its goldmining history with parks and museums such as the Wyalong Museum and the 25-metre Poppet Head (the structure above a mine shaft) at True Blue Mine. Nearby historic bush villages of Tallimba, Ungarie, Weethalle, Barmedman and Mirrool are well worth a visit.
Wander down West Wyalong’s famous crooked main street – “the crooked mile”. By the time it was surveyed there were already many claims, shanties and buildings dotted around the area and the main road had to wind its way around them. If you go further north and south of the main street you will see later streets laid out in more geometric grids.
Today, West Wyalong is a thriving agricultural centre servicing the surrounding farmland where wheat, wool, pigs, eucalyptus oil and sawmills all fuel the local economy.
And in a complete circle of a hundred years, it is once again a major centre of gold mining, with many hundreds of millions invested in a new gold mine north of the town.
The town of West Wyalong did not appear on the map until 1895 during the local gold rush. Before that the area was generally known as White Tank, a large dam that was used to collect water for stock on the surrounding runs.
The first strike was made by Joseph Neeld in 1893. Mines soon dotted the area: True Blue underneath the motel of that name today – the mine shaft head was recreated in Cooinda Park, near Wyalong on the town’s centenary; Golden Fleece near the caravan park; and many others.
Soon 10,000 people had been attracted to the area – and most, including the businesses which followed in their wake, chose to settle around White Tank, the only reliable local water supply.
In their heyday they were the largest fields in the country until they petered out between 1915 and 1920.