THE Railway Hotel at Menzies trades in a historic gold mining centre in Western Australia, now a virtual ghost town. It originally opened as the Grand Hotel in 1895.
Menzies is located 132km north of Kalgoorlie and 729 km east of Perth.
A prospector, a man named Menzies, got lucky and found gold north of Kalgoorlie in 1894 and the developing township was named in his honour.
By 1896 Menzies had become a municipality.
Between 1896–98 a Town Hall was built, and the railway arrived in 1899. By 1900 the boomtown had two breweries, 13 pubs and a population of over 10,000.
Menzies disappeared as fast as it had arrived. By 1905 most of the miners had moved on. It continued to produce gold but it was reef gold and the costs of extraction and production were high. The town had a bit of a revival in the 1930s, when a new gold mine was opened. But it was short lived.
The Perth Mirror reported on Saturday February 9 1935:
RAILWAY HOTEL KEEPS AHEAD OF THE TIMES
Mr. Gordon Hack’s Enterprise
Time was when Menzies was a roaring mining town with 13 hotels, Mayor, Town Hall, library, billiard saloons, restaurants galore, fire brigade, town band, hospital and all the adjuncts which go to make up a community.
The mines dwindled and Menzies faded.
One hotel after another went out of business and the streets were deserted, houses fell into disrepair, and many tumbled down till it was a dismal, deserted place.
Only one hotel (the Railway) remained and it was a solitary sort of place. Callers were scarce and the proprietor would often have a nap between sales.
Last year, however, the Lady Shenton gold mine was restarted; mining and prospecting once more livened up, and Menzies began to boom.
The hotel was in disrepair and became far too small to meet the new requirements of the place and the visitors. Last September, Mr. Gordon Hack, who had just disposed for £6000 of the Widgiemooltha Hotel, which some two years before he had purchased for £3000, was told of the Menzies Hotel, and having seen for himself, he purchased the business, taking possession at once.
No sooner in than he started to improve the hotel, adding 20 bedrooms, additional bath rooms and conveniences. The public bar was enlarged, the billiard room turned into a saloon bar, septic tanks provided, and a big refrigerating plant installed, with bars dining room, kitchens, cellars, store rooms and an electric light plant. These cost some £4,000.
The old furniture was discarded and Messrs Boans Ltd given a free hand to refurnish the place completely till it is now one of the best furnished and equipped outside of Perth, the lounges being especially elaborate. A staff was especially selected for all departments, Mr. Alan Shepherd, the well known footballer being appointed deputy manager.
Mr. Gordon Hack has achieved success in the hotel business. His experience was gained with the late Mr. W. H. Jones, at the Royal Hotel, and on that gentleman’s death, he was appointed manager, before he was 21. Since then many successes have come his way. Pessimists said he was a fool when he took over the Widgiemooltha Hotel but he got the laugh on them and sold out as recorded. The Railway Hotel Menzies is a good place to stay.
Today Widgiemooltha, 631km east of Perth between Kambalda and Norseman in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, is virtually a ghost town. Menzies is little more than a main street, with memories of its past glories, on the outback tourist route.
Categories: Western Australia hotels