Crumbling lead mine ruins are steeped in history

Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
Ajana Binnu Country Women’s Association members Jessie Lowrie, Betty Ford and Rae Sutherland at the Geraldton Lead Mine cemetery in 2001.
Camera IconAjana Binnu Country Women’s Association members Jessie Lowrie, Betty Ford and Rae Sutherland at the Geraldton Lead Mine cemetery in 2001. Credit: Supplied

Many who visit the crumbling ruins of the Geraldine Lead Mine, about 55km north of Northampton, are oblivious to its historical significance.

It has largely been the dedication of local historians and community groups that has spared the site from further decay.

One of these groups is the Ajana Binnu Country Women’s Association, which recently funded the creation of a double-sided interpretive sign to educate visitors.

“It was the first lead mine in Australia, and the first metal mine in WA,” member Di Hulme said.

“It is extremely historic and lots of people go there without knowing its significance.

“It’s just a good place to camp for a lot of people.”

Early photo of the Warribanno chimney, built to smelt lead ore from the Geraldine Mine. A tram line was built from the Ajana Rail Head to the chimney so lead could be transported to Ajana, then to Geraldton by train.
Camera IconEarly photo of the Warribanno chimney, built to smelt lead ore from the Geraldine Mine. A tram line was built from the Ajana Rail Head to the chimney so lead could be transported to Ajana, then to Geraldton by train. Credit: Supplied

The WA State Heritage Council lists the condition of the 170-year-old mine site as “poor”.

Many of its buildings have been reduced to rubble, including the engine room, which Ms Hulme said was mostly washed away during floods several years ago.

“There’s not much you can do about big rivers washing things away, but the fact it’s on private land is a problem,” she said.

“Some government department probably should have bought the land when it was for sale a few years ago.”

Geraldine Lead Mine is also home to an old cemetery, where the Ajana Binnu CWA hold annual clean-ups.

“We have our meeting and then work on tidying the cemetery, cutting down trees and weeding it and so forth,” Ms Hulme said.

“There’s a plaque there, put up about 18 months ago, with the names of everyone buried there.

“I’ve heard of people who have gone up there and found a relative buried there that they didn’t know about.”

The graves date back as far as the 1850s.

Ms Hulme said the interpretive sign would be installed soon.

A shelter around the sign, which has already been erected, was funded by the Shire of Northampton.

More information about the Geraldine Lead Mine can be found at Northampton Historical Society’s Chiverton House Museum.

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