The Shire of Wiluna covers an area of 184,000 square kilometres and is predominately mining, pastoral and native title land, including Indigenous Protected Areas at Matuwa (Lorna Glen Station), Kurrara-kurrara and Birriliburu.
At its peak the town was home to the biggest gold mine in Western Australia. Today, Wiluna is chiefly a Martu Indigenous community. It has an active administrative centre and offers day trips and walks to various lookouts and historic attractions.
Any history of Wiluna has two threads, European that started with Surveyor Lawrence Wells in 1892 and the infinitely longer story of the Martu people. In 1896 gold was discovered, but Wiluna did not peak until the advent of new mining technologies in the 1930’s. From a population of 600 it quickly boomed to an excess of 9,000 people.
Unfortunately, the boom times only lasted ‘til the mid 1940’s and by 1963 the town was down to 90 persons. Since that time it has increased again, mainly due to the growing number of Martu people coming in from their traditional country.
For travellers visiting Wiluna, call in at the Canning-Gunbarrel Discovery Centre, and say 'Hi', you'll be provided with a map of attractions to see around town.
The very best way to explore the heritage of Wiluna. Pick up a brochure from the Shire office, post office or shop and take a stroll around one of these new, fascinating, well sign posted and informative walks
Warri (1909-1979) and Yatungka (1917-1979) were believed to be the last of the Mandildjara tribe and were perhaps Australia’s last desert nomads leading the traditional Aboriginal lifestyle. Long after the Mandildjara people (known also as Martu) had gravitated to urban settlements this couple survived for decades on their own, hunting and eating native fruits.
Warri and Yatungka met in the 1930’s and fell in love, but Indigenous tribal law forbade them from marrying. So to avoid severe physical punishment or even death, the star-crossed lovers ran away together in the middle of the night. Living in isolation, the couple had three children – only two of which survived in the harsh outback conditions.
Despite Warri and Yatungka’s defiance and departure, the Mandildjara elders constantly worried about their welfare. When a severe drought hit the region in 1977, local Aboriginal elder, Mudjon, and white explorer, Stan Gratte, set out to find “the last of the nomads”. After several weeks they were found, close to starvation in the Gibson Desert, and brought back to Wiluna. The Aboriginal elders forgave Warri and Yatungka, and they remained in Wiluna until 1979, when they passed away within weeks of each other. Their deaths marked the end of an Aboriginal lifestyle that stretched back more than 40,000 years. A statue commemorating the Last of the Nomads is located at the town’s entrance.
Skippers Aviation is Western Australia's truly regional airline, offering regular scheduled services from Perth to Wiluna.