Golden Valley – Knutsford
Named not from gold but from the “Golden Scrub Wattle” which covers the slopes of the valley. Township of Knutsford – this is where it began in 1887 with the find of gold reef, paving the way to Southern Cross and other finds within the Yilgarn.
The area was first called ‘Cordelia’ after the eldest daughter of the discoverer Greaves. He extracted twenty pounds of specimens then burnt a dead tree on the site so that it could be easily identified.
Golden Valley was no bonanza as gold pinched out at depths, however gold fever had its way and an ever increasing number of hopefuls flocked 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 Kimberleys 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 carted from 10 miles away where the Government Water Supply spent £1000 and created tanks out of rocks. 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, the townsite was surveyed to include this bore (it was still producing a good service in 1994). The township 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’. In 1888, a licence had been granted to a Mr Agreen to conduct the Wayside Nugget Hotel on business area No 1. This small building was bought in the same year by Thomas Farren. The Hotel became the centre for everything. When Mrs Farren had to go to hospital for the birth of her fourth child, she travelled in a buckboard buggy 200 miles over a rough bush track. 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 and 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, tools etc. 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 cooldrink 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.
Golden Valley Knutsford brochure