The Holland Track was created as a direct result of the discovery of gold in Coolgardie. The gold brought fortune seekers to Western Australia from all around the world. Some alighted at Albany and made their way to Perth where they headed east by various forms of transport to the Goldfields. Others continued by ship to Fremantle and then headed to Southern Cross and the Coolgardie Goldfields. Whichever route they chose, it was long and tedious.
A more direct route was needed.
John Holland, an experienced bushman, mounted a carefully planned expedition to find a shorter route to the Goldfields.
In April 1893, Holland, Rudolph Krakouer, David Krakouer and John Carmody left Broomehill with five ponies, a light dray, a 100 gallon (450 litres) water tank and provisions for 5-6 months. Using a small compass they aimed for Gnarlbine Rock, the Goldfields’ main water supply. Holland would go ahead each day and scout for water and horse feed, while the others cut the track. They reached Bayleys Find at Fly Flat on 18 June, having covered nearly 540 km in two months, cutting the longest cart road ever made in one stretch in Western Australia.
The track was used immediately by prospectors, fortune seekers, merchants, transport operators and anyone else needing to get to the Goldfields.
18,000 people used the shortcut over the next three years, up until the last link of the railway from Perth to Coolgardie was completed, providing a rail link to the Goldfields.
The southern half of the track was subsumed by expanding wheat growing areas during the 1920s. For almost a century the northern half (from the Hyden Norseman Road to Coolgardie) was all but abandoned and the area reverted to bushland except for some intrusions by sandalwood cutters.
Present day access is a tribute to Broomehill farmer Graeme Newbey and researcher Adrian Malloy who were determined to reopen the track. They led a group in November 1992 and with the aid of Graeme’s tractor succeeded in cutting the track from Wattle Rocks, about 22 km north of the Hyden Norseman Road to Thursday Rock about 70 km south of Coolgardie.
In June 1993 Graeme Newbey led an expedition along the newly opened Track to mark the centenary of Holland’s historic journey.
© Kim Epton 2016-2019
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