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Heritage & History

Wyndham is a fascinating outback town, steeped in a multicultural history.

Located 100kms from Kununurra and 933kms from Darwin, the town was established in 1886 by Australian explorer John Forrest and became the major port and trading station of the East Kimberley, setup to support the gold rush of Halls Creek, 360kms away. During this time Wyndham received an influx of residents chasing the gold dream, including Afghan camel drivers, Englishmen, and Chinese retailers and tailors.

Two years later, the gold rush and subsequent boom in Wyndham had come to an end. During this time the town was predominately supported by the Kimberley pastoral industry until 1913 when the Western Australian government commenced construction of the Wyndham Meat Works. With interruptions from World War I it was not until 1919 that the meat works was completed, employing between 1600 and 2000 workers per year until it closed in 1985.

Wyndham was attacked several times by Japanese war aircraft in World War 2. The Wyndham Historical Museum features much information about all of Wyndham’s history and has a particularly good display on the MV Koolama and Koolama incident, an alleged mutiny.

Today Wyndham has a population of approximately 800. The town has been shaped by Aboriginal, Chinese, Afghan, and English influence. Wyndham has a rich cultural history, and is a fascinating town to visit.