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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Warden Finnertys House, Coolgardie, Western Australia

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

When visiting the town of Coolgardie in the Eastern Goldfields of WA, make sure you visit Warden Finnertys House. Step back into history when you wander through this stunning historical home. Then sit on the verandah and enjoy a delicious Devonshire tea (coffee or tea and scones with jam and cream) while overlooking the tidy well kept gardens and out beyond into the bush. The caretaker was a sheer delight and sat with me to tell me more about herself and her love of this country town and beautiful house.

brick and stone wardens house, with green painted wooden trim

Built in 1895, on a hill overlooking the town, of local timber and sandstone by the Bunnings brothers (who also build the Fremantle Arts Centre and were the original owners of Bunnings Hardware stores). It was built with high ceilings, tall windows, louvered shutters and large verandahs to assist in cooling the home in the harsh heat. The wealth of the goldfields is reflected in the decorations and furnishings. The National Trust acquired the property in 1976 and after restorations and furnishing the property they opened it to the public in 1984. The building still stands today and a ticket into the museum in town also gives you entry to walk through this house and step back in time.

The rooms are decorated as they would have been as the nineteenth century greeted the twentieth.

The old equipment makes you truly appreciate modern conveniences. This early refrigerator would have been welcomed into homes for their food cooling benefits.

The house was built as a home for the family of Irishman John Michael Finnerty, the resident Warden/Magistrate of the Goldfields. On 17 September 1892 Arthur Bayley rode in to Southern Cross and applied to Finnerty for a reward claim. Riding to inspect the find, it is said that Finnerty visited a near-by rock-hole and wrote down its Aboriginal name, Coolgardie, which the goldfield was later named. It started Western Australia's greatest gold rush. Finnerty saved lives when water was short by persuading the government to provide tanks along the road and by ordering diggers back to Southern Cross, allowing them to resume their claims after the winter rains. -Biography - John Michael Finnerty - Australian Dictionary of Biography (

Finnerty enthusiastically helped plan the town of Coolgardie, a big job in the late 1800s. He had a tough job enforcing law and order on the Goldfields and was well respected. One of the rooms in the home was the office of Finnerty and is set up as if he just stepped outside to do his work and is due back anytime.

Sadly Finnerty's wife Bertha died of pneumonia in 1911 at the young age of 38 leaving behind her husband, two daughters and a son. Finnerty resigned from his job on the day his wife died and two weeks later moved to Geraldton. He died in 1913 of blood poisoning from an infected carbuncle in his neck.

The house became a private residence for various people over the years. Many former residents have reported strange ghost like experiences there, leading some people to believe the house is haunted.

Happy Travels!

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