Architecture of Cue

The architecture of Cue is more than impressive considering the remoteness of the town. The town, which has struggled to survive through its turbulent and unpredictable economic environment, won the Heritage Award for Western Australia in 2004. The sleepy town which once had the hustle and bustle feel of a big town has focused on it's greatest asset, architecture and won.

Austin Street

Bell's Emporium

Architecture of Cue, Bells Emporium, Cue, Western Australia

The original Bell's Emporium store was a small stone building owned and operated by Robert Bell in the early 1900's. The Emporium was a typical small town store stocking essential supplies for the locals. In 1936 an additional (and larger) store was build beside the original. The new store was built in 1936 from galvanized iron, a material of choice by many people living in outback areas. Both buildings feature wide verandahs and front glass windows.

Bank of New South Wales (Former)

Architecture of Cue, Bank of New South Wales, Western Australia

The Bank of New South Wales (originally known as the Western Australian Bank) was constructed in the 1900's from local porphyry stone, which had been sawn into blocks. The building also features rounded arch doors and windows and a slightly projecting centre gable. The bank was responsible for handling the gold for the town and its sister town, Day Dawn. At the peak of the town's gold-rush, the bank tellers were once photographed getting a ton of gold ready to be transported out of town by coach. I guess that is why the town had over 24 men in the police force!

Band Rotunda

Architecture of Cue, Band Rotunda, Cue, Western Australia

It is not hard to miss the Band rotunda standing along the main street. Built in 1904, the octagonal rotunda was built in dedication to all the pioneers of the Murchinson region. It was once the town's main centre of attraction during the early years. The local band played every Saturday night whilst the locals let their hair down. I am sure the creatures of the night would have been quite perturbed at the silence of the outback being broken by the sounds of music and gaiety. The rotunda covers the first well ever sunk in the town and it was rumoured that the water from the old well started the typhoid epidemic. The well was at one stage the only known water supply with a 10 mile radius.

The Gentlemen's Club

Architecture of Cue, The Gentlemen's Club, Cue, Western Australia

The Murchinson Chambers is located on Austin Street and was once the heart of Cue's Business activities. The two storey building was built in 1895 and housed the most influential and important companies of the region. The chambers boasted 18 offices, two shops, the offices of Messrs Fox, Weekes and May who were responsible for the licensing and authorisation of Surveyors of Western Australia and the international mining company Bewick Moreing and Co. One of its most well known guest was Herbert Hoover (later to be president of the united states).The chambers later became known as the Gentlemen's Club when in 1901 the Murchinson Club moved into the top floor. The club comprised of some of the most prominent and professional men of the area including businessmen, pastoralists and mining executives. The first Club rooms were on Darlot Street. Today the Cue Shire Council occupies the building.

Government Buildings

Architecture of Cue, Police Station, Cue, Western Australia

The Government buildings include the Warden's Court, Post and Telegraph Office, Mining Registrar's Office, Police Station, Warden's Office, Land Official's Offices and Inspecting Surveyor's Office. The block of buildings were built in 1896 from locally quarried limestone blocks.

Cue Post Office

Architecture of Cue, Post Office, Clock Tower, Cue, Western Australia

Part of the Government buildings, the Post Office, deserves special mention, well the clock does! The gift that kept on giving was the Post Office clock. Sir John Forrest the State's premier presented the clock to the town, a kind gesture indeed, if it wasn't for the arduous task of having to wind it every 24hours. A job I am sure the postal workers loathed. If that wasn't bad enough, to access the clock they had to climb a ladder and pull the counterweight back inside the tower. In 1898 alterations had to be made to the Post Office to accommodate the clock tower. The pendulum of the clock weighs approximately 50kg but the time-keeping has become erratic over the years due to atmospheric conditions affecting the cable which holds the weight.

Old Gaol

Architecture of Cue, Cue, Old Gaol, Western Australia

The old gaol is located on the grounds of the Cue Caravan Park and was built between 1896-97, though it wasn't officially gazetted until 1902. The structure was built by James Dawson from a design supplied by the Architectural Department. The gaol featured a central open design surrounded by cells, which in hindsight was not considered a particular great design. The gaol was strangely not built next to the police station. Being a gold-rush town the police force consisted of a Sub-inspector and 24 men , of which several were Aboriginal trackers. It was essential that the town had a considerable police force as the area would often become volatile due to the large gathering of men, the 13 pubs and the rush to find gold. The gaol ceased operations in 1914 but was used as a lock-up until the 1930's. Sadly or ironically the gaol ended up being an ablution block for the caravan park until 1977.

Pensioners Huts

Architecture of Cue, Cue, Pensioner huts, Western Australia

These neatly lined buildings were built to provide accommodation for pensioners. Not very big and built from timber and corrugated iron, these quaint structures were shifted from the former hospital at Big Bell and relocated on Austin Street in 1958. The huts are still being used by pensioners.

Robinson Street

Masonic Lodge

Architecture of Cue, Masonic Lodge, Cue, Western Australia

Masonic Lodge 22 in Cue was built in 1899 from Galvanized iron and timber. Looking like something out of a Hitchcock movie, the haunting Lodge stands up on the hill , rattling in the wind. Last time I visited Cue the sparrows were darting in and out of the broken windows, just adding to its haunting beauty. The unusual building is believed to be the largest corrugated structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Designed by E. Owen Hughes the building was consecrated on April 21st 1897. Interestingly, corrugated iron was commonly used to construct buildings in the goldfields during the early years because it could be transported easily by camels. During the hey days of mining people as far away as the Big Bell would attend the monthly lodge meetings. By the 1970's there were very few members attending and as a result in 1979 the doors were closed for the last time. Today the Lodge is privately owned and is in the process of being lovingly restored.

Old Municipal Chambers

Architecture of Cue, Council Chambers, Cue, Western AUstralia

Located on Robinson Street the Old Municipal Chambers was opened in 1896 by the major of Cue. The white stone building was built for the Municipality of Cue Council. All the council meetings which were held there until 1980 when the council moved to the Post Office and then finally the Gentlemen's Club in 1986. Today the building is home to the Cue Tourist Centre.

Cue Railway Station

Architecture of Cue, Railway Station, Cue, Western Australia

One of Sir John Forrest's roles as Western Australia's first Premier was to build a solid infrastructure for the State. He employed the likes of C.Y. O'Connor to assure the State would have the best engineers and Public Works advisors. One of the most important infrastructures needed in the WA during the gold rush were roads and railways. Transport was vital for towns to exist in some of the most remote areas of the state. In 1894 Forrest promised Cue a railway and at 2.30pm on April 20th, 1897 it arrived. The train, pulled by two engines 'Murchinson' and 'Day Dawn', was greeted by a crowd of over 1500. On board the train was Sir John and Lady Forrest, Edward Horne Wittenoom and reputedly Herbert Hoover (future President of United States). The town was in a party mode, a triumphal arch was erected, the Murchinson Brass Band played and even the local Aborigines in traditional dress were on hand. The following day a special Cue Races was held before the train returned to Perth via Geraldton. In 1898 the railway station was finally built. Unfortunately the line was closed in 1978 but in 1986 the station was restored.

Links To More Western Australian Architecture

Architecture of Bridgetown

Fitzgerald Street, Northam

Wellington Street, Northam

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