Architecture of CueThe 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.
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
Bank of New South Wales (Former)
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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