Bed and Breaky in a USA President’s house!

HERBERT HOOVER HOUSE IN THE REMOTE OUTBACK OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA – a lawn surrounded by red dirt!
Out building at Hoover House – and a steep drop into an operating open pit gold mine!

I doubt the American White House is going to introduce Bed and Breakfast for the average traveller any time soon. So a house, built by an American President in the Australian outback, might be the next best thing!

Herbert Hoover, the US President from 1929 to 1933, worked as a Geologist and Mining Engineer in Western Australia before he got into politics. In 1898 he was appointed Manager of the Sons of Gwalia gold Mine in WA’s far and remote Northern Goldfields, just over 950 kilometres from the State’s Capital, Perth.

Aged only 23, Hoover designed a beautiful Mine Manager’s house and oversaw its building. He was transferred to China before the house was complete, but stayed there as a guest on occasional return trips to Gwalia.

American President Herbert Hoover no doubt sat here – great spot for the sunset and evening drinks!

I’m not sure which bedroom Hoover used, but I’ve stayed on a couple of visits in two of its three bedrooms. So a third visit should nail it for me later this year. I will be able to say I’ve stayed in an American President’s bedroom, even if I’m not sure which one it was!

One of the bedrooms I’ve stayed in … was it Herbert’s too?
The formal dining room as Hoover would have known it
Afternoon tea on the verandah when the onsite cafe is open

The house today is owned by the local shire council and has been beautifully restored to meet modern accommodation standards. The council won a State Heritage Award in 2019 after completing a $3.3 million dollar upgrade project for the Gwalia historical precinct. Visitors can tour free through the house and its surrounds during the day, or book in for bed and breakfast for under $200 a night.

Hoover house is elegant and styled in the period when Hoover was working at Gwalia. It’s been restored to offer modern conveniences such as bedroom ensuites and air conditioning for guests. Wide verandahs on two sides look out to stunning outback scenery. Sunrise and sunset should not be missed!

Stunning vistas from Herbert Hoover house
photographed from the side veranda

The house also sits precariously at the edge of the massive Gwalia open pit gold mine – quite a breath taking sight to watch it in operation, especially at night when mine trucks continue up and down tracks etched out from its steep sides. The open pit wasn’t there when Hoover had the house built. It was underground mining back then, and the old mining shaft can still be seen near the house.

The front garden of Herbert Hoover house perched at the edge of an open cut working gold mine!
Check your vertigo before trying the viewing platform next to the house for a good view of the open cut mine
The open cut working Gwalia gold mine from Hoover House
Mining vehicles on the road into the open cut below Hoover house
The old mining shaft next to the house

You need at least two nights at Herbert Hoover house to allow plenty of time to explore this very interesting outback Aussie region. A nearby town, Leonora has a good tourist bureau, shops and a couple of country pubs for a meal.

Hoover House is a magic place and costs less than $200 a night for a large ensuite room … cheap for such an unusual outback experience. With only the three bedrooms, there’s never too many people staying at once. The rooms are large, and there’s plenty of space in the rest of the house.

Continental breakfast provisions are provided for guests. No cooking inside is allowed, but there is an outdoor barbecue, a kitchen fridge and microwave available. The kitchen includes a large dining table for guest use. Friends and I staying have easily put together a fairly good barbecue and salad dinner!

The Hoover house bq works well!
No cooking facilities, but easy for guests to put together a meal with planning! Our tea with friends one night!
Guest dining and kitchen – no stove though.
View of the open pit from the house

Part of the Hoover House is set up as a museum – the original dining room is for viewing only. If you are staying there, you can lock your bedroom door so that day visitors can’t come in. I’ve left my door open if I’m in the room so that people can see it as they’ve likely come a long way to view the house. But that’s a personal choice.

A cafe operates from 9 to 3, but that’s worth checking on before arrival. For various reasons, it’s not always open. Hubby and I enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea served on the house verandah for a small cost on one of our visits.

There’s a number of other buildings of interest around the house – you can spend hours going through them. And a short walk away is the original Gwalia town, a ghost town that has been restored as a museum piece. You can wander through old miners cottages .. many of them not much more than corrugated iron shacks. It’s incredible to think whole families lived in these places only 60 years ago. Great for photography!

old miners house in Gwalia town
The abandoned shops in Gwalia from the 1960’s
This piano in one of the miners’ shacks could tell a few stories!

Gwalia town was abandoned when the mine closed back in the early 1960’s. A lot of the workers back then were European migrants, many from Italy and Yugoslavia. Modern technology has allowed the mine to reopen and thrive again, but workers now live elsewhere.

There’s also the old hotel – quite magnificent and apparently built by the State Government in 1903 to curb the sly grog trade at the time. The hotel is no longer accessible to the public. When I was last in Gwalia, the Council hoped to obtain it from the mining company and renovate it as a tourist lodge. As of 2021, I’m not sure how far that plan has progressed as several million dollars needs to be raised to go forward with it.

The old State Hotel – waiting to reopen one day!
Gwalia train platform remains .. no trains anymore – but easily accessible on good sealed roads from Perth and Kalgoorlie

Accommodation bookings: museum@gwalia.org.au or ring 08 9037 7122 Mobile: 0419 958 199

Herbert Hoover house is a place in outback Australia worth visiting. I mean, really, when are you ever going to sleep at the edge of an open pit gold mine in a house built by an American President.

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