Heritage GONE: Trans Hotel, Northam

Another semi-regular post which explores the heritage that has disappeared in recent years…

In 1894 the following advertisement appeared in the West Australian:

The hotel was managed under a few different licencees until 1926 when Fred Wilson, his wife Mollie and their two daughters Freda, 9 and Maple, 8 moved there to take over the lease. Much later Maple would be my grandmother.

The family had moved from Fremantle where they had run the Oceanic Hotel and before this a boarding house in Kalgoorlie. But, the next year, 1927, at just 33 years old, Mollie Wilson died. Fred and the girls stayed at Northam until 1933 when they moved to the Federal Hotel in Wagin and later Fred moved to the Palace Hotel in York.

I passed through Northam on the way to Kalgoorlie the other week and found Mollie’s grave. On the way back I looked for the Trans Hotel (as it was known) but couldn’t find it. I rang Dad and he directed me to find:

Yes, that’s a McDonald’s. Yes, right where the hotel was. A bit of sleuthing when I got home and I discovered that it burnt down in 2000 but was very run down and so significantly altered before that that it wasn’t even listed on the Municipal Inventory (which is weird, it doesn’t matter how altered it was, it should have been listed). As I sat watching the cars head in and out of the drive through, though, it was sad. It seemed a desolate place. Like nothing of interest or importance ever happened there. I tried to imagine my Nana as a young girl hurling down the hill on her bike, wearing boy’s boots and trying to get over the death of her mother. I couldn’t.

Lots of heritage disappears over the years for very good reasons. Total destruction by fire is a pretty good one. But, it is worth remembering that this does touch people, that people do want to connect with the past on a personal and individual level. It is worth remembering that heritage matters.


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