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Narlarla Mine (Barker Gorge), Napier Downs Station, Derby-West Kimberley Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 17° 15' 40'' South , 124° 43' 45'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -17.26111,124.72917
GeoHash:G#: qubty39n8
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BSh : Hot semi-arid (steppe) climate

Located 125 km east of Derby.

The Narlarla lead-silver mine must go down as one of the shortest boom and bust episodes in Australia's history. It was all over in 2 months across June to July 1906.

The mine is located above the Barker Gorge as it passes through the Napier Range, about 7 kilometres from the junction of the Barker and Lennard Rivers.

The mineral deposits in the region had been promoted by local station owner
G.J. Poulton, who arrived in Adelaide and Melbourne with some very rich specimens from the area. He managed to convince a number of people in these cities to invest large sums of money to form the Narlarla Hills
Silver Lead Mining Company. The company applied for two leases totalling 48 acres. The company sent J.H. Grant to oversee the establishment of a mine, and a shaft was sunk.

The ore outcropped in two places, and there was an assumption it joined between the two underground to form a very large and rich orebody. Grant sent back enthusiastic reports of high grade, and rich ore being found in the shaft. Grant described the deposit as the next Broken Hill. Considering Broken Hill in New South Wales was one of the richest ore deposits in Australia, it was a rash statement. Shares in the company skyrocketed.

Three more syndicates were formed who pegged neighbouring land, and sent experienced prospectors off to this remote region to investigate the mineral deposits. By July reports were coming back from them, none favourable. One stated the mineral field was a complete fiasco, and no commercially viable ore was seen.

Assistant government geologist, H.P. Woodward, was dispatched to investigate. He reported the deposit was uneconomic, but there was great confusion over these reports, with some suggesting he was reporting about other deposits in the area. Several copper claims were in the area including Moondooma (variously spelt in the newspaper articles), and Reward taken out by Grant himself. Woodward would later state the public had been shamefully mis-led over the affair. He states the deposit was actually discovered by a Mr Pettigrew in the 1890's. The remote nature of the location made it difficult to verify any reports coming out from the mine. Grant continued to deny the deposit was valueless.

Shares dived in value and by September most of the syndicates had been wound up, and shareholders bankrupted. In an extensive interview in October 1907, he notes the mine had closed, but still defended the value of the deposit. He launches an attack on all who produced negative reports stating they had not investigated the orebody sufficiently. Neither did he have time for the syndicate who had not paid him or any of the employees.

In 1941, Rex T. Prider, head of geology at the University of Western Australia visited the site and discovered hydrozincite here. He located a considerable amount of white to pale pink hydrozincite in the broken ore around the original shaft on the south-west side of one of the two outcrops. The ore also contained galena, blende (sphalerite), cerussite, limonite, and very minor amounts of malachite and chessytite (azurite).

In the shaft was a band of cerussite and limonite with some hydrozincite, wedged between greyish mudstone and hosted by the limestone country rock.

He describes the hydrozincite as an earthy luster, mottled pink or white, a drusy structure, and sometimes containing staining of malachite and aurichalcite.

The site is located at the top of the range on the south side of Barker Gorge. The deposit is two small lodes of lead carbonate in limestone outcropping as blows with veins underneath parallel with the bedding planes of the host rock. The ore is an admixture of lead carbonates and secondary copper, with considerable quantities of calcite, and a silaceous gossan with magnetite, manganese oxides, and pyrite, with small quantities of lead and zinc sulphides.

The south blow contained high grade ore but at 9 feet below the surface passes into pyrite with no lead. The north blow is better defined at 70 feet long at the surface, with iron and copper stained lead carbonate, and at the water level passes rapidly into sulphide ore. At this depth it is still 200 feet up the cliff in the gorge, showing the source states a well defined galena vein 2 feet thick.

Mineral List

19 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

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Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

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252.17 - 298.9 Ma

ID: 3186259
Paleozoic sedimentary rocks

Age: Permian (252.17 - 298.9 Ma)

Comments: Canning Basin

Lithology: Shale,sandstone,limestone,siltstone

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Famennian - Frasnian
358.9 - 382.7 Ma

ID: 851936
Napier Formation

Age: Late Devonian (358.9 - 382.7 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Napier Formation

Description: Fossiliferous, shallow marine reef complex marginal slope and basin facies, red yellow and light grey silty calcarenite interbedded with siltstone, shale/calcirudite and sandstone

Comments: sedimentary carbonate; argillaceous detrital sediment; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Sedimentary carbonate; argillaceous detrital sediment

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

Data and map coding provided by, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Palache, C., Berman, H., & Frondel, C. (1951), The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana, Yale University 1837-1892 (1951):2: 248.
Ferguson, K.M. (1999) Lead, Zinc and Silver Deposits of Western Australia. Geological Society of Western Australia (1999).
Econ Geol (1986) 81:156-172
Prider, R.T.(1941): Hydrozincite From Narlarla West Kimberly District, Department of Geology, University of Western Australia (23 Jan 1941)
The Register newspaper (Adelaide) (1906): Narlarla Hills Advance Report (20 Jul 1906)
The Chronicle newspaper (Adelaide) (1906): The Narlarla Field (11 Aug 1906)
The Barrier Miner newspaper (Broken Hill) (1906): Narlarla Hills (05 Jul 1906)
The Chronicle newspaper (Adelaide) (1906): Narlarla Hills 28 Jul 1906)
The Daily News newspaper (Perth) (1906): Narlarla Aftermath (10 Nov 1906)
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper (1906): The Narlarala Field-Mr Woodward Report (13 Aug 1906)
The Western Mail newspaper (Perth) (1906): The Narlarla Hills Find
(14 Jul 1906)
The Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper (1906): Mr JH Grant Interviewed (26 Oct 1906)
Gibb-Maitland, A. (1919), The Lead Deposits of Western Australia, Geological Survey of Western Australia, State Government of Western Australia, 1919

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