Moya Sharp keeps Goldfields history alive with dedication and research

Kalgoorlie woman Moya Sharp has always had a fascination with history. Her wish is to make the local and family history on the rich and diverse Eastern Goldfields available to all free of charge.

Moya is a busy woman, running three websites which are WA history related, working on them three to four hours a day. She has also written two history books and is currently working on another on the history of the town of Bardoc. 

Every day of the year she places a post on the Miners Memorial Facebook page to remember miners who have died on that date. She also does a three-weekly radio segment on 6PR with Harvey Deegan on Sunday nights when she reads a story and a bush poem.

“The history of WA’s Goldfields has always been of interest because of the pioneering spirit it evokes,” she says. “The romance and adventure with the chance of great riches. Unless you arrived in the country recently, every family seems to have had someone pass through the Goldfields at some time or another.

“Around 1900 there were more people in the Goldfields than in the Perth metropolitan area. There was a huge influx of people from Victoria about the time when the gold started to decline there.

“Of course, as has happened all over the world, young men looking for adventure thought that they would ‘make their fortune’ and they came in droves. Sometimes they brought their families and it’s the women’s stories which I love to highlight as history has been mainly written by men.”

Moya says the WA Goldfields has a rich and illustrious history. 

“How important is it in Australian history? The WA Goldfields was once seen as so important – there was a movement to make it into its own state. It was said at the time that many eastern states towns were completely funded by money sent back to them from WA.

“Many fortunes were made and lost and vast amounts of money was brought into the state from all over the world. Not just money came to WA, but many thousands of people from all over the world whose descendants now make up our very culturally diverse population.

“I also have a great deal of information and stories of Aboriginal people and their interactions with those with came to their land.”

Moya runs the Outback Family History website which contains a huge amount of information on the people and places of the Goldfields. 

“I look on this as my library, where people can go and search for photos and information on a huge variety of subjects.

“The website was originally called And All So Far From Home which started 25 years ago. It was founded and was left to me by my dear late friend and fellow historian Shyama Peebles.

“The Outback Family History blog contains more than 1500 stories of people and places. I started it in 2009 when I realised the audience for the stories was different. These people just wished to be entertained with stories on WA history.

“I started sending out a weekly Ripping Yarns and Tragic Tales email each Sunday with about three to four new stories each week. This now goes to more than 7500 people and is shared with many more; a story from the blog each week has a full page in the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper.”

The Western Australian Miners Memorial is an online memorial which complements the physical Miners Memorial at the WA Museum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. This commemorates and remembers anyone who has been killed in the mining industry in WA in their employment, no matter what their occupation.

“The Miners Memorial site started in 2014 when the physical memorial in Kalgoorlie was dedicated. This provides full details on each person and everyone on the memorial has a profile page with details of work and family.

“I originally became involved in this for six years before 2014, when I was appointed the researcher of all the names to be recorded on the memorial. Many people think it was because our own son was killed in the mines in 2004, but I was involved some time before this.

Each March the Miners Memorial in Kalgoorlie holds a dedication ceremony at the WA Museum where any new deaths are recorded and any others found the previous year are mentioned. We always invite the families of new deaths; it is a very moving ceremony.”

Moya has funded the sites herself and manages solely on donations. She plans to continue to run the sites indefinitely and has made provision for the future.

Moya was awarded an OAM for services to history, and an award for services to mining in the Australian Mining Prospects awards which she shared with Gina Rinehart. She has lived in the Goldfields for 34 years, settling in WA with her parents aged 15 from the north of England. 

“I have always loved history and when I met my husband, who is fourth generation Kalgoorlie born and moved to the Goldfields I found a place in Australia that fascinated me and always will.”

Visit www.outback, www.outbackfamilyhis or email