Sandstone came into existence with the discovery of gold in the area.
Ernest Shillington was the first to register a gold find in the area. In January 1895 he found gold in Black Range, about 20 kilometres south of the present townsite. This discovery led to the development of the township of Nungurra, however, lack of water was a major problem. Hotels, banks and other services were built at what was known as Hans Irvine’s Find. An influx of miners led to the declaration of the townsite of Sandstone in 1905.
Naming of the town
The name of Sandstone was based on the recommendation of Warden Lawlers who reported,
“I have since been to Black Range, but could not get the native name of the locality, and cannot suggest a suitable native name. I would recommend the town be called ‘Sandstone’ or ‘Sandhurst’. The place is now well known as Sandstone but a small change such as to Sandhurst would not take the public long to get into the way of calling the town by the correct name, but I would prefer the name ‘Sandstone’.”
Development of the town
Many of the buildings in Nungurra were dismantled and reassembled in Sandstone. Within a year, Nungurra’s population dropped to 50-60 people. Shortly after, Nungurra became a ghost town. Sandstone was gazetted in 1906 and by 1907 its population had reached 6000 and it boasted four hotels, four butchers, two banks, a police station and many other stores.
In 1910 the railway was completed between Mount Magnet and Sandstone. The Jundoo Dam was completed in 1910 to provide water for the steam trains. By 1912 Sandstone had a population of 8,000. The first pastoral leases including Youanmi Station, Yuinmery and Lake Barlee Stations were being established at this time.
A state-run battery operated in the town from 1904 to 1982. The remains of these are located along the Menzies Road.
The nearby Troy Resources mine closed in 2014 and more than 40 families left the town. With a population now under 50 Sandstone’s future is uncertain.