Bleak and abandoned... the Aussie village with a familiar name
AS Rob James was walking through a cemetery looking at headstones of those buried there, he noticed some familiar family names.
Engraved on the tombstones were distinct Welsh names such as Evans, Williams and Thomas.
But it wasn’t through the rural Welsh countryside that Rob was walking but, rather, the derelict and abandoned village of a second Llanelly, two hours outside of Melbourne, Australia.
“I’ve lived in Australia for 12 years and was just mooching around on Google Maps one day, looking for somewhere to go on a day trip.” said Rob.
“I was looking around the Bendigo area and saw Llanelly. I thought that either someone was tak
There is hardly anything there now, just an abandoned bank, a handful of houses and a cemetery full of Thomases, Evanses, and Williamses
ing the mick or that Google had really messed up their maps.
“But I thought, how can I not go there? Llanelli in the middle of Australia?” added the 41-year-old, who is from the original Llanelli.
Situated in the centre of Victoria, the small village’s close neighbours include the gold-laden cities of Bendigo and Ballarat.
The discovery of gold in these cities in the 1850s caused the area to receive an influx of migrants from all around the world, including Wales.
Welsh miners that had flocked to the area in search of riches, found several gold-loaded reefs in the region and ultimately established a village in 1860, giving it the name Llanelly after their home town.
During its heyday, the area prospered with an array of hotels, banks, schools and shops opening and in 1865 there was a population of around 20,000 residents.
But the continuous decline in gold during the 1880s caused residents to move from the area and ultimately led to its demise, leaving the barren Llanelly that Rob recently walked through.
“There is hardly anything there now, just an abandoned bank, a handful of houses and a cemetery full of Thomases, Evanses, and Williamses.
“I spoke to a chap who knew about the gold miners and the fact that the town just died when the gold ran out. He wasn’t aware about the original Llanelli at all,” said Rob about his visit.
Rob stated that “they pronounce it with a single ‘L’, as in L-an-el-y.
“The Australian man I spoke with had a go at the real pronunciation – but like many non-Welsh people, completely mangled it.”
Today, not much remains of the small Australian village except the parched yellow fields surrounding it and the idle, rusty train tracks that lead to nowhere.
But the area’s abandoned buildings and discoloured road signs act as memories of a community that established a village in Australia while paying homage to their Welsh home town.
Llanelli-born Rob James on his recent visit to Llanelly, Australia.
Signs for Llanelly in Victoria, Australia.