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7 modern-day ghost towns

By: Matt Hickman on June 19, 2013, 5:49 p.m.
Wittenoom, Western Australia, modern ghost town

Photo: Michael Theis/Flickr

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Wittenoom, Australia

A note to brave travelers wishing to walk along the lonely streets of Wittenoom, Australia’s most notorious ghost town and the site of the country’s largest industrial disaster that has claimed the lives of over 2,000 miners, visitors and former residents: Good luck finding it.

Situated in the vast landscape of the Pilbara region in Western Australia, Wittenoom has been virtually erased from the map with travel access cut off, government services and electricity severed and any indication that the once-prosperous asbestos mining town ever existed erased from roadway signage. And for those who do manage to find it, the Australian government recommends steering clear: “Travelling to Wittenoom presents a public health risk from exposure to asbestos fibres which may result in contracting a fatal disease, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer.”

While the mine was shut down in 1966 after 23 years of business, it wasn’t until 1978 that action to phase-down the town and relocate any remaining residents commenced. As of 2006, only a handful of residents remain.