Eucla is the easternmost town in Western Australia, located in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia along the Eyre Highway, approximately 11 kilometres (7 mi) west of the South Australian border.
The name Eucla is believed to originate from an Aboriginal word “Yinculyer” which one source gives as referring to the rising of the planet Venus. It was first used by Europeans for the area at some point before 1867.
In 1841, Edward John Eyre became the first explorer to visit the area. In 1867, the president of the Marine Board of South Australia discovered a port at Eucla, and in 1870, John Forrest camped at the location for nearly two weeks. In 1873, land was taken up at Moopina Station near the present townsite, and work commenced on a telegraph line from Albany to Adelaide. Land was set aside at Eucla for the establishment of a manual repeater station, and when the telegraph line opened in 1877, Eucla was one of the most important telegraph stations on the line. The station was important as a conversion point because South Australia and Victoria used American Morse code (locally known as the Victorian alphabet) while Western Australia used the international Morse code that is familiar today. A jetty and tram line were also constructed for offloading supplies brought in by sea. The town was proclaimed a township and gazetted in 1885, and reached its peak in the 1920s, prior to the construction of a new telegraph line further north alongside the Trans-Australian Railway in 1929.
In the 1890s a rabbit plague passed through the area and ate much of the Delisser Sandhills’ dune vegetation, thus destabilising the dune system and causing large sand drifts to encroach on the townsite. The original town was abandoned, and a new townsite established about 5 km to the east. The ruins of the telegraph station still stand amongst the dunes, and are a local tourist attraction. In 1971, world-wide media publicity came to the town after reports and photographs emerged of a half-naked blonde girl who had gone wild and lived and ran with the kangaroos, who came to be known as the “Nullarbor Nymph”. The story subsequently turned out to be a hoax cooked up by the residents of the tiny settlement.
Eucla has a population of about 50 people, and is the largest stopping point between Norseman and Ceduna for travellers and trucks along the Eyre Highway. It has a hotel and restaurant, a golf club (7km to the north), a museum dedicated to the Old Telegraph Station, and a meteorological station. These together with fishing are the town’s major activities. Eucla still uses the time zone of UTC+8:45 along with some other roadhouses on the Nullarbor Plain which is no longer official mandated by the Australian government.