After five days we headed for Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Just north we stopped at the only legalized Two-Up School in Australia where we saw the original corrugated-iron ring and shed. In its’ day, at the turn of the 20th century, this place provided a much-needed break for the gold miners.
The first thing we came across in Kalgoorlie was the Paddy Hannan water fountain outside the Town Hall and Information Centre. Paddy was the first to find gold here and Paddy’s tree remains where he sat for a rest and found gold. There are magnificent buildings that reflect the city’s immense wealth during the gold boom and since. There is a proud long history of brothels from a time when there were 20 men to 1 women in town and the quaint pink Questa Casa is the oldest working brothel in town. The Kalgoorlie Town Hall and its’ Theatre reflects “Gold Boom Architecture” and no expense was spared in its’ building in a town of enormous wealth.
Kalgoorlie is the home for the Golden Mile and the KCGM “Super Pit”, one of the largest open-cut mines on earth and the biggest gold mine in Australia. It is over 3.7 km long, 1.5 km wide and almost 500m deep and harvests about 800,000 ounces of gold each year. The tour of the mine took us down into the pit and we saw the machines and infrastructure that makes the process of open cut gold mining possible. It’s not possible to put words to the enormity of the “Super Pit”. We watched blasts down in the mine and were in awe of the way the huge trucks and equipment were dwarfed by the size of the pit and looked like Matchbox trucks.
Boulder was the original township for the goldfields and today there is a great deal of resentment toward the Kalgoorlie Council that voted to merge whilst the Boulder councillors who objected to the merger were absent from the meeting. Boulder was the town of the workers and Kalgoorlie was the town where all the wealth was channelled. Boulder had a serious earthquake in 2010 and so the town is getting many new shopfronts that make it a lovely town to visit. The Boulder Town Hall houses the only Goatcher Curtain left in existence in the world. The curtain was painted by the world renowned British artist Goatcher who cleverly painted a 3D representation of stage curtains over a picture of the Bay of Naples.
Leaving Kalgoordie-Boulder we stopped overnight to see Coolgardie which was the first place that gold had been found. Now there is only a population of about 800 people. Visiting the town’s museum we came across an amazing collection of old bottles of all colours, shapes and types. The area is fortunate that Kalgoorlie-Boulder is at the end of a water pipeline that is piped from the Mundeiring Weir near Perth almost 600 kms to the goldfields. Because of the need to provide water to the wealthy gold mine towns other areas were developed and remain today even though the gold prospecting is of the past.