Kalgoorlie was the first town since leaving Ceduna, six days before, where we could replenish supplies. With three supermarkets and any number of auto spares outlets it is a significant stop over for those travelling further north in Western Australia.
A walk through its streets is like stepping into 1893 without the hustle and bustle of earlier days. Three down-on-their-luck Irishmen stumbled across 100 ounces of alluvial nuggets when they stopped to tend to replace a shoe of their horse. They wasted no time in registering their claim and set in motion events that led to one of Australia’s greatest gold rushes.
Seven years later the population had grown to 25, 000 with other towns springing up around Kalgoorlie. The hardship of the first years gave way to prosperity reflected in the architecture and infrastructure. It wasn’t long before Kalgoorlie was one of the largest cities in Australia.
The population created the need for 6 banks, 3 breweries, 26 hotels, 5 hospitals and hundreds of shops. There were also three daily newspapers.
The mining history permeates the town with a museum and mine tours as well as statues celebrating heroes of days long gone. The Fimiston Open Pit, colloquially known as the Super Pit, was Australia’s largest open cut gold mine until 2016 when it was surpassed by the Newmont Boddington gold mine also in Western Australia.
The pit is oblong in plan view and is approximately 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and over 600 metres deep.
Mines, big machinery and statistics aren’t normally my thing but I was impressed with the size of the mine as well as the machinery working the levels below the viewing platforms.
The “bucket” I’m sitting in is from a Komatsu PC8000 Face Shovel (yeah, I know). Four face shovels operate in this mine: at a cost of $18.5 million each.
- each bucket costs $1.3 million
- has a capacity of 32 cubic metres
- weighs 68 tonnes
- and hold 70 tonnes of ore and
- it takes 4 loads to fill the tray of a Haul Truck
Kalgoorlie is one end of Burt Street and a neighbouring town of Boulder sits at the end. When activities migrated to the larger centre of Kalgoorlie the two towns merged and are known now as Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Yet they are quite distinctive. Kalgoorlie has three supermarkets, a reasonable retail sector, restaurants, post office, cafes and accommodation to suit all pockets. The day we visited Boulder there were few people on the streets and many retailers had closed up shop or relocated to areas with heavier pedestrian traffic.
Until recently, Kalgoorlie’s Hay Street was home to possibly one of the world’s oldest working brothels. Questa Casta had been in operation for 115 years dating back to Kalgoorlie’s gold rush days. Its ‘starting stalls’ were famous for the scantily clad ladies standing in the doorways.
I did find a very good coffee shop as well as a small store selling South African foods. This was a highlight, to see brand names from my time in that country and be reminded of others. We purchased a Malay curry for tea. The flavours of the curry brought back memories and smell of the Durban Markets permeated with Indian and Malay curry herbs and spices.
2020 is the eleventh year – and my fifth year – in which thousands of bloggers participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge during April. I am combining this post as part of that challenge as a continuation of recording the 2nd Stage of our Oz Road Trip.