One of Australia's most famous gold mining towns (or infamous depending on your point of view), Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a thriving metropolis in the heart of Western Australia's immense outback. Goldwas first struck here by Paddy Hannan in 1893, and by 1902 Kalgoorliehad over thirty thousand residents and 93 pubs! Fortunes were made overnight, and the city's wide streets and magnificent buildings are testament to this early prosperity. Later on, more gold was found fivekilometres from the original mine, at the site now known as the GoldenMile. The miner's camp on the edge of the Mile developed into Kalgoorlie's satellite town of Boulder.
Today, the Golden Mile is still regarded as one of the richest gold deposits anywhere in the world, though these days it's extracted in dust form from deep in the ground, rather than the big nuggets that used to plentiful near the surface. The majority of the wealth now belongs to the big companies, and miners are subject to ordinary wages,and long, hard, and dirty work. Nevertheless, they continue to stream into the area, lending to Kalgoorlie-Boulder's hard-edged atmosphere and supporting the city's more notorious institutions of heavy drinking, gambling, and prostitution.
There are many attractions in and around Kalgoorlie worthy of a visit,and Hannans North Historical Mining Complex is one of the most notable. At the mine, visitors can take a cage lift deep into the ground where aex-miner is waiting to conduct a guided tour throughout the tunnels and crosscuts. At the surface, tours include gold-pouring demonstrations.The Golden Mile's Super Pit should not be missed either, not only because it's the largest hole in the Southern Hemisphere, but for sheer comprehension of this awe-inspiring operation. One of the best waysto view the mine is aboard the old tourist train known as the Rattler. Departing from Boulder Station at 10am, an interesting one hour journey circles the Golden Mile and Super Pit daily. Anothergood vantage point is the Super Pit lookout, just of the Eastern Bypass Road near Boulder.
In town, grand Hannan Street is the main thoroughfare, still lined withmany fine examples of early Australian architecture. The street is alsohome to the Goldfields Aboriginal Art Gallery and the Museum of the Goldfields, as well as Kalgoorlie's largest cluster of pubs and placesto eat. A few blocks away, the city's red light district on Hay Street is steadily gaining notoriety, despite the lack brochures at thetourist office.
One of the best times to arrive in Kalgoorlie-Boulder is Spring. Firstof all, it not to hot. Secondly, the states biggest outback horse racingcarnival is held here the first week of September and it's a real blast. Thirdly, much of the countryside is blanketed by Western Australia's famous wildflowers.
Thirty eight kilometres south-west of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie is another gold rush centre which actually rose to prosperity before it's more famous neighbour. Unfortunately for the town, it'spopulation and prominence soon petered out along with it's gold, and now Coolgardie is just a shadow of it's former self.
The town's main attractions lie around the main street (built wide enough for camel trains to turn), where after a quick glance at the stately old buildings you can begin to comprehend how wealthy Coolgardie once was. The Goldfields Exhibition is housed in the same building as the tourist office, and showcases Western Australia's most comprehensive collection of prospecting relics. Close by, the old railway station is now transport exhibition and Ben Prior's Open-air Museum displays old-time wagons and camel-drawn vehicles. For camelsin the flesh, the Coolgardie Camel Farm on the outskirts of town offerstrekking in the surrounding countryside.
250 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Lenora is thegateway to the northern gold fields. The area has quite an interestinghistory, and remnants of the past including miners cottages and old mineoffices, can be found at the adjacent ex ghost town of Gwalia.