16 hours travelling for 33 hours in a destination – that’s what Australia’s all about, I’ve learned! It’s such a whopping great country that everything is miles away from everything else!
We hopped on a train at 2pm on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Kalgoorlie at 10 o’clock that night. Kalgoorlie and Boulder (two towns amalgamated into the district of Kalgoorlie-Boulder) cover the area which used to be known as the Golden Mile, where the Australian Gold Rush occurred in the 1890s. Three men were travelling through the area when they stopped to shoe their horse and accidentally discovered signs of gold. Three days later, the area was filled with hundreds of prospectors mining for gold. Over time, gold drew more people to the area and the population increased, and thus the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder were born. In the 1980s, businessman Alan Bond started buying out individual leases with a view to combining them all into one big mine. He didn’t finish the job, but shortly after he left the picture, two big mining companies formed a joint venture organisation called Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), who took over the management of this project. They created what is known today as the Super Pit – one big giant gold mine, spanning 3.5km across, 1km wide and 600m deep.
All of this history and more, we learned in our one short day in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. We started by with a walking tour up the main street in Kalgoorlie. Stumbling upon the WA Museum was a happy coincidence, where we saw an exhibition of aboriginal history, a collection of the different forms in which gold was found in the area, and a lift up to a lookout platform, giving a birds eye view over the landscape.
Not realising quite how far Boulder and the Super Pit were from Kalgoorlie, we set off on foot, and ended up walking about 8km in each direction. And what’s more – it rained! Australia must’ve decided I was getting homesick and to make it feel like I was back in England!
As we came into Boulder, the buildings started to look less rustic, with more car dealerships than Churchfields Industrial Estate and numerous fast food outlets. I spotted the most bizarrely situated Nando’s restaurant and also a Church which really didn’t look like a Church..!
Our walking tour headsets instructed us to “saddle up our vehicle,” but since we were without said vehicle, but still wanted to see the Super Pit, our walk continued. We made the (smart) decision not to walk alongside the highway and eventually managed to navigate our way round some side roads that allowed us to cross the highway safely. We were actually feeling pretty good as we trudged up the hill in the rain, with our steadfast British spirit keeping us going! The term ‘character building’ comes to mind!
Anyway – we got there. And boy oh boy it was worth it! Unfortunately the weather meant that there were no tours of the inside of the Super Pit running, but from the lookout point we had some amazing views and were able to read some more information on the history and the current operations of the mine. Honestly, I never thought I’d find a big hole in the ground so interesting!
Having earlier said we’d get a bus or taxi back down to our hotel in Kalgoorlie, we actually decided we couldn’t do ourselves such an injustice, so walked all the way back too! 25,000 steps all in all *muscle flex emoji*
Awaiting us at the end was some souvenir shopping, dinner in a restaurant opposite the hotel and a glass of crisp white wine… well deserved!