Kalgoorlie, now known as Kalgoorlie–Boulder after the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder joined, is a city in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. It is located 595 Kms (370 mi) east-northeast of Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway. The town was founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn-Goldfields gold rush, and is located close to the so-called “Golden Mile”.
In January 1893, prospectors Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan, and Dan O’Shea (yes, they were all Irish) were travelling to Mount Youle when one of their horses cast a shoe. During the halt in their journey, the men noticed signs of gold in the area, and decided to stay and investigate. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to hundreds of men swarming to the area in search of gold and Kalgoorlie, originally called Hannan’s, was born.
The mining of gold, along with other metals such as nickel, has been a major industry in Kalgoorlie ever since, and today employs about one-quarter of Kalgoorlie’s workforce and generates a significant proportion of its income. The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding the original Hannan find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet.
Kalgoorlie’s main mine, known as The Super Pit is an enormous open-cut gold mine approximately 3.6 Kms (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 Kms (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep. Occasionally the excavation has revealed an old shaft containing abandoned equipment and vehicles from the earlier mines. The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a visitor centre overlooks it. The mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. Each of the massive trucks carries 225 tonnes of rock and the round trip takes about 35 minutes, most of that time being the slow uphill haul. Employees must live in Kalgoorlie; it is not a fly-in fly-out operation. The mine is expected to be productive until about 2029.
We are now well on the way east and heading for the next major stop of Kalgoorlie. We pass yet another historic site where the longest fence in the world, the Rabbit Proof Fence, was first started. The fence runs north to south through the vast Western Australia centre from Port Hedland to Augusta.
We follow another historic feat of engineering along the roadside – the water pipeline that was completed in 1902 which stretches over 650 Kms from Perth to Kalgoorlie and was built to supply fresh water to the goldfields around Kalgoorlie. Also note the state of the main road from Perth to Adelaide – it’s actually dirt !!
Wave Rock is a natural rock formation that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The “wave” is about 14 m (46 ft) high and around 110 m (360 ft) long. It forms the north side of a solitary hill, which is known as “Hyden Rock.” This hill, which is a granite inselberg, lies about 3 km (2 mi) east of the small town of Hyden and 296 km (184 mi) east-southeast of Perth.
A wall lies above Wave Rock and about halfway up Hyden Rock and follows the contours of the wall. It collects and funnels rainwater to a storage dam. The wall and dam were constructed in December 1928 by the Public Works Department for the original settlers of district. Both were renovated in 1951 to increase water capacity for the Hyden Township. Such walls are common on many similar rocks in the Wheatbelt.
Also, worth a visit are the lace and toy soldier museums situated next to the Wave Rock Tourist information site.
Albany is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, 418 km SE of Perth, the state capital. It is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia, predating Perth and Fremantle by over two years. Albany was founded on 26 December 1826 as a military outpost of New South Wales as part of a plan to forestall French ambitions in the region.
Today the town is a significant tourist destination and base from which to explore the south-west of the state, and is well regarded for its natural beauty and preservation of heritage. The town has an important role in the ANZAC legend, being the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War. The brand new National Anzac Centre documents a 100 years history of the Anzac legend.
Just accross the bay from Albany is the Torndirrup National Park which sits directly on the Southern Ocean and contains a couple of amazing natural structures – The Gap and the Natural Bridge.
Walpole is our next stop on the south coast heading east from Windy Harbour. Land in the Walpole area was reserved for a national park in 1910, and the area subsequently became a popular holiday destination. The area is famous for the giant tingle and karri trees of old growth forest. Another attraction is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Words cannot describe the incredible beauty of the huge trees in this area.
We leave Bunbury and head towards the south coast of Western Australia intending to follow the coast east and then head up to Kalgoorlie. First stop is Windy Harbour which gets 2 out of 2 for its name, yes, it is a harbour and it is windy. It is also quite cool as we are now next to the Southern Ocean with the wind coming directly from the Antarctic. Windy Harbour is part of D’Entrecasteaux National Park, where we visited the spectacular Nature’s Window. We also had another close call with one of Australia’s most venomous snakes, a brown snake.
The main reason for visiting Bunbury was to play in the annual Australian Veteran Golfers Championships. The tournament was played over four days at four different golf courses – Busselton, Bunbury, Capel and Sanctuary. All the courses were excellent but, unfortunately, the golf did not match up. Siobhan won a nearest the pin prize (2 bottles of wine). Bob only managed to finish in the top 20 of A grade. However, there must have been a slow news day as Bob did make the local newspaper. (Please note that the headline next to Bob’s picture referred to another player !!).