The city with a heart of gold – literally – Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the home of the Golden Mile, the richest square mile of gold-bearing earth in the world. These days, the Golden Mile is called the Super Pit, a huge hole in the ground that goes 500m deep, and mining remains as the lifeblood of the community.
The city is the site of Paddy Hannan’s first gold find and the main street in Kalgoorlie is named after him. Hannan Street hasn’t changed much since its construction and there is a statue of Paddy outside the Visitor Centre, offering water from a bubbler.
The discovery of gold at Coolgardie in 1892 and Kalgoorlie in 1893 revived Western Australia’s economy, which had been stagnant for over 60 years. With the hope of finding their fortune, men arrived in the thousands to work in the goldfields, including many single blokes… with needs. At one point, there was about 25 brothels on the Red Light district on Hay Street. There is only one brothel left in town, and it offers tours (of what, we didn’t want to find out).
These days, Kalgoorlie-Boulder is home to 30,000 people and is a vibrant and dynamic city with big supermarkets and major clothing brands. There are several fast food outlets, cafes and restaurants, hairdressers, churches, a huge recreation complex, and even an airport. St Mary’s Church, also known as Kalgoorlie’s Church of Gold, is a heritage listed federation-gothic style church that was built in 1902. Despite the plain exterior, it was beautiful inside with the stained windows and wooden ceiling, and it is rumoured to contain real gold.
The city is surrounded by red dust and is full of beautiful buildings, miners and travellers. A large percentage of the pubs in town are Skimpy Bars, where the girls behind the bar are ‘dressed’ in lacy lingerie or bikinis. It is also an RV Friendly city and offers 24 hour parking at Centennial Park.
Boulder isn’t as commercial as Kalgoorlie. We went to check out the Little Boulder Sweet Shop but ended up finding something much more special right next door – the South African Gourmet Deli, complete with a little imported supermarket and a display case full of jerky, biltong and drywors. We purchased three pieces of drywors because they were so delicious, salty and spiced. YUM!
PLACES OF INTEREST
We were really excited to see this great big hole in the ground so we drove up to the KCGM SUPERPIT Lookout and witnessed a mind-blowing sight. We looked down into Australia’s largest open cut gold mine – a hole 500m deep, 3.8km long and 1.5km wide, resulting from 120 years of digging and spits out $70,000 of gold every hour.
Mt Charlotte Lookout
Mt Charlotte Lookout gives a great view Kalgoorlie-Boulder but is also home to the reservoir that supplies water to the city. There are information boards with the history of the C.Y. O’Connor water pipeline that carries water from a weir near Perth through a 500km steel pipeline to Mt Charlotte. The reservoir was built in 1903 and is the longest potable water steel pipeline in the world.
Beaten Track Brewery
A great little brewery that relies on word-of-mouth for visitors and sales, the owner is more than happy to give you a guided tasting. Check out our post on the Beaten Track Brewery.
Talk a leisurely stroll through the Aboretum and learn about native Australian trees. The walking trails are dotted with plaques that provide information on the nearby flora and help you identify their unique features. The park contains around 50 different species of Eucalypt trees – each a little different and special in their own way.
We accidentally found this park while looking for a BBQ to cook our fish. Inside the gates was a wonderland of miniature Bavarian castles made from local rocks and gems, ornate gazebos and avaries filled with native and exotic birds. There was plenty of open grassed areas for running around, as well as picnic tables, a playground and electric BBQs. A great place to stop for lunch.
TO THE SOUTH
Located 38km south of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie is considered to be the mother of the Goldfields. As the site of the first settlement of the Goldfields, many of the buildings on the main street display the history and heritage of the town and Ben Prior’s Park is an open air museum with old machinery and statues that provide insight into the history of the town. Definitely worth a stop to look around.
Cave Hill & Burra Rock
These granite conservation reserves are great places to camp, with plenty of walking trails, sightseeing and 4WDing. Facilities include picnic tables, toilets and information shelters.
Check out our post on camping at Cave Hill.
Lake Douglas Recreation Reserve
After spending two days in Kalgoorlie Boulder, we slipped out of town and stayed the night at Lake Douglas. The camping area was huge, with lots of bins and concrete picnic tables and nearby drop toilets. At night, you can see the light from Kalgoorlie-Boulder but make sure you bring some insect repellent because the mosquitoes are hungry.
INFORMATION & ACCOMMODATION
Kalgoorlie Boulder Pure Gold Visitor Centre – cnr Hannan & Wilson Streets, 08 9021 1966
If you have a self-contained unit and you only plan to stay overnight, there is free 24-hour parking at Centennial Park. Kalgoorlie Boulder prides itself in being an RV Friendly town so camping is free with no permits required. However, the area is patrolled by rangers so keep your area clean and keep to the limit of 24 hours. You can come back if you want to, provided that you spend one or more nights elsewhere.
Golddust Backpackers YHA – 192 Hay Street, 08 9091 3737