A frontier mining town that has refused to lay down and die, Kalgoorlie and its sister city, Boulder, remains one of the most prosperous rural mining cities in Australia.
With the nearby locality of Boulder and surrounding suburbs it forms one local government area, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. With a current approximate population of 30,000, Kalgoorlie is the largest urban centre in the Goldfields-Esperance region.
Places, famous or infamous, that Kalgoorlie is noted for include its water pipeline, designed by C. Y. O'Connor, which brings in fresh water from Mundaring Weir near Perth; its Hay Street brothels (the street itself was apparently named after Hay Street, Perth); its two-up school; the goldfields railway loopline; the Kalgoorlie Town Hall; the Paddy Hannan statue/drinking fountain; the Super Pit; and Mt. Charlotte lookout. Its main street is Hannan Street, named after the town's founder. One of the infamous brothels has since been turned into a museum and is a major national attraction.
Where is it?: 597 km east of Perth via Great Eastern Highway.
Getting there: For eastward train travellers, on the trans-continental Indian Pacific service, Kalgoorlie is the last town encountered for hundreds of kilometres before entering the vast expanse of the Nullarbor Plain. The Prospector train, run by Transwa, provides daily services to Perth.
Climate: Kalgoorlie has a dry climate with hot summers and cool winters. The average annual rainfall is 260mm on an average of 65 days and, while the average rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, there is considerable variation from year to year.
Hannan Street: Kalgoorlie’s Hannan Street, between Wilson and Porter Streets, is one of Australia’s finest heritage precincts, offering a treasure trove of Federation-era architecture. From the late 1890s through to 1910, Hannan Street was transformed from a dusty track into a sophisticated boulevard, lined with shops, hotels and government buildings, and served every few minutes by a tram network that was then Australia’s most modern. During this period of transformation, Hannan Street was one of the most photographed streets in regional Australia, captured repeatedly by the likes of the great goldfields photographer J.J. Dwyer, whose images are the subject of several books.
The Super Pit: A giant open cut gold mine approximately 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and 360 metres deep. The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The mine blasts at 1pm every day, unless the prevailing winds would carry the dust over the town. Every now and again the digging reveals an old shaft containing abandoned equipment and vehicles from the earlier mines. The lookout is perched on the rim of The Super Pit.
Hammond Park: A lush green oasis housing a diverse range of activities to suit the whole family. Enjoy the walk through the park to an animal sanctuary, where you can get up close and personal to kangaroos, emus and peacocks. Hammond Park is also home to the City's impressive miniature Bavarian Castle that is said to have 40,000 gemstones decorating the facade. Location: Memorial Drive, Kalgoorlie.
Karlkurla Bushland Park: This park comprises 200 hectares of natural regrowth bushland, along with over 2,000 trees and shrubs planted by community volunteers in 2000. ‘Karlkurla’ (pronounced gull-gurl-la) is the local Aboriginal word for the Silky Pear, one of the many native bushes, trees and small plants that can now be enjoyed while strolling along the park’s 4-kilometre walk trail. Located at the end of Nankiville Road in the suburb of Hannans, the park is open year round, and is popular with bushwalkers and picnickers.
Hannans North Tourist Mine
No visit to Kalgoorlie is complete without a visit to Hannans North Tourist Mine, one of the first registered mines in Kalgoorlie. The history of the mineshaft at Hannans North and its evolution into a tourist mine began in the early days of Kalgoorlie’s gold rush and continues today.
The Australian Prospectors & Miners' Hall of Fame: was founded in 1995 as a memorial to the men and women who have made a significant contribution to the mining industry, its communities and environment in Australia. The Australian Prospectors & Miners' Hall of Fame now exists as a virtual or web-based resource where it recognises and provides information on the heritage of prospectors and miners from all parts of Australia. Some aspects of the Australian Prospectors & Miners' Hall of Fame, such as plaques honouring the inductees, continue to be housed at the Goldfields Institute of Technology, while heritage tours and the historic Hannan’s North Tourist Mine is now co-ordinated by KCGM Community Relations in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Ph 0412 884 427.
Kalgoorlie Royal Flying Doctor Service Centre: located at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport, the Centre gives you the chance to find out what it’s really like to be a Flying Doctor, both now and many years ago. Hear about how the RFDS works in Western Australia and the different ways it helps patients living right across this vast State. Guided tours include information on how the RFDS operates today and a look back at the courage and determination of its founder, Reverend John Flynn, who started the service in 1928. The Kalgoorlie Base maintains the visitor centre as well as an administration office and hangar facilities at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport. For all enquiries please call: (08) 9093 7500.
Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail
In the 1890s CY O’Connor engineered a pipeline to carry freshwater from Mundaring Weir to arid goldfields 560 kilometres to the east, the longest freshwater pipeline on earth. Today, this well-signposted 650 kilometre drive trail commemorates this engineering feat by following the water supply pipeline from Mundaring Weir in the Perth Hills through the golden expanses of the wheatbelt to the Mount Charlotte Reservoir overlooking Kalgoorlie. A guidebook about the trail is available for purchase from the National Trust of Australia (WA) - (08) 9321 6088 -and the Golden Pipeline website | 3 Day Drive summary.
Kanowna Heritage Trail
A ghost town in the Goldfields region, located about 20 km east of Kalgoorlie. After the discovery of gold in the area in 1893, the population rose to over 12,500 by 1899. However, the alluvial gold supply was rapidly exhausted, and underground mines following the outcropping vein produced decreasing amounts of gold, resulting in a slow but steady decrease in the population. The train station platform, two cemeteries and mine workings are all that is left of the original town of Kanowna. Signs erected by the Kalgoorlie Historical society mark the sites of significant buildings.
The Goldfields Quest Discovery Trail
A self-drive adventure for those ready to experience the Outback and one of the world's most famous gold-producing regions. Running from Coolgardie to Laverton, the trail winds through 25 interpretive sites recording the lively and fascinating history, flora and fauna of the landscape. The trail passes through a number of key contemporary and historical mining towns, the fascinating Gwalia ghost town and visit Lake Ballard with its extraordinary sculptures that rise from the remote salt lake.
Though the gold rush days are well and truly over,there is still plenty of gold in the ground throughout the Goldfields region, which is renowned for prospecting and fossicking. To prospect in WA each person requires a Miners Right. Kalgoorlie Tours and Charters has a tour that will show the visitor how to prospect for Gold. For up to date information and assistance on gold prospecting, contact: The Department of Mines and Petroleum Kalgoorlie Office Ph. (08) 9021 9499.
It is important to note that gold prospecting and fossicking cannot be carried out in national parks, nature reserves, on Aboriginal land and heritage sites, within townsites or other classified areas such as cemeteries. You must seek permission from the landowner to enter private property, such as farmland.
Coolgardie was once the third largest town in Western Australia, only Perth and Fremantle were bigger. Today it is almost a ghost town.
The dramatic rise of fall of this iconic goldmining town is told series of historical markers placed at various intervals within the township giving a well documented account of Coolgardie's history. Each group of markers described the immediate site as it was when Coolgardie was the capital of the Goldfields and is usually accompanied by a photograph from that period. A comparison of the photographs and the present day scene give a vivid account of the drastic changes and destruction which has taken place. An index to all the markers is located in the main street next to the Goldfields exhibition.