When we woke this morning it was 4 degrees and the windows of the ute were completely iced over. After we had hot showers and breakfast, the sun was up and we had the perfect day to explore Kalgoorlie.
The first thing we did was to drive up to the lookout at “the Super Pit”. The Super Pit is one of the world’s largest open cut gold mines, being 3.5 km long, 1.5 km wide and 360 m deep. Haul trucks carry up to 225 tonnes of ore, burn 360 litres of diesel per hour, and travel at 15 kph. Face shovels load 60 tonnes per scoop. The annual production here is 85 million tonnes of ore producing 800,000 ounces of gold valued at $1.2 billion. The Super Pit is managed by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) and operates 24 hours a day, 364 days per year.
Well known WA businessman Alan Bond is credited with getting the Super Pit project underway. He started by consolidating a large number of small mining leases which were in separate hands for nearly a century to the point where it was possible to operate a gigantic and ever-descending super pit, from which gold could be extracted at a much reduced cost. KCGM took over the project in 1989.
The views from the lookout were spectacular.
After that we drove back into the centre of town and visited the Information Centre to get more information about the area and to ask questions about the roads out of Kalgoorlie before we finalised our plans. We then found a rather nice place called Monty’s where we had coffee and cake while we mulled over our next move.
Kalgoorlie is a very interesting, generally well maintained town. There are areas with signs of affluence and some not so good areas and all have a healthy covering of red dust! We decided to go for a long walk around town as you see so much more on foot. There are several very impressive Bronze Statues around town – one being a statue of St Barbara, the Patron Saint of Miners. Another historic statue, now converted to a water fountain, is of Patrick Hannan who discovered gold in Kalgoorlie in 1893. The main street of Kalgoorlie is named after him.
We visited the Western Australian Museum of the Goldfields which was housed behind a giant Mine Head Frame or Poppet Head and we actually caught a lift up to the viewing platform about 2/3 of the way up. It was a great view of Kalgoorlie. There was a light and temperature controlled room which housed the original banners for the Bakers Union, the Tailors and Tailoresses Union, the Carpenters Union and the Engineers Union. All were in very good condition given their age but impossible to photograph.
Ann found a very unusual “art quilt” entitled Remnants of Fever and Fortune.
After quite some time we decided to walk back into town to find somewhere for lunch. Along the way we met Margaret and Nev who we met at Fraser Range Station. They were also looking for lunch so we all walked back to Monty’s for a bowl of soup and bread in the rather comfortable dining room. While we were talking we realised that Ann and Margaret grew up very close to each other in the same suburb in Melbourne. It is a very small world. Margaret and Nev now live in Perth and are on their way home after 16 months on the road!
After lunch we drove around to see more of the town and then returned to the van because while the days are very nice, the nights are freezing.