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Thursday, May 31, 2007

When Paddy Hannan discovered gold in the Nullarbor Plain in 1893, it led to one of Australia's great gold rushes. Since then, Kalgoorlie-Boulder has developed into a major service hub for Western Australia's active resource industry. Dominated by magnificent historic architecture, Hannan and Burt Streets have modern cafes, restaurants, accommodation, hotels, clubs and plenty of watering holes.

For eastward train travellers on the trans-continental Indian Pacific, Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the last town encountered for hundreds of kilometres.

The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is Australia's largest Outback City with a population of around 30,000. Once totally separate towns, the area's growth meant the two have come together, but locals will still point out which one they hail from.

One of the outstanding attractions in Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the Super Pit. It really is nothing more than a huge hole in the ground, but a huge and expensive one. It measures 4.8 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and 300 metres deep and over the past 100 years has produced 1000 tonnes of the precious metal. In terms of output, this Golden Mile ranks second only to the Rand Goldfields of South Africa and Canada's Porcupine mine. The Super Pit is floodlit and is worked at night.

Apart from the obvious, gold is used in so many everyday items such as aircraft, camcorders, cameras, CDs, cellular phones, currency, lasers, modems, pacemakers, radar equipment, telephones and on the list goes.

The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall Of Fame is a $25 million interactive and education attraction. It highlights the past, present and future of the industry and conducts underground tours, gold-panning and gold pours.

A cage will lower you 36 metres underground and at the bottom of the pit, measure up against one of the massive trucks.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder has a bawdy past. While the scarlet women and harlots of the goldfields were vilified and demonised in print, they were most welcome to the lonely men living in the tent cities of the desert during the gold rush.

As prostitution flourished, authorities grouped the brothels into one section of town and named it Hay Street, so differentiating it from respectable establishments.

Early in the 20th century there were as many as 25 brothels and as Kalgoorlie grew and prospered, reaction to the houses of ill fame varied greatly. Some believed they made Kalgoorlie a safer place, while others were outraged by the hordes of immoral women.

Prostitution is dying and the three remaining brothels see as many tourists as they do clients. The red-light area has a mix of curious visitors and paying customers.

You can tour the brothel named Langtrees 181 and be taken through various themed rooms, one which includes a shining Holden.

Funtime Two-Up is played at the Recreation Hotel's Sheffield Restaurant. Toss the pennies and learn the historic game on Wednesday and Sunday nights. The ring is laid on grass in the beer garden and a traditional caller gets the game going.

The pub's front bar is popular with miners as barmaids, known as "skimpies", wear G-strings and little tops.

For a good look at Kalgoorlie-Boulder from on high, Jandakot Helicopter tours have six-minute flights over the Super Pit and 15-minute flights around the outskirts of town.


The middle of the Nullarbor Plain


Mining Hall of Fame is open every day between 9am and 4.40pm. Full tours are $24 for adults and $14 for children. Surface tours are $17 and $9.

The Super Pit one-hour guided bus tour costs $5 per person and $10 for a family of four. They run on the third Sunday of every month.

Langtrees 181 one-hour tours are $35. They run every day at 1pm, 3pm and 6pm.

Jandakot Helicopter six-minute Super Pit tours are $60 per person with a minimum of two passengers and $55 per person with 3.15 minute flights are $120 per person with a minimum of two and $110 per person with a minimum of three.

More information

Mining Hall of Fame
Goldfields Highway
Kalgoorlie 6430
Ph: (08) 9026 2700
Fax: (08) 9091 4075

The Super Pit
Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines
Black Street
Kalgoorlie 6433
Ph: (08) 9022 1100
Fax: (08) 9022 1190

Langtrees 181
181 Hay Street
Kalgoorlie 6430
Ph: (08) 9026 2181

Recreation Hotel
140 Burt Street
Boulder 6432
Ph: (08) 9093 2076

Jandakot Helicopters
Kelli Croxford
Kalgoorlie Aero Club
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport
Kalgoorlie 6433
Ph: (08) 9093 3200
Fax: (08) 9093 3169

Kalgoorlie Tourism Office
Kalgoorlie Goldfields Visitor Centre
Kalgoorlie Town Hall
Hannan & Wilson Streets
Kalgoorlie 6433
Ph: (08) 9021 1966
Fax: (08) 9021 2180

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