Kalgoorlie is not necessarily one of Australia’s most famous travel destinations – it’s a lost town in the middle of the desert. Nevertheless, the mining town of Kalgoorlie has a unique atmosphere that is worth a visit.
Kalgoorlie: The Wild West of Australia
When you arrive in “Kal” – as Kalgoorie is called by the locals – it quickly becomes clear: Things are different here compared to the rest of Australia. Trucks, off-road vehicles, miners and gold traders wherever you look. 25 percent of the local population (40,000 inhabitants) work in the mining industry. Many settled in 1893 after gold was discovered in the area.
Things to do
Go to the visitor centre at the end of Hannan Street. In this beautiful old building, you can buy all sorts of souvenirs. You’ll find gold in all forms and shapes and you can also book guided city tours there. For example, one of the tours takes you to an authentic brothel that has been in operation since the Gold Rush (about AUD 20 per person). This is not for everyone, but it’s a tour that you rarely find.
When you’re getting hungry, go to “Relish” for an excellent breakfast or lunch. This cozy little restaurant is located on the main street. The menu offers all sorts of healthy and homemade meals. There’s something for everyone.
Afterwards, you should take enough time to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the city. For example, stroll along Hannan Street, which is lined with historic hotels. It’s actually rare to find this many hotels in one place in Australia. The construction of these hotels is due to the Gold Rush in 1893, which attracted thousands of Australians with women and children hoping to make a fortune. The sad side effect: Many of them died of dehydration since the pipelines with coastal water were only built much later.
A trip into the past of Kalgoorlie
To learn about the history of the gold rush and the living conditions at the time, visit the Goldfields Museum in Kalgoorlie. For just 5 AUD, you can admire a huge collection of gold nuggets, Australia’s first bullion, vintage safes and more. Put yourself in the miners’ shoes and stroll through old houses, visit a restored hotel or look around in an antique shop. Discover old tools, and look at old photos and other curious items. Here you can also find out about the dark part of the history of Kalgoorlie – the relationship between the Aborigines and the settlers. You can easily spend two to three hours at the museum.
Before leaving the museum, you should definitely head up to the lookout. Here you can enjoy a fabulous view of the surroundings and look for your next destination.
The Super Pit Gold Mine
In the shoes of a miner
Australians say it’s “just a big hole”. Well, the Super Pit Gold Mine took our breath away. The gold mine is 600 meters deep, 1.5 kilometres wide and 3.5 kilometres long. Until 1989, there had been 8 underground mines that then were unified. The huge gold mine can even be observed from outer space.
You can watch lorries as tall as houses carrying tons of rocks. At the Hannans North Tourist Mine you can even climb onto one of the trucks and take a picture. The entrance fee is 14 AUD. At the mine, you can explore an old miners’ camp, look at old trucks, visit a bunker that was used in the event of an accident, or even set out with a sieve on the search for great wealth
An original walk
If you haven’t been lucky in fossicking, you shouldn’t be disappointed. A nice gourmet lunch at Just a Little Coffee will cheer you up for sure. Then you can treat yourself to a unique souvenir at Fossick Handmade. In this small, pretty boutique, you find local and handmade products, such as jewellery, beauty products, cards, and home textiles. A great gift for your loved ones at home – or just for yourself.
Later, you can explore the town centre in a slightly different way. The Heartwalk leads past great murals inspired by Aboriginal art. It’s best to get a map at the visitor centre, so you won’t miss anything. End your stay in this special town with a picnic or a walk in Hammond Park. Here you will encounter emus, peacocks, and dozens of kangaroos.
Kalgoorlie has grown to become a big enough town thanks to the gold rush and the mining industry. Other ghost towns in Australia were less fortunate. Maybe we’ll meet there – if you dare to stop.
Updated on the 04/03/2020. Initially published on the 28/02/2019.