There’s so much about Kalgoorlie that will come as a surprise for first-time visitors. From the city’s double-barrel title (it’s officially known as Kalgoorlie-Boulder), to the incredible trove of period architecture dating back to the gold rush of the late 1800s, prepare to be amazed as you tap into the rich vein of things to see and do in this rugged Western Australia regional centre. Book your stay at Quality Inn Railway which is conveniently located near the CBD. Here are some options that should be at the top of your Kalgoorlie to-do-list.
1. Dig into Kalgoorlie’s past at the Museum of the Goldfields
Located at the eastern end of the 590-kilometre Great Eastern Highway (which stretches all the way to Perth), Kalgoorlie sits in the heart of WA’s Goldfields Esperance region. The story of the gold rush is a complex one and the must-visit Museum of the Goldfields does a superb job of equipping visitors with a basic knowledge of key timelines and events. Entry is by donation and it’s well worth joining the daily guided tour at 10.30am. If you’re looking for accommodation options nearby, book your stay at Quality Inn Railway, located near the Goldfields Arts Centre.
2. Step back in time on a heritage walking tour
With your newfound knowledge of the gold rush era, it’s time to explore the fascinating town centres of Kalgoorlie and Boulder – which were built on the proceeds of gold, and amalgamated as one city in 1989. The period architecture that dates back to the early 1900s is truly breathtaking. Hire the Kalgoorlie Boulder Audio Walking Tour ($15 for 24 hours) from the Kalgoorlie Boulder Visitor Centre and head off to explore at your own pace. The tour covers fifty heritage sites across the two town centres, including the stunning Kalgoorlie Town Hall – built in 1908 in Federation Free Classical style. Guided tours are conducted Mondays and Wednesdays at 10.30am. The theatre is a delight.
3. Visit the Hannan’s North Tourist Mine
Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hannan is a name you’ll hear a lot of in Kalgoorlie. The Irish prospector is credited with kick-starting the gold rush, and Kalgoorlie remains one of the world’s most famous mining centres to this very day. A visit to the Hannan’s North Tourist Mine not only brings more of the past to life, but also links it with the present. The facility occupies the site of one of the oldest mines in the area, which was worked on and off right up until the early 1990s. There’s plenty to see on the self-guided tour, including the opportunity to pan for gold, and climb on board a massive 793C Mining Truck.
4. See the Super Pit
You’ll see metal monsters (like the one in the image below) in action in the Super Pit – located immediately west of Kalgoorlie’s city centre. Encompassing what was once a series of mines along the famed Golden Mile, this 3.5-kilometre-long and 1.5-kilometre-wide open pit gold mine produces upwards of 800,000 ounces of gold each year. It’s possible to do a mine tour, but if you’re short on time you can pretty much get the picture from the lookout located at the end of Outram Street in Boulder.
5. Get arty at the Goldfields Arts Centre
The Kalgoorlie Town Hall’s wonderful theatre is a hint of the historic importance of culture to this remote outback community. It’s a tradition that continues at the Goldfields Arts Centre – the region’s premier arts space and home to one of Western Australia’s most prestigious regional art galleries. The multi-functional centre stages a diverse annual program of live performance, exhibitions and special events. Check the website for current listings, including theatrical productions, music, comedy and dance. Most exhibitions staged at the gallery are free of charge.
6. Pack a picnic and head to Hammond Park
Located on the north-eastern side of Kalgoorlie, Hammond Park is a tranquil oasis and popular recreational spot with local families and visitors alike. The park is home to a variety of furry and feathered locals, including some fairly feisty peacocks. Pack a picnic and nab a shady spot on the lawn. There are well maintained barbeque facilities on hand, along with a kids’ play area, and quite randomly, a miniature Bavarian Castle to admire.
7. Support the Royal Flying Doctor Service
A visit to Kalgoorlie is a reminder of the vast distances involved in traversing Australia’s incredible outback. The Royal Flying Doctor Service established a base here in 1937 and continues to play a vital role in the lives of locals. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitor Centre at the airport to learn more. You’ll have the option of doing a guided tour of the working base (including a look inside one of the state-of-the-art aircraft if available). The gold coin entry fee and tour cost are a small but meaningful way to contribute to the service’s work.
8. Try a local brew at Beaten Track Brewery
If there was ever a spot to indulge in a chilled beer, Kalgoorlie would be it. The early prospectors certainly felt that way, and the gold rush saw beer brewing flourish in the region. Drop into Beaten Track Brewery in South Boulder, which brews a range of craft beers with names like Packhorse Pale Ale and Gibb River Rye. Invest in a six-beer tasting paddle and a house-made pizza.
9. See the wildflowers
There are some 12,000 species of flowering flora that call Western Australia home. The Goldfields Wildflower Trail extends from Perth all the way to Kalgoorlie and thousands of visitors flock to the region each spring to see the landscape decorated with delicate blooms. For those basing themselves in Kalgoorlie to see the wildflowers, the Visitor Centre offers maps and information on the best viewing locations.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.