A friend of mine moved to Kalgoorlie earlier this year to take advantage of a massive influx of well paid Government positions due to a skill shortage. She loves it…so much so that she has purchased a lovely property overlooking a lovely park and now her lovely fiance has moved to “Kal” as well.
That got me thinking! My family has a distant connection to the Goldrush days, and the Goldfields, as migrants from Italy, but as soon as they could afford to, they moved to Perth. I always imagined Kalgoorlie and all of the other Goldfield towns to be places to make money, set yourself up for life and then get out as quick as you can. A hotbed of FIFO workers and their Hi-Vis attire but not much else. So, I decided to have a hunt around for things to do and experience in and around Kalgoorlie-Boulder, expecting my search to be brief and my findings able to be counted on one hand…I was wrong.
Obviously there are the well known attractions such as the Fimiston Super Pit & KCGM Super Pit Lookout, the Paddy Hannan replica Statue sitting solo in the middle of the road with a drinking spout coming out of his waterbag to refresh weary travellers (the original Statue has been refurbished and moved to the Hall of Fame and did not have the water fountain), Hannan’s North Tourist Mine and all the associated Museums, Hall of Fame etc…but I was looking for something a little more…quirky? Different? Something that would appeal to a greater audience than folks into mining and gold.
I came across a few more standard, although brilliant attractions including the Goldfields War Museum showcasing the community’s contribution to conflicts in which Australia has been involved (and there are many), the Royal Flying Doctor Service, established in 1937 who regularly conduct tours of their Base for tourists and the Museum of the Goldfields; a branch of the Western Australian Museum who have a range of amazing exhibitions throughout the year.
And, then it started…a glimmer of quirkiness! The blush of pink corrugated iron marking the “starting stalls” of Questa Casa – The Pink House! The last remaining and only original brothel remaining in Kalgoorlie and yes, it is still operational. You can even join a tour through the premises if you wish to experience the wicked wonders of the infamous Hay Street as it was back in the goldrush days.
The weirdness continued when I read about the “Worlds Tallest Bin Park” and thought…wait a minute, what could that be. Well, it is exactly what it says…Kalgoorlie’s self-proclaimed “World’s Tallest Bin” and it is in a park. Hmmm! There are several other parks around Kal such as Hammond Park which I’m told by my friend who lives over the road is great for families and get-togethers, the Kalgoorlie Arboretum which is known as a good place for bird watching and the Karlkurla Bushland Park offering 200 hectares of regrowth bushland and walking trails.
As with any country town, their sense of community produces a range opportunities to celebrate and Kalgoorlie is certainly no different with the Kalgoorlie Cup being the biggest of the festivities. The Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum and associated celebrations would probably be the best known to us City Folk but the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (CKB) also rocks down to St. Barbara’s Festival and Parade as well as the Multicultural Festival of Kalgoorlie celebrating a great array of Nationalities and Ethnicities.
Then another burst of colour hit me as I was looking at the Colonial & Goldrush architecture which abounds in central Kalgoorlie; Street Art! Yes, more street art than you can poke a stick at including a Stormie Mills in the carpark of the Goldfields Art Centre. It makes the laneway art of Melbourne look like finger drawings. Check out the Heartwalk website for all the details. The range of artists is really impressive and their individual styles and messages really made me stop and think…maybe I’ve been wrong about Kalgoorlie. Maybe, just maybe, my friend has got it right and Kalgoorlie is a great place to live.
Now, this type of town and holiday is not for everyone, I know, but for travellers really wanting to experience the isolation of Outback Australia and the incredible history of our Colonial past and the even more incredible history and culture of our continent’s First People…a Goldfields is the trip for you.
So…next long-weekend, my partner and I may just have to fly with Qantas or Virgin Australia to Kalgoorlie to see and experience all this first hand. We have been invited and, afterall, her house does look over a park. I’ll keep you posted.