Kalgoorlie is a mining town with a long history that contains much of interest to the adventurous traveller. Over a hundred years of mining wealth has produced some beautiful old buildings that house pubs, post offices and general shops.
The largest open cut gold mine in Australia abuts the town, though you are unlikely to notice it except for the mountain of dirt along the mines edge or the reverberations of the daily blast.
Kalgoorlie makes an ideal base to explore the other towns in the region that have an equally rich history.
- Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre, Cnr Hannan and Wilson St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8.30AM-5.00PM, Sa-Su 9AM-12PM. Your best source for free pamphlets, maps and gold encrusted souvenirs.
- From Esperance - TransWa runs 3 buses a week. The services on Wednesday and Friday leave Esperance's Dempster St Bus Station at 8:35AM, arriving Kalgoorlie train station 5 hours later. The Sunday bus leaves at 2PM. It stops at towns along the way including Norseman, Kambalda and Coolgardie.
Kalgoorlie is the end point for three major highways. From Perth, the Great Eastern Hwy is the most direct path (596km, 6-7 hours). From Esperance, the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy (397km, 4.5 hours) connects up with the Great Eastern Hwy about 40km away from Kalgoorlie. A detour via Kambalda on the Goldfields Hwy is slightly shorter. From Leonora, the Goldfields Hwy is a fairly quick drive in from anywhere north (235, less than 3 hrs).
All the highways are sealed. There are frequent food and fuel stops at small towns along the way, except for on the Goldfields Hwy which has only one town, Menzies, along the way which doesn't have fuel at times. It would be a good idea to fill up in Leonora.
Norseman sits at the western side of the Eyre Hwy at the end of the long drive across the Nullabor plain. From here it's 191km north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy to Kalgoorlie.
The small but modern airport (IATA: KGI) is 7km from the center of town and has several daily flights to and from Perth, interstate and a couple of regional centers. Parking can be a problem as the carpark is often full with cars left behind by fly-in/fly-out workers. Taxis wait for every arriving flight and cost around $10 to town. There isn't an airport bus service and the local bus doesn't pass anywhere near the airport.
Kalgoorlie is on the interstate line that sees regular passenger services. The train station is in the main part of town within walking distance of backpackers and some hotels.
- The Prospector. One of the more pleasant ways to get here. The modern train takes about 7 hours from Perth with a few stops along the way. You can board in Perth at either the East Perth Rail Terminal or Midland Train Station. Snacks and drinks are available on board and sometimes there is a movie. Services leave Perth on M-Sa at 7.10AM. An additional afternoon service only on Monday Friday leaves at 3:15PM. Sunday has only one train, departing at 2:15PM $81.55.
- The Indian Pacific, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Operates between Perth and Sydney via Adelaide, with a scheduled three-hour stop in Kalgoorlie.
Most of the town attractions are clustered within walking distance in the centre of town. If you don't have a car it would be worth hiring one to get out to the spots on the outskirts.
All the major rental car companies have booths at the airport. There is a big demand from the mining companies, especially during trade exhibitions so it would be worthwhile to book well in advance. Generally there large sedans and 4WD are the most common type of cat but you might be able to get a hatchback if you are just running about town.
There are plenty of taxis that operate late into the night in the entertainment areas along Hannan St. The usual taxi charges apply.
Three routes of Transperth buses circle around town about every hour during the daylight hours. Weekend services are limited to the mornings. Most useful is route 2 that runs between Kalgoorlie and Boulder. The terminal for all services is at the intersection of Maritana and Hannan St, out the front of the Exchange and Palace Hotels. Timetables and route maps are available on the bus or at the visitors centre.
You don't have to walk too far to see a plethora of historic buildings from different architectural eras. Some of the best examples line the length of Hannan St and adjoining streets. The businesses that occupy them now have preserved the original interiors in varying degrees, through design or neglect.
- Boulder Pioneer Cemetery, Lynch St (50m past the southern roundabout on the Goldfields Hwy). Headstones with a story. Graves of mining pioneers from the early 1900's.
- Herbert Hoover Mirror, Cnr Hannan St and Maritana St (In the Palace Hotel foyer.). An ornately framed mirror given to the hotel in 1898 by Herbert Hoover, later to become the US president. While working as a mine manager in nearby Leonora he frequented the hotel when in Kalgoorlie. He was said to be so smitten with a particular barmaid that on returning to the US he sent the mirror as a token of his affections.
- Kalgoorlie Museum, 17 Hannan St, ☎ . 10AM-4:30PM. The towering framehead that marks the buildings entrance gives a hint that this is no ordinary museum. Gold nuggets and other glittering items are displayed in an underground vault and the second floor is taken up with Indigenous cultural objects, historical artifacts from the early mining days and a collection of crumbling trade union banners in the adjoining British Arms Hotel. A viewing platform on the headframe gives you a good look over the town and yonder. Gold coin donation.
- Paddy Hannan statue, corner Wilson and Hannan St. A replica of the statue of the great man who found a nugget that founded a town. Sit on his knee and have a drink from the water fountain protruding from his water bag like every other visitor has for the past 100 years.
- The Super-pit (Lookout entrance at the end of Outram St, off Goldfields Hwy). Watch trucks lumber in and out of the 3km long hole where most of the towns wealth is extracted. Information boards and a collection of antiquated mining equipment provide a background on the history and processes of the mine.
The past 100 years has seen the activity in the surrounding region flourish and disappear with the whims of gold discoveries, leaving behind a few crumbling scraps of their existence.
- Kanowna, Yari Rd (29km east of Kal). A pair of cemeteries, a length of train platform and the occasional broken whiskey bottle are all that remains of a once thriving town of 12000 that occupies a flat plain pockmarked with abandoned mines. Take a drive around the streets past signs identifying where now invisible stores, hotels and businesses once stood.
Some say there is nothing to do except drink. You can easily prove them wrong without much effort.
- Karkula Bushland Park, Paddington Dr. On the edge of town is an expansive nature reserve filled with Salmon Gums, Blackbutt and the silky pear that gives the park its name. A network of trails criss-cross the main 4km loop that leads uphill to a elevated viewing platform, allowing good views over surrounding plain. Infrequent information boards identify salient tree and plant species. Wildlife tend to stay out of sight, though the flies are annoyingly abundant on warm afternoons. Free.
- St Barbara's Festival. 1-3 December. Various events in celebration of the semi-mythical St Barbara who hid in a mine from her murderous father. The main event is a parade down Hannan St of miners in their building sized dump trucks.
- Questa Casa Brothel Tour, 133 Hay St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you've ever been curious about what goes on in a brothel this could be a good way to answer your questions without all the embarrassment. Questa Casa is said to be the oldest operating brothel in town. You get to see around the facilities, learn about the history and hear the lurid stories of past patrons antics. Tours start at 3pm each day. Adults: $20, Seniors $18.
Kalgoorlie is famous for its gold, and so gold jewellery, nuggets or coins make excellent souvenirs. The business area in and around Hannan Street has a multitude of big name retail outlets and a smattering of local specialist stores.
- Golden Mile Book Store, 264 Hannan St, ☎ . If you walk past the popular fiction and hardcovers you will find a small collection of small-run books on Kalgoorlie history selling for astronomical prices.
- The Little Boulder Sweet Shop, 41 Burt St, ☎ . A bright pink shop with stacked with equally colourful old style lollies and other tasty oddments. If you don't have a sweet tooth, some say the bacon flavoured nuts are tasty.
- Boulder Market Day (Along Burt St & Loopline Park). Every 3rd Sunday, 9:30AM-1:30PM. Stalls of crafty items and a bit of fresh fruit and veg.
There are quite a few good restaurants in the main part of town. Many are attached to motels but there are some fine 'stand alone' ones also. The usual fast food chains are scattered along Boulder Rd.
- Montys Restaurant. 24 hours. In a 100 year old textile warehouse, the restaurant has an assortment of tables, booths and couches under a high roof to accommodate a quiet lunch or a bit group. The food is typical cafe style fare but it is consistently good. They possibly, the best coffee in town.
- Blue Monkey, 418 Hannan St, ☎ . 5AM-10:30PM. A small stylish place with a relaxing alfresco area. Popular with locals. The menu is nothing out of the ordinary but the quality is better than average. The bar with limited beer and wine choices. The breakfasts are large and the coffee is great. $15-30.
- Golden India, 2-3 Central Shopping centre, Wilson St (Corner Wilson and Hannan St), ☎ . Daily. Lunch 11AM-2:30PM, Dinner 5PM-10:30PM. Authentic tasting and well prepared dishes that tend toward subtle spices rather than a full on curry burn. Some say it's a bit salty. Quick service for both dine in and take away. $16-24.
- Krua Thai and Japanese, 84 Hannan St. 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-9:30PM. Authentic taste of both styles, though the Japanese menu wins for number of dishes you can't get anywhere else in town. The $8-15 lunch sets are popular. $7-35.
- Saltimbocca Restaurant, 90 Egan St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 6PM to midnight M-Sa. Licensed restaurant just off the main street that serves good authentic italian cuisine.
- Coles, Cnr Wilson St & Brookman Rd, ☎ . 8AM-5:30PM M-W,Fr-Sa, 8AM-8:30PM Th. Tucked away behind the visitor centre, it has all the things you'd expect.
- IGA 24hr, 18 Maritana St. 24hr daily. A range of basics foods and a little deli counter with some pre-made dishes. Other IGA stores in town are open till 8:30.
- Oriental Gourmet & Seafood, 271 Hannan St, ☎ . A mishmash selection of sauces, spices, noodles and fishballs from all over the Asia map.
- Woolworths, Cnr Wilson St & Brookman Rd. 8AM-5:30PM M-W,Fr-Sa, 8AM-8:30PM Th. A wider variety of fruit and veg than the place across the road.
There are around 25 operating pubs where you can have a 'middy' with the locals.
- Eastern Hotel, 1 Hannan St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM - midnight 7 days. Recently renovated this pub features a cosmopolitan beer garden with acoustic sessions on weekends, a workers bar with skimpys most days at the front of the property, and a PUB TAB betting agency. Great views of the street at dusk, especially from the top verandah.
- Paddy's Ale House Irish Pub, 135 Hannan St, ☎ . An Irish themed pub that also has some good food. Traditional place for after work drinks. The front bar of the Exchange Hotel (where Paddys is located) has skimpys most hours of the day.
- Palace Hotel, 137 Hannan St, ☎ .
- Dome, 149 Hannan St, ☎ . Daily 7AM-6PM. Consistently decent coffee. It's generally packed with breakfasters on weekend mornings, so even if you can find a seat, expect a lengthy wait for your order to come. Long black $3.40.
There are a myriad of places to rest. If you're planning to stay at a motel it may pay to book ahead as they can be filled with fly-in mine workers.
- Gold Dust Backpackers, 192 Hay Street, ☎ . Dorm and single/twin rooms with air-conditioning, swimming pool to beat the summer and open fireplace to bear the winter. Dorms $27-33; Single $39-45.
- Kalgoorlie Backpackers, 166 Hay Street, ☎ . A well maintained place that looks a bit like the home of someone who watches a lot of home renovation shows. The enormous kitchen has everything for you to cook something decent if you've been on the road for too long. Dorms $28; Single $50.
- Surrey House Private Hotel, 8 Boulder Road, ☎ . Budget accommodation right in the centre of town so reduced walking distances.
- All Seasons Plaza, 45 Egan St, ☎ , fax: 08 9091 2195, e-mail: H1884-RE01@accor.com. The name has been changed but the hotel is the same. The rooms feel a bit worn but they are bigger than average and kept clean. Widescreen TVs and iPod dockable alarm clocks are nice recent additions. Price includes free continental breakfast. A$134-190.
- Palace Hotel, 137 Hannan Street, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A historic place to stay has a wide range rooms that feel like a bit of a step down from the grand entry. $55-$250.
- Rydges, 21 Davidson St, ☎ . Stylish rooms a fair step away from the main drag. $169-259.
- Discovery Holiday Park, 286 Burt St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very neat grounds with gravel or concrete sites with a grassed area. The grassy tent sites have clean campers kitchen with a fridge and BBQ. Swimming pool. Powered site $34, tent site $18.
- Prospector Holiday Park, Great Eastern Hwy (Near), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A fairly small park with tree shaded sites. Campers kitchen and swimming pool. $32-$39.
- Golminer Caravan Park, 40 Great Eastern Hwy, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A neat looking set of bays without much shade. The tent sites are overpriced considering that there is not even a swimming pool Powered site $32, tent site $30.
Information and news
- Kalgoorlie Miner. The only one of the towns original newspapers still published. Its glory days are long behind it as it is now a mix upcoming event listings, local news, mundane filler and advertisements for car yards. Get it at supermarkets, service stations and hotels. $1 M-F, $1.40 Sa.
Free wifi can be found at the McDonalds on the corner of Roberts and Boulder Rd. The public library on Roberts Rd has paid internet terminals for $8 per hour.
- Coolgardie - is 40km away and has a couple things to look at.
- Menzies - is almost a ghost town but has the spectacular Lake Ballard and its resident statues nearby.
- Leonora - has a mining museum with exhibits about Herbert Hoover.