Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a regional city (pop. 30,000 in 2018) in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. 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, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-noon. 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 (596 km, 6-7 hours). From Esperance, the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy (397 km, 4½ hr) connects up with the Great Eastern Hwy about 40 km 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 km, less than 3 hr).
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 191 km north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy to Kalgoorlie.
- 1 Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport (KGI IATA) (7 km from the centre of town). The small but modern airport has several daily flights 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.
- 1 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. Onboard conditions are similar to economy class in an airliner, except that extra leg room is provided instead of free meals. Snacks and drinks can be purchased in the buffet car and there is a seat back digital entertainment system. Services leave Perth on M-Sa at 7:10 AM. An additional afternoon service only on Monday and Friday leaves at 3:15 PM. Sunday has only one train, departing at 2:10 PM. Similar departure times apply to services from Kalgoorlie to Perth. $93.70.
- The Indian Pacific, ☏ , toll-free: 1800 703 357, email@example.com. Operates between Perth and Sydney via Adelaide, with a scheduled three-hour stop in Kalgoorlie on the eastbound service. This train now runs only once weekly in each direction (passing through Kalgoorlie westbound on Friday nights, and eastbound on Sunday nights), and offers only platinum and gold class sleeper cabin accommodation. Although transcontinental passengers on this train may be able to organise a stopover in Kalgoorlie, those wishing to travel only between Perth and Kalgoorlie or vice versa should take The Prospector instead.
- 2 Kalgoorlie railway station, Forrest St.
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.
- 1 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 1900s.
- 2 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.
- 3 The Western Australian Museum — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 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.
- 4 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.
- 5 The Super-pit (Lookout entrance at the end of Outram St, off Goldfields Hwy). 7AM-7PM. Watch trucks lumber in and out of the 3km long hole where most of the town's wealth is extracted. Information boards and a collection of antiquated mining equipment provide a background on the history and processes of the mine. You can call 08 9022 1100 to find out planned blasting times.
- 6 Hannans North Tourist Mine, off Goldfields Highway. 9AM-4PM. One of the early mine sites is now an open-air museum with many mining buildings, machinery and exhibits. $14.
- 7 Mount Charlotte Reservoir and Lookout, off Goldfields Highway. The reservoir is the end of a remarkable series of pipes and pumps that brought fresh water to Kalgoorlie. As well as a bit of information, the site on the hill is also the best lookout over Kalgoorlie city.
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.
- 8 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 4-km 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, ☏ , 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.
- 1 Montys Restaurant. 24 hours (may have limited hours nowadays). In an early 20th-century 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.
- Cava Restaurant, 90 Egan St, ☏ . Daily 10AM to 9PM. Licensed restaurant just off the main street that serves flavourful tapas and slow cooked meats.
- 2 Balcony Bar and Restaurant, 137 Hannan St, ☏ . Daily 4PM to Late. Modern Australian cuisine overlooking the main street, located in the historic Palace Hotel.
- Coles, Cnr Wilson St & Brookman Rd, ☏ . M-W F Sa 8AM-5:30PM, Th 8AM-8:30PM. 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 8:30PM.
- 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. M-W F Sa 8AM-5:30PM, Th 8AM-8:30PM. 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, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10AM - midnight. 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.
- 1 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.
- Surrey House Private Hotel, 8 Boulder Road, ☏ . Budget accommodation right in the centre of town so reduced walking distances.
- 1 Ibis Styles (formerly All Seasons Plaza), 45 Egan St, ☏ , fax: , H1884-RE01@accor.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. 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 additions. Price includes free continental breakfast. $120-190.
- Palace Hotel, 137 Hannan Street, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, ☏ , email@example.com. Stylish rooms a fair step away from the main drag.
- Discovery Holiday Park, 286 Burt St, ☏ , 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.
- 2 Prospector Holiday Park, 9-11 Ochiltree Street, Somerville (Corner of the Great Eastern Highway), ☏ , toll-free: 1800 800 907, email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Accommodation is varied and caters for families, couples and single travellers as well as caravan and camping sites for those on the road. The children are well catered for with a swimming pool and playground, whilst the camp kitchen and BBQ facilities are a social meeting point for our caravan and camping guests. $38-215.
- 3 Golminer Caravan Park, 11 Atbara Street, Somerville, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. The park caters for tourists seeking overnight accommodation in air conditioned chalets and cabins, as well as caravan and camping sites, including sites for large motorhomes. Powered, ensuite and tent sites are available with special weekly rates on offer if you decide to stay a little longer. Facilities include BBQs and gas swap or refill. Goldminer Caravan Park has plenty of shade and clean ablutions and laundries. $29-139.
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 40 km away and has a couple of 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.
|Routes through Kalgoorlie-Boulder|
|Perth ← Southern Cross, Merredin, Northam ←||W E||→ Rawlinna, Loongana, Cook, Tarcoola → Port Augusta|