Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kalgoorlie-Boulder 19-21 August

 Kalgoorlie and Boulder, originally separate towns have merged into a single entity. Kalgoorlie has the major shopping centre and other commercial areas, while Boulder is the site of the major mine known as The Superpit. Both areas have very well preserved buildings reflecting the wealth brought by gold mining for over a century, and the audio tour gives a lot of extra information. For example the Old Federal Hotel in Boulder has at least 3 resident ghosts, and the owner will tell you all about their antics with very little prompting.  We spent about half a day checking out the sights of Kalgoorlieand Boulder as there is plenty to see. The Superpit viewing point gave us a good view of the mine. The Questa Casa brothel has daily tours, but unfortunately we didn't have time to check it out.

Kalgoorlie Town Hall
Plush seating in the upstairs gallery of the Town Hall
Ceiling detail in the Town Hall
Government Buildings. The dome is gilded bright gold
The York Hotel, lavish inside and out
Kalgoorlie Markets Building
Boulder Town Hall
Boulder Streetscape
Boulder Streetscape
The Old Federal Hotel, Boulder. Has 3 ghosts and an old mine shaft was discovered beneath the cellar

The Superpit is a major employer and attraction in town. All workers live locally and work a 7 on 7 off roster with 12 hour shifts. More than 50% of the truck drivers are women, who apparently keep their trucks cleaner and treat them better than the men do. We took a tour of the mine which filled us with heaps of facts which are difficult to recall. I was surprised to learn that before the rock is trucked to the surface it is sampled for gold content and then stockpiled according to quality. The lowest paid job in the mine is the stick picker whose job is to separate out from the rock any old pit props which are brought to the surface. These can't be burnt as they have previously been treated with arsenic - they're stockpiled and re-buried later. The tour took us part way into the pit to give us a better look. We also saw some of their collection of Komatsu trucks and some ore being crushed.
Safety message. Apparently the crushing of this truck is on YouTube
Old pit props excavated from the pit
Below, various views of the Superpit

Lots of ant like trucks at work

One of the larger trucks
David found the golf course which is fairly new and is a top class desert course. As I'm writing this he is out playing, so I don't know his opinion of it yet. Update: it’s a beautiful course but his skills don’t do it justice, although he did get one par in the 9 holes he played. Two of the holes are part of the Nullarbor Links Course which starts in Kalgoorlie and ends in Ceduna, SA. It is the longest course in the world, and possibly the roughest.

We have been camping at Lake Douglas, a free camp about 12 km out of town. It has a massive amount of space, and a generous pile of firewood was available for us to use. The pile will be significantly lower when we leave. We have found one easy way to keep warm at the campfire. Put a small pile of coals under your chair and the warmth goes right through you. Unfortunately you can't do it nowhere there is grass but that's not a problem at Lake Douglas, or many other places in WA either.

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