Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a regional city (pop. 30,000) 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, ☎ +61 8 9168 1177 ([email protected]), . M-F 8.30AM-5.00PM, Sa-Su 9AM-12PM. Your best source for free pamphlets, maps and gold encrusted souvenirs.
Kalgoorlie is located approximately 600km east of Perth, 397km north of Esperance and 235km south of Leonora. To the east is the endless desert.
- 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 into a number of towns along the way including Norseman, Kambalda and Coolgardie.
The Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy runs 397km north from Esperance to Coolgardie, from where you can drive the last 38km of the Great Eastern Hwy into Boulder. If you want go directly to Kalgoorlie, you can bypass Coolgardie by taking the Goldfields Hwy via Kambalda.
The Great Eastern Hwy leaves the city and goes through numerous small wheat belt towns and ends in Kalgoorlie 596km later. The road is sealed and well serviced though there are some very empty stretches where it can be more than 100 kilometers until you reach the next fuel pump. Many people drive it in a single day (in 6 hours many claim) but doing it in two, stopping the night in Merredin, will afford you time to visit York, Meckering and some of the Golden Pipeline Trail spots on the way.
Norseman sits at the western side of the Eyre Hwy ending the long drive across the Nullabor plain. From here it's 191km north on the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy to Kalgoorlie.
The airport (IATA: KGI) is about 7km from the center of town and has numerous daily flights to Perth, interstate and regional centers. The airport is small but modern. Parking can be a problem as it is often full with cars left while their owners are are away. 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.
- Qantas, ☎ +61 2 9691 3636, . Qantas flights to Kalgoorlie depart from Terminal 1 at Perth Domestic Airport, and arrive at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport, which is well serviced by taxis. Flying time can be 50-70 minutes in duration, and return flights range from $160-$500. Qantas employs Boeing 737 & 717 aircraft on the Perth-Kalgoorlie route. Depending on the aircraft, it is possible to fly Business Class between Perth and Kalgoorlie.
- Skywest, ☎ +61 1300660088 ([email protected]), . One flight on Monday and Thursday departs Perth at 9AM. On Friday there two departing at 9AM and 5PM. The flight takes about 90 minutes. $137-397.
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, . The most popular way to get in. It takes 7 hours to reach Kalgoorlie from Perth. From Perth you can board at either the East Perth Rail Terminal or Midland Train Station. Snacks and drinks can be bought on board. Services leave 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, . Operates between Perth and Sydney via Adelaide, with a scheduled three-hour stop in Kalgoorlie.
As it is a current mining centre all the rental car companies are represented and have a large number of cars - except they can be all booked up and don't expect too many sports cars or small compacts ; large sedans and utes are the norm. Cars can be hired either at the airport or in town.
There are plenty of taxis in town to get you to any of the tourist spots that are outside the CBD. If you're only visiting Kalgoorlie for a short time most of the attractions in Kalgoorlie are within walking distance of the city centre. A taxi would be useful to go to the lookout at the Superpit.
Goldenlines run a town bus service using ex transperth buses. These buses run around to the extremities of the town as well as to Coolgardie and Kambalda.
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, ☎ 08 9021 8533. 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.
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, ☎ +61 8 90227462. 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, ☎ +61 8 9093 0011. 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.
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.
- Montys Restaurant. 24 hours. In a 100 year old Mongomerys textile warehouse, the restaurant has an assortment of tables, booths and couches under the high roof. The food is typical cafe style but they have possibly the best coffee in town.
- Tessa's Read and Feed, 24 Burt St, ☎ +61 8 9093 3005. A unique Cafe/Bookshop with excellent deserts and hot sandwiches. Perfect for a leisurely lunch, and the owners don't mind if you loiter a few hours amongst the books with a pot of tea. Only open until 4pm.
- Blue Monkey, 418 Hannan St, ☎ +61 8 9091 3833, . A restaurant with an Australian menu (ie native mammals on the menu).
- Danny's Bar & Grill, 14 Wilson St, ☎ +61 8 9022 7614. Owned by Danny Drummond, know to be one of the best chefs in town.
- 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, ☎ +61 8 9022 8028 ([email protected]). 6PM to midnight M-Sa. Licensed restaurant just off the main street that serves good authentic italian cuisine.
Independent travellers might want to take the opportunity restock supplies before heading as your options are limited till you reach Esperance or Perth.
- Coles, Cnr Wilson St & Brookman Rd, ☎ +61 8 90218466. 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, ☎ +61 8 90215794. 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 in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The Palace and Paddy's are right in the middle of Kalgoorlie on opposite corners. The Eastern Hotel sits atop the city at 1 Hannan Street, and affords great views of the street at dusk, especially from the top verandah. They would be the most popular pubs in town but there are many others within walking distance where you can have a 'middy' with the locals.
- Eastern Hotel, 1 Hannan St, ☎ (08) 9021 2426 ([email protected]). 10AM - midnight 7 days. Recently renovated this pub features a cosmopolitan beer garden with accoustic sessions on weekends, a workers bar with skimpys most days at the front of the property, and a PUB TAB betting agency. The popular Perth restaurant The Coolgardie Safe, is opening an outlet in this hotel in February 2008.
- Paddy's Ale House Irish Pub, 135 Hannan St, ☎ (08) 9021 2833. 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, ☎ (08) 9021 2788, .
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, ☎ +61 8 9091 3737, . 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, ☎ (08) 9091 1482, . 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, ☎ 9021 1340. Budget accommodation right in the centre of town so reduced walking distances.
- All Seasons Plaza, 45 Egan St, ☎ +61 8 9021 4544 ([email protected], fax: 08 9091 2195), . The rooms look a bit worn though they are comfortable and clean. The pool right outside the restaurant window is ok if you don't mind swimming in front an audience. Price includes free continental breakfast. A$120-160.
- Palace Hotel, 137 Hannan Street, ☎ (08) 9021 2788 ([email protected]), . A historic place to stay, if for no other reason. $55-$250.
- Rydges, 21 Davidson St, ☎ +61 8 9080 0800, . Stylish rooms a fair step away from the main drag. $169-259.
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 and the public library further down Roberts Rd.
- 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.