Goldfields museum, Hannas
North Tourist Mine, Super pit lookout, HammondPark, Two-up school, Loopline rail
tour, Museum of the goldfields, War museum, Sex industry museum,
Kalgoorlie Miner / Western Argus, British Arms Hotel, Palace Hotel, Hannan's statue, Town Hall, Government buildings.
Buildings of note
Town Hall - Burt St. 1908, Court
House - Burt St. 1900, St. Joseph?s - Moran St. 1905, Palace Chambers - Maritana St.
1900, Trades Hall - Porter St. 1900, Kalgoorlie Racecourse - Hannan St.
c1900, Government buildings 1896, Old Mechanics Institute 1896, Town Hall,
Kalgoorlie Miner Building c1900, City Markets 1901, Kingdom Hall, Exchange
Hotel, York Hotel 1901, St. Mary's cathedral 1896, Victoria Park rotunda
1903, Masonic lodge 1899, Chamber of mines 1895, railway station 1896,
Kingdom hall 1900, Cremorne theatre 1911, Semaphore chambers 1899, Trades
hall 1900, Palace theatre 1937, Boulder town hall 1907
Calendar of events
February: Undies 500, Star gazing night.
Fair. April: Mining games. June: Bike classic. September:
Race Round. Two up championship, Boulder and Kalgoorlie Cups.
October: Mining expo. December: Mining and community festival.
located in the the world's largest electorate which goes all the way north
Kalgoorlie has several possible origins. It may be derived from an Aboriginal word, galgurli
meaning silky pear or may mean 'dog chasing kangaroo'. It could also mean
three lines shaped like a fork 'Y" or even may have originated from the
Aboriginal word kalgoorliegunyah that is said to mean 'water from trees at
the meeting of tracks'.
Boulder got its name from George Brookman who named his mining
lease The Great Boulder after a small mine he had worked at Dashwood?s Gully
in South Australia.
The first explorer through the area was
H.M. Lefroy in 1863 and a later
expedition in 1868 also failed to detect the riches which lay just below,
and sometimes on, the surface. Gold was discovered in 1893 by
(One version of the story says that it was due to a thrown horse shoe which forced
the party to camp overnight 20km
short of their intended destination but this version has not been supported
by interviews conducted later with Hannan and Flannagan.
) They discovered several good nuggets
and soon other discoveries were made in the area now known as 'The Golden
A huge gold rush ensued but the main problems were the isolation and the
lack of water in the area. At one point water was costing more than the gold
that the miners sought. Some mines sank shafts below 200 feet and found not
gold but water. This turned out to be a good thing as water was so scarce
that one mine regularly sold 25,000 gallons of water per day.
Another precious commodity was fire wood as it took 1 ton of wood to extract
every 2 tons of ore. Woodcutting was (after mining) the second most
important occupation on the goldfields.
Two strikes by woodcutters in 1908 and 1916 brought the mines to a close for
some time. The woodcutters were asking for an increase of 3p per ton and
when 3000 miners had been out of work for nearly 3 weeks, the mines gave in
and the woodcutters got their increase.
While it was Hannan who discovered the alluvial gold, it was George Brookman
(who arrived quite late on the field) who discovered the greatest
concentration of gold.
Brookman and his partner S.W. Pearce were dismissed by other miners as
inexperienced ?new chums?. They came from South Australia, sent over by a
syndicate of 10 people to search for gold on the new fields.
the 'old hands' they were looking in all the wrong places, places
where there was lots of iron stone, when everyone knew that quartz was the
?mother of gold?. Pearce stated that within half an hour of first looking
for gold he managed to locate some small nuggets but the men were looking
for something more substantial. They re-located their campsite to an area
that had by that stage been un-touched. In Pearce's words there were 'big
blows of iron' and he found 'a big north and south formation of
quartzine and iron, enclosed in diorite walls and gold showing freely in
every stone broken or picked up.' The men were almost in the middle of
what today is known as the 'Golden Mile' and their find was to become the
Brookman brought out crushed ore that to the naked eye
showed little or no sign of gold, but when assayed it was found to have 8oz
to the ton.
Despite making enough to retire comfortably on, Sam Pearce was to follow the
trail of gold for the rest of his life. He was never again to find the kind
of ground he discovered at Kalgoorlie. At the age of 80 he was still living
in a tent working a small lease in South Australia. He died in the Adelaide
hospital in 1932.
Despite Pearce and Brookman?s discovery of the major gold producing area in
Kalgoorlie, it was Hannan that was to be remembered with a statue in the
Despite the hardships suffered by the miners, theft was quite rare on the
goldfields. Each miner was in the same position and the property of other
miners was generally respected.
If there was a theft it was usually someone passing through and when the
miners held an impromptu inquiry the culprit was usually uncovered. Summary
justice then took place with small thefts resulting in the loss of an ear
lobe and larger thefts like the taking of gold, resulted in the loss of an
ear. Thus marked, the offender would be unlikely to repeat the offence and
they were quickly driven off the goldfields.
Alexander MacDonald (a Scottish writer) wrote in his book 'In Search of El
"When my party stepped from the train at Kalgoorlie, we saw before us a
scattered array of wooden and galvanised iron houses...In the near distance
we could see the towering poppet heads of the widely known Great Boulder
mine, and the din created by the revolving hammers of the ever active
stamping machinery assailed our ears as an indescribable uproar. But beyond
the dust and smoke of these Nature-combating engines of civilisation, the
open desert, dotted with its stunted mulga and mallee growths, shimmered
back into the horizon."
At its height it is believed that Kalgoorlie reached a population of 30,000
people who were entertained in no less than 93 pubs which were supplied by 8
Mining has always been a dangerous occupation and not just because of rock
falls, dangerous gases, explosives and accidents with machinery. In 1925
Silicosis was finally recognised as a condition caused by the dust inhaled
by miners. A Workers Compensation act was proclaimed in parliament and
miners affected were no longer made to work underground.
Lung damage from the dust (especially from quartz) led to other complaints
like tuberculosis. As T.B. is infectious it readily spread from one miner to
The First World War saw mining decline in Kalgoorlie and by the 1920s the
costs associated with extracting gold were steadily rising. Mines across the
goldfields were closing and even the big mines were processing much less
As bad as it was, Kalgoorlie was far better off than other Australian
goldfields and by the end of the 1920s it was still producing 80% of all
When the Wall Street crash triggered the Great Depression of the 1930s,
Kalgoorlie was one of the few places that benefited. The gold price soared
and Kalgoorlie flourished while the rest of the world floundered.
In 1931 the Golden Eagle, a nugget weighing 70 pounds, was discovered and
seemed to hail the success of Kalgoorlie even in the midst of a world wide
Tension between miners of English background and those of Italian and
Yugoslav origins boiled over in 1934 after a young man named Jordan was
killed after an altercation with an Italian barman named Claudio Mattaboni.
A full blown riot started and
many businesses and homes were looted or destroyed. At least two deaths were
said to have occurred during the troubles.
The Second World War saw another slump in mining as miners enlisted and went
overseas to fight. Some returned after the war but the heart seemed to have
gone out of the area and a slow and steady decline was to follow.
Worse followed in the 1950s with the Korean War triggering high inflation
and the cost of mining became almost prohibitive.
By the 1970s most mines had closed down and the few that remained open were
re-working old ground. At the same time nickel was in demand and miners were
moving away to mines at
In 1973 the last two surviving mines merged and though the price of gold
rose in 1974, inflation kept mining costs high. By 1975 it looked as though
the goldfields were finished. The gold subsidy (of 1954) had been abolished
and hundreds of miners had been laid off.
The Australian Newspaper reported on September 6th 1976: 'Kalgoorlie
died, aged 83, last week...' But it seems as though reports of her death
were grossly exaggerated.
Then when it looked as though all was lost, an investment of $8 million and
the creation of the Kalgoorlie Mining Associates (March 1976) breathed new
life into the area.
Fate it seemed, was against the deal and the gold price continued to fall.
Just when the last mine was about to close the Australian dollar was
devalued and the gold price soared by $22 an ounce.
By 1980 gold was at record values and even the low grade ore from Mt.
Charlotte (the last surviving mine) was returning a profit and shareholders
got a dividend for the first time in 11 years. The Golden Mile (actually an
area 4 kilometres long, 1.2 kilometres wide and 1.5 kilometres deep) was
It was about this time that Alan Bond first took an interest in the
goldfields and decided to start buying up key leases on the Golden mile with
the idea of removing the surface workings and creating a large open cut
mine. He was not the first to have the idea of amalgamating the leases but
he was the first to set about actually doing it.
Many lease holders were reluctant to sell, and some saw a good chance at
making a big windfall from their sale. The last ?hold out? was Poseidon
which eventually sold out to Bond for a sum reported at $375 million.
Bond had gambled on the gold price remaining high and although he achieved
his ambition of amalgamating the Golden Mile leases he had paid too high a
price. By 1989 he was looking for a buyer and Poseidon was waiting in the
The Super Pit that exists today produces gold ore of very low quality but
because modern extraction methods are very effective and gold prices are
very high, it manages to make a very healthy profit. It was first opened in
1989 and since that time has produced over 50 million ounces of gold. It
takes around 7 loads of ore in a haul pak truck to produce 2 ounces of gold.
Kalgoorlie was first proclaimed in 1895 and Boulder in 1897. Kalgoorlie is a
popular tourist destination, but is surrounded by some of the ugliest
countryside in the state.
Today water for the town is supplied from Perth via a pipeline. It?s
designer was said to have committed suicide when the water was turned on and
nothing happened. The legend says that he forgot that it would take a while
to get from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The folk law version is not only incorrect,
but it tells us little about the man concerned. O?Connor certainly took his
own life but the reasons were somewhat more complex.
It was only a matter of weeks after
C.Y. O?Connor took his life that pumping
trials began and water finally reached the goldfields on January 16th 1903.
It had taken less than 5 years to complete the pipeline and get it working.
The pressure and criticism that had hounded O'Connor to his grave was
completely unwarranted and the present town owes much to the skill of a
Boulder, which lies 5km south of Kalgoorlie, is now incorporated into the
main settlement and it is administered as one entity. Boulder was originally
surveyed in 1896 and within a few years there were no fewer than 34 hotels
servicing the population.
An early bard penned about Boulder:
Dusty, dirty, dim and dowdy,
Thirsty throats to mock.
Can't mistake her,
Good drought slaker,
Six pubs to the bloomin' acre,
That's the Boulder Block. "
prospectors had a rough time and most who arrived in W.A. with dreams of
striking it rich, were to leave with less than the came with. Another
disgruntled anonymous prospector wrote:
Land of politicians silly
Land of dust and willy willy
Land of blanket tent and billy
Land of dingos, dagoes, flies
Blighted hopes and blighted eyes
Art thou hell in Earth?s disguise?
I could some stories of thee tell
What matter now, to thee farewell
Thou dirty sunburned land of hell
always been a tough game and miners have always worked and played hard. The
town has been known both for the number of hotels and the number of brothels
catering to the miners needs. Currently gold production is about 70 % of
Australia?s total output.
The town owed (and still owes) much of its continued success to C.Y.
O?Connor whose skill saw the construction of a water pipeline from
Mundaring (in the hills near Perth) to the goldfields.
It took us a long time to get to see Kalgoorlie but in the end it was worth
waiting for. A surprisingly modern town as far as shopping and facilities
are concerned, Kalgoorlie still retains much of its mining days charm. There
is plenty to see and do around the area including Hannan's North tourist mine
which will give you a good insight into what underground mining is like.
and true: Ghostly cat?
historic house Jack Tree, the curator, felt
that he was being bitten on the ankles but could see nothing to account for
the sensation. He said that it felt like being bitten by a cat or small dog.
During the work the body of a very flat cat was found under the building. It
may have been there since the 1890s. Once the cat had been removed there
were no more reports of bitten ankles.
tale of all
I have read
many sad tales of people who perished in the Australian outback but this
particular one seems to me to be the saddest of them all.
Day 1915 a little old lady (Mrs Margaret Quinn) arrived at the Kalgoorlie
train station from Perth. She had just completed the long sea journey from
Scotland to Australia as she wanted to see her son for Christmas. He was
working 32 kilometres from Kalgoorlie at Bulong as the local school teacher
but due to a mix up in communications he was unaware that his mother had
arrived and was waiting for him to pick her up just a few kilometres away
from where he was having a quiet Christmas drink with some friends.
The old lady
waited until around mid-day and finally deciding that her son was not coming
she asked directions to Bulong and decided to walk there as she had come all
the way over just to spend Christmas Day with him.
She was told
how to get to Bulong but was also warned to keep to the track and someone
suggested she not attempt to walk there on her own. Hiring a horse and cart
to take her was too expensive so she decided to press on and walk.
A day or so
later someone mentioned to her son that his mother had been in Coolgardie
and left with the intention of reaching Bulong but her son had not seen her.
A search was organised but it took several more days to locate her and by
that time she had died of thirst. She was found 16 Kilometres from
Kalgoorlie and 6 kilometres off the track to Bulong.
It is hard not
to imagine the fear and pain she experienced when she realised she was lost
in the great Australian outback, all because she had wanted to spend
Christmas with her son.
underground miners had gathered up quite a nice little pile of stolen gold
and they decided it was time to sell it. They got the name of someone who
was willing to purchase it and were offered a price of 600 pounds, that they
In a hurry to
do the deal they swapped the gold fro cash only to find on their return to
their camp that only the top 5 pound note of each of the wads of cash they
had been given was genuine. They had swapped their gold for just 30 pounds.
In their anger they reported the fraud to the local police but must have
come to their senses and quickly disappeared from the goldfields.
Walsh and Detective Sergeant Alexander Pitman were reported missing in April
1926. Their job was to investigate gold theft and fears were held for
their safety when nothing was heard from them for some time.
fears were realised when their burned and mutilated remains were found down
an abandoned mine shaft. After a lengthy investigation William Coulter and
Phillip Treffene were tried for the murders, convicted and executed. Evan
Clarke who had apparently been involved in disposing of the bodies turned
King's evidence and managed to save himself.
attraction in Kalgoorlie that gives you the chance to pan for gold, go 120
metres down into an old gold mine and watch gold ingots being poured is
Hannan's North. I had the feeling that there could have been a bit more to
this in the way of information about the various buildings on the site but
it was fascinating to wander round through the old gold field relics. There
is a large exhibit opening in October 2001 (miners hall of fame) which will
add more value to the site. By far the best part of this attraction was the
time underground getting a small taste of what life is like for miners.