If grey nomads set out on the Big Lap of Australia in search of adventure, variety, history, and a smattering of unpredict­ability … then they’ll strike gold in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The West Australian gold mining city, situated some 600 kilometres northeast of Perth along the Great Eastern Highway, offers visitors an authentic glimpse into Australia’s rugged past, and a fascinating insight into a mining area’s unique culture. Things are done a little differently here!

Founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn gold rush, the city which now has a permanent population of around 30,000, is certainly not for those who are faint of heart.

While the giant mining conglomerates have moved in to replace the ragtail bunch of renegades and fortune seekers who first populated the goldfields region, the cosmopolitan settlement somehow retains a hint of the wild frontier feel of days gone by.

Its two most prominent industries are famously mining and prostitution. The ladies of the night first moved in during the 1890s when the booming Godlfields area had a prospec­tor-fuelled population of more than 200,000.

They have remained ever since. Along Hay Street and Hannan Street, the famous ‘skimpie’ bars where surprised grey nomads are served by scantily clad barmaids, and a number of brothels operate openly and almost respectably. Indeed, tak­ing a tour of one of the many working brothels is a favourite with visitors who get to meet the ‘girls’ and view some of the ‘themed’ rooms.

An aerial view of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. PIC: Tourism Western Australia

Some of the highlights of a walk around Kalgoorlie-Boul­der include the heritage hotels, the WA School of Mines, the WA Museum, Kalgoorlie Town Hall, the Miner’s Monument, and, of course those intriguing pubs and bordellos.

It’s not all mining, museums and madams, however. Peace­ful Hammond Park, Kar­lkurla Bushland Park and the Kalgoorlie Arboretum all give a green tongue to this fascinat­ing city. And, for the shopper in all of us, Kalgoorlie-Boulder hosts two market days a month.

A walk up to Mount Char­lotte Lookout at the top of the Mount Charlotte Reservoir helps put everything into per­spective and delivers spectacu­lar views of the city.

The spectre of mining, howev­er, is never far away and visitors invariably want to take a tour of the famed ‘Super Pit’, the big­gest open pit gold mine in the country. It’s amazing stuff. If you’re inspired to try prospect­ing and fossicking yourself, you will need to get a $25 Miner’s Right from the Department of Mines and Petroleum, or at any Mining Registrar’s Office.

It’s remote, it’s different, and it’s fascinating. Whether you eventually love it or hate it, no grey nomad should fail to experience the uniqueness of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.


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