We arrived in Kalgoorlie 3hrs after leaving Cape Le Grand Nat Pk & day time temps of 20 - 23* with gusty winds to 35*. What a shock to the system. The aircon got a good work out that evening :)
Kalgoorlie actually has a twin - a town called Boulder, where gold was discovered in 1892.
Hence the current name of Kalgoorlie - Boulder.
Within wks of the 1st discovery of gold, men, some with families, arrived in Kalgoorlie - Boulder from places up to 600 km away & lived in harsh conditions. There was little to no water supply, shacks were made of hessian, canvas, old packing cases or corrugated iron in searing summer temps of up to 45*.
Many died of starvation, thirst or disease from drinking contaminated water. (We were surprised how large the town cemetery was.)
Within a few short years the alluvial prospecting had given way to mine shafts & full scale underground mines. Many shafts went down over 600 mtrs. The area was known as the 'Golden Mile'.
Water supply came in 1903 by way of the world's 1st pipe line from Mundaring Weir near Perth - 563 kms away. The region continued to prosper as rail lines were built & food supplies being shipped in via Afghan Camel Teams - Ships of the Desert'.
For more than 100 yrs, the mines of the Kalgoorlie Goldfields have produced the majority of Australia's
Today the 'Golden Mile' is the famous 'The Super Pit', one of the largest open cut gold mining operations in the world. Taken from the air (& a pic of a brochure), the Super Pit measures approximately 3.7 km long 1.55km wide & more than 460 m deep. Long term the pit will grow to 660 m deep.
Visitors have a covered viewing platform high above the 'pit' to watch the goings on in The Super Pit. We watched in amazement the slow motion of "big" machinery in action. This mining operation is 24/7, 12 hr shifts. Most mines (iron ore & gold) in Western Australia work 12 hr shifts, many 14 days on & 7 days off (7 day shifts & then 7 night shifts). The Super Pit isn't that far from Boulder town.
The 'cats' costs $4.4 million each & have a fuel tank of 3,790 litres at a cost of $6,000 to fill every 12 hrs.
We went to the Mining Museum just out of town. There's a decommissioned Cat 793C for tourists to look at. They're massive big babies. Apparently for each 6 loads of rock, only 1 load will be of any worth producing a golf ball sized of gold. (remembering an oz of gold is currently worth US $1,700) The rest is rubble that gets taken to the 'tailings' section.
Mining vehicles are occasionally shifted around & require a massive 'operation' just transporting them.
The discovery of gold in the goldfields resulted in the influx of thousands of men, who poured into the flats & gullies & brought the red earth alive in a frenzied search for alluvial gold. All those men worked under dreadfully harsh conditions & of course were thirsty blokes at the end of the day. Kalgoorlie - Boulder had over 72 pubs. I don't know how many are left, but in the middle of town, there's still a pub on almost every corner in the main street. Most of these beautiful buildings were built in the early 1900's. Some burnt down & were rebuilt. These few have been beautifully restored.
With the influx of so many single men, so too came the demand for goods & services. One such notorious service was provided by the local brothels. at one time there were at least 25 brothels in the Hay Street area. (They purposely were kept away from residential areas - & under the watchful eye of the local constabulary)
Today there are only 3 surviving brothels left in Kalgoorlie - Questa Casa - although they still open their doors for the original form of service, Questa Casa opens its doors for tourists to take part in a brothel tour to learn about this colourful part of Kalgoorlie - Boulder history.
Norseman is the 'gateway' to the Nullabor - Eyre Highway. Norseman history also came from gold prospecting. The 1st gold was found accidentally when a horse named 'Norseman' had kicked a rock containing gold. The Eyre Hwy across the Nullabor is over 1200 kms to Ceduna in SA
The Nullabor Links is the longest golf game in the world - Kalgoorlie to Ceduna - all 1365kms worth.
Two holes are played at the desert course in Kalgoorlie - rated as 1 of the top 10 desert courses in the world. This was to be to 1st & last time we would see a 'green' golf course for this game :) (unfortunately I didn't have the foresight to take a pic of how green the course is.)
Each roadhouse (at least 10 ) along the Nullabor (WA & SA) participates in the game. The 'holes' were near or behind the 'servo'.
Some of the golf courses had obstacles from tee off to putting. This par 4 hole wasn't that long, but beyond the trees to the left & right are large piles of dead timber. Of course Rod's tee off ball went to the left & largest pile of timber & yours truly also helped in finding the ball. (I helped in most of the holes throughout each hole)
The longest & straightest stretch of road in Oz was there to be crossed if going across the Nullabor. It was certainly straight & mostly flat.
The Nullabor is predominately limestone with a few caves & blowholes as part of the weathering over eons.
The Nullabor has a roadhouse called Nullabor - of course - about 15 kms east of Nullabor roadhouse there's a turn off towards the ocean - called Head of Bight, with an entry fee to walk along 2 long whale watching platforms to view the Southern Right Whales from May - October. Out of season the entry fee is less ($5) for some stunning views of more of the southern ocean crashing into the Great Aust Bight. The sand dunes in the distance are said to be thousands of yrs old.
I'm always fascinated by creatures with lots of colour & appear different :)
Another golf hole - this time @ Nundroo roadhouse - that hole was 520m & par 5. There was little high vegetation to content with, just a hill & the ground was very stoney. These 2 very cute little goat kids are obviously the mowers of the grass for this hole.
Rod's last 2 holes were in Ceduna. Nothing spectacular about this golf course apart from the odd flower (fringed lilly) & weed in the field :) ..... oh & the putting green wasn't artificial grass this time - just sand blackened with oil. The golf player needs to smoothe / rake out the 'wrinkles' in the sand to putt the ball.
We took 3 days & nights to cross the >1000 km Nullabor / Eyre Hwy from Norseman to Ceduna.The journey wasn't totally boring with the changing scenery & with a few opportunities to stop & soak up the beauty of the Great Australian Bight. Since the introduction of the longest golf game in the world in 2009, there has been no fatalities on the road across the Nullabor.
We didn't stay long in Ceduna & headed for Streaky Bay instead - another 107 kms further down the Eyre Peninsula. The western side of the Eyre Peninsula is still considered part of the Great Australian Bight. Streaky Bay is nestled inside a 10 km long narrow bay, protected from the ravages of the Southern Ocean.
The town of < 1,000 permanent people, swells to double that during the summer months to this picturesque setting.
We went on a couple scenic drives. Cape Bauer Loop Drive incorporates a 34 km loop from Streaky Bay that takes in some rugged & spectacular coast line.
Cape Bauer is an impressive outcrop of limestone - the southern ocean is slowly wearing away the cliff edges. You can see quite a large rocky shelf under the waves.
When we crossed the WA /SA border we had to set our clocks forward .... by 2.5 hrs. (we could have set 3/4 hr forward 400 kms earlier, but decided to do it in 1 change.) SA has daylight saving &consequently the sun sets about 8.20pm. There was a brilliant coloured sunset this evening with the clouds.
Another great area to visit whilst in the Streaky Bay area is Pt Labatt Conservation Park & the Sealion Colony. The area is 50 kms south of Streaky Bay. There's a platform about 50 mtrs above the the 100mtr square rocky area that is Australia's only mainland sea lion colony. They cohabitate with NZ fur seals. The Aust sea lions are one of Australia's most endangered marine mammals & the worlds rarest sea lion.
Up to 50 sea lions & seals can be seen on the rocky outcrop all year round.
There's a couple more of pups suckling from their mums.
As seen in these pics there's a rainy squall coming towards us & the waves have been whipped up some more.
After leaving the rugged coast, we headed inland through fields of crops. The car park next to our next attraction had a wheat crop almost ready for harvesting.
Murphy's Haystacks are a group of boulders & pillars in farmer Murphy's wheat field.
Hiltaba Granite is 1,500 million yrs old. Their present form was probably established some 100,000 yrs ago. The granite hills of the district were inundated & all but buried by calcareous dune sand some 33,600 yrs ago. What we see today as Murphy's Haystacks are the result of erosion of the surrounding landscape to reveal these formations.
The Great Australian Bight certainly is living up to my expectations & I can't get enough of the spectacular scenery & watching the amazing waves that crash into the cliffs.
There's more to be seen further south, but that'll be in the next blog :)