The Ultimate List Of Things To Do In Kalgoorlie!
Kalgoorlie is the gold mining, wild west outback town in remote Western Australia that you will probably only have ever heard of if you are in fact from remote Western Australia.
Those that do know of this place, know that is a city with an unshakeable reputation borne from the rags to riches age of the gold mining boom, when anyone could make a fortune- and spend it just as quickly- amongst the red dust, bars and brothels of Kalgoorlie.
Let’s be honest, it’s a city that isn’t high up on anyone’s bucket list, certainly not your average beach loving, coastal dwelling Aussie or your international tourist with an already tight itinerary and thousands upon thousands of kilometres to cover in a short space of time.
I’m hoping to change that, and to give people a reason to travel to this misunderstood outback city. There really are a lot of things to do in Kalgoorlie.
But what is there to do in Kalgoorlie I hear you ask? Surely not enough to warrant an ENTIRE article dedicated to the things to do in Kalgoorlie? Isn’t there just red rock, gold mines and a few dodgy bars?
Well, yes. Kalgoorlie is all of those things. However, there are a lot more things to do in Kalgoorlie than I would ever have imagined before I travelled to this outback Western Australian City. I recently wrote an article on my travels through Kalgoorlie, and I realised while writing it that actually, this city of 30,000 people way out in the middle of nowhere- the biggest city in outback Australia! – deserves a lot more attention than it gets.
Sure, it looks a long way from anywhere on the map, but honestly, it’s not that far, at least not in Australian terms, it’s only 600 kilometres from Perth after all.
Here Are The Best Things To Do In Kalgoorlie!
The Kalgoorlie Super Pit
Top of the list of things to do in Kalgoorlie has to be the Super Pit. This is a massive, gargantuan, mammoth open cut gold mine on the edge of the city. But wait, didn’t I say Kalgoorlie was more than just gold? Yes, it is, but the city was made on gold, and in many ways still relies on gold. To begin to understand Kalgoorlie, you have to start at the Super Pit, and quite simply, it is huge.
The Super Pit is on the site of the Golden Mile, the original stretch of land that caused the gold rush in 1893 that drew people from across the world to try their luck earning their fortune here. Things have changed, and over time all the mines were consolidated into one massive Super Pit which has to be seen to be believed.
It’s an ugly scar, but at the same time it’s weirdly aesthetic. It works around the clock, 24 hours a day, and trucks continually drive in and out, removing rubble and precious metals. It’s over 500 metres deep and getting ever deeper, and is 3.5 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide.
The Super Pit is just a short drive from the city, and if you call ahead of your trip you can find out when the explosive blasts are scheduled. These are equally huge, with tonnes of explosives being used to dig even deeper for that gold.
The Museum Of The Goldfields
After seeing the mining in action at the Super Pit then the next best spot to really learn about Kalgoorlie’s past – mainly how the city and that giant hole in the ground came to exist hundreds of miles from anywhere – then it’s best to pay a visit to The Museum of the Goldfields.
This is Kalgoorlie’s premier museum, and collected here are stories from across the Goldfields, from the Indigenous local history to the mad gold rush that founded the city. Some of the stories are insightful, others are grimy or full of sleaze, and it’s easy to see how Kalgoorlie gained its reputation as a Wild West gold town from the exhibits on display.
But it’s not just about the gold. As important as it is, Kalgoorlie has other, more overlooked achievements which the museum emphasises, the main feat being the existence of a city of 30,000 people in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. A lot of that is down to an incredible feat of engineering called the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, and the museum is great at providing insightful facts and anecdotes about its construction and use to this day.
Mount Charlotte Water Reservoir And Lookout
Kalgoorlie is remote. It’s in the middle of a semi arid desert. As I’ve already pointed out, if it wasn’t for the gold, this city wouldn’t exist here. But more important resources were needed to sustain the city, and to ensure the future of Kalgoorlie. No other city of this size is found anywhere in the Australian Outback. Kalgoorlie is different, because Kalgoorlie found a solution to the biggest problem of all. Water.
Out here, there isn’t much water at all. During the early gold rush days water quickly became more precious than the gold the prospectors had walked all this way to find. Kalgoorlie should probably be more well known for the mammoth feat of engineering that allows it to survive- not the Super Pit – but the enormously long water pipe that runs all the way from Perth for 300 miles, crossing mountains and desert, to provide water to 100,00 people in the Goldfields Region.
This is The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, built back in the early 1900’s and still providing all the water for the region. All of it.
The Mount Charlotte Water Reservoir is where the water from Perth arrives and from here it is distributed all over Kalgoorlie and further afield. This hill top outside provides excellent views over the city, but it also provides a glimpse and a few informative, educational displays too, of the pipeline that allows Kalgoorlie to exist where it does.
The School Of Two Up – The Most Intriguing Of Things To In Kalgoorlie
One of the most intriguing things to do in Kalgoorlie is to pay a visit to an old rusty shed that’s surrounded by nothing more than red rocks and a few old beer bottles.
But why? Well, this is no ordinary rusty, outback shed. This is The School of Two Up, and one of only two venues in the entire country where the Aussie gambling game of Two Up can be legally played all year round.
Two up is a bit like heads or tails, only with two coins. It originated in the goldfields during the rushes of the late 19th Century and became popularised by soldiers during World War I. It eventually became banned across the country, except on 25 April, Remembrance Day in Australia, when as a sort of mark of respect it can be played all day.
Kalgoorlie though, somehow managed to become one of only two places- the other being Broken Hill in NSW, also an old gold rush town- where Two Up can be played all year round, and the only venue in Kalgoorlie where it can be played is here, at this rusty old tin shed.
The tin shed itself can be visited all year round, and it’s just a short drive away from the city, but visit on Sunday and the shed becomes the School of Two Up, where the game is played and taught by the best in Kalgoorlie!
Fossicking for Gold In Kalgoorlie
Of course, Kalgoorlie is all about the gold. So why not give gold fossicking a go? You could strike it rich! It’s probably not quite the same as the gold rush era, and most of the gold has already been uncovered, but it would be a shame to leave Kalgoorlie without having at least tried to find some gold.
You need a permit to start looking- this costs $25 and you can find out more about that HERE– and you need permission to fossick on other people’s land. There’s rules to this game and some people still make it rich, but if you just want some fun then a few companies also offer day tours to well known fossicking sites and a solid introduction to the gold digging game.
Take a Stroll Down Hannan Street
Hanna Street is the main drag in Kalgoorlie. It’s named for the city’s prospecting founder, Paddy Hannan, who first discovered gold on The Golden Mile. Hannan street is as historic as it gets in Kalgoorlie, and strolling down here will give you a slight insight into the old Wild West days, as many of the frontier style hotels and buildings are still standing today.
More than that though, it’s the heart of the city, where the city hall, restaurants, bars and everything else you expect of a city is found.
When you’re ready, jump into some of the old hotel bars, and check out what all the fuss is about. They might have a reputation, and many still have regular Skimpies- scantily clad women– as entertainment for the miners but you’ll soon find it’s not so Wild West like, just a bit Outback is all.
Craft Beer Bars in Boulder
Unknown to most of the world, there’s a thriving craft beer scene in the city. The pick of these micro breweries is found in Boulder, the other half of Kalgoorlie, and serves up a beautiful tasting paddle of locally brewed hops.
The Beaten Track Brewery is found in an unsuspecting little tin shed – like the best things in Kalgoorlie- on a side street in Boulder. Inside you will find an array of craft beers to choose from, everything from IPAs to German style Wheat Beers.
Casa Questa – Take A Tour Of Australia’s Oldest Brothel
The city’s reputation for debauchery does of course have some basis in history. Casa Questa- The Pink House– is Australia’s oldest working brothel, and once you have had a few beers for courage, then the strangest of things to do in Kalgoorlie is to take a tour of this establishment.
This isn’t as seedy as it might sound, and in fact it was recommended to me by the Visitor’s Centre. Kalgoorlie has realised that this is an integral part of their history, and the Madame runs daily tours before the night’s work kicks off. It’s a strange situation, but the history and stories told by the Madame really give an insight to Kalgoorlie that is hard to find elsewhere- both of the city’s past and its future.
Tee Off On The Nullarbor Links – The Longest Golf Course In The World
The Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest golf course. The18 holes stretch across some of Australia’s most remote outback, across the Nullarbor Plain from Western Australia to South Australia. It’s a distance of 1365 kilometres, with roadhouses and remote stations hosting different golfing holes along the way.
Kalgoorlie is home to hole number 18, the last or the first – depending on which direction you travel!- on the Nullarbor Links course.
Once you’ve finished all the things to do in Kalgoorlie, then why not head off down the Nullarbor on the world’s longest golf course?!
All Photos and Word By Richard Collett