but you can just call me Ray.
My life is full of great experiences, made better for sharing.
Published January 5th 2019
How the west was won
Day 5 and 6 (Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
Cocklebiddy to Norseman (437 km) and Kalgoorlie (188 km) a total distance of 625 km.
Accommodation: Rydges Broken Hill $115 per night. The room was a quality room, with a sap, and the hotel had a nice pool. However, they offered almost no service over the Christmas Day Boxing Day break, and the failure of a linen delivery meant we were making do with one towel. Really not good enough at any price. A hotel operator should be prepared to make a loss on one day of the year, rather than leave one gallant poor staff member at the desk dealing with angry customers. Management please take note.
We rise early to a cool morning, courtesy of an unexpected southerly change. It will make travelling pleasant. The first leg to Norseman is really very long and while the countryside is lovely low treed woodland, reminiscent of the Mallee in SA, the most interesting thing along the way is the 90 mile stretch of completely straight road. We turn to audible and our thriller for the road 'Whisky in Small Glasses' a Scottish crime thriller from former Scots' Policeman Denzil Meyrick. Norseman to Kalgoorlie (188km) through the mining enclave of Kambalda, and you start to realise you are in Gold country. The Goldfields district is huge, and roads branch from the main drag in 60 to 100 km leaps to the nearest working mine.
We arrive in Kalgoorlie at lunchtime on Christmas Day having driven 6 and a ˝ hours already looking for somewhere for some roast and cranberry sauce. Everywhere is close, except a couple businesses owned by enterprising Indian emigrants. The excellent Café 312 in the main drag, and our choice, the Copperbowl, where there is a mix of Indian Curries and Traditional Roast in a buffet style. They offer us an outside table in the 40degree heat (thankfully with a fan) and we enjoy an excellent buffet meal.
It's too hot to do much, we opt for an eat-in self-catered dinner and an early night. Not before booking the only tour operating on Boxing Day, the Goldfields Air 30-minute flight. We choose an early time, 8am to avoid the impending thermals of another 40-degree day, and what a stunning experience it is. Safe, well organised and spectacular the Cessna 182 piloted by young Michael, a career pilot on the way up, gave us birds-eye views of the Kalgoorlie Super Pit.
The Superpit came about when the increasingly unviable individual shaft mines, with gathered up like a looped sack, and turned into an Open Cut mine, by the then enterprising Alan Bond in the '80s. We followed up with a visit to the Super Pit lookout where interpretive signs gave us a comprehensive overview of the history. The Super Pit is 4km long, 1km wide and 600mtrs deep. It is predicted to close in 2029, at which point I imagine it will remain a tourist attraction. The only other mine operating in the area is the Charlotte Shaft, which is still economic.
Kalgoorlie shares a similar profile with Broken Hill where the loss of labour required for mining, has led to a lot of boarded shops and closed businesses.
Everything, including most of the pubs, were closed on Boxing Day as well as Christmas Day, however, we managed to enjoy a steak at the Star Hotel on Hannan Street, watching the Boxing Day test match while staying cool. I can also recommend a visit to the last independent grocery store on the planet I believe, Santamaria's in Burt St Boulder.
Boulder is now effectively a suburb of Kalgoorlie, but it does have its own unique historic main street. We decided against the 20km trip north to Leonora and the Sone of Gwalia mine, where future US President Herbert Hoover plied his trade as a Mining Engineer at the turn of last century. I understand it is worth a visit to the ghost town, but better in winter when the weather is more conducive to travel. Another early night ready for the trip south to Esperance and cooler climes.