After the success of their trip to Albany, Ocean Star’s Independent Living Villa (ILV) residents couldn’t wait to hit the road again. In October 2019, they braved the 730km and 10-hour journey from Bunbury to Kalgoorlie – but unlike the prospectors who made the journey on foot during the Gold Rush, they enjoyed the creature comforts of a bus.
They made an early start at 5.30am on Monday 21st October and travelled via Collie, Narrogin, Corrigin, Merredin, Southern Cross and reached Kalgoorlie at approximately 4.15pm with everybody in good spirits – except for the unfortunate kangaroo they hit a couple of kilometres from Corrigin.
The Super Pit was first their stop – they marvelled at the biggest open pit gold mine in Australia - 3.5 km in length, 1.5km wide and 700 metres deep. Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines manages the Super Pit (Fimiston Open Pit) that draws 1000s of visitors to the Goldfields each year.
A drive around Boulder’s and Kalgoorlie’s historic attractions turned the conversation to the history of Kalgoorlie, including how gold was first discovered in Coolgardie in 1892 and in Kalgoorlie the following year. All goods were transported by camel trains and horses and the only form of transport was by a Cobb and Co coach – if you could afford it. In those days the trains only ran as far as Southern Cross until the train line was extended into Coolgardie in 1896 and then later to Kalgoorlie.
After a wholesome day, the night took an interesting turn as the ILVs toured the oldest running bordello in Kalgoorlie. ILV Committee President, Graeme Wills says, “The Madam of the premises met us at 4pm and gave us a historic tour. As the ladies on tour were mainly in their 80s and I was the only male, I started to worry. But it was very interesting and a must-do experience.”
On day three, they headed off into the outback to Menzies, which is virtually a ghost town with just one pub, one coffee shop and one toilet – plus 12 people needing to use the facilities. They then continued onto Leonora and to Gwalia, which is an actual ghost town, where they looked over the old mine that opened in 1895 and closed in 1963. Gwalia Ghost Town and Museum includes miners’ cottages, a guest house, souvenir and bookshop and the house built for H.C. Hoover – the first manager of the mine who went on to become the 31st President of the United States. For those who don’t mind things going bump in the night, Hoover House has been converted into a luxurious bed and breakfast.
On their last full day, the ILVs toured the Hannans North Tourist Mine, visited the Museum of the Goldfields and took a stroll through Kalgoorie’s town centre.
As a former resident of Kalgoorlie for 20 years where he held various jobs including prospecting in his spare time, Graeme put together the itinerary. While working on the Great Boulder Mine, which is now part of the Super Pit he recalls, “I met my wife in 1962 out the front of the Peter Pan Milk Bar and at that time she worked at the Golden Mile (G.M.) dining rooms.”
Our residents thoroughly enjoyed the accommodation and meals at the Quality Inn Railway Motel. While Graeme has fond memories of living in Kalgoorlie, judging by the feedback from the ILVs, Kalgoorlie is also a great tourist destination.