Edible ants, supersized holes in the ground, a micro brewery serving up liquid gold, and 290 days of sunshine; the holiday gems in the heart of WA’s Goldfields are anything but ordinary. Be bold and explore the West’s ultimate frontier town.
1. Beaten Track Brewery’s Liquid Gold
Kalgoorlie-Boulder once boasted eight breweries and 100 pubs. There is still an impressive number of pubs but there is only one brewery, and it’s unashamedly Goldfields through and through (down to the local honey used to sweeten some of the brews). Award-winning Beaten Track Brewery started out in the back shed of a Boulder home brewer, and his success eventually forced him to build a bigger shed.
Take the kids and the dog, sit back and enjoy a tasting paddle and smash the best burger and loaded fries in town. They throw in the music for free.
2. Food, views and an American president
If there’s one place all the locals will tell you to head for a meal, it’s ‘The Palace’. Added to the hot tip is a directive to secure a table on the balcony so you can savour the view along with your food.
Built in 1897, the building is iconic. Check your reflection in the mirror at the base of the staircase; as legend has it, it was a gift from former American president Herbert Hoover to a local barmaid when he was working in the Goldfields.
3. The streets are lined with ‘art’
Like its canvas, Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s street art is big and bold, and it’s reinvigorating the Goldfields’ CBD with a smash of colour.
Heartwalk is an outdoor art gallery of epic proportions, recognised as one of the nation’s best street galleries. So far 60 murals have been painted by both local and visiting artists. Simply download the map and take a walk.
4. Questa Casa Bordello (for over 18s only)
At its peak, Kalgoorlie’s infamous Hay Street was lined with dozens of brothels servicing the miners. Today only one – Questa Casa Bordello – remains on the job. What goes on behind the brightly coloured doors?
Tour guide and brothel madam Carmel isn’t backward in coming forward about the titillating history of the infamous Pink House. Tours start daily at 3pm, and yes, you’ll be out before the staff open the doors on the starting stalls for the night shift.
5. Ride the tram and connect with the characters
Drop your bags at your accommodation and jump on board the Loopline Tram, a replica of the trams that serviced Kalgoorlie-Boulder on what was once the busiest suburban passenger route in the nation (yes, busier than Sydney!).
Departing from the Kalgoorlie Town Hall, two hours of anecdotes and landmarks will fly by. Sit on the back deck and enjoy the wind in your hair.
6. Get a super view of the Super Pit
The best way to see the nation’s most famous open cut mine, ‘The Super Pit’, is from the air with Circle H Helicopters. As your pilot explains the why and how of this gigantic hole in the ground, you’ll be hovering so close to the action you’ll feel like you should be wearing hi vis mining gear.
Opt for the extended tour and you’ll also get to experience one of the natural wonders of the Goldfields, the Greater Western Woodlands. Sweep low across its canopy of gimlets before setting down on the shores of a secluded salt lake for a gourmet picnic. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic proposal or seriously impressive date night.
7. Goatcher Curtain’s encore performance at the Boulder Town Hall
Destination ‘must sees’ come in many incarnations, so steer away from the ordinary and add ‘theatre curtain’ to your list.
Boulder Town Hall’s Goatcher Curtain is the only one of its kind left in the world. It’s a work of art so important it recently underwent a six-figure make over to preserve it for future generations. Commissioned back in 1908 from the world’s premier theatre artist Phillip Goatcher, it was considered quite the coup at the time.
Tours of the imposing Town Hall and its magnificent curtain run every Tuesday and Thursday.
8. Explore full throttle with Thunderstruck Trike Tours
You can hire a car anywhere, but exploring from the back of a luxury Harley Davidson Custom Trike titled Thunderstruck? Well, that’s a one off. Christened after the AC/DC song of the same name, she’s every bit as loud and bold.
Thunderstruck Trike Tours include gems like ‘Dirty Deeds’ and ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’. Be warned: this isn’t just a tour, it’s a ride of a lifetime.
9. Digging for treats ala Tjupan Bush Tours
The sweetest treats in the Goldfields can’t be bought, and you’ll need expert help to find them. Enter Edie Ulrich from Tjupan Bush Tours.
One of the last remaining native speakers of the endangered Tjupan language, Edie runs honey ant hunting tours into the Goldfields’ desert region. You’ll learn how to find and harvest these local insect delicacies before squeezing them into your mouth for that sweet pop. Goodbye chocolate!
Make sure you go on an empty stomach, as homemade roo stew, damper and bush tea are part of the experience.
10. Admire work by a State Living Treasures
Bush Blossom Gallery, at the top of Hannan Street, is putting local stories onto walls around the world. Look up when you walk through the door :hanging from the ceiling is one of the largest art works by State Living Treasure and talented Ngaatjatjarra artist Pantjiti Mary McLean, whose paintings are on display in the National Gallery of Australia.
Throw out your ideas about stuffy galleries as getting involved is actively encouraged. Phone ahead and find out when the artists are working and you’ll be welcome to join in.
Like Kalgoorlie-Boulder itself, the local accommodation is eclectic, from resort style to heritage-listed homes, with most close to the action.
The Plaza is central
Want somewhere close to the action? Boutique hotel The Plaza is walking distance to restaurants and shops, with bonus views of the sunset from your balcony across town.
Heritage-listed Allora House
Quirky and quintessentially ‘old Goldfields’, Allora House offers old-world charm with all the modern conveniences. A great example of boomtime gold rush architecture – it was built by JD Connolly to welcome his bride to the region– there are three queen-sized rooms with shared facilities, close to town and the train. You can BnB or have the whole place to yourself.
Go resort style at Rydges
If you have a car and don’t mind driving five minutes to town, Rydges Kalgoorlie offers 4.5 -star resort style accommodation, with couples’ spa baths in all rooms, as well as an indoor/outdoor swimming pool and heated spa.