Deep in the WA desert, gold rich Kalgoorlie mixes harsh beauty with the spectacle of nightmares endured and dreams realised. Visitors touring dimly lit mining tunnels and shafts at the $25m Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame, 7km north of town, are treated to a tangible sense of the conditions endured by 19th Century gold prospectors here, many of whom died from the effects of contaminated water and excessively priced, poor quality foodstuffs.

Fascinating exhibitions of the past, present and future of mining, a historic precinct and the opportunity for a bit of gold panning also make this museum a must. Today, Kalgoorlie produces ten percent of the world’s gold output. On the edge of town, the Golden Mile (once the richest square mile in the world) is responsible for much of it. Here, the Super Pit, a stupendous terraced hole in the ground with a viewing platform for visitors, provides a unique and spectacular look at mankind’s insatiable planetary consumption – countless tons of precious metal have been acquired here in the last century.

In town, fabulous examples of colonial architecture abound, many of which – at least 25 and counting – are historic, rambling old hotels in which colourful locals and refreshing cold bevvies will give you a golden smile.

Where? // Dead on 600km (7hrs drive) east of Perth, or 6hrs 45mins on the Prospector train.

Did you know? // The 34 giant Caterpillar 793 mining trucks operating in Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit cost $4m each. The trucks weigh 166 tons apiece and to replace a single tyre costs $26,000.

 

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