Kalgoorlie – June 2021

Kalgoorlie is a city located 595 km (370 mi) east-northeast of Perth. It is sometimes referred to as Kalgoorlie–Boulder, as the surrounding urban area includes the historic town of Boulder. Kalgoorlie-Boulder lies on the traditional lands of the Wangkatja group of peoples. The city was established in 1893 during the Western Australian gold rushes.

Paddy Hannan was a prospector whose gold nugget discovery on 14 June 1893 set off a major gold rush in the area now known as Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Western Australia. The resulting goldfield has been mined ever since and is renowned as The Golden Mile, the richest square mile in the world.

Statue of Paddy Hannan. His waterbag has a tap on it, which Ray turned on!

We visited the Historic Burt Street Precinct in Boulder, the neighbouring town to Kalgoorlie. We were impressed with the architecture, the history and the Goldfields War Museum in the town hall.

Below are some interesting facts we learnt about WA and Federation. (Apologies for the glare on the glass of the pics. It was impossible to avoid the glare of the sunlight)Federate or Separate – in the late 1890’s Sir John Forrest, Premier of Western Australia, was vehemently opposed to the idea of Federation.  He believed WA would lose it’s custom duties to the Commonwealth and would not receive a fare share when redistributed. (This sounds similar to our current Premier Mark McGowan and his concerns about WA’s share of the Goods and Services Tax)

In fact, a group called the Eastern Goldfields Reform league was formed in 1899 and they petitioned the Queen to separate from WA and become a state called Auralia, in the new Commonwealth of Australia.

On July 31st 1900, a Referendum was held and people given the chance to vote on whether to become part of the Federation. The Goldfields voted overwhelmingly in favour of Federation.

We went into the Council Chambers and found a couple of posters in regard to the 1918-19 pneumonia influenza pandemic which became known as the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Boulder Council Chambers
Goldfields War Museum

The services on the Trans-Australia Railway line had been halted due to the pandemic and the concern of spreading the virus from state to state. However in April 1919, the Commonwealth Railways announced they would be resuming services From Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

This created grave concern amongst the people of the Goldfields and the Mayor called for a Monster Demonstration. He wanted people to emphatically PROTEST against the running of the Trans-Australian to Kalgoorlie and endangering the lives of the community. Despite the protest the decision to reintroduce the service was upheld.

Kalgoorlie is also renowned for it’s red light district. Women sex workers arrived with the miners in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie at the turn of the century. In 1902 Hay Street was officially recognised as the ‘red light district’ of Kalgoorlie. Also known as “THE PINK HOUSE”, Questa Casa is the only remaining brothel from Kalgoorlie’s gold rush era, built in the 1890’s. It has the famous “STARTING STALLS” which were world famous for the scantily clad ladies standing in the doorways. Still operating, the girls throw open these infamous doors nightly.

Another icon is the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, one of the largest open-cut gold mines on Earth. About 900,000 ounces of gold are harvested here each year, making a total of 50 million ounces since it started operating in 1989. The hole is approximately 3.7 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and around 480 metres deep – big enough to bury Uluru.

And finally we can’t finish this blog without mentioning the Two Up Shed. Two Up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated person (“spinner”) throwing two coins into the air. Players bet on whether the coins will fall with both heads (obverse) up, both tails (reverse) up, or with one coin a head and one a tail. The Kalgoorlie Two Up Shed is the only legalised Two-Up School in Western Australia. This particular Shed was built around 1960 and these days is only open on Sundays. It is very popular with both locals and tourists.

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