Date: Monday 14th to Thursday 17th December 2015
Location: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia
As an interlude in my trip to Perth, which you can read about here, I took a trip a short way into the centre of Australia and went to visit a town called Kalgoorlie. Kal (as it’s affectionately known) has about 30,000 inhabitants which happens to be exactly the same amount as the town I grew up in. However my town is a 10 minutes’ drive from a city in either direction and a 30 minutes train journey to London. Kalgoorlie is a 9 hour train ride from Perth, the closest large city to it. Let’s just say Kal and my home town have a different feel from each other
Kalgoorlie is right in the middle of the bush, surrounded by that flat red dirt and those trees which seem to just appear out of nowhere. It’s a beautifully stark and repetitive landscape but absolutely full of colour. Within a 10 minute drive in any direction you’re out into the wilderness and it doesn’t take long to lose sight of civilisation all together. However right in the middle of all this beautiful countryside is a big, fat hole because that’s what Kalgoorlie is known for, the gold mine. When I say it’s a big hole, I mean it’s a biiiiiiig hole. It’s 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and 570m deep at its deepest point. That’s one and half empire state buildings deep! It produces on average 2000 oz of gold per day which is dredged up from the ground by a combination of explosives and drilling. The rocks from this mining are carted up out of the hole in trucks that weigh over 30 tonnes empty and can carry up to 300 tonnes of rock and debris (that’s like 60 elephants!). In fact I’m not sure which is more shocking – the size of the hole or the size of the trucks. And before anybody gets their feminist boots on over this, 40% of truck drivers are female. Kal has found other ways of letting the traditional masculine vibe of mining emerge (in the form of topless barmaids). All these facts come from the brilliant tour that you can do of the whole mine, where you drive around the giant hole next to all the massive trucks (not the knowledge of the topless barmaids, that came from a very funny/slightly awkward night out with 3 other guys in the local bar.)
So the other tour you can do in Kal is a tour of the brothel. Yep, you read that right, a tour of a brothel. It is the only place in the world I found that you can pay to enter a brothel and not be guaranteed sex! Either way, it was entertaining and fun and actually gave some decent history of the area. It is the oldest profession in the book after all.
I stayed with a lovely family in Kalgoorlie (the family of my Perth friend) who couldn’t have looked after me better. They took me to a million places, showing me all the sites, took be out for a bbq in the bush under the beautiful stars and let me join in with all their social engagements like I was an old friend. I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome and I am incredibly thankful to them for that. One day I was taken round to the stables to go on a horse ride out in the bush, which was lovely. However we were joined by the pet sheep. So sheep are actually quite a lot like dogs, as in they will jump up on you, run around the feet of the horse and annoy them … and chase after cars. It is the only time I have been riding where we had to stop the ride to go chasing after a sheep who was trying to chase down a tow-truck going in the opposite direction. Only in Australia hey?