The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a major mining centre, and home to over 30,000 people who work in a wide range of businesses servicing the community and the mining industry. Kalgoorlie-Boulder is an excellent base for tourists who want to visit the Goldfields region, with many of the surrounding towns within a days drive or less.
Throughout the city there are many classic examples of architecture from the Goldrush days. Kalgoorlie-Boulder also has art galleries, museums, cinemas and weekend markets. The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Racing Club hold race meetings weekly from March to September, ending with three major races in the last week: Boulder Cup, Hannan's Handicap and the Kalgoorlie Cup (visit www.kbrc.com.au for more information). Kalgoorlie-Boulder has all kinds of accommodation: backpackers, hostels, apartments, caravan parks, hotels and motels. There is are many places to find a meal at the variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants available.
Visitors can experience all aspects of the mining industry by visiting the Prospectors & Miners Hall of Fame, and the Kalgoorlie Superpit Lookout to see a huge open-cut mine, with a chance to watch some explosive blasting.
The Goldfields Arts Centre holds exhibitions, theatre shows and music events (visit www.goldfieldsartscentre.com.au for more information). The city is host to the Goldfields Mining Expo, which has grown to become the biggest mining event in the Southern hemisphere (visit www.goldfieldsminingexpo.com.au for more information).
In the winter of 1893 many prospectors who had withdrawn to Southern Cross during the summer, returned to brave the primitive conditions at Coolgardie. The competition for surface gold was intense, many did not hesitate to leave when there was a rumour of gold at Mt Youle to the north-east. Two Irish prospectors, Paddy Hannan and Tom Flanagan pooled their resources and joined the exodus.
On the 10th of June, Hannan and Flanagan discovered fragments of gold in the quartz deposits near Mt Charlotte, only 25 miles from Coolgardie, where they were joined by fellow countryman, Dan Shea. Dan and Tom guarded the site while Paddy rode back to Coolgardie with over 100 ounces of gold and laid claim to the site on the 17th of June.
While Hannan and his partners were content to search for surface gold, new arrivals Sam Pearce, George and Will Brookman had bigger plans. With Brookman's business acumen and Pearce's skill in identifying gold reefs they formed a syndicate based in Adelaide to finance their mining. This syndicate led to the establishment of the region's most important early mines: Ivanhoe, Great Boulder and Lake View.
Kalgoorlie was proclaimed a municipality on the 16th of February 1895. The name of the town is a corruption of the Wongkatha word 'Karlkurla', a sweet pear found in the area.
The town of Kalgoorlie grew quickly, the telegraph line was connected in 1894, followed by the railway two years later. In 1896 the local gold output surpassed Coolgardie's (September quarter figures: Coolgardie 19,883 ounces, Golden Mile 39,867 ounces). Coolgardie was the major town of the eastern Goldfields, but Kalgoorlie became more important with the railway links to Menzies.
In January 1903, Premier John Forrest honoured his pledge to solve the water shortage problem, when he opened the pipeline which would supply the town with fresh water from the newly constructed Mundaring Weir. At the time the pipeline was the longest in the world with eight pumping stations sending water 566km to Kalgoorlie.
A symbol of Kalgoorlie's early progress is the town hall which was built in 1908 and remains as a commanding structure on Hannan Street. South of the town, Boulder was thriving and by 1897 had its own municipal council and a railway line connecting it to Kalgoorlie.
Sport was the most popular entertainment, during 1894 the Hannans Football Club was formed, there were race meetings and a cricket match between teams representing the two towns. A concert was held in the same year to raise money for the building of a hospital.
1894 also saw the establishment of a progress committee and a weekly newspaper, "The Western Argus". The first two pubs, The Exchange (still operating today) and The Club, were also built during this year. The Golden Mile soon became famous (or infamous) for its large number of hotels, which reached 139 at one point.
The town had a mostly male population, which gave the Golden Mile a reputation for prostitution in 1896. Gambling was rampant in the early years despite the efforts of the authorities to curb it. Kalgoorlie-Boulder is famous for "Two-Up" which was officially legalised in 1983, and only allowed to operate in one place seven kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie's economic growth slowed by 1910 as the cost of labour and materials increased while the price of gold had not changed for over a century. More and more mines mergerd to cut costs, but profits continued to decline. Digging ever deeper to maintain the output of gold was extremely expensive. Mining had another setback during World War I, when many of the experienced workers went to join the war effort. Most engineering supplies were German-made, and because of the war could no longer be obtained. There was a strike on the Kalgoorlie Woodlines, which led to the closure of three large mines. The post war years continued to bring hard times to Kalgoorlie as wages, share dividends and population continued to decline. To make matters worse, in 1928 the region suffered the worst cyclone in its history.
Ironically, the Great Depression brought relief to the Goldfields as mining costs decreased and the federal government introduced a gold subsidy of one pound per ounce. The devaluation of the Australian pound in 1931 produced extra earnings for all exports particularly gold, which was Australia's most profitable commodity. The 1930s saw a reversal of the negative trends of the previous decade but it was not until the early 1950s that the mining industry really started to bounce back.
In the early 1950s, the Menzies government recognised Kalgoorlie as Australia's richest goldfield, and increased the gold subsidy to a maximum of two pounds per ounce.
During the post-war boom new mining technology was developed, such as tungsten-carbide drills, battery-operated ore trucks and more efficient explosives. These innovations quadrupled output and no longer required wood to provide energy, as a result there was a dramatic reduction in employment for Woodlines workers. In 1953 the Kalgoorlie Electric Power & Lighting Corporation converted to coal-powered generators. Deforestation and progress in technology eventually put an end to Kalgoorlie Woodlines in 1964.
The discovery of nickel in Kambalda by The Western Mining Group in the mid 1960s saw Kalgoorlie emerge as the centre of another mining boom. For a while gold production went into decline. High gold prices in the 1980s, and stockmarket issues culminated in a scheme initiated by Alan Bond to merge the surviving independent leases into one large open-cut mining operation. After Bond's fall from grace, his Goldfields interests passed to the Kalgoorlie Mining Association and Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie, which merged to become the largest mining venture in Australia. As a result a number of smaller open-cut mines disappeared to make way for the Fimiston Super Pit and Treatment Plant. The Super Pit consumed the original Boulder Block, the infamous "dirty acre", which was purchased by Bond's company "Dallhold" in 1989 for 1.6 million dollars.
On November 15th 1998, the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder merged. This had originally been proposed at the turn of the century because the town centres are only three miles apart. Boulder residents objected the idea as their Shire contained the majority of mining leases, and it had a separate character from the administrative and commercial town of Kalgoorlie. In 2001, Kalgoorlie-Boulder celebrated the national history of mining by opening the Miners and Prospectors Hall of Fame. The Museum's opening coincided with Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines closing Mt Charlotte, the longest operating mine in the precinct of the Golden Mile.
The efficiency of modern mining methods has made it possible to reopen abandoned mines safely. This is the case with Broad Arrow and Paddington, they have been revived as open-cut mines, and worked by residents of Kalgoorlie-Boulder who commute daily to their jobs. Gold is still the major source of prosperity for the region, and nickel is the second most important resource produced in and around the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Distance from Perth (km): 603
Area (sq km): 95,228.5
Length of Sealed Roads (km): 305.23
Length of Unsealed Roads (km): 1,017.15
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