The old gold mining town of Menzies is your entry to the largest outdoor gallery on Earth and one of the art world’s most extraordinary exhibits, ‘Inside Australia’. Created by internationally renowned artist Antony Gormley, the collection of 51 sculptures are dotted over 10 square kilometres of Lake Ballard’s stark white salt bed.
Driving north of Kalgoorlie, you’ll reach Menzies within one and a half hours. Lake Ballard and the Antony Gormley sculptures lie 55 kilometres to the north-west and day tours from Kalgoorlie regularly visit the art installation.
The Gormley sculptures, created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Perth International Arts Festival, represent some of the local residents of Menzies. It’s hard to imagine the town was once home to more than 10,000 people during the gold rush sparked by Lesley Robert Menzies, who struck significant reserves in 1894.
Within a decade, the town’s population had grown and shrunk back to just a few hundred, although you’ll still find the odd gold prospector and fossicker in search of their fortune. If you fancy joining them, you’ll need to apply for a permit.
Grand gold rush architecture still stands as a reminder of Menzies’ glory days, including the Menzies Town Hall that’s famous for standing ‘clockless’ for 100 years. Local legend says the original clock lies at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, after the ship that brought it from England sank off Rottnest Island. Facing an uncertain future, the town decided not to order another one and so it stood bare until New Year’s Eve 2000, when a clock was finally put in place to mark the new millennium.
For more fascinating insights and tourist information, head for the Menzies Visitor Centre, located in the ‘Former’ Lady Shenton Hotel. Grab some lunch at the local hotel, and if you’re making Menzies your base for a few days, book yourself in at the caravan park.