The biggest city in the Australian outback, Kalgoorlie is a vibrant mix of gold rush history, grand colonial buildings and immense mining operations, surrounded by some of the most dazzling spring wildflowers and eerie gold-rush ghost towns.
You can get there by air, road, rail or guided tour from Perth. Flights and TransWA trains depart daily. Or, hit the Great Eastern Highway for the 600 kilometre (seven-hour) road trip from city to outback, stopping to ride one of Australia’s biggest waves at Wave Rock.
‘Kal’, as the locals call it, was born during the 1880s gold rush, when thousands of starry-eyed prospectors made the journey east of Perth to seek their fortunes. Today, their legacy lives on in magnificent architecture and one of the world’s largest open cut mines – the Super Pit. At 3.5 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide, the pit produces 900,000 ounces of gold each year and makes a mind-blowing experience for those who join the guided tour.
There are riches in Kalgoorlie’s centre too, particularly on Hannan Street (named after Irishman Paddy Hannan who struck gold in 1893) where you’ll find a buzz of lively bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants.
For a real slice of gold rush life and Goldfields culture, check out the Kalgoorlie-Boulder WA Museum, the Royal Flying Doctor’s Visitor Centre and the art galleries featuring the works of Aboriginal and Goldfields artists.
Venturing north to the vast salt pan of Lake Ballard, you’ll find yourself in the largest outdoor art gallery on Earth – the Inside Australia exhibit by world-renowned artist Antony Gormley. Continue further to Leonora and the ghost town of Gwalia, and you’ll stumble upon the home of America’s 31st President, Herbert Hoover.
Golfers should swing by the multi-million dollar international golf course that’s rapidly becoming one of the world’s top desert courses. It marks the beginning of the Nullarbor Links – the longest golf course on Earth.
Accommodation-wise there are many options, from camping and caravan parks to hotels and motels. You’ll even find free 24-hour overnight caravan parking near the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Shire Office.