Friday, 3 October 2008

Merredin and on to Kalgoorlie

I enjoyed the town of Merredin very much and am very amazed at how progressive the town has been dealing with salination caused by rising groundwater levels, but will comment and write more about this when I return through this town on my way back to Perth. I leave Merredin after one night because of a total change in weather.

This morning there are low clouds in the sky and an incessant drizzle. The temperature has dropped, means that I leave the town after a fuel stop in the rain, with my heater on. I am heading east toward Kalgoorlie, about 320km away. I am still in the wheatbelt, lots of fields, all green and lush - this means, Happy Farmers that love to see their crops earning money. I intend to keep driving east, in the hope that I get to the end of this wet weather system. The sky really looks black and I see rain and fog all around me. Several times I see clearing skies ahead, but its always just a short break in the clouds, then its back to black skies.

Finally, about 180km east of Merredin, I get to see what is above all those black clouds, white cumulus clouds and blue sky. Yes! That’s exactly what I am looking for! I stop briefly at Coolgardie, another Gold Mining Town where back in the late 19th century Gold has also been discovered. Some of the grand buildings there also reflect the wealth generated by those discoveries.

Quite impressive buildings in Coolgardie

I arrive at Kalgoorlie, pick up some fruit and Ryebread, go to the Tourist Info to get some advice where to stay and head off to one of the caravan parks where I book myself in for 3 nights.

With the discovery of Gold back in those early days, the biggest problem for any of the miners was the lack of water. It was decided, a pipeline was to built to bring in water all the way from Perth, some 650km to the west of Kalgoorlie. On my way East, that pipeline, still in operation today follows along the highway, most of the way to Kalgoorlie.

Here a copy from one of the websites:
In 1895 the first plans were prepared for an engineering feat that would stagger the world — an attempt to pump water uphill some 500 km, from the hills near Perth to the goldfields of Coolgardie. Before construction began, the dream had become bigger. The pipeline was extended for water to be pumped even further east, to the new goldfields of Kalgoorlie.

On 24 January 1903, the dream became a reality when water, which began its journey at Mundaring Weir, flowed into to Mt Charlotte Reservoir at Kalgoorlie. Today, water is supplied to over 100 000 people and six million sheep in an area covering 44 000 square kilometres (two thirds the size of Tasmania).

If you would like further information on this subject, click on the link below to wickipedia Water Pipeline to Kalgoorlie

Kalgoorlie is the first large town since leaving Darwin. With over 35,000 inhabitants, its been a mining town for over 100 years, Gold still being dug out of the ground in open-cut mining which has produced a "Super Pit" on the outskirts of town. I drive out to the lookout over the Super Pit to get an idea of what this is all about. It is truly gigantic, similar in size to the iron ore mining operation I saw at Tom Price.

This gives an idea of the size of the equipment in use

Around 1.00pm I am told there will be blasting at the bottom of the Super Pit, obviously others want to take a look as well. Have a look at the short video clip I took of this event.

The area circled will be blasted today

Later I am taking part in a tour around the original mining shafts with a demonstration of pouring liquid "Gold" into an ingot.

There are many impressive buildings around town that bear witness to the wealth generated already more than a hundred years ago. The streets are well laid out and there is a sense of space wherever I drive.

A view over part of the town

Here is a copy from Wickipedia about the town:
Places, famous or infamous, that Kalgoorlie is noted for include its water pipeline, designed by C. Y. O'Connor, which brings in fresh water from Mundaring Weir near Perth; its Hay Street brothels (the street itself was apparently named after Hay Street, Perth); its two-up school; the goldfields railway loopline; the Kalgoorlie Town Hall; the Paddy Hannan statue/drinking fountain; the Super Pit; and Mt Charlotte lookout. Its main street is Hannan Street, named after the town's founder.

A funny sign for a place to eat (Hogs Breath)

A look down Hannan Street

One of the infamous brothels also serves as a museum and is a major national attraction.

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