Unearthing Kalgoorlie: The Best Guide to the Heart of the Goldfields in 2023
This comprehensive guide to Kalgoorlie, a town steeped in history and blessed with stunning landscapes, shows you the most captivating sights, introduces you to the town’s vibrant culture and reveals off-the-beaten-path destinations that make Kalgoorlie truly one-of-a-kind.
With the humungous Super Pit and the charming heritage architecture lining Hannan Street, Western Australia’s iconic mining town offers a wealth of unique attractions and experiences.
We are yet to visit Kalgoorlie, but I’ve had lots of input from family and friends (plus heaps of research) to plan this guide – which we will use on our road trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie soon.
Where is Kalgoorlie?
Kalgoorlie is in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. It is approximately 600 kilometres east of Perth, the state capital.
Kalgoorlie Weather – When to Visit
Kalgoorlie experiences a semi-arid climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters.
Summer (December to February)
Summers in Kalgoorlie are hot, with temperatures often exceeding 40°C (104°F). The region receives minimal rainfall during this time, and the days can be scorching. If you visit during summer, be prepared for the heat and ensure you stay hydrated and protected from the sun.
Autumn (March to May)
Autumn brings more moderate temperatures to Kalgoorlie, making it a pleasant time to visit. Daytime temperatures range from the mid-20s to low 30s Celsius (mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit), while nights become cooler. Autumn is considered an ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring the region.
Winter (June to August)
Winter in Kalgoorlie is mild. Daytime temperatures range from the mid-teens to low 20s Celsius (mid-50s to low 70s Fahrenheit), with cooler nights. While it’s generally drier during winter, occasional rainfall may occur. This season is perfect for outdoor exploration and sightseeing.
Spring (September to November)
Rising temperatures and occasional rainfall characterise spring in Kalgoorlie. Daytime temperatures gradually increase from the mid-20s to high 20s Celsius (mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit), making it an excellent time to witness wildflowers blossoming in the surrounding areas.
The best time to visit Kalgoorlie depends on your preferences and tolerance for heat. Autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) are generally considered the most comfortable seasons, offering mild temperatures for outdoor activities.
How to get to Kalgoorlie from Perth
Kalgoorlie is serviced by the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport (KGI) with regular flights from Perth. Both Qantas and Virgin Australia operate flights to and from Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie is accessible by road from Perth via the Great Eastern Highway (National Route 94), which is approximately a 6-hour drive.
Kalgoorlie has well-maintained roads, but when travelling outside the city, be aware that some areas may have unsealed or gravel roads. Be careful, especially during wet weather, as road conditions may be dangerous.
There are car hire booths at Perth airport, but it’s best to pre-book your car rental.
To compare Australia car hire prices, Discover Cars is an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are have a high rate of customer satisfaction.
Drivenow is a good resource to compare campervan hire in Western Australia as it includes all the large companies like Britz, Maui, Jucy as well as smaller ones.
Compare Rental Cars Here.
Renting a car is a popular option for getting around Kalgoorlie at your own pace. Several car rental companies operate in Kalgoorlie, and it’s recommended to book in advance to secure the vehicle of your choice.
However, most hire companies limit the number of kilometres and don’t allow travel on unsealed roads (unless authorised). As always, familiarise yourself with the rental car company’s terms and conditions, including insurance coverage, fuel policies, and additional fees or restrictions.
Use Discover Cars to compare rental companies and prices.
Taxis are available in Kalgoorlie, and you can find them at designated taxi ranks or book them by phone or through dedicated taxi apps.
Kalgoorlie has limited public transportation options. The TransGoldfields bus service operates within the city and surrounding areas, but the frequency and coverage may be limited. It’s advisable to check their schedules and routes in advance.
Taking these transportation tips into account can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience while exploring Kalgoorlie and its surroundings.
Things to do in Kalgoorlie
Discover the top attractions in Kalgoorlie that showcase this mining town’s unique charm and heritage.
1. Kalgoorlie Super Pit Tours
Marvel at the massive Super Pit, one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the world. Witness colossal machinery in action and gain a deeper understanding of the gold mining industry’s significance to the region.
The Super Pit is an impressive feat of human engineering and ingenuity, spanning over 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide, and over 600 meters deep. It was Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine until 2016 when the Newmont Boddington gold mine (also in WA) surpassed it.
Paddy Hannon first discovered gold in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region in 1893. As more and more gold was found, mining companies began to consolidate their operations, resulting in the creation of larger and more efficient mining sites. In 1989, Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) was formed (with around 260 individual mining leases), and the Super Pit was created by merging several individual open-pit mines into one.
The Super Pit has become a symbol of Kalgoorlie’s mining heritage and a major contributor to the regional economy. The mine produces around 900,000 ounces of gold annually, making it one of the world’s most significant gold mines. The Super Pit accounts for a large portion of Australia’s gold production, contributing to the country’s reputation as a leading gold producer (second only to China).
The mine operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using a fleet of trucks, shovels, and excavators to extract gold from the earth. The process begins with removing the overlying soil and rock, exposing the gold-bearing ore beneath. The ore is then extracted and transported to the processing plant, where it is crushed, ground, and treated with chemicals to extract the gold.
If you can only do one thing in Kalgoorlie, it should be taking a tour of this KCGM super pit. Kalgoorlie Tours and Charters run tours which can be booked up to 4 weeks in advance. You’ll see the huge machinery and have photo opportunities from the internal viewing lookout that has panoramic views only visible on the tour. It might be an eyesore, but it is incredible to see. Check the conditions before booking, as you must wear the mandatory clothing.
2. KCGM Super Pit Lookout
4.5 ⭐️ over 1200 reviews
If you can’t book a tour, head to the public Super Pit Lookout at the top of Outram Street in Boulder (off the Goldfields Highway, 6.4km south of Hannan Street). You may have the chance of seeing a blast – find out if a blast is planned for the day here.
3. 30-Minute Kalgoorlie Big Pit Scenic Flight
To truly appreciate the vastness of the pit, take a scenic flight over the Super Pit with wonderful views of the city.
4. Hannans North Tourist Mine
4.5 ⭐️ over 400 reviews
The Hainault mine was a working mine until 1968 and one of the most successful mines in the Eastern Goldfields. In 1972, locals decided to open the Hainault mine to visitors. Retired Kalgoorlie miners conducted underground tours and rock drilling demonstrations to over 750,000 visitors over twenty years (it was incorporated into the super pit in 1991).
Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) decided to establish a new visitor attraction in the region and examined five shafts. Hannans North was deemed the best condition and chosen for the new site.
You can take a self-guided tour to learn about Paddy Hannan’s gold discovery, try your hand at gold panning, climb aboard a giant 793C haul truck and stand in the shovel of a 994F loader as you find out about the workings of both old and modern-day mining.
Open Sunday to Friday (except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s Day)
9 am to 4 pm except ANZAC Day (12 pm to 4 pm)
Entry Prices @ May 2023:
- Adult A$16
- Senior/Concession A$14 (Valid ID Required)
- Child A$9 (5-15 years)
- Family A$47.00 (2 adults and up to 4 children)
The average time of visit is 90 minutes.
5. The Museum of the Goldfields
4.6 ⭐️ over 50 reviews
The Museum of the Goldfields houses permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase the rich history of the Eastern Goldfields and the city’s mining heritage. See the largest display of WA’s collection of gold bars and nuggets in the most secure public access vault in Australia. Learn about the Goldfields’ history through the exhibition Our Place, which features photos, objects, and stories of Aboriginal history, the pioneers, and the early miners.
One of the most interesting parts is the incredible engineering feat of getting water to the 300,000 residents that lived in the eastern Goldfields in 1903. The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme was designed by Western Australia’s Chief Engineer, CY O’Connor, whereby pipes could deliver 22.73 million litres of water per day from Mundaring Weir (Dam) in the west to Mount Charlotte Reservoir at Kalgoorlie. That’s 560km! The pipeline still provides water for the domestic and agricultural needs of the communities between Mundaring and Kalgoorlie.
Open daily (except for Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day & Good Friday)
10 am to 3 pm except ANZAC Day (1 pm to 3 pm)
Entry is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
Other museums include Goldfields War Museum and Signpost Goldfields Racing Museum.
6. Mount Charlotte Reservoir Lookout
4.3 ⭐️ over 230 reviews
To learn more about CY O’Connor’s “Golden Pipeline”, visit the lookout at Mount Charlotte Reservoir, where the water ends up. The panoramic views of Kalgoorlie from here are especially lovely at sunset.
7. Hammond Park
4.6 ⭐️ over 500 reviews
Hammond Park has something for every member of your family. Enjoy a walk through the wildlife sanctuary, where you can get up close to kangaroos or sit in the heritage-listed rotunda while your kids have fun in the playground. You can see a small Bavarian Castle that is believed to have more than 40,000 gemstones decorating the façade. Hammond Park is an excellent place for a bbq or picnic.
8. Kalgoorlie-Boulder Audio Walking Tour
4.5 ⭐️ over 80 reviews
The Kalgoorlie Boulder Audio Walking Tour is available to purchase from the Kalgoorlie Boulder Visitor Centre for A$15 (a $50 bond is also required at the time of collection). You can bring headphones or buy them there. The walk covers around 50 attractions and can be done at your own pace.
Some of the highlights of the walk include:
Kalgoorlie Town Hall
4.5 ⭐️ over 150 reviews
The Kalgoorlie Town Hall (now the Visitor Centre) is a grand heritage building on Hannan Street. Built in 1908 as a theatre, this Federation Free Classical style building features beautiful ornate pressed metal ceilings, chandeliers, and a sweeping staircase.
It is open for guided tours only on Mondays (excluding public holidays) and Wednesdays at 10.30 am.
The tour costs:
Adults A$10, Concessions A$8 and children under 16 years of age A$4 (cash only).
Paddy Hannan Fountain
Wilson & Hannan Streets
This iron statue fountain replicates the original inside the Kalgoorlie Town Hall. The original was unveiled in 1929 to commemorate Paddy Hannan, Thomas Flanagan, and Dan Shea finding the first gold nugget on the Golden Mile.
The original statue is made from 90 pieces of copper and was erected outside the Kalgoorlie Town Hall for Western Australia’s centenary. Sadly, it was vandalised numerous times, so it was moved to the Kalgoorlie Town Hall. The replica, made by sculptor Peter Gelencser, replaced the original in its Hannan Street location.
St Barbara Square and Statue
This lovely statue fountain in Hannan Street is dedicated to Saint Barbara, the Patron Saint of Miners.
The Palace Hotel
4.1⭐️ over 500 reviews
The Palace Hotel, built in 1897, is a great example of the Federation architectural style. It was known as the most luxurious hotel in Western Australia outside Perth.
Stone quarried from the local Ashlar quarries was used to build the hotel, a generator supplied its own electricity, a condenser provided fresh water, and furniture was shipped from Melbourne.
Herbert Hoover has a special place in the history of the Palace Hotel; as a 22-year-old US mining engineer in the Goldfields, he enjoyed its hospitality. As a token of his fondness for the hotel and appreciation for their service, Hoover gifted them an ornately-carved mirror that stands in the entrance to this day!
The Exchange Hotel
4.4⭐️ over 400 reviews
The Exchange Hotel is an iconic venue dating back to 1900, now known for its “skimpies” (topless staff). It was built as a hotel and is still used for accommodation today.
9. Karlkurla Bushland Park
4.6⭐️ over 100 reviews
Karlkurla (pronounced gull-gurl-la) Bushland Park, a beautiful oasis within the city, has over 2,000 trees and shrubs planted by community volunteers in 2000. Walk along the 4 km trail and appreciate the unique flora and fauna.
Visit the Katunga Lookout for views of the surrounding bushland. It’s especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
Dogs are allowed if they are kept on lead.
10. Questa Casa Tour
Questa Casa (pink house) is the only original brothel in Kalgoorlie and provides visitors with a glimpse into one of the world’s oldest working brothels. Hour-long tours take you through the historical working areas of the house. Over 18’s only!
11. Kalgoorlie Golf Course
4.6⭐️ over 200 reviews
Kalgoorlie Golf Course is a premier nine and 18-hole course currently ranked 27 in Australia’s Top 100 Public Access Courses. Home to the Goldfields Golf Club, it is open to the public seven days a week.
12. Kalgoorlie Art
Kalgoorlie Boulder offers a wide range of arts, including photography, paintings, woodwork, sculpture, jewellery and woodwork.
Some of the galleries and studios to visit are:
- Black Crow Studios
- Bush Blossom Gallery
- Chunky Timber Co
- Fossick & Co
- Goldfields Aboriginal Art Gallery
- Goldfields Arts Centre
13. Honey Ant Tours
Join Goldfields Honey Ant Tours on a bushfood foraging trip in the Australian Outback. Try the prized honey from the honeypot ant. Made from the sweet nectar of desert flowers, this honey has been an important part of the traditional desert diet for the traditional land custodians. Other foods you may find are witchetty grubs and nuts and fruits, including quandong, bush pear, and sandalwood nuts.
14. Beaten Track Brewery
4.5⭐️ over 70 reviews
This small micro-brewery pub should be on any beer-lovers list – it also serves delicious burgers.
Open Wednesday from 5 pm to 9 pm and Thursday to Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm (kitchen closes at 8 pm).
Day Trips from Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Visit the historic gold rush town and the Lake Ballard sculptures on this day trip from Kalgoorlie.
The scenic drive to Menzies takes approximately 90 minutes, allowing you to enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the Goldfields region. Take time to explore this historic town – Menzies Cemetery is a poignant reminder of the challenges faced in the gold rush era, including typhoid.
Continue to Lake Ballard, an hour’s drive northwest of Menzies. This vast salt lake is famous for its striking art installation, the Lake Ballard Sculptures, created by renowned artist Antony Gormley. Take a stroll along the lake’s white expanse, where you’ll encounter 51 larger-than-life iron sculptures spread across the landscape, each representing a local community member.
Kookynie is more of a 2-day trip as the drive is around two hours one way, but worth a visit (tag it onto Menzies).
This ghost town was once a thriving gold mining community, with around 1,500 residents in 1905. The 2021 Census showed 99 people living there. Today, you can explore the remnants of the town’s fascinating past and have a drink or something to eat at the Grand Hotel Kookynie, a quintessential goldfields pub.
The town’s name is believed to mean waterhole in the local Australian Aboriginal language.
While there, visit Niagara Dam, built in 1898, to provide water for the railway linking Menzies and Kalgoorlie.
Where to Eat in Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie offers a range of dining options, from classic Australian pub fare to international cuisines. Here are some local dining options and the best places to eat in Kalgoorlie:
1. The York Hotel
4⭐️ over 160 reviews
Known for its friendly service and relaxed ambience, the York Hotel offers a menu filled with classic Australian pub favourites, including pub-style fish and chips, chicken parmigiana, and tasty burgers.
2. Balcony Bar & Restaurant, Palace Hotel
4.5⭐️ over 390 reviews
The Balcony Bar & Restaurant serves high-quality Australian dishes with vegetarian options available.
Open from 4 pm Monday to Saturday.
3. Hoovers Café, Palace Hotel
4⭐️ over 170 reviews
This café is also part of the beautiful Palace Hotel and is a good spot for a coffee, breakfast, or quick bite to eat.
4. Yada Thai
4.5⭐️ over 140 reviews
Thai restaurant that seems to be a bit hit and miss with mixed reviews.
5. Ruby’s Rasoi
4.5⭐️ over 30 reviews
Satisfy your cravings for Indian cuisine at Ruby’s Rasoi, where you’ll find a range of modern Indian food, including curries and biryanis, prepared with authentic flavours and spices. A kids menu is also available.
6. De Bernales
4.5⭐️ over 80 reviews
A relaxed Australian/European bar and bistro serving brunch, lunch, and dinner catering to large and small groups.
When booking accommodation in Kalgoorlie, it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons or when there are major events in the area.
Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort
7.6⭐️ over 1300 reviews
Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort is a well-regarded hotel offering comfortable rooms, designed with modern amenities and stylish décor.
Guests can relax in the resort’s indoor or outdoor swimming pool and spa. The on-site restaurant and bar serve delicious meals and drinks throughout the day.
The Palace Hotel
7.5⭐️ over 1100 reviews
Staying at the Palace Hotel in Kalgoorlie is a unique experience. Built in 1897, the heritage-listed hotel has been restored to its former glory and features elegant architecture and historic charm.
Guests can choose from a range of rooms and suites, like budget rooms, traditional hotel rooms, rooms with a private balcony, family rooms, a 5-bedroom apartment and corporate suites.
The hotel’s on-site Hoovers Cafe serves breakfast and lunch with dinner at The Balcony Bar and Restaurant daily, excluding some public holidays.
Kalgoorlie Accommodation – Budget
Hospitality Inn Kalgoorlie, SureStay Collection by Best Western
7.6⭐️ over 1200 reviews
The Hospitality Inn Kalgoorlie, SureStay Collection by Best Western, is a popular motel with comfortable rooms in the centre of Kalgoorlie. The hotel offers a range of room types, including two-bedroom suites.
Guests can relax by the outdoor swimming pool or enjoy a drink at the on-site bar.
Kalgoorlie Accommodation – Family Friendly
8.4⭐️ over 690 reviews
The Quest Yelverton in Kalgoorlie offers one and two-bedroom apartment-style accommodation in the city.
Guests can enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and BBQ area.
Discovery Parks Kalgoorlie Goldfields
7.6⭐️ over 240 reviews
A holiday park offering a range of accommodation options, including cabins and camping sites. A great option for families with an outdoor pool and playground
Safety Precautions & Respecting Local Customs in Kalgoorlie
- Follow basic safety practices, such as locking your car when unattended, keeping valuables secure, and being aware of your surroundings.
- Mining areas in and around Kalgoorlie are active industrial zones. Respect all signs, barriers, and restricted access areas.
- Respect the local Aboriginal cultures and customs, and be mindful of sacred sites. Seek permission before entering any restricted or culturally sensitive areas.
- Kalgoorlie is located in a remote region of Western Australia. If you plan to venture into the outback, ensure you are well-prepared. Carry plenty of water, food, and fuel, and inform someone of your travel plans. Be aware of potential hazards, including extreme weather conditions and wildlife encounters.
- Observe and adhere to traffic rules and speed limits while driving. If you encounter heavy mining vehicles on the roads, give them the right of way.
Essential Services & Visitor Information
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Visitor Centre is at 316 Hannan Street and provides comprehensive information on attractions, tours, accommodation, and events in Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie Health Campus (hospital) is at 15 Piccadilly Street, with various medical services and emergency care.
Several pharmacies are available throughout Kalgoorlie, offering prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and health advice.
Major Australian banks have branches and ATMs in Kalgoorlie, including Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, and National Australia Bank.
Most hotels, cafes, and restaurants in Kalgoorlie offer Wi-Fi access for their patrons.
Hannan Street is the main shopping strip in Kalgoorlie, featuring a variety of retail stores, supermarkets, boutiques, and speciality shops.
There are numerous fuel stations in Kalgoorlie.
Practical Tips for Visiting Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie experiences hot summers and cool winters. Pack accordingly, with lightweight and breathable clothing for summer and warmer layers for winter. Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Carry a water bottle with you, especially during the hotter months, to stay hydrated.
Most businesses accept card payments, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases or in case of any payment issues.
If you plan to explore the area beyond the city centre, consider renting a car or joining organised tours. Public transport options are limited, so having your own vehicle will offer more flexibility.
Check the opening hours of attractions, shops, and restaurants, as they may vary. Some businesses may close earlier on weekends or have limited hours on public holidays.
Kalgoorlie operates on Australian Western Standard Time (AWST), which is UTC+8. Keep this in mind when planning activities, flights, or contacting businesses.
Remember to check the latest travel advisories and updates before your trip, and have travel insurance to cover any unexpected situations.
As of the 2021 census, the estimated population of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is around 29,000 residents.
We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and First People of these lands, the Wongatha people. We would like to pay our respects to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of their people.
Kalgoorlie’s history is deeply rooted in the discovery of gold and the subsequent development of the mining industry in Western Australia. The town’s origins can be traced back to the late 19th century when gold was discovered in the region, sparking a series of gold rushes that would change the face of the Australian outback.
In 1893, an Irish-born prospector Paddy Hannan and his partners, Thomas Flanagan and Daniel Shea, discovered gold near Mount Charlotte. This find was accidental as they only stopped there because their horse lost a shoe!
Hannan filed a Reward Claim in June 1893, which led to a massive influx of prospectors to the area. The ensuing gold rush attracted thousands of miners, entrepreneurs, and settlers to the region, quickly transforming the barren landscape into a bustling, thriving community.
Kalgoorlie and its neighbouring town, Boulder, became the epicentre of the Western Australian gold rush, with numerous mines and claims sprouting up throughout the region. The region’s most famous mining area, the Golden Mile, quickly became one of the richest square miles on Earth.
The burgeoning gold mining industry in Kalgoorlie and Boulder led to the construction of essential infrastructure, including railways, water pipelines, and telegraph lines. The completion of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme in 1903, designed by engineer C.Y. O’Connor, was a significant milestone, providing a reliable water source to the arid region by pumping water from Mundaring Weir near Perth to the Goldfields.
As the gold reserves dwindled, smaller mining operations consolidated into larger ones. In 1989, the Super Pit was created by amalgamating numerous smaller mines into one massive open-pit mine. The Super Pit, operated by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), remains one of the largest open-pit mines in the world, producing a significant portion of Australia’s gold.
In 1989, the separate towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder joined to form the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Today, the city is not only known for its mining heritage but also as a vibrant regional hub, attracting tourists and visitors who come to explore its rich history, unique architecture, and natural beauty.
What is Kalgoorlie known for?
Kalgoorlie is known for its rich mining history, particularly the Super Pit, one of the world’s largest open-pit gold mines. The town also offers a glimpse into the gold rush era with its historic buildings, museums, and cultural attractions.
What is the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie?
The Super Pit is an enormous open-pit gold mine on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie. It is an iconic attraction and a significant contributor to Australia’s gold production.
What is the best time to visit Kalgoorlie?
The best time to visit Kalgoorlie is during the cooler months from April to October, when the weather is more pleasant.
Are there any ghost towns near Kalgoorlie worth visiting?
There are ghost towns near Kalgoorlie that offer a glimpse into the region’s gold rush past. Two notable ones are Kookynie and Gwalia. Kookynie is approximately 110 kilometres northeast of Kalgoorlie, while Gwalia, once a thriving mining town, is around 230 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.
Is Kalgoorlie a safe place to visit?
Kalgoorlie is generally a safe place to visit. However, it’s always advisable to take general safety precautions, such as locking your vehicle, keeping valuables secure, and being aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
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Other Things To Do in Western Australia
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