Every town or city is unique, but Kalgoorlie carries with it a certain distinction.
It’s one of those places that becomes etched into your memory, bursting with evocative landscapes, sights, experiences, and attractions.
Built on a fortuitous gold rush more than a century-and-a-quarter ago, Kalgoorlie has not looked back.
Today, it and its twin town of Boulder – and the wider Goldfields region – continue to reap the riches associated with the glittering metal. And there are myriad rewards for visitors, too.
Where: 595km east of Perth (6hr 30min drive) in the Goldfields region. Albany to Kalgoorlie is 725km (8hr drive).
Population: 40,059 (including Boulder; as at 2016 Census).
Best known for: Gold, stunning sunsets, and attractive heritage buildings.
Regarded as: The largest city in the Australian Outback.
Kalgoorlie’s origins can be retraced to 1893 when a trio of Irish prospectors – most notably Paddy Hannan – were forced into an unscheduled stop on their way to nearby Mt Youle.
One of the trio’s horses cast a shoe, and during the chance stoppage the men discovered roughly 2.8kg of alluvial gold.
It led to one of Australia’s most significant gold rushes, and today Kalgoorlie remains among the world’s most important mining areas.
Paddy Hannan hasn’t been forgotten. Kalgoorlie’s main street takes his surname complete with a statue of the revered character.
Super Pit lookout
A visit here is one of the best things to do in Kalgoorlie. Photos rarely demonstrate just how monstrous the Super Pit is, and it’s all but guaranteed that its sheer size will blow visitors away. Bring binoculars if you own them. Additionally, Super Pit tours are available.
Museum of the Goldfields
Relive the exhilarating but challenging gold-mining days at this excellent attraction. There is a vast assortment of items to view and information to absorb, with a massive collection of gold bars and nuggets among its highlights. An absolute must-do in Kalgoorlie.
Hannans North Tourist Mine
Delve deeper into the area’s fascinating mining past at this historical site. It offers self-guided surface tours that give great glimpses into the workings of both old and modern-day mining. It also features live gold-pouring demonstrations at selected times.
Goldfields War Museum
Away from mining, this compelling attraction reveals the stories of major conflicts as seen through the eyes of locals. It’s all presented in various modern exhibition spaces.
The museum is housed in the Boulder Town Hall, which is also home to the Goatcher Curtain, an extravagant theatre stage curtain painting.
Kalgoorlie is dotted with stunning heritage structures that tangibly highlight the wealth that’s flowed through these parts. Admire it all on a self-guided walking tour at the cost of only a few calories. Or, for a fee, hire a headset from the visitor centre and embark on a fact-rich Kalgoorlie Boulder Audio Walking Tour.
For a more contemporary experience, grab a Heartwalk map and feast your eyes on the many works of talented artists who have created captivatingly colourful murals. The 4km self-guided CBD trail allows ample opportunity for café pitstops.
Beautiful Hammond Park is a drawcard for all ages and a premier picnic spot. Within its boundaries are barbecue facilities, a playground, mini castle, native birds and animals, and more among ample greenery and shade.
On the city’s outskirts, Karlkurla Bushland Park provides another appealing picnic setting. It too suits walks with its woodlands environment, various wildlife, and Katunga lookout, which is a popular spot for witnessing a famed Kalgoorlie sunset. Alternatively, Mt Charlotte Lookout, just beyond the CBD, is a super spot to soak up sweeping views.
Just like Kalgoorlie itself, the Goldfields Golf Club delivers a memorable experience. It’s a lot to do with the setting of this championship 18-hole course, which contrasts bushland and rich-red desert sands with lush green fairways and greens.
Head to the rustic and authentic Kalgoorlie Two-Up School on a Sunday afternoon. This corrugated iron shed is a throwback to the city’s gold-mining days, reliving the popularity of the gambling game during this period. The site is one of only a handful of places where two-up can be played legally year round.
At Beaten Track Brewery in Boulder for a rare-ish chance to sample tasty craft beer in the Goldfields region. Don’t let the exterior of this metal shed deter you – it’s what’s inside that counts.
Broad Arrow Tavern
This character-filled circa 1896 pub is a classic and worth the drive for a bite to eat and a quiet drink. Find it 40km north of Kalgoorlie.
It was once home to a booming population drawn to the golden riches on offer; yet today Menzies has a population hovering nearer to 100. Its cluster of gorgeous old buildings makes for interesting viewing.
However, Menzies’ prominence has re-risen following its gateway status to Lake Ballard and the popular outdoor art gallery, Inside Australia – Antony Gormley Sculptures. The works of renowned British artist Antony Gormley, Inside Australia contains 51 steel sculptures dotted over 10 sq km of the lake’s salt plain.
Menzies is 130km north of Kalgoorlie and it’s a further 50km northeast of here to Inside Australia.
While Kalgoorlie flourishes, many towns surrounding it that once thrived are now shadows of their former selves. And they make for fascinating exploration.
In addition to Menzies, time appears to have stood still for decades in the likes of Gwalia, Davyhurst, Kookynie, and Ora Banda.
Coolgardie is an essential stop. This is where the gold rush of 1892 began, and the town was once WA’s third-largest city. It has an excellent collection of variable attractions and is only 35km southwest of Kalgoorlie.
BIG4 Acclaim Prospector Holiday Park
Park type: Classic.
This centrally positioned holiday park has broad appeal with variable cabin accommodation alongside powered and unpowered sites.