Although there are plenty of places in Australia where you can go for a holiday which will put you under no immediate stress, sometimes the more relaxing holidays can get boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love the likes of Bondi, Surfers or Cottesloe, but they’re never going to be places where you go to avoid the crowds. In Australia we are uniquely well catered for when it comes to out-of-the-way places to travel to. Although I’d be the last to play up to the whole stereotype of untamed Australia, there is a great deal to see in the more remote towns and it is certainly a holiday experience with a difference.
Possibly my favorite example of this is Kalgoorlie. Although the residents are probably tired of people referring to it as an example of Australia’s “Wild West”, the comparison is there for a reason. I’ve now been three times, the most recent with my fiancée. She is every bit as enamoured by the place as I am. We will be back. There is a sense when you spend a bit of time in Kalgoorlie that everyone in the town at that time would do whatever they can for anyone else there. Just being there creates a kind of bonhomie and togetherness that is difficult if not impossible to manufacture. Maybe that’s what comes from having a super pit goldmine in your town?
The architecture in the town is some of the most visually arresting you’re likely to see. There since colonial times, it stands in its original form and gives the whole town a look and a feel that makes it undoubtedly appealing to the tourist without ever trying too hard. The pubs, due to health and safety regulations, have obviously had to change somewhat since the early days but the character remains intact. Plain old iron shacks stand as a memorial to a bygone age when, as cliché has it, “men were men”. In the town itself there is plenty to see and do, and a lot of places to relax. A “Mining Hall of Fame” might not sound to the uninitiated like a grand day out, but it really is a very interesting way to pass a few hours. And the historic Hay Street is definitely an eye opener, with its red lit window structures identifying it as the home for the world’s oldest profession.
Getting outside the town can make for a good trip too. Not in a pejorative sense, of course, but for the views it allows. Nearby Mount Charlotte was a trip in itself, and having climbed it and looked down I got a whole new perspective on Kalgoorlie. From above it really is quite something to see, and it really aided my appreciation of the town.
In the second and third days we spent in Kalgoorlie we decided on a few day trips to the towns of Broad Arrow and Kanowna. These towns were not quite the same as Kalgoorlie, both being ghost towns. If you’ve never visited a ghost town (and the first time I went to Broad Arrow, I hadn’t), then you don’t really get an appreciation of how appropriate the term is. It really was an eerie experience.
No account of a trip to Kalgoorlie, though, would be complete without mention of a trip out into the bush. The indigenous tour guides really made this part of the holiday what it was, with their easy command of the oral tradition making everything feel a lot more authentic and all round interesting. A particular highlight for me was sitting around a campfire listening to the spiritual, super-real Dreamtime storytelling. As I say, we will certainly be back to Kalgoorlie, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a real holiday.