We had spent the previous night in the town of Norseman. The town was named after a horse who initially discovered gold there back in 1894. When I say the horse discovered gold, he didn’t jump up and down neighing “I’m rich. I’m rich!” Horses do not seem too interested in gold and the trappings of wealth! Rather, the horse got a piece of gold bearing quartz in his hoof, and his owner, I imagine claimed it as his find. After this discovery the town developed and at one time became the second-richest gold-field in WA, extracting over 100 tonnes of gold. Today, it is still a mining town. In fact, the Norseman Gold Mine, is Australia’s longest continuously running gold mine and is classed as having a desert climate. I’ve been to a fair few Goldfield towns in Australia and this one was by different than the others. It was much smaller, and more low-key. Other gold-field towns I have been to have built grand public buildings, I guess as a symbol of the wealth afforded by the gold. Unless you knew its history, you would never guess this of Norseman. A water line and bitumen roads were only added in 1935 though so, by this time, building such elaborate status symbols were no longer the norm.
We woke up early, as usual, and left at around 7am. We only had a short drive ahead of us to Kalgoorlie (188 km) given that we had driven further than planned the previous day. The drive was all pretty similar, single carriageway with bush either side, although not dense. Every now and again we’d pass a side road that would lead to some mine or other but apart from that it was quite unremarkable.
Dont let the grey sky fool you, it was hot!
Today was New Year’s Eve and we had booked to stay at a Resort & Spa Hotel complete with all the luxuries you might expect and that, after days on the road, I could not wait for. As we approached we turned into a residential street and we thought our Sat Nav was playing up. How could this be right? An international hotel groups resort, in the middle of a residential street, surrounded by turn of the century dwellings? Anyway, it was! Slap, bang in the middle! I imagine the residents were happy when planning was approved! I have to say, once in, it was lovely and it was well set out. The best thing was that brekky didn’t finish until 10am so we made it in time!
I would love to tell you that my cultural inquisitivity had lured me away from the hotel to explore Kalgoorlie. I would love to tell you how I visited the Super Pit, the word’s largest open cut gold mine measuring an astonishing 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep, but I didn’t. The kids had spent days sat in the car, and they had been excellent but that last thing we wanted to do was make them travel any further than they had to. I briefly popped into the City to do a spot of shopping while I left the kids swimming in the pool with Mr T (my husband, not the dude who was scared of flying in the A-Team). That would be irresponsible, I don’t know the guy. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the City. It very much reminded me of Ballarat, another gold mining City in Victoria, Australia but I was only there for 20 minutes or so, so forgive me if I am way off the mark. I did however read plenty of tourism brochures by the pool! So I can tell you though that the super pit I mentioned before operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. The mine is expected to be abandoned in about 5 years as they think it will no longer be productive. They plan to leave it and allow the ground water to seep in and fill it which they think will take about 50 years to fill! The other interesting thing I read was that the area has so many large gold mines that is often referred to as the Golden Mile, which is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet. I knew I should have made room in the car for a metal detector. Darn it.
After spending the day by the pool we ate at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner which was entertaining. A massive storm hit just as we arrived soaking the diners who were sat in the al-fresco part of the restaurant. Tables and chairs were thrown into the air, and waiters who had to try to secure items and close the huge siding doors were left looking like drowned rats! Parts of the city lost their electricity, fortunately, ours was okay. A local couple told me that it was not at all normal for such a strong storm to his so suddenly. I explained that Melbourne had experienced a 10 year drought prior to us moving there and now their dams are teaming with water. Maybe if they want to fill that pit up faster than 50 years, they could ask us to move there for a short while
The meal was delicious and the wine flowed. To say we were in outback Australia, it was turning out to be a pretty good New Year’s Eve. We went back to our apartment to watch the fireworks from all around Australia and told the kids we would wake them just before midnight. Well, that was the plan. A mixture of the afore-mentioned wine and all the travelling we’d done in the last week caught up with us and then next thing we knew Marcus was stood next to our bed, hands on hips, chastising us for not waking him up. Happy New Years to you too son. Thank goodness for re-runs on the news is all I can say.