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Published: September 7th 2013
From Nobel Dynamite
Monday 2 September
An early wake up again, but this time I was not tempted to get out of bed early, it was a day for a lie in, we have chores to do today but they can wait for a short while.
Eventually getting into the day, we manage to get out for a while, so we head up to the Superpit Shop, this used to be in Boulder but since we were here last time it has now moved up to a location on the Goldfields Highway, where there is an old mine that is now a museum and the Mining and Engineering Training facility for KCGM.
Paying our $2 each to have a look around we head outside, there are a couple of huge pieces of equipment here, a wheeled front end loader and a dumper truck (Caterpillar 793), we stand by the wheels, these things are towering above us and again so hard to comprehend the size of these vehicles. These machines take 6,000 litres of fuel and they are filled up twice a day and through their life they will probably go through 20 sets of tyres
Thinking about changing the Tyre on this bad boy
at $10k per tyre. These trucks are constantly working.
We have a look around some of the old historical buildings and learn of the history of Kalgoorlie and the early days of the gold rush. We see a building called the explosives room, inside this fairly dark room are piles of wooden boxes, these are some of the original boxes that the dynamite used to be transported in, from Nobel in Scotland as in Alfred Nobel, later the company was sold to ICI. The boxes are beautifully made, there is an old machine in there which has the original wax paper that the dynamite was wrapped in, some examples show how it was wrapped, it was all very beautifully done.
The process of manufacturing dynamite was very temperature sensitive and a man had to monitor the process constantly with a thermometer and he sat on a one legged stool and if his attention was drawn to other things (i.e. fall asleep) he would fall off the stool, thus bringing his attention back to what he was meant to be doing.
A few buildings later we find the gold panning area, where
you are invited to have a go at gold panning, of course there is nothing that I like better to dig around in the dirt so I give it a go, sadly I come away empty handed. I did this in Canada once (old gold rush town of Barkerville) and I did find some gold back then but not enough to make me rich.
Some areas were closed to the public for safety reasons, but we did manage to see the pit boss and engineers room that contained some of the old equipment they used, such as the theodolite.
On display there is a new piece of equipment that is currently in use in the mines, a MineARC Safety refuge chamber that has its own oxygen and power supply for miners to get into should there be a need whilst they are underground. It has been proven to save the lives of miners underground when an incident has occurred. All the big mining companies seem to be using them, and for the comfort of the miners who may be inside for a period of time, there is even a toilet.
at camp I sorted out some clothes that needed washing and took my book to the laundry so that I could sit and wait for it to wash and then hang out straight away, I decided to sit by the swimming pool and read instead, it was much nicer, way too cold for me to swim, but one lady decided to dive straight in, rather her than me, even the guy who ran the campsite looked amazed when she got in, but I think she was a New Zealander and perhaps the cold water did not bother her.
I wanted to get some cask wine for the next part of our journey, I had run out of wine a while ago so I was looking forward to a drink. As we were heading out for pizza tonight we stopped at the bottle shop on the way, we were a bit confused as you could not look around at anything, the shop was just stacked with boxes of beer and I could not get to the wine.
Anyway we asked the girl behind the counter if she had what we wanted, well the girly beer
that Andy drinks was ok, but once again we cannot get cask wine, she went on to explain the reasons behind it, which was pretty much the same as Alice Springs, however she did say that you could buy it before 4.30pm every day providing you can find someone that stocks it, "good luck with that" she said.
While we were talking, Andy's eyes nearly fell out of his head and he exclaimed that there was a girl in the other room without any clothes on, I thought he may be seeing things or was it wishful thinking, but this girl put in an appearance and was only wearing a bra and knickers (which incidentally did not match!). We asked if all the bar staff dressed like that and the girl behind the counter said, "oh no, she is the Skimpy", from what has been explained to us is that some bars in Kalgoorlie have one barely dressed member of staff behind the bar called a skimpy for the enjoyment of customers, but we do not know if it actually sells any more beer, but Andy thought it was a good idea anyway.
we got outside I looked at the notice board which said "Today's skimpy is Jess".
On we went to get our pizza and then head back to camp, an uneventful evening, the nights are darker earlier now because of the time difference, so I am looking forward to the longer days again, we had started to get used to the lovely light evenings we had been experiencing in the Northern Territory.
Tuesday 3 September
Another beautiful morning today, When I get out of bed I strip the bed linen off and put it all the in the wash, it only takes half hour and then straight on the line to dry so that I can put it all back on before bedtime.
I was curious about the clouds in the sky, they were looking threatening for rain, it was blowy too but that will help the washing dry.
We head out as we want to wash Jack and get some groceries etc., on the way out I find out that there is a blast at the Super pit at midday so we thought we would
Such beautiful boxes.
All wooden and Dove tailed
wash the truck and then grab a coffee to go and wait for the blast, even Kalgoorlie has a drive through coffee shop nowadays.
Driving north on the Federal Highway, we find it is closed off with a diversion, a single police car is nearby, the road reopens just north of it, a photographer stands in the middle of the roundabout but we can see nothing.
The car wash that I wanted seems to be in the middle of the cordon area so instead we do a few other things grab our coffee and then head to the Superpit lookout.
When we were on our original journey around Australia we saw a blast here, the lookout was crowded with people and cameras trained on a single spot. Today it is quite quiet and looking around I think they have moved the lookout and expanded it, the car park is larger too, but I will have to look back at photographs to see what is different.
We watch patiently and think we can see which area they are going to blast, there is no way they will be blasting
Probably the next phase
at midday, there is still heavy equipment on the site and the huge dumper trucks are still coming up and down the road.
In amongst the dumpers are other tiny mining vehicles, I think back to the size of this equipment and would hate to be in one of the tiny vehicles in front of the dumper trucks, the drivers vision is very impaired due to the size and height of the vehicle and we have seen photos where vehicles have been inadvertently run over but the large dumper trucks. These trucks can carry 225 tonnes of ore, on average out of every 6 dumper trucks they yield the equivalent size of a golf ball size of gold. The Super Pit is one of the highest output of gold mines in the world and is one of Australia's biggest exports.
A while after midday we see the activity slowing down, some of the heavy equipment is moved over to one side, I phone the Superpit shop to find out if they will blast today, she tells me that it is 1pm not guaranteed though. So we decide to wait it out as we may
Its still here
Caroline has had her photo taken in this bucket 4 1/2 yearsago
not get another opportunity.
Slowly all the operations seem to cease, the dumper trucks stop coming down and we can see them all parking up on the far side of the pit, the anticipation is rising and as the clock advances towards 1pm all cameras are trained on the blast area. There are 3 heavy core drillers that have been moved to one side, from a distance it looks as if they are precariously on the edge of a cliff, I am sure it is not that bad, but that said it means they are not blasting the bit that we think they are blasting, otherwise the 3 drillers would either be stranded or blown off the edge. It really looks like they are blasting into the cliff face that we cannot see from the lookout.
The whole pit seems to have gone eerily silent, only one vehicle remains on the site with two people and one seems to be overseeing the pit area itself and the other one is putting the final touches in, he seems to be putting some witches hats down, we think to create a safety cordon, eventually they both
get into the truck and leave the area, making their way back up the zig zag road and then stop across it half way up, they get out and both of them kneel with a device looking like a detonator (we are looking through binoculars by the way) overlooking the area due to be blasted.
By now it has gone 1pm, the anticipation builds and then finally we see a cloud of smoke and debris followed by a muffled bang or more of a Pfffff really, shortly after there is another cloud of smoke and debris followed by a slightly bigger bang. Clearly two different types of explosions to achieve a different outcome, obviously the objective is that they just crumble the rock and leave it in the same place so that it can easily be shifted, rather than a huge blast to blow everything to smithereens, it just goes to show how well controlled it is. As for the heavy equipment on the edge of the cliff, all still there and not even a cloud of dust reached them and as for the witches hats, all still in the same place standing upright and as for
The KCGM (Super Pit)
Preparing for a blast
us in the lookout, not even a vibration.
After that we head back to camp for lunch and then we try again to find a car wash for Jack, the road is still closed, we see someone rushing toward the cordon area with a phone pressed to her ear, Andy asks what is happening and she shouts over "someone told me there is a bomb"!
Now this amazes us, Kalgoorlie a mining town in the middle of nowhere and there is a bomb scare, surely not. I check the news on the internet and sure enough there is a bomb scare and they were waiting for the bomb squad from Perth to put in an appearance, it is several hours since it was first spotted. Well to put a long story short, it was actually a home made device, but why it is lying in the middle of the main road here is a mystery and one maybe we will never know even though we do have a couple of theories on it.
Interestingly enough in the history of Kalgoorlie, in 1942 there was a bomb that went off, someone was
Dumper Trucks Parked Up
All standing by waiting for the blasting before resuming their work
upset about the gambling that was going on and tried to put an end to it and killed 14 people in the process.
We topped up on groceries from Woolworths and fortunately I managed to pick up some cask wine (2 litres!) for our onward journey, the day has cooled down considerably and the clouds look a bit more threatening on the horizon.
I direct Andy down Hay Street, which is the red light district in Kalgoorlie, but it is the wrong time of day, we do pass a brothel which does open its doors to tourists, but seeing the dark skies I want to get back to camp to get the washing in.
Once the washing is in, I make a cup of tea and Skype my parents, we have a lovely long conversation and before I know it time to have a shower and get some dinner on the go. We still had some tidying up to do in preparation for moving tomorrow and get all the shopping away.
The evening is quite cool and windy, I am convinced it will rain.
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