Five Explore the Goldfields

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September 22nd 2018
Published: September 22nd 2018
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OK, the idea was to find gold , but when we looked at the conditions that the gold miners endured we had second thoughts so we would just be tourists and visit the mining museums and learn lots about it ... but always keeping your eyes peeled in case there was a glint of gold at your feet.

From the GunBarrel Highway we were back in Wiluna as there were big celebration with the opening ceremony for a new Shire Office and Art Gallery ... an old hotel and hospital had been beautifully renovated . The Five didn’t want to hang around for the speeches so had a chat with a guy and sneaked in the back way to saunter to view some great Aboriginal Art , Tjukurba Gallery . The interesting story there was of the last desert Nomads Warri and Yatunga ,who are honoured witha statue. They were forbidden to marry according to Aboriginal tribal ‘skin’ colour and they ran away - surviving for decades , hunting in traditional ways and eating native fruits. Tribal elders always worried about them and in a time of intense drought 1977 a search party was sent out with an elder and tracker, Mudjon,and eventually they were found close to starvation and they agreed to go back to Wiluna. When they died in 1979 this marked the end of a tribal lifestyle which stretches back more than 40,000 years.

Wiluna is a typical example of a boom and bust goldmining town , nothing much there now although after uranium ore was discovered there are plans to develop several sites around the town. But when in 1897 the largest nugget of gold was found weighing 13.2 kg the town boomed and the gold rush began .

Zooming along on the Goldfields Highway passing those long long road trains at times and salt lakes and huge wedgetail eagles were soaring above us - but enough of sealed roads we had to get back on our red dusty roads and follow the brown tourist historic signs which every now and then would tell us there had been a historic well there or this was a historic fence or a Poison Creek ( not camping there ) !!!! On the Agnew Loop we found another great camping spot near Tarmoola Homestead by a dry creek, loadsa firewood, gum trees ( the usual requirements for a peaceful night in the bush ) and buy was it a cold night ...3 deg ...I think Libby and Peter were up in the night feeding the campfire as it was still burning in the morning. We were up and away early and arrived in the pretty main street of Leonora to spot a very nice coffee shop selling famous sausages rolls and pies.... a walk around the town we mused on the fact that someone made a fortune out of producing and supplying corrugated iron as most houses out here are built with that and then there‘s fences and water tanks and roofs etc etc.

Fortified with sausages rolls we set of to explore the ghost town of Gwalia ...what great place .... they have somehow restored the buildings in a way that shows you how they looked when they were abandoned .... the Patroni guest house, the store, the barber shop , the lockup and various dwellings. Sons of Gwalia mine operated from 1896 to 1963 and produced over 2.5 million ounces of gold. At it’s peak the population was 1114 but after an accident at the mine it dropped to 40 and the mine closed in 1963 At the Gwalia museum you can see the mining machinery and also look down into the pit where I think nickel is still mined . Looking out over this mining empire was the Herbert Hoover Home...yes once president of the USA at age 24 he was manager of the mine here and had quite a comfortable home compared to the poor bloody workers down the hill!! You can stay in this house in the Hoover bedroom if you wish ... we opted for coffee and scones on the verandah.

Menzies caravan Park was the next stop ... in the town centre ...convenient with showers and laundry to do but boring,not our favourite site. Being there however gave us the opportunity to then drive out to Lake Ballard where we could see Anthing Gormleys sculptures “ Inside Australia ” I really wanted to see this as being from Gateshead where his Angel of The North stands in its glory I wondered what he had done with a salt lake in Australia. We walked out onto the lake amongst his 51 sculptures ... 51 km from Menzies . Each one is from a laser scan of a Menzies resident ..brilliant , I loved it.

Next day on the road to Kalgoorlie we detour to Orabanda to see the pub there , famous for a bikie gang shooting and following that revenge by blowing up the pub and an ex policeman ! It was closed so we settled for a cup of coffee and peanut butter on crackers . But Peter was determined I would see an outback pub so then it on to Broad Arrow in time for opening time . What a place !!! Every surface is covered in writing , walls doors , ceilings , the bar and with very friendly staff we were happy to stand at the bar and have beer and ciders.

So it was on to Kalgoorlie and beginning to feel that the homeward stretch was in sight.

I leave you with this poem written by a failed prospector onto a whisky case and nailed to a tree.

Damn Coolgardie,damn the track

Damn the roads both there and back

Damn the flies and damn the weather

Damn Coolgardie altogether .

Additional photos below
Photos: 61, Displayed: 25


We’ll We’ll

Was it worth stopping ?
Colleen finishes the packing Colleen finishes the packing
Colleen finishes the packing

Some of us sit on a suitcase ..Colleen stands on the trailer,

23rd September 2018
Painted pink

Corrugated iron
Man these would be hot. But I guess it keeps the sun, dust and rain out...and a house is a home...and therefore is what you make of it. Great pic!
23rd September 2018

Country Pubs
The centre of many country towns in Oz...where the locals gather and chew the fat. Gotta love the country pubs.
23rd September 2018

Pubs ad iron
Pubs certainly seemed to be the heart of the communities , didn’t see too many churches which are often the centre of villages / towns in Europe . And I guess corrugated iron was plentiful , cheap easy to transport and workable so it came in very handy for these migrant workers .
23rd September 2018

Hi Lynne I am also in Australia at the moment. Had last week in Adelaide on exchange then flew to Melbourne and going on to Canberra on Tuesday. I get home on Saturday 29th. Can't remember when you get to New Zealand but I will be there to meet you and Jenny. I have really been enjoying your blog. You are as brave as ever camping out in the wild. Take care. Love Jocelyn xx
23rd September 2018

Ships in the night
We’ve just missed each other ...I’ll be in Adelaide tomorrow. See you in NZ xx
23rd September 2018

Bits of gold dust in my inbox
Enjoying the blog, Lynne and the gorgeous photos. My son once worked with Aboriginal people in North Queensland and I went out to visit him and them. Very different part of Australia obviously yet that aboriginal history is the same everywhere. Dreadful. Loved the prospector's poem though and interested to hear that Gormley worked out there too. Enjoy your travels. Xx
1st October 2018
Important stop!

Dust, flies and gold mines
You bring back some memories from when I was in Australia. Not all of them good memories. I sure remember the flies and they were horrible. But it was also a lot of fun travelling in the outback. I would have loved to visit a ghost town but never got around to it. I didn't go by car and for obvious reasons there is no public transport to ghost towns. /Ake

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