The Gold Trail to Kalgoorlie

It was the day before New Year’s Eve when we left Perth heading east for the world famous gold mining town of Kalgoorlie.

Perth to Kalgoorlie

You can do this route by train. The train is called “The Prospector” and there is a regular daily service that takes 7 hours. If I was ever in Perth again I would like to take that train for a short break in Kalgoorlie.

This time however, we drove. Along the Great Eastern Highway, aka route 94. For the most part the road follows the same route as the railway (no surprises there). Another thing that you see along most of the route is the water pipeline. The real lifeline in fact for Kalgoorlie. It is called the Golden Pipeline and runs about 560km from Mundaring dam (near Perth) to Kalgoorlie in the dry outback. The pipeline was completed in 1903 and is part of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. As valuable as gold is, you cannot drink it and it will not keep you alive in a desert. Without this pipeline large scale gold mining in and around Kalgoorlie would not have been possible.

The Golden Pipeline. Not made of gold but carrying something far more precious if you are stuck in the dry desert interior of WA.
Dani at the Golden Pipeline supplying water to Kalgoorlie


As you arrive into Meckering heading east you can’t fail to spot The Big Camera. I thought this place deserved a post all of its own so another separate post will follow. (Keep an eye out for that one.) But here is a photo just to whet the appetite…

The Big Camera at Meckering

Meckering is famous for something else. It was the epicentre of one of the biggest earthquakes in Australia’s history. There are some souvenirs in a park on the edge of town. Starting with a fun read from the board shown below…

Part of the pipeline damaged in the quake
Old railway lines bent by the force of the earthquake

Cunderdin and Merriden

There are several small towns along this road. This area is known as the Wheat Belt and the small towns exist and survive mainly off the agriculture. Cunderdin is 160km from Perth. Merriden lies a further 108km to the east. Here are some buildings of interest in Cunderdin…

Merredin is a fairly large town for these remote parts. It seems very pleasant and well to do. Clearly the farming in this area is bringing a lot to the local economy. The town retains most of the original old buildings – which is always nice to see.

Old Merredin Court House


Cummins Theatre in Merredin

Merredin Post Office

The modern movie cinema at Merredin

If you are planning a stopover on this Perth to Kalgoorlie run you could do a lot worse than this place. Merredin is also on the Western Australia ‘Public Silo Art Trail’…

Merredin is on the WA Silo Art Trail
Although this is not the best example we have seen (by some way!) Still…

Tammin and Kellerberrin

In between Cunderin and Merredin are the small towns of Tammin and Kellerberrin. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of their Post Offices. These historic buildings would have been among the first to be built in any town as they were the only means of communication to the the rest of the world before the railways were built. Wherever you visit in Australia, if they have not been replaced with modern post offices then the originals are always photogenic (in my opinion anyway).

Tammin Post Office
Kellerberrin Post Office

Southern Cross

The welcome sign states that Southern Cross is a five star town. Good one. It is located about 370km east of Perth and is a real crossroads town. It lies at the extreme east of the wheatbelt and the start of the mining region. Both industries have impacted this town.

The five stars of the Southern Cross as they appear on the flag
Celebrating the farming and mining heritage of this town at the Wimmera Hill Lookout
View from the Wimmera Hill Lookout
A handy watering hole for a quick refreshing beverage…

The Palace Hotel, Southern Cross
The Club Hotel, Southern Cross
Southern Cross Post Office

Southern Cross is a nice enough town but we only stopped a short time for some light refreshment – in a pub. Then we moved on to the next stop…


Coolgardie lies 558 kilometres (347 miles) east of Perth and has a population of approximately 850 people. Although Coolgardie was once the centre of the gold mining industry in WA with a much larger population.

It is now known more as a tourist town and a mining ghost-town and used to be the third largest town in Western Australia (after Perth and Fremantle). Throughout the 1890s the mining of alluvial gold was a major industry and the town prospered. So much so that in 1895 the railway was extended from Southern Cross and opened in 1896.

But by the early 1900s the gold was running out and by the First World War the town was fast becoming a ghost-town. The line was further extended to Kalgoorlie in 1896 and eventually re-routed in the early 1970s leading to the closure of Coolgardie station.

Coolgardie Railway Station closed in 1971

During its height there were 700 mining companies based in Coolgardie that were registered with the London Stock Exchange, and business was good. This is very evident in the grand buildings that were built, many of which can still be seen. Thanks to these buildings the town has seen a bit of a revival in recent years due to tourism. Here are some views of the town…

Coolgardie Post Office

Ben Prior Park open air museum
Ben Prior Park

The Denver City Hotel, Coolgardie

Over the road from Ben Prior Park

Lindsay Pit – abandoned gold mine – just outside town
Home built for the first Mining Warden John Finnerty

There is also a small pioneer cemetery in Coolgardie.

The well fenced off Coolgardie Pioneer Cemetery

From Coolgardie it’s only a 38km drive to the town that took over as the gold mining centre; Kalgoorlie. And that’s where we spent the next few days and saw in the new year…

More to come about Kalgoorlie and the rest of our WA trip in future posts…

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2 thoughts on “The Gold Trail to Kalgoorlie

    1. Yes it was a good day’s driving. Wanted to spend a lot more time in some places and see what else was near but tie did not allow.

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