Two Up – A Simple Gambling Game

Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated “spinner” throwing two coins or pennies into the air. Players bet on whether the coins will fall with both heads up, both tails up, or with one coin a head and one a tail (known as “Ewan”). It is traditionally played on Anzac Day in pubs and clubs throughout Australia, in part to mark a shared experience with Diggers through the ages.

The game was known to be popular with convicts as early as 1798. By the 1850s, the game was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies, and it spread across the country following subsequent gold rushes.

The game is traditionally played with pennies – their weight, size, and surface design make them ideal for the game. This type of game is obviously not unique to Australia but places like these (see below) may well be.

This place is well signposted…

After World War 1 it was played extensively on ANZAC Day but was illegal on other days. Naturally illegal Two-Up schools sprouted up and still exist. With the onset of other gambling games like cards and (later) poker/slot machines, the game’s popularity dropped. But it still goes on. Sometimes legally sometimes in what looks like an illicit gambling den.

Bush Two Up

Incredible that such places are built for a game of coin tossing eh?

This place looks like it could also house cock fights. Who knows? It may do, although that would definitely be illegal. It is remote – far enough off the main road – and who would go to these places apart from those interested in gambling and the event?

Inside the arena
Dani would not be allowed here if there was a game on. No alcohol and no under 18s.

The organisers even saw fit to build toilets!

Ladies and Gents facilities

This “Bush Two Up” site is mentioned in the Kalgoorlie tourism website (among others). This particular Two-Up venue had a legal event on New Year’s Day. Sadly we had another long drive that day. That was when we headed south to the coastal town of Esperance…

We even saw the Two-Up games on sale in one shop. So of course Dani wanted one. Not exactly authentic copper pennies there but at least the same size as the ones used in the original game. That piece of wood holding the coins is called a “Kip” and the ne whose turn it is to toss the coins is called the “spinner”. Shame really. I was hoping they would be called the “tosser”. Never mind eh?

Trips Out of Ravensthorpe – Wave Rock

Wave Rock

One of the best day trips from Ravensthorpe is definitely Wave Rock. It’s fairly famous as natural rock formations go in Australia. There’s Ayers Rock (aka Uluru) of course and after that… Well, I am not sure what people outside of Australia would have heard of. Some will probably have heard of this place though.

Surf’s Up! Well everyone else was dong it…
Front right and centre…

Wave rock is about a 2 hour drive from Ravensthorpe if you take the direct route. We took a slight detour via small town called Newdegate (see below) so it took us over two and a half hours driving.

On top of the Wave Rock

Views from the top of Wave Rock

I am not sure exactly how water formed the large ocean wave shape into one side of the rock. But it’s one of those things I am quite happy not knowing. It just looks cool and that is more than enough for me on this one.

Dani at Wave Rock. A sense of scale

Nearby is the so called Hippos Yawn rock formation. That’s the good thing about this place. You may not know (or care) exactly how the geological formations were made but at least it’s pretty obvious where they got their names from.

Dani at Hippos Yawn rock

More Silo Art at Newdegate

On the way to Wav Rock we stopped at the small farming town of Newdegate. The reason? Well, it has more from the WA Public Silo Art Trail. This is about 400km south-east (ish) of Perth and the best part of 200km from the south coast.

These silos were painted by Brenton See, the same artist who painted the mural on the Norseman visitors centre (see here for that one). For me these were the best silos we had seen so far in WA – from an art point of view. If you check the Norseman mural you can definitely see it is by the same artist.

Rabbit Cemetery

The rabbit proof fence is well known in Australia. The rabbit is basically frowned upon in Australia – and rightly so. A non-native species that had completely taken over parts of the country and run amok causing havoc and ruin. See this rabbit post from almost two years ago in case you missed it.

To combat the spread of the fluffy big eared vermin, the government erected the Rabbit Proof Fence in the early 20th century. When the 1,139-mile fence was finished, it was the world’s longest unbroken fence. It’s one of those immense human construction projects that goes under the radar but is still a tremendous achievement.

So this next place took us somewhat by surprise. In between Wave Rock and Ravensthorpe in the tiny town of Varley we came across the Rabbit Cemetery.

The Rabbit Cemetery, Varley, WA

This curious little feature was made to commemorate the bunnies who met their demise in the fence’s barbed wires and acres of chicken wire. The local community made the effort, and the deceased rabbits live on in handmade headstones and beautiful mosaic tributes at this unique and comical memorial. Flowers and colourful stuffed rabbit toys line the “graves”. The fence behind the small cemetery is actually a section of the original Rabbit Proof Fence; a stark reminder to try better in the future and not introduce non-native species to fragile ecosystems.

Well, I guess I have covered my fair share of human pioneer/historical cemeteries in this blog. So it’s only fair to give this unique eccentricity a mention…

Note: For those interested and who have not yet read about the historic pioneer cemeteries we have visited simply type in “cemetery” in the search bar on this website and take a look through the results.

Ravensthorpe. An Unexpected Bonus

Try as we might we couldn’t find accommodation in Esperance so only spent a short time there (see here.) Incredibly we couldn’t find anything anywhere near Esperance but finally found a motel with vacancies in the little town of Ravensthorpe – some 2 hours drive west of Esperance!

But it turned out to be a surprisingly good place to stay. Apart from being a nice little town with a few of its own surprises, Ravensthorpe proved to be a good base for some interesting places to visit…

The Big Lollipop

Yes it’s another one of those “Bigs of Australia”. And this one does appear on most of those type of lists. Clearly not a real lollipop but definitely a big one!

This is at the Yummylicious Candy Shack right on the main high street (Route 1) through the town centre. Impossible to miss really. The shop wasn’t open when we were in the area (bank holidays etc) but the sight of the Big Lollipop is free anyway…

It was a great idea by the owners of the sweet shop to put their town of “Ravy” on the map. They also applied for a Guinness World Record but were disqualified because the material of the lollipop was made of two materials — aluminium and steel — instead of one. Who knew that the Guinness World Records people were such sticklers eh? Nobody in Ravensthorpe cares though as their lollipop is 100mm bigger in diameter than what the actual world record stands at. This is definitely a ‘moral victory’ type world record.

Ravensthorpe Silo Art  

At the western end of town these silos are part of the WA Public Silo Art Trail. This silo art celebrates the six different stage of the flowering cycle of this species of Banksia:  from flower buds, to full bloom, to seedpods developing, drying out and opening. One stage painted per side on each of the three silos.

It took 31 days, 338 litres of paint for Fremantle-based, Dutch-born artist Amok Island to complete.

Lithium – The New Gold?

Even here in a rural farmland setting, mining is everywhere. And just outside Ravensthorpe is a large mine for one of the most important minerals of our time – Lithium. This is possibly the mineral of the moment, given its use in the manufacture of batteries used in electric vehicles and storage for the other new ‘big things’ like solar power systems.

It’s the kind of mine that should have a big impact on Ravensthorpe. Ensuring the town’s wealth and growth for the foreseeable future. Well, time will tell I guess. Various other mines have come and gone – and returned – in this area.

The Lithium mine outside Ravensthorpe

Already improving the local infrastructure with new roads being built

More Artwork – Farm Gate Art Trail

Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council have been running a project called the ‘Farm Gate Art Trail’ with over 30 locations displaying some odd and very good sculptures. They have  mainly been crafted from scrap metal found around the farms. We never really tried to follow the ‘trail’ but could not really avoid some of the works.  Here are a few examples that we came across…

Classic striped tea set. What do they call this design? Cornishware?
Pour me a cuppa lad
Seen in the centre of Ravensthorpe
The framer in this place clearly likes motorbikes
Another fine work of large scale art

Coming up in future posts…

Coming up in the next post: Trips from Ravensthorpe to Wave Rock, Fitzgerald River National Park and Hopetoun…

Another bonus of staying in Ravensthorpe was that we were already that bit closer to our next destination. Albany. You can check out our time in Albany in forthcoming posts.

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Kalgoorlie to Esperance

We had planned to stay in Esperance. The small coastal town on the south coast of WA facing the Antarctic Ocean – aka The Great Australian Bight. The problem was that there was nothing available. Seriously nothing! Everything was booked up including caravans and camp grounds. We had to look elsewhere and as it happens that turned out OK. More on that to come however.

The Road South

The trip from Kalgoorlie to the south coast passes several mining areas. It is not as deserted as it looks on (say) google maps. There is a train line (servicing the mine areas) which follows most of the route. The drive can be considered in two parts. First, route 94 to the crossroads town of Norseman. From there we picked up the Aussie circular highway – Route 1, that goes all the way around the continent – and dropped directly south into Esperance. The question has to be: Who’s not going to stop off in a town called Norseman? Eh?


The curiously named Norseman sits about half way between Kalgoorlie and Esperance and is a genuine crossroads town. For Esperance continue south on Route 1. But this is also the start of The Eyre Highway, the 1,600km section of Route 1 linking Western Australia and South Australia via the famed Nullarbor Plain.

Norseman is another mining town (what else in this harsh environment) but where does that name come from? I had no idea before we stopped there as I deliberately didn’t research that question. My first thought was some viking link – however tenuous that may seem. Well the Vikings supposedly reached North America long before Columbus right? But Australia?! And so far inland? No that really would be a stretch. And so it proved. This town is named after an animal. Norseman was a horse!

Statue of Norseman. The horse that the town was named after.

Today there are a number of small goldmining operations in the area but only the Central Norseman Gold Corporation is a major producer. Gold was first found in the Norseman area in 1892, about 10 km south of the town, near Dundas. Then, in August 1894, Lawrence Sinclair,  (together with his brother George Sinclair and Jack Alsopp) discovered a rich gold reef which Sinclair (originally from the Shetland Isles) named after his horse, Hardy Norseman.

Once this area was the second-richest goldfield in Western Australia, next to the Golden Mile of Kalgoorlie. The Norseman Gold Mine is said to be Australia’s longest continuously running gold mining operation. Now the town has a population of about 1,000.

Mural at the visitor’s centre
Norseman Town Hall
Norseman Post Office
The street signs have a horse in Norseman
The Camel Roundabout honours the “ship of the desert” with tin camel sculptures
The centre of Norseman was completely deserted. Well, it was New Year’s Day!


Esperance is a pleasant enough seaside town. We arrived around midday so had some lunch and then took a stroll around the town. The highlights here however lie just outside of town.

Esperance is a working port with beaches and safe swimming areas

If you only pass through Esperance (which we basically did) you have to travel along the Great Ocean Drive. Dramatic cliff top views of some of the best and whitest beaches in WA.

Some of the spectacular scenery and fabulous beaches found along the Great Ocean Drive

It was partly cloudy when we stopped at most of these beaches yet the sea still appeared impossible shades of blue.

I really wanted to spend more time in the area but sadly we could not find accommodation anywhere near. But, we did find some at a place 187 km away (best part of 2 hours drive) in the very small town of Ravensthorpe. And that is where we went next…

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Gold Mining Ghost Towns in Western Australia

As mentioned in previous posts, Western Australia (WA) is a state littered with mines. Gold, nickel, lithium, iron ore, coal. You name it, they mine it, in that enormous state that makes up one third of Australia. Many are still operational and in very remote settings. Others are near well established towns (Kalgoorlie/Boulder is a good example). While yet more are long since closed but their mark remains in the form of the old town that was left behind (Read about Coolgardie here for example). Often referred to as ghost-towns, there are quite a few examples not too far from Kalgoorlie.

Old communities and mines old & new.


Once a thriving gold mining town of up to 10,000 people Menzies now has a population of around 100. It is located 133 kilometres (83 mi) north-northwest of Kalgoorlie. It still has many well preserved buildings. There are plenty of old and working mines between Kal and Menzies as well as other mineral mines just off the Goldfields Highway. The Paddington gold mine being the most prominent. Right beside the town itself is the oddly named Robinson Crusoe mine – long since closed.

Welcome to Menzies…

Gold was discovered in the area in 1894 by Leslie Robert Menzies, a Canadian-born prospector. It was a rich gold find, and in 1895 the town was established named in Menzies’ honour. By 1896 it had become a municipality. A railway line was constructed from Kalgoorlie to Menzies and opened on 22 March 1898. By 1900, Menzies had a population of approximately 10,000 with thirteen hotels and two breweries.

Menzies Town Hall

The town hall was completed in 1901. The hall tower remained without a clock for over 100 years. The original clock was lost in the wreck of the RMS Orizaba off Garden Island in 1905. The clock you can see in the photo was only installed fairly recently to celebrate the new millennium in 2000.

The gold rush lasted for about 10 years and by 1905 most of the miners had left town to try their luck elsewhere. By 1910 the population of the town had declined to less than 1,000. But gold mining continues in and around Menzies to the present day. 

Menzies Cemetery

Here we go again folks. Another old pioneer cemetery. This one is located north east of the town and apparently is one of the largest of the ‘goldrush’ cemeteries, Many of the graves are of typhoid victims.

Menzies Cemetery. Another stark piece of history.

Some graves in all of these places appear to have had a lot more money spent on them than others. Some are just the most basic of headstones (if even that) while there are plenty of examples of separately fenced memorials. Then I noticed these two examples of the latter…

These two graves really made me think. That old saying…

For me it immediately brings to mind that well used old phrase about money: You can’t take it with you. But more than that these two examples say to me that it actually doesn’t matter how much money you have when you are alive. None of it matters. I guess the only thing that really matters is keeping out of these places for as long as possible. Eventually your grave will be in complete disrepair no matter how much money you have. It’s just a case of when. And nobody will be around to care. Apart, perhaps, from the occasional, philosophical old dad like me, who just happens to be passing through…

These places remind you that infant mortality was high in these harsh environment

The Goldfields Highway (aka route 49 ) passes right through the middle of Menzies. The railway still passes through the Menzies station. these are working trains however not passenger services. We actually witnessed quite a lot of railway activity even in this remote setting.

Menzies station is closed but the railway is still big part in this area thanks to mining
The Goldfields Highway runs right through the centre of Menzies

Broad Arrow and Ora Banda

Broad Arrow is a ghost town. It literally has a single pub (the Broad Arrow Tavern) surrounding by remnants of a once-thriving gold mining community. The one building is the Broad Arrow Tavern which was built in 1896 and is considered an authentic outback pub.

The pub is famous for all the names written on the walls, doors and even the side of the bar. Basically any space available has been signed but visitors. You get the feeling that if you stayed long enough you would recognise some of the names.

Broad Arrow Tavern. A real outback pub
Bar and outside views. There’s even a stage for live music
Did you ever put your name on these walls or doors?

Unfortunately we were not able to add our names to the thousands already written. The owners no longer allow you to scribble your name and message. There simply is no space left. The pub put a stop to the practice in 2020 due to people putting inappropriate things as well as writing over existing signatures. People just can’t behave eh? But that does not stop you enjoying a refreshing cold beer and sampling the famous Broady burger.

It looks like the dining room is the only area that escaped the graffiti

Ora Banda is a 20 minutes drive west of Broad Arrow and is another similarly deserted ghost town.

In 1895 the Weston brothers (who had been tea planters in Ceylon) established the Ora Banda mine after which the town is named. By 1910 there were over 2,000 miners in the area which resulted in the construction of a town hall, a post office, a police station, stores, butchers shops and boarding houses. Many of the town’s buildings were constructed of timber and consequently they have either rotted away or been removed. The only intact buildings left were the Ora Banda Historical Inn and the Government Battery. Originally known simply as the Ora Banda Historical Inn the old brick pub was constructed in 1911. It was closed in 1958. Then between 1958 and 1981 it was vandalised but it was revitalised in 1981. It closed again in 2000 but reopened in 2002. For years it was a popular spot for a day out with a few beers and pub meal. Then most recently a fire has virtually destroyed this once proud building. Will it be rebuilt? I hope so.

The burnt remains of the Ora Banda Historical Inn

Did someone ask ‘Just How Big is WA’?

Incidentally, here are some interesting comparisons between the UK, Spain and WA. Using our trusty old friend the mapfight website here are the comparisons…

Western Australia is 10 times as big as the UK
WA is five times bigger than Spain 

Swimming Carnival 2023

This week was the annual swimming carnival (I still have to say “gala” – sorry). Last year it was not a full on gala due to there still being covid restrictions – ugh, spit!!!. No more mention of that. Promise. This year the weather seemed changeable and that is exactly how it turned out. Rain to begin then a fair amount of sun with the odd clouds. But it all went ahead as planned and the kids were excited to be back at the wonderful Drummoyne Swimming Centre. An historical Olympic sized pool. It is just over three years since Dani’s first experience of this event. And here are two photos to compare, now and then…

Dani now (2023)

Dani back in 2020

He hardly seems to have grown LOL. But of course he has…

So, how did he do? Well, he came 7th (out of 8) in the freestyle race. That sounds bad but the winner was well ahead of the pack and the eighth placed swimmer was well behind. there really was only a few seconds between 2nd and 7th places. But he was disappointed. Understandably I guess.

He missed the backstroke – don’t ask how! Obviously not paying attention to the announcements. It does get chaotic at times but still… So, he tried to make amends in the breaststroke competition. He actually did quite well. Again the winner was way out in front and there was not much between 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Hardly anything between 3rd and 4th. Dani finished 4th but I honestly think he could have finished 3rd if he hadn’t spent part of the final 20 metres looking around at the other competitors. Not really a problem as now he has seen the footage he knows he can improve. That’s the main thing to take away from this day. He was a lot happier after his effort in the breaststroke.

Just for context, Dani clocked just over 1 minute (62 seconds) for the 50m freestyle. Not very good but not bad. Yet the school record for that event for that age group is just under 37 seconds! Now that is a bloody good time. As if that is not good enough, the girl’s record for that age group is even better at just over 33 seconds! Incredible eh?

Anyway, here is a quick video – mostly a series of photos taken from the opposite side of the pool – with footage of his two races. Apologies up front, as for some reason the quality is not good. Not sure why, but take a look. Enjoy…

Swimming Carnival 2023 – brief recap

The Big Camera at Meckering (WA)

The Big Camera

On our trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie we passed through the small town of Meckering. The Big Camera is on the edge of the small town of Meckering, about 133km east of Perth. This one appears on those lists such as “The Bigs of Australia”. It was clearly an old petrol station and the office/shop building has been modified to look like a huge SLR camera. The entrance door is in the “lens”.

The Big Camera at Meckering

Once inside there are a few old cameras and associated equipment. But when you pay the $15 fee to enter the real museum through the back, you see more camera makes and models than you ever thought were possible. You will certainly recognise many old cameras, especially the ones you probably bought and owned yourself.

So many cameras, so little time…

There were plenty of novelty cameras too. All in all, I would say the entry fee is worth it. We could easily spent a lot more time browsing the camera collection but we had plenty of kilometres to cover. Take a look at some of the cameras on display. There will certainly be some types you remember and probably even owned…

This is a great place for anyone remotely interested in photography. Emphasis on “remote” however…

Kalgoorlie – Full Time Gold Town

Old crucibles from a nickel processing site. Gold is by no means the only valuable commodity in these parts

Kalgoorlie/Boulder – Two Towns 

Most people know about Kalgoorlie – generally called Kal by the locals. But actually this isolated built up area is made up of two towns, Kalgoorlie and Boulder. Prior to 1989, Boulder was a town in its own right, but it was merged with Kalgoorlie to form the City of Kalgoorlie–Boulder in the 1980s.

In the winter of 1893, three prospectors, Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea were travelling through the area, when one of their horses lost a shoe. During the forced stop  the men noticed signs of gold in the area around the foot of what is now the Mount Charlotte gold mine. Naturally they decided to stay and investigate. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Claim, triggering a gold rush to the area. Kalgoorlie – originally called Hannan’s Find – was born.

The centre of Kalgoorlie has the feel of a party town – which it definitely becomes at weekends due to the number of transient mine workers etc… Boulder on the other hand, has more of a small town feel.

The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding Paddy Hannan’s original find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and has been referred to as the world’s richest square mile of earth.

Paddy Hannan statue

Classic Kalgoorlie pubs on Hannan Street

Boulder town centre is basically Burt Street where there are some nice old buildings and more than a few bars and cafés. At the northeastern end of Burt street lies the key to the ‘Golden Mile’; The “Super Pit” (see below).

Boulder town hall

Hotel (pub) in Boulder


Of course none of this would exist if it wasn’t for a certain precious metal. Gold!

There are quite a few other active gold mines in the area but this is what it’s all about. The aptly named “Super Pit” on the edge of Boulder town centre was the biggest open cut gold mine in the country until a few years ago. The Super Pit is approximately 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and over 600 metres deep – and it is still growing. Work never stops here.

At 600m deep you can barely see the bottom from the lookout

He may be small but that digger bucket is big!
Huge trucks make the long climb up from the bottom of the pit.

Officially called the ‘Fimiston Open Pit’ but colloquially known as the Super Pit, it employs around 1,100 employees and contractors. Originally consisting of a large number of underground mines, there were attempts to make one huge open pit in the early 1980s when businessman Alan Bond headed up a scheme.

Now there’s a character and a blast from the past! I remember stories about Alan Bond being on the UK news regularly during the early 1980s – for both business deals and corruption in equal measure. Bond never managed to achieve his golden dream but it soon happened anyway. (Proving he was right, I guess.) The Super Pit was eventually created in 1989 by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines, a 50:50 corporate joint venture between Homestake Gold of Australia and Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie.

The scale of the ‘Super Pit’ can be seen from above when viewed alongside the town

Museum of the Goldfields

Because of the dates of our visit a lot of businesses were closed, including tourist attractions.   It was New Year’s Eve and we had been visiting a few places outside of the town. By the time we arrived back in Kal the museum of the goldfields was just about to close. Luckily they let us in. It’s free to enter and the staff are really friendly and helpful.

Old mining winding gear at the Museum of the Goldfields
Views of Kal from up the winding gear tower

Entering The Vault…
There is plenty of gold inside The Vault

 During the 1890s, this whole Goldfields area boomed, with an area population exceeding 200,000, composed mainly of prospectors. Kal’s population is now about 30,000. The area gained a reputation for being a “wild west”, notorious for its bandits and prostitutes.

There is still a working brothel in the area and, strange as it may sound, they offer guided tours! It was mid afternoon of New Year’s Eve but the main door was open, leading into a kind of foyer/reception area. We rang the bell but it was either closed or they just weren’t answering. The tour is adults only (no surprises there) so Dani would have had to sit that one out. Here we are entering the premises. Only checking… Honestly!

Just checking if the guided tour was on…

Old Boulder Cemetery

The first cemetery for Boulder was located a fair distance south of town and is now known as Old Boulder Cemetery. It only operated between 1899 and 1904 but almost 800 burials took place.

The overgrown but fascinating Old Boulder Cemetery

I know it’s a little morbid but these places and their history fascinate me. Initially this place was made for 48 blocks with a total capacity for over 10,700 graves. In the end only 11 blocks were ever used. The cost of digging in the ironstone plus poor road access meant that this cemetery closed and a new one closer to Boulder was opened.  As we have seen before in other old cemeteries in Australia people were buried in blocks assigned to their religious denomination. Sectarian segregation of the dead! Personally I think it’s crazy but, as I have argued before, maybe this is common everywhere…

Very few graves had any kind of headstone (and even fewer remaining in a good state). Only 62 graves (about 8%) ever had any monumental work. Very few families in early Boulder could afford headstones so numbered metal pegs marked their burial spot. You may spot a few on the photos…

The site is protected and as you can see some of the signage is relatively new but the place is very overgrown. It makes these places all the more interesting (for me).

There was even a separate block for Roman Catholic Children. And yes, there were a noticeable amount of small infant graves. Sadly, infant mortality would have been high when this cemetery was in use.

And there were several infant graves

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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Film Review – Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

A Year Late Hitting the Big Screens…

A year later than I intended watching this Guy Ritchie movie but here goes… The film stars Ritchie’s favourite action man Jason Statham as Orson Fortune, a kind of super-spy/secret agent working for the British secret service.

The film title is made up using the main character’s surname and “Ruse de Guerre” which is french for ‘ruse of war’. Think of it as a classic tale of deception like using the Trojan horse as a gift to gain the upper hand and ultimate victory.

Josh Hartnett plays Hollywood actor Danny Francesco who is ludicrously thrown into the action because the arms dealer’s favourite actor. Harnett’s character is the stereotypical molly-coddled actor and is clearly meant to add to the comedy element. However it just doesn’t work very well.

While we are on the subject: What the hell happened to Harnett’s career? He first came to most people’s attention (mine anyway) as the edgy, rebellious college student in The Faculty in 1998 and I for one thought his career would really take off. It almost did in 2001 when he starred in the fairly good Black Hawk Down then the epic (but not so good) Pearl Harbour. He then did little of note until 2006 when he starred in The Black Dahlia – a decent movie – and the very good Lucky Number Slevin. He then made nothing of note until recently when Ritchie gave him a role in Wrath of Man in 2021. It’s hard to see where he goes from this one… Anyway. Back to the movie…

Well, well, well… 

This film was supposed to have been released a year ago. I remember seeing the trailer in the cinema while watching another movie that I reviewed here and thinking ‘I may go and see that’… Then the makers/distributors (whoever) decided not to release it because the baddies in the film are Ukrainians. – Pause while you stop laughing…..

Right. Now you have stopped laughing I can confirm that it is true. Ukrainian baddies do exist. What a shocker eh?

As pathetic as that may sound it is true that they pulled the movie for a year because of the situation in Ukraine. I needed to see that the film makers hadn’t subtly (or not so subtly) somehow changed the nationality of the baddies to… well; Russians of course… They haven’t – which is good – but the film still lacks that certain something.

Spoiler alert (of sorts): It turns out that the real baddies are in fact Bio-Tech billionaires. Well, well, well. How bizarre! Who would have ever thought eh?


A Ukrainian mafia gang manage to steal a device known as “The Handle”. The item is deemed to be important and has been priced in billions of dollars. The British government hires Nathan Jasmine (played by Cary Elwes) to retrieve “The Handle” before billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (played by Hugh Grant) can sell it to the highest bidder. Nathan hires super-spy Orson Fortune to lead a team made up of… well, a highly forgettable cast really. Sorry but that’s the truth.

Simmonds throws a lavish party on his luxury yacht. Fortune manages to get onto the party yacht pretending to be manager of film star Danny Francesco. It just so happens that Simmonds’ favourite actor is Danny Francesco. Fortune’s team basically blackmail the actor into playing himself so that he can get close to Simmonds. Fortune’s team play their part in the ruse so as to be in a position to snatch “The Handle” when Simmonds does the deal with the Ukrainians.

The problem is that there is a rival team of secret service type operatives competing for the prize of retrieving “The Handle”. This team is led by a bloke called Mike and he and Orson do not get on. The whole thing turns into a farcical game of cat and mouse with plenty of weapons and shooting.

Basically that’s it. Oh, and at some point of course Simmonds realises that Danny Francesco has been playing him for a fool. In fact it’s all the usual farcical stuff you would expect from a Guy Ritchie movie plot.


I actually struggle to give this film 2 stars (out of the usual 5). One star may be a little cruel but it was a close call, so 2** it is. I feel like I watched this film so that you don’t have to. Unless you really want to of course…

It was as unbelievable as a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie but with much more intentional humour. But sadly also a lower level of production quality. I definitely think Guy Ritchie should stick to the more street-based films and stories where the humour works a lot better and more effort is put on the storylines/twists and characters than on exotic locations. Compare this film to Ritchie’s previous offering (The Gentleman – see review for that one here) and I am sure you will agree…

Finally – for me at least – I think Hugh Grant has fallen back into the category of annoying. He was fine in The Gentlemen but totally unconvincing as a tough yet slightly comedic, gangster-like arms dealer. It really didn’t work. It seems that Grant’s role in The Gentlemen went to his head – and maybe Ritchie’s too. Let’s just say that Ritchie’s next movie could do without Hugh Grant, and leave it at that.

While we’re at it let’s hope there are no plans for an Operation Fortune 2 (and 3, 4 etc…) The characters and background are now established for a sequel (or three – ugh) and it certainly looked like that may be the intention at the end of the movie. If they do make more then they will seriously need to get some better writers involved. And let’s hope they stick to having only British and Russian baddies in future eh? Can’t be too careful…

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