Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Northern Goldfields of WA. Part 2

As we continue our travels through the Northern Goldfields Region the outlook from the roadside doesn't change to any degree. "Breakaways" come and go. Entrances to Mine Sites come and go, some are Named but many are not. Gold is not the only commodity sought after in the region, companies are seeking and extracting Nickel, Cobalt, Uranium, Molybdenum and probably many others.

We were advised by several people to visit the town of Sandstone, that it stands out in the region. So that we did! And it does! The Population of The Sandstone Shire is only 111 but the CEO there is building a new Shire Office and new homes for many of the Shire Employees. That must be saddling the Ratepayers with Debt that will take decades to wipe out. The Locals we spoke to, are NOT HAPPY.

Our sweep through the Northern Goldfields region was an extravagant use of diesel fuel except for our visits to Menzies, Lake Ballard the Ghost Town of Kookinie and Niagara Dam and of course Sandstone. It was too much driving for too little Sight Seeing. Some wild flowers were evident but it was past the prime season.

The roads and highways that we have travelled up to date in W.A. have been of an exceptionally good standard, hope that trend continues for the remainder of our travels here. During our time in W.A. the breezes have been quite strong most days, maybe we have been lucky, but those days we seem to have been travelling in the right direction, that is with the breeze behind us.

The old Post and Telegraph Office in Sandstone.

Somebody in Sandstone has a shoe fetish.

The main business in town, The National Hotel.

Sandstone Historical Park honouring the pioneers of Mining and Wool Industries.

Gardens feature in the streets of Sandstone. The new Shire Offices are taking shape in the background to this garden.

We followed the 17 km Heritage Trail on the outskirts of Sandstone. This was the site of the Original Brewery in the area.

Looking from above The Brewery back towards the Black Range where the original Gold Mining activity took place.

"The London Bridge". Another feature created amidst the 'Breakaways', where soft under rock is eroded away from the very hard upper layer. It is estimated that the rock in the arch was formed over 2 Billion Years ago.

This is all that remains of The State Operated Battery.

Some old buildings and a well (I think) in the foreground near the Battery.

One of the State provided water sources in the earliest days. This well is 100 metres deep and water is lifted with the windlass.

Windsor Rest Area is typical of the free camps we have been using around The Northern Goldfields.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Northern Goldfields of WA. Part 1

Our original intention was to travel South from Kalgoorlie and visit the Southern Regions of WA through Esperance and Albany and then meander through the Southern Wheatbelt. Unfortunately the temperatures in those areas were far too cold for us Queenslanders. A quick discission was reached to travel North through the, now small, Historic Towns of The Northern Goldfields. There is an abundance of Australian History in these parts and the weather has been extremely kind to us.

Our first stopover was the town of Menzies situated on The Goldfields Highway. The town caters for the RV Traveller with an excellent Camp Park in the centre of town. This is their Town Hall. There are four faces to the tower clock but it took 100 years before one was purchased and installed. This occurred as late as 1994. Unusually, for Town Hall Clocks, the time is correct.

This is The Menzies Hotel.

There is a Roadhouse Premises in town but it is only operating as a 24 hour Card Only Fuel Outlet. Notice on the wall states that it is for sale, "Interested". Also note that all the exterior walls are covered in Vehicle Registration Plates from all States.

There are many of these steel silhouette cutouts around the town. This one depicts the first motorcycle in town. This was owned by the Mines Warden.

Alongside the Highway is this Static Display of some of the machinery used in the early days of Menzies.

About 50 km West of Menzies there is a Salt Lake named Lake Ballard. This lake was chosen as the site for an Artistic Display Titled "Inside Australia" by Anthony Gormley, a British Sculptor. There are 51 cast iron Statues representing 51 of the original inhabitants of Menzies. These statues, for reasons best known to the artist, are strewn over an area of 10 square kilometres. It would take 7 hours to walk around the exhibition on a desiccating dry salt lake. It is suggested you take 5 litres of water per person on the trip! Why it couldn't be compressed and circulated in two hours beats me? If you look closely you maybe able to see the nearer figures out on the lake. (Double Click the image for larger version)

We spent less than two hours out on Lake Ballard and only passed about a dozen of these figures. Jude with her male friend.

Jude thought the Lady needed a sunhat for this shot.

The Wall of Niagara Dam, with resident caretaker. It wasn't happy about us walking over.

The dam was constructed to obtain a water supply for the passing Steam Trains. Trains still pass by but of course they are diesel powered nowadays. You can spot our camp up on the bank on the far side.

A steel Debris Trap was positioned along the main entry point of the water flow.

Near the bottom end of the dam looking back to the wall. There is a 1.4 km walk around the circumference of the dam.

Caldwell Blackbutt trees thrive in this locality. They have a lovely bronze sheen to their trunks and bright shiny leaves.

There is an additional walk of 1.7 km from the camp area that takes in this geological formation known as the Breakaways. The Goldfields area is one of the oldest in "Geological Terms" in Australia and this very hard rock Mesa is being undermined by erosion and allowing the hard cap rock to fall, hence the term "The Breakaways. There are several other examples of this formation in The Goldfields area.

Next port of call "Kookynie" (pronounced Koo-ki-nee) is only 13 km from Niagara Dam, equal to anther short day drive we did sometime ago. Welcoming information board and rest area.

Kookynie is a Ghost Town now but still has a population of 9 people and one horse. You could say that this is a 'One Horse Town'. This was one of the Hotels that flourished long ago.

Discarded Relics are scattered everywhere.

The Grand Hotel is the last remaining business in Kookynie. We parked our caravan out the back yard of the hotel and were the guests of Kevin and Margaret. We had a great night and were served two of the biggest Porterhouse Steaks imaginable and they were grilled to perfection.

Because we had a 'tail breeze' we decided to travel over to Laverton. (pronounced Laver-ton, like Rocket Rod Laver). This cactus in flower was the ONLY thing in town worth pointing the camera at. The Caravan Park is very neat, clean and friendly but other than Prospecting there is absolutely Zero to do here. Laverton is a place one passes through to get somewhere else.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boulder - Kalgoorlie, WA.

Kalgoorlie City Council has a free 24 hour RV Camping facility at Pioneer Park for Self Contained Vehicles. The Council Ranger circulated at about 4:45 PM and gave us the OK to stay. I am pleased, once more, that I made the necessary modifications to the waste plumbing of the caravan for this is not the first RV Camp in which we have stayed that require the vehicle to be self contained. This will be the way of the future.

We stayed 5 days in total in Kalgoorlie and visited all the major Tourist attractions. Kalgoorlie has a population of approximately 32,000 and every where you look there is evidence of it's Gold Mining History.

On our final afternoon in town we were doing a top-up food shop prior to us leaving the next morning. A sudden and violent storm struck town at about 3:30 PM. Shopping trolleys and other debris was sliding along the streets and visibility was near zero because of the rain. We got back to camp to see the caravan awning flapping like a crazy banshee and rain entering the open windows and the now fully open roof vents. We were a trifle wet inside but didn't suffer any permanent damage. Twenty years ago we struck rain for the two days that we stayed - apparently the weather hasn't changed any in that time.

On the previous blog I included a photo similar to this but with the background shrouded with mist and rain. This is how it looked the following morning! The lake is clearly visible now.

The third weekend of each Month Boulder has an extremely well attended Sunday Market with traders in the park and also under the wide verandahs of the shops along the main street.

The Boulder Sunday Market is very Family Orientated including pony rides for the young.

The Boulder Hotel on the corner of the main street.

The Palace Theatre from a bygone period and a busy fruit and vegetable vendor in the carpark beside the theatre.

This statue in the main street recognises the mining history of the City of Boulder.

Here in Boulder and also in Kalgoorlie they have huge displays of Kangaroo Paw in their street gardens.

The Tourist Information Centre is located in The Kalgoorlie Town Hall. Much of the Town Hall is open to visitor inspection. This stairway provides a grand entrance.

I never found out what this building once was but it certainly doesn't look out of place in Hannan Street of Kalgoorlie as there are many grand old buildings from Kalgoorlie's Golden Era.

The Exchange Hotel, another of the fabulous buildings along Hannan Street.

The imposing Kalgoorlie Court House also in Hannan Street.

The Poppit Head over the entrance to The Mining and Historical Museum in Kalgoorlie.

The very narrow British Arms Hotel is only one room wide. This is located and accessible from inside the Historical Museum.

The same type of CAT Hauler that is used in The Super Pit. Weighs in at 130 tonne empty and can carry 230 - 280 tonne load at 11 kph up the inclines of The Super Pit.

With Jude standing beside the front wheel you can see how immense these machines are.

Jude is sitting in the 35 tonne bucket of this CAT Loader.

The Super Pit as it is today. The extraction of ore from this pit is expected to be complete in the year 2019.

A close up shot of the platform that they are working on now. The Black Rock is what they are after here. The seam runs diagonally across the pit.

After a busy 5 days here I felt justified in having a period of Rest and Relaxation.