The Nullarbor and Kalgoorlie

The highlight of the past few days is the Superpit in Kalgoorlie. It’s a simply amazing goldmine that produces 22,000 kilograms of gold per year. The pit is 700 m deep, 1.5 k wide and 3.9 k long. More later!

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First though, I rode through the Eyre Peninsula and over the Nillarbor

Journey through the Eyre Peninsula

Near Port Lincoln I stopped at Coffin bay. This is an Oyster producing area. Port Lincoln is a Tuna fishing centre. Coffin Bay is a sweet little place but it’s still the off season and everything was shut!

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Photo :Coffin Bay’s Oyster beds

Many of the Bays along those stretch of coastline were named by Matthew Flinders who sailed past here in 1802. Streaky Bay and Smokey Bay are two named by him.

The countryside is pleasant and there are always photos to take.

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I thought the use of rain tanks as toilets was very creative at this roadside stop.

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Just after taking this photo I had a minor drama… My “good angel” came to my rescue.

I rode on from this café about 15 k and for some reason I checked to see that my camera was in its correct spot in my pocket. It wasn’t there. I went back to the café hoping to find the camera but no luck. I thought I had lost my camera. How would I do this blog without a camera! Ok the phone is an option.

Anyway, I rode away dejected but kept an eye on the side of the road in case it had fallen out of my pocket. About 12 k along the road I saw it. How lucky am I.

There it is in the photo below. Luckily it was in its case so no damage.

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Near Streaky Bay there are these amazing rocks called Murphy Haystacks. They are 1500 million years old.

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The journey across the Nullarbor Plain starts at Ceduna SA and ends at Norseman WA, a distance of 1200 K. The journey must have been horrendous before the road was sealed and before the roadhouses and fuel stations were established. The myth of a difficult journey still continues today but it is actually a very easy journey, albeit  a long ride; The road is excellent, the roadhouses are surprisingly good, there is fuel within easy distances (the longest gap is 200k)

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I saw just one kangaroo, no camels or wombats however there were plenty of squashed and very dead ones!

The road trains are interesting….The weather for me was good so they weren’t a problem but I heard that in the wet they can blind you with the spray for several seconds as they pass…best to pull over.

DSC02582I had a chat with Rex the Road Train driver at one of the Roadhouses where I found a motel bed. He said he prefers to travel at night as they can see lights ahead. Most of the poor wildlife gets mowed down at night. Rex told me he travels 1200k per day. He is allowed two half hour stops and cannot legally drive more than 14 hours. I thought my 750k was a big achievement. How on earth they stay awake beats me!

Some say its a boring trip. I can see why but it has things to see on the way and the scenery does change slightly!

The highlight along the way is the “Head of Bight” which is a whale watching lookout. This is where the white dunes meet the spectacular Bunda Cliffs. These cliffs are 90 metres high and stretch for 200 kilometres.

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DSC02587The photos don’t do justice to the view. Also the sea is a deep blue that is fabulous.I saw one whale but he /she wasn’t doing much and was far out but at least I saw one!

There are other things along the way that add some interest!

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As I neared Norseman there is a forest of gum trees that have rich golden trunks. Maybe someone knows what they are called.

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The 90 mile straight road is very straight. It’s quite a shock when suddenly there is a bend

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Kalgoorlie

I reached Norseman at 1.30 on my second day. Too early to stop given there isn’t much at Norseman so I headed the extras 190 k to Kalgoorlie. After riding nearly 1500 k in two days I need a rest.

Kalgoorlie is a fascinating place.

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It was founded more or less instantly after Gold was found here in 1893 by Paddy Hannon.

The town used to have some 90 Hotels (Pub’s to my UK readers) Some of them are splendid. There are Hotels on every corner. Some have wonderful stories to tell.

Here are a few photos:

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The Hotels catered for different clientele

The Exchange Hotel (photo above) was the rough place.

They used to have a “Skimpy of the week competition”. The bar maids were very skimpily clad (actually they still are but I was unable to get a photo, sorry)

The customers all put a coin in the “Titty Kitty” and this was given to the most skimpily clad lady providing she had a nice smile!

The Palace Hotel  opposite was the posh place. Herbert Hoover the US President was here when he was a mining engineer. He had a liaison with a bar maid and later sent a huge mirror to the Hotel (why would he do that????) He also wrote a very romantic poem to his lost sweetheart. Here is a photo of the mirror and his poem.

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The town hall has an impressive theatre. There are 1200 cast iron chairs. One can imagine attending a show here.

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There were over 30 brothels too.

One of the original brothels remains and is still a working brothel today!

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Kalgoorlie has a lot of street artists or did today! They are painting all sorts of pictures on shop windows

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Kalgoorlie and Boulder are now one town. Boulder also has some fine buildings and Hotels. It also had the Railway line that brought miners and equipment to town. At one time it was the busiest station in Australia, busier than Flinders St Station in Melbourne

Some photos of Boulder

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Now to finish, some more about the Superpit

Alan Bond instigated what is now the Superpit. The Golden Mile as it was called had over 260 separate individual and uneconomic mines. His idea was to buy up the leases and create one open cut mine.

This happened in 1989.

The operation is staggering. The equipment is awe inspiring:

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This truck carries 225 tons and cost $4.4 million

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The bucket carries 68 tonne and the machine costs $18.5 million

To finish… you don’t want to get in the way of one of these trucks!

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