By: Tatum Stafford
Home to fascinating gold rush history, beautiful springtime wildflowers and historic colonial architecture, it’s not hard to see why the outback town of Kalgoorlie is a hotspot for local travellers.
Nestled within Australia’s sprawling Golden Outback, the thriving township is a must-visit for lovers of history, mining and intriguing attractions like salt lakes. Set your GPS, we’re heading to Kalgoorlie.
At a glance
|Distance from Perth||593 kilometres, six and a half hour’s drive or a one-hour flight.|
|Why go?||To hunt for nuggets of gold, unwind in a peaceful inner-city park, view WA’s largest collection of gold bars and visit the 1.5-kilometre-wide Kalgoorlie Super Pit.|
|When to go||
May - Sep: Cool temperatures make this the most pleasant time of year to visit.
|How long to stay||Two to three days.|
|Need to know||
There are numerous petrol stations, supermarkets, retail stores and other services within town. Not many retail stores are open on Sundays. Phone reception is good, and all parking in town is free.
|Fast facts||Town population: 29,850
Indigenous people: Wongatha. Kalgoorlie is named after ‘Karlkurla’, a silky pear that grows throughout arid areas in WA.
|Insider tip||If you’re an avid golfer, don’t miss your chance to tee off at the longest golf course in Australia, Nullarbor Links. Its first hole is in Ceduna, South Australia, and the 18th hole sits in Kalgoorlie.|
|Related road trips|
Top things to see and do
Climb to the top of Mount Charlotte
It’s an easy walk to Mount Charlotte’s summit, and once you arrive, you’ll be treated to sprawling views of the Kalgoorlie township. This wheelchair-accessible lookout is a great spot to catch a sunset, and is decorated with plaques that detail the history of the town and the historic Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail, a pipeline and dam project that delivers potable water from Mundaring Weir to the Eastern Goldfields.
Visit the Super Pit
Arguably one of Kalgoorlie’s most iconic attractions, the Super Pit sits just outside of the Kalgoorlie township and is one Australia’s biggest gold mines. Close to 900,000 ounces of gold are harvested here each year, and the pit is a whopping 1.5 kilometres wide. The pit lookout is located at the top of Outram Street in Boulder – and if you time your visit right, you may have the chance to watch a fascinating mine blast. Check the KCGM Super Pit website for daily blast times.
Want to view the Pit from above? RAC members save 10% on scenic flights over the Kalgoorlie Super Pit with Sightseeing Pass WA.
Explore Hammond Park
This beautiful park is home to many native birds, lush green trees, a tranquil pond and even an impressive miniature Bavarian Castle adorned with 40,000 gemstones. The park also houses an animal sanctuary, where visitors can get up close and personal with emus, peacocks and kangaroos, and there’s a playground and café to relax in after a few laps of the pond.
Fossick for gold
As it’s one of WA’s most prominent mining towns, gold hunting tours are in demand for Kalgoorlie visitors. There are a handful of local operators to choose from, with Gold Prospecting Kalgoorlie and Gold Nugget Tours two popular options. Both tours provide detectors, meals for the day, and an experienced guide to lead you through acres of land in the hunt for gold.
Visit the Museum of the Goldfields
Once you’ve gone on your own gold hunt, learn how the experts do it at this informative museum that houses WA’s largest collection of gold bars and nuggets. On a walk-through, you’ll see how early prospectors searched for gold, and learn about the lives of mining families during the early 1900’s. There are also a range of permanent exhibitions to explore, including the heritage-listed British Arms Hotel, which is believed to be the narrowest pub in the Southern Hemisphere. Entry to the museum is free, and donations are welcomed.
Dine at local country pubs
During the mining heyday, it was estimated that the Goldfields region had the highest concentration of hotels per head of population in Australia (with Kalgoorlie operating 44 of the 79 pubs). Though there are a few less pubs operating today, you'll still be able to find an authentic country pub meal within town. One of the most popular spots is the Exchange Hotel, centrally located on Hannan Street. Here you'll enjoy classic Aussie-style pub meals and a Wild West Saloon front-bar within one of Kalgoorlie's oldest hotels. If you're driving, remember to allocate a designated driver.
The Kalgoorlie town centre is pedestrian-friendly, and there's also a bike hire shop if you’d prefer to explore on two wheels. Additionally, town bus services are provided by TransGoldfields, and taxis and car hire are both available.
What to pack
If you’re visiting in winter, don’t be fooled by mild temperatures during the day – you'll need to bring extra layers to rug up at night, as it can often drop to below 5 degrees. Insect repellant, a good hat and enclosed walking shoes are a must year-round.
Take care when passing road trains, as they are common in sections of the Goldfields. It’s also recommended to bring some extra food and fuel with you, in case service stations aren’t open during your stop-offs. Read our long distance driving tips before setting off.
Need to fuel up before your drive to Kalgoorlie?
RAC members save 4 cents per litre at participating Puma Energy and Better Choice stations.
Last updated February 2021
Image credit: Tourism Western Australia