10 awesome things to see and do at Hannans North Tourist Mine, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
1. Big machines
Wow! Machines are big at the Hannans North Tourist Mine. Huge working machines that dwarf a human. Below are a 793C Haul Truck and a 994 loader. It is a bit like Where's Wally to even find me in these pictures.
This flattened utility resulted from a 2005 safety demonstration in the Super Pit. A 793 haul truck was driven over the utility to show how difficult it is for a truck driver to see a vehicle. The driver did not even feel the utility under his truck. This is a reminder that the strict driver rules must be adhered to.
There were plenty of interesting signs around the tourist mine that gave a wealth of information on each different display and of stories from the local area.
3. Housing of the Goldfields
Dwellings in the Goldfields were often primitive. Tents were made of canvas over a wooden frame. Dirt floors, furniture made from wooden boxes and packing crates were common. Some people constructed huts from corrugated iron and wood, but without windows or insulation.
The prospectors lived with the basic of amenities, waiting to strike it rich.
As time went by, housing improved. Miners cottages, known as humpies, were semi-permanent residences.
They were still basic and crude, but welcome after a hard days work. On hot nights people fslept outside hoping for a cooling breeze. With the arrival of the miners, their families came too. Schools, shops, churches etc. were established. Women worked in boarding houses, hotels, brothels and laundries.
4. Equipment of the Goldfields
Headframes used in the mines have been relocated to the tourist mine.
Steam was a source of power for the mines. Large boilers fired by local timber were also used to boil water for safe drinking. This 1901 Lancashire type boiler sits on a jinker for transport and would originally have been pulled along by horses, donkeys or camels.
Gold is heavier than dirt, and miners needed a way to separate the gold. In areas with plentiful water they can wash the dirt away, but in the dry arid goldfields they used air to blow the dirt away. The machines used to do this were called dryblowers. Very appropriately named.
5. The Gold pour
I didn't attend on a Sunday which is when there is a live gold pour. However, you can still see the area they melt the gold in, and a video displays the procedures so you can understand the process.
A large shed shows different drilling equipment and information boards detail the changes in drilling over time.
Life-sized drills are on display. The early airleg drill on the left below was used to drill into the rock so explosives could be planted and break large rocks into smaller ones. The drills were known as "widow makers" as they spewed out fine dust that entered the men's lungs and caused tuberculosis. A more modern drill is shown on the right.
7. Old photos and cars
I loved the display of photos that captured moments in time. The picture below is taken in Hannan St, the main street in Kalgoorlie, in the early 1900s. The reason the street is wide is so that a horse and cart could turn around in the street.
It was also delightful to see old cars, rusted away and being taken over by nature.
8. The Chinese Garden
There were no Chinese on the Eastern WA Goldfields, due to a sad "White Australia" policy. These gardens are a homage to the Chinese of all the gold fields in Australia. The elements of water, stone, plants and buildings "link the past with the present and create a spirit of time, place and hope for humanity." - word are from a sign at the garden.
9. Modern Mining
Not all the displays here are historical. There is a modern underground refuge chamber on display that is built to sustain life during a hazardous situation. You can enter the chamber and sit upon a bench, as miners would if there was an emergency. In here they can breath fresh air, consume safe water, keep cool, monitor air toxicity, and communicate with the surface. A video presentation inside the chamber details its purpose and uses. Up to 12 people can survive in here for 72 hours, waiting for rescue.
10. Pan for Gold You can pan for gold yourself. There is a lovely area with a created stream, pans and instructions on how to give it a go for yourself. Any precious finds can be kept and taken home.
The Hannans North Tourist Mine is a great outdoor tourist attraction. There are so many things to see and do it can take around three hours of walking from exhibit to exhibit, reading the information and observing the displays. The staff were very helpful at the mine. As I travel solo, they were happy to snap the photos of me with the machinery, and we had a delightful chat about how long they have worked at the tourist mine and how much they enjoyed coming to work. It was a most pleasurable experience.