10 Favourite Sights on the Boulder walking tour, Western Australia
The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Audio tour is available from the Visitor Centre in Hannan Street. In Boulder there are 19 points of interest. Sadly, some of them are no longer open. The booklet comes with an audio headset that can be undertaken at your own pace. Slow the walk down or speed it up, whatever you wish to do. There is a great coffee shop in the middle of town – Tippetts, and a few pubs where you can quench your thirst.
Boulder has a great history and its wealthy beginnings are evident in the many stately and ornate business buildings in town. However shop front businesses are often closed and the buildings sit empty, much like many towns in the world. For Lease signs are displayed in windows. One business had a sign in their window announcing they were closed because they could not get employees. I was surprised to see Help Wanted signs frequently in stores of the combined towns.
Hotels was crucial to the social and economic life on the goldfields, a vital social centre for residents and travellers. "If mines were the sources of the miner's wages, the hotels were the sinks into which a lot of it was poured. Hotels not only provided alcoholic drinks, food and accommodation, but provided men with comfortable surroundings quite beyond their normal experience." - http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au
1. Recreation Hotel
Located at the top of the Historic Burt Street, this impressive hotel was built in 1898 in the Federation Free Style. Still in operation, you can drink or dine here, and they also have 14 hotel rooms upstairs for short term visits and 35 rooms at their accommodation complex for longer stays.
2. Court Hotel
This beautiful hotel was built in the Federation Free Style in 1900. The exterior of the building is highly decorative and features a rock-faced stonework contrasted with red brick quoin work and stucco treatment. Its strong contrasting materials, textures and colours create visual interest.
3. Metropole Hotel
This hotel is now closed to the public. It has the words “Private Premises” written on the outside wall. Sadly, it is in a state of decay. Inside the hotel there is an old tunnel that was a direct link to a mineshaft. Stories say that the miners dug the tunnel so they could sneak through it and have a drink during working hours! Located on a corner like most hotels, the Metropole is a two-storey building in the Federation Filigree Style, built in 1989. A verandah and balcony wrap around the facades and the exterior features a low tower and a parapeted gable.
4. Post & Telegraph Office
Before TV, internet and phones this would have been one of the busiest places in town. Communication with anyone outside the immediate area would have been posted, or in more immediate need a telegram would be sent. This two-storey building on the corner of Burt and Lane Streets was built in the Federation Free Classical style in 1898. The building has a largeness of scale, symmetry, and use of classical motifs. This facade treatment is impressive both in scale and severity. The exterior of the building features a balustraded Italianate parapet with urns, and a recessed arcaded porch.
CY O’Conner has been painted in the arch over what would have been the entrance. Under his portrait are the words The Chief. CY O’Conner is the genius behind the pipeline that carried water from Perth to the Goldfields. It is nice to see him remember in these small ways.
5. Boulder Town Hall and the Goatcher Curtain
With the Goldfields being highly prosperous, Boulder wanted to showcase this wealth with pride and confidence in its Town Hall, built in 1908. The curtain is painted in the Tromp-l’oeil painting style and depicts the Bay of Naples. Looking at the curtain it seems to be 3 dimensional, until you look closer. Read more here.
6. Goldfields War Museum
A great museum dedicated to the men and women of the Goldfields who fought for their country. Click here to read more here.
7. Miners Monument
This statue was made in the early 1980s and honours the underground miners of the region.
8. The Super Pit
3.5kms in length, 1.5kms wide and 800m deep, this 24/7 working open pit mine is one of the largest in Australia. It is gobsmackingly huge. A lookout at the mine is open to the public free of charge, where you can stand near the edge of the open cut and be awestruck at the immensity of it. Click here to read more about the Super pit.
9. Federation Plaques
The informative plaques were very pleasant reading. Way back in 1899, the Eastern Goldfields Reform League was formed and in 1900 they sent a petition to Queen Victoria in a casket made from local gold. This petition was signed by over 27,000 people. They wanted to separate from the state of Western Australia and form a state called Auralia. A telegram was sent from England to Sir John Forrest (WA’s first premier) saying that unless he agreed to a referendum in WA on Federation, England would agree to a separate state. The Government did not want to lose the highly prosperous Goldfields so they reluctantly agreed to a referendum. Sir Forrest was not in favour of Federation as he believed WA would lose its customs duties to the Eastern States and not receive a fair share when redistributed. (A belief that a great many WA people still believe is true).
The referendum to join the Australian Federation was held for WA in 1900 and resulted in 44,800 yes votes and 19,691 no votes. Only South Australia and Western Australian women voted in the referendums.
All women, except Aboriginal women, were given the vote in 1901, the year of Federation. Australia was the second country in the world to allow women to vote. New Zealand was the first to do so, nine years earlier. It was not until 1962 that WA granted Aboriginal people the right to vote.
10. The Burt Street streetscape
Just walking the main street and looking at the old buildings can be interesting. The different architecture styles, the homage paid to previous businesses, and the updated modern ground floors show the progress and changing needs over time.
Kalgoorlie was known as the part of town where richer folk would live, Boulder was where the working class people resided. This is still the general rule today. One local told me a tale, "we don't want to spend a lot of money on houses in Boulder as the ground underneath is rich with gold, and one day the super pit will extend here."
Who knows if this is true or not, only time will tell. If you get a chance to travel to the Goldfields there is a wealth of things to see and do.