Kalgoorlie Town Hall Tour, Western Australia
Updated: Jan 4
Leading the hour-long tour of the Town Hall in Kalgoorlie was tour guide and historian Tim, who had given the tour of Boulder Town Hall I had taken yesterday. Tim is a delightful guide, full of passion about the area, and he presents the information in an easy, friendly way.
Kalgoorlie Town Hall was built in 1908 at a cost of 22,000 pounds, the same year as Boulder Town Hall which only cost 12,000 pounds. The difference can be attributed to the size, Kalgoorlie’s Town Hall is three times the size of the nearby Boulder Town Hall.
The Town Hall was built of local stone, Jarrah and Karri wood, Queensland Coach wood and Oregon Pine. As you enter the building, the magnificent Jarrah staircase takes your breath away and leads you to look up at the original pressed metal ceilings. “With its grand façade and rich interior decoration, it reflects the town’s immense wealth and civic pride of a community thriving on the 1900s gold boom.”- kalgoorlietourism.com
The original statue of Paddy Hannan sits on a slab of granite from the Victoria Rocks area. Paddy is made of 99.9% copper. In 1929 a competition was held to design a statue of Paddy with a pick and water bag. Young schoolboy Keith Craig won the competition and bought a pushbike with his winnings.
A replica of the statue was made in 1980 and is situated outside the Town Hall and now has a drinking tap coming out of the saddlebag and the granite is gold bearing ore from the Mt Charlotte gold mine.
The Main Hall held 1,100 people and was used for many purposes. A few locals remember watching picture shows here between 1910 – 1957. They then went to the drive-in, or one of the other 5 picture theatres in town. The arch is painted in the original colours, and the stage curtain is the original silk and velvet.
Upstairs in the regal dress circle are 224 cast iron chairs with velvet padded seats. Front and centre Row A seats 11 &12 have always been kept vacant for the Mayor and Mayoress. It would cost up to five times more to sit in the dress circle than on the bottom floor. It is very rare that the dress circle is used now-a-days. Most shows held in the hall now are free.
If you were doing any sort of entertainment world tour, you would always perform at Kalgoorlie along the way. West End Stage productions have also been held here.
Today, the main hall is available for hire (inexpensive at $50 an hour, with a 3-hour minimum, includes the hire of chairs and tables. 2020 prices) for wedding receptions, stage shows, magicians, birthday parties, school leavers balls, poker tournaments. The Mayoress holds an annual flower show here.
The banquet room next to the main hall has hosted royalty and touring celebrities. During World War 2 it was used as a ladies’ gymnasium, and the local women would gather here to make camouflage nets for the war.
The banquet room has 14 permanent artworks on display from the Sir Claude Hotchkins bequest, and 3 artworks by local artists. A small area on the wall shows the history of decorative touches that have been made to the room.
Upstairs the tour takes you into the Council Chambers. Kalgoorlie and Boulder cities amalgamated into one, the Kalgoorlie-Boulder City, in 1989.
John Hopkins was the first mayor of Kalgoorlie 1895-1896 and he lived life to the full. Born in New Zealand, he worked as a telegraph messenger boy whilst paying his own way through university. He studied law and after graduation, worked as a lawyer in Queensland and then Western Australia. He became wealthy while in Kalgoorlie. After being mayor, he explored New Guinea, and worked in northern Canada during the Klondike gold rush. After that, he went to London where he purchased Mayoral Regalia out of his own pocket and presented them himself to the Municipality of Kalgoorlie.
When war was declared in 1900, the Boer War, Wilson joined the Light Horse as a trooper. He was diagnosed with enteric fever and returned to Kalgoorlie. This didn’t keep the intrepid Wilson down for long. He recovered and joined the Army again as a Lieutenant. After the war he went to Johannesburg, South Africa and practiced law for a few years, and then returned to his native New Zealand. In 1906 he sailed to South America, contracted typhoid in Lima, Peru and died there.
The Mayoral Regalia he donated was made of ribbed scarlet silk and trimmed with animal fur. It had a piecorn hat from beaver with a peacock feather. Jack Finnister was the first Mayor to wear them. The current gilded mayoral chain was made about 1992 and contains over $166,000 of pure Kalgoorlie gold.
The tour then takes us into the Mayors Parlour. Royalty and celebrities have dined here over the years, and the photos of all past serving Mayors are displayed on the walls.
Around the landing on the first floor is the Hall of Sporting Fame. People who have been born or lived in Kalgoorlie and achieved sporting success are on the wall. This is Jenny Cunningham, “born in Kalgoorlie in 1953 she excelled as a badminton player, winning a bronze medal for Australia in the teams category at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982.”
Also, on the footpath of Hannan St there are plaques on the town hall side noting the sporting celebrities. On the footpath on the other side of the street are plaques of people who have contributed to the life of Kalgoorlie.
There are also flags of the 16th battalion under glass. The battalion has the freedom of the city, meaning they could march into Kalgoorlie without being stopped.
Banners hang in the halls telling tales and stories for the centenary of the hall.
For a $5 fee (2020 price), the tour gives a fascinating look into the beginning, middle and current day uses of the Town Hall, along with seeing objects, paintings, photographs and newspaper articles of historic value.
Tim the tour guide (for both the tour of the Boulder Town Hall, and the Kalgoorlie Town Hall), was both professional and friendly. I enjoyed his tours immensely.
When in the Kalgoorlie area, take an hour to spend being educated and entertained and accessing parts of the beautiful historic Edwardian building that are not usually seen by the public, on the Kalgoorlie Town Hall tour.
Slim Dusty, a well-loved Australian country singer who traveled all over the country, said it best…
“Take the old Town Hall Kalgoorlie
With it’s old time charm and grace
That your multi million complexes
Never will replace
All glass and steel and concrete
Some large and some too small
Let me sing where the rafters ring
In an old time country hall.”