Western Australia and Wildflowers, so Far Away 8.

Western Australia and Wildflowers, so Far Away 8.
Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, Merridin (~240 Km)

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Changing of the scene from the gold of Kalgoorlie to the normal life out west.

After a court house the next government building of importance was usually the Post Office. The Hotels were the most common non-government buildings. It amazes me that in 1880 this area of Kalgoorlie was bush, in 1893 gold was discovered near here, the railway arrives in 1896, and in 1899 the government builds this for the Kalgoorlie post office, and fits a clock in the tower in 1900.

We headed off for the leisurely trip to Coolgardie, and Marj who notices wildflowers saw this beside the road so we stopped. Wildflowers did not yet seem too common.

Coolgardie was a going concern before Kalgoorlie as gold was discovered here in 1892, and the town prospered. The railway was soon extended from Southern Cross and Coolgardie was the initial end of line. In 1898 Coolgardie was the third biggest town in Western Australia after Perth and Fremantle. This meant that the buildings which went up were well built on a wide main street as was common in country towns of this age. This group of buildings included a theatrette for entertainment proving miner’s were not idiots.

The town hall of Coolgardie was built in 1898 and now has a museum of goldfield activities.

It also has the Wardens Court of the goldfields where claim problems were settled.

One of the exhibits in the museum which took our fancy was the way the original miners came out to Coolgardie, before the train. They wheeled everything they possessed in a wheel-barrow which would later be required to move dirt or rock on their claim. This was the mode of travel in an area which can easily reach the high 30’s in the shade.

There is no doubt that the wide main street was suitable for turning teams of oxen or camels or whatever without causing problems to other visitors to town. There was plenty of room outside the pubs to line up for a drink.

One of the trees in the main street was a wattle and it was blooming when we were there.

Four years after the discovery of gold, the train arrived in Coolgardie, and the station was done in style. It is an interesting station because Coolgardie is no longer on the Western Australia rail network, but was solely a museum area.

This is one of the locos which pulled trains to Coolgardie in the early 1900’s.

Water is important in a land without rivers and one of the main goods delivered by rail was fresh water. This cartage ceased in 1903 when the pipeline from the west was opened.

The early water main was of wooden pipes reinforced with a wire steel mesh. They were difficult to make, install, and maintain. One serious problem was fire along the main, as this could destroy the pipes.

This section was on display beside the discarded (in 1982) pumping station at Ghooli some miles to the east of Southern Cross. The water was pumped by steam engines at selected points along the pipeline as the water pressure required to send the water a large distance was beyond what the early wooden pipes could withstand. With concrete or steel pipes higher pressures are possible and then in 1969 electric power was used for pumping. This meant longer runs between pumping stations and the closure of the intermediate stations no longer needed. I hope they were kept for historical purposes, but this one was not in the best of condition in 1982.

I cannot remember now but I think we stayed the night at Merreden a short drive from here.

To see More of our trip Click here

Western Australia and Wildflowers, so Far Away 8.

Fred Mitchell

St Helena, Australia

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Artist's Description

Coolgardie was a going concern before Kalgoorlie as gold was discovered here in 1892, and the town prospered.

Artwork Comments

  • Shaun Whiteman
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