Coolgardie Things to Do

  • View from Lions lookout
    View from Lions lookout
    by balhannah
  • View from Lions Lookout
    View from Lions Lookout
    by balhannah
  • Warden Finnerty's residence
    Warden Finnerty's residence
    by balhannah

Most Recent Things to Do in Coolgardie

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    THE SMALLEST BANK IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

    by balhannah Written Nov 2, 2014

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    The smallest Bank in W.A. is located in Ben Priors Park. It a stone building that was erected in 1892 for the National Bank. Now a museum piece, it holds the record as Australia's smallest bank building.

    Another nearby Bank also lays claim to this titile. Which is correct I don't know, both are very small. If you wish to see that Bank, take a drive to nearby Shackleton.

    Smallest Bank
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    BEFORE THOSE FLUSHING TOILETS!

    by balhannah Written Nov 2, 2014

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    I am in Ben Prior Park and have found two pieces of Australian history on display that is rarely seen.

    Right at the back of the park is an undercover area where old vehicles are on display. This is really interesting as it's here where the Night Cart that takes the toilet waste away can be seen.

    In parts of Australia, like Brisbane where I live, deep sewerage wasn't available until the 1970's, in Tasmania, not until the 1980's, so what happened before then?
    Well, there was the invention of septic tanks which are still used in country areas today, but this isn't what I am talking about, it is prior to them!

    I am talking about the Aussie "Dunny," the "Thunderbox," the "outhouse," the "s**t house," which are all the small building that was located at the very end of the backyard of an Aussie home, sometimes covered with creeper, nearly always without light, with newspaper for toilet paper and plenty of spiders!

    These homes needed to provide access for the Night soil collector to come during the night once or twice a week with their horse and Night cart, collecting a removable bucket of human waste from each outhouse and replacing it with a new one.
    Laws were in place about the hours during which night soil could be carted, and the depth at which it had to be buried.

    In Ben Prior Park is the Night cart, complete with buckets with the household name on each, the one and only I have ever found in a Museum.

    Of course, the famous Slim Dusty song, "The Redback on the Toilet Seat," is all about these Dunnies

    The other interesting cart was the Police pick-up Cart that would have been pulled by a horse. I looked at it and thought you would need to be a midget to fit in there. I guess people back then were a lot shorter to what we are today.

    Old cars and more in this area.
    Very interesting and ALL SEEN FOR FREE

    Night cart Police cart Police cart
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    BEN PRIOR'S PARK

    by balhannah Updated Nov 2, 2014

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    Ben Prior's Park is an open air display of old mining equipment, including mining jigs, drills, antiquated boilers and head frames, old cars and much, much more!

    How could you miss it? Really you couldn't as its located in the main street and best of all it's FREE!

    So in we wandered to have a look around, and we did find it interesting and we did spend some time in here.....We thought it was ok, yet another couple walked in and nearly straight out!
    Yes, it is a bit run down, it does have some quirky things and it does give you an insight to the old days of mining by having on display vintage mining equipment, some old agricultural equipment, horse and camel-drawn vehicles, old business signs, even quirky statues of local important identities including one of Warden Finnerty.

    If you walk straight out then you will miss two interesting pieces of Australian history. ( next tip)
    All of this was amassed by local garage owner, the late Ben Prior, who found most of the objects whilst prospecting for gold in the area.
    The Park has large gum trees, Chinese pepper trees and a picnic bench. You can touch all that you want!

    FREE!
    OPEN ALL HOURS

    Ben Prior Park Ben Prior Park Ben Prior Park Ben Prior Park
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    BAYLEY STREET

    by balhannah Updated Oct 26, 2014

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    THE 1890s - 15,000 people lived in the town and another 15,000 people lived about 5kms from town. There were 21 office blocks, several newspapers, two stock exchanges and heaps of Hotels. 700 mining companies based in Coolgardie were registered with the London Stock Exchange.

    SOME FIRSTS WERE-
    The first public swimming pool in Western Australia.
    The first children's hospital in Western Australia
    The first John of St God's hospital to be ever built in Australia was built in Coolgardie.

    2014 and Coolgardie is not ghost town, but one with less than 500 people living there.
    Coolgardie's main street was lit by an electric light, but by April 1924, the same street was lit by four Hurricane Lamps. Today we have electricity and we have tourism which is putting Coolgardie back on the map and creating work for its residents once again.

    I did most of the heritage walk, but not all as I soon realized I would need half a day to read all the plaques with detailed descriptions and old photographs at each historical site. Virtually every building on Bayley Street is of historic importance (a total of 23 buildings in the town centre have been listed on the National Estate register)
    The markers, with their old photographs and details of the history of sites which are now no more than a ruin or a vacant block, give a real sense of what the town was like in the 1890s. The Coolgardie Visitors Centre has a visitor's guide and map.

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    COOLGARDIE PARKLANDS

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    The Coolgardie Parklands I came across the western end of Bayley street. What a pleasant green area this was, especially as nearly everything around here was red dirt.
    It's a good place to stop and stretch the legs, go to the toilet and let the children run loose in the excellent playground. There was undercover seating, much needed in the sunny weather at Coolgardie, and gas bbq's to cook lunch. Nothing to cook? Well I did find several shops open that sold food, one was even recommended by a passing truck driver.

    A small oasis in the desert like surroundings.

    Coolgardie Parklands
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    THE ENTOMBED MINER

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    Located in the Goldfields Museum is "The Chamber of the entombed Miner."

    In here was where I read the true story of how Modesto Varischetti was trapped in a mine and rescued, making it one of the greatest rescues of the time.

    Modesto Varischetti was a gold miner who was trapped in a gold mine for nine days after a thunderstorm flooded the Bonnievale gold mine in March 1907.

    A diver using a long air hose and deep-sea diving equipment first reached Varischetti five days after the flooding. He found him alive and well in an air pocket, so gave the trapped miner food, candles and letters of encouragement.

    Herbert Hoover, later President of the United States of America, was a mining engineer at nearby Kanowna and was involved in the rescue.

    After his rescue, Varischetti recovered and returned to work underground. He died at the age of 57 years from fibrosis and is buried in the Kalgoorlie cemetery. His grave is listed on the cemetery heritage walk.

    Australian folk group "Cloudstreet" tells Modesto Varischetti's story in song. It is based on an English folk song, "Down in the Coalmine".

    Modesto Varischetti
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    ONLY ONE HOTEL OPEN!

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    This is true, out of 23 Hotels that were in this town when the Gold rush was on, there are only three standing. Only one is still operating and that is the Denver City Hotel. The other was put to auction but didn't sell, hardly a person was interested.

    The third is the beautiful brick Marble Bar Hotel from 1897, now used by the RSL.
    Beside the sign outside the old Marble Bar Hotel, it tells the story that most pioneers in Coolgardie loved this Hotel. The owners were good people who served cheap meals, but better still, if a Prospector was down on his luck, they would give him a free meal rather than see him go hungry. Everyone was made to feel welcome irrespective of whether he was well dressed or in dirty clothes. It remained open as a Hotel until 1927.

    Old Marble Bar Hotel Calgoorlie Hotel still open For Sale
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    GOLDFIELDS EXHIBITION MUSEUM

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    Occupying the old Wardens Court Building is the Goldfields Exhibition Museum.

    Entry was only $2 and the Museum was worth every cent!

    It wasn't until the 1970s that a museum was established. Evidently, with the decline of the mines and the size of Coolgardie, the locals decided that something should be done to save what they could for future generations - I'm so glad they did!
    So, the people set about gathering what they could from the 1890s to put on display in this Museum.

    The museum is over two floors and has 13 rooms, all displaying anything to do with life in the Goldfields and the once bustling township of Coolgardie.
    And so it was that I began wading through all of the information, the objects, the old photos and displays on Coolgardie.
    For me it was very interesting, as I had learnt about Coolgardie in my school days, now here I was seeing it for myself!

    I found the Waghorn bottle collection of hundreds of glass bottles and containers from around Australia, memorabilia about the children in the 1890s, lots of miscellaneous objects about hygiene and even a set of golden teeth - I guess that was affordable when they found so much gold. Furniture back then wasn't held together with staples, it was well made and were pieces to admire.
    One such piece was from the Club Hotel and included a silver ram's-head desk set and silver punch bowl.

    There were plenty of photos to see depicting Coolgardies glory days, great to see the difference between then and now! The walls were lined with photographs of events and significant people of Coolgardie.

    The old wooden organ brought to the Goldfields made me think of the all the miners having a sing-along. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case, as it was brought to Coolgardie for the Methodist church!

    Another section was on the Afghan community and their contributions to the region. Without the Afghan people and the work that they did with the camels and the transport system, the Goldfields would have never opened up. Items on display include items turban, shoes and clothing from the Afghan people of the time. All Afghan items actually date from the period it was used in - 1896.

    There is much to see and it took a while - do go for a look if in Coolgardie - $2 isn't a fortune!

    ONLY OPEN 9 - 4PM ON THURSDAYS

    Coolgardie museum Coolgardie museum Coolgardie in the 1890s Coolgardie museum Coolgardie museum
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    WARDEN'S COURT BUILDING & INFO CENTRE

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    Walking the main street of Coolgardie I saw many grand old buildings that had survived the gold rush. This made me realize just how rich this town once was.
    No expense was spared in prosperous times when a new Government building was to be built.
    The two storey Federation Classical Warden's Court building is one of the best and is where the Tourist Information centre is located.
    It was built out of stone and brick in 1898 and has a lovely colonnaded front, vestibules and a back verandah. The building houses a Wardens Court, Mines Offices, Bank and Museum and is the
    official starting point of the Golden Quest Discovery Trail.

    http://www.goldenquesttrail.com/

    Coolgardie Visitor Centre is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm weekends and public holidays.
    It is the place to ask about road conditions in the area.

    Warden's court Warden's court Warden's court Warden's court
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    THE GNAMMA HOLE

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    I walked to the Gnamma Hole from Warden Finnerty's House.

    A gnamma is a deep hole in a granite outcrop that acts like a natural water tank. This one has been fenced off for safety reasons and because it's used for the town water.

    The historical importance of this site is..........
    It marks the spot where Warden Finnerty declared the town of Coolgardie on October 30, 1892

    Coolgardie Gnamma Hole Memorial @ Gamma Hole
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    WARDEN FINNERTY'S RESIDENCE

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    Our next stop was to see several sights, the first one being Irishman - Warden Finnerty's residence, built in 1895 and now in the hands of the National Trust.
    John Michael Finnerty was the first resident magistrate of the Coolgardie goldfields.

    Finnerty's residence is preserved as it was, with a few pieces of the Finnerty's original furniture and the rest of the house furnished with furniture from the same era. One of the original pieces is the chair by the fireplace which was used as a nursing chair from where Mrs. Finnerty would feed and bathe her babies.
    Some visitors have seen the ghost of Mrs. Finnerty sitting in the chair, others heard singing and even a baby laughing! Good imagination is what I think!

    The exterior of the house is a good example of early Australian architecture. As Coolgardie is located in a hot and dry area, the house was constructed of local stone and brick with tall windows and louvered shutters, wide verandahs and a ventilated roof lantern. This protected the owners from the fierce inland heat. It is quite a unique home.

    OPENING HOURS - 11-4PM
    CLOSED - Tuesday & Wednesday

    ADMISSIOON
    Free to members of the National Trust
    Adults - $4.00
    Concession $2.00
    Children 6 - 16years $2.00

    Guided tours - 11am 12noon & 2pm

    GHOST TOURS - 3PM

    Warden Finnerty's residence Warden Finnerty's residence
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    BAYLEY'S REWARD - LION'S LOOKOUT

    by balhannah Written Oct 22, 2014

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    Our first stop in Coolgardie was at the Lion's lookout. Not only is this a lookout over the mining area, it is the very same view Bayley and Ford first saw in 1892 as they rode in from Gnarlbine Soak. From the lookout, I was looking over to where they first struck gold, an area they called Fly Flat, an area which sparked the biggest gold rush in the history of Western Australia.

    I wondered how different it looked back then?
    Bayley's Reward Goldmine Headframe has been re-erected on this site.

    Bayley's Reward View from Lions lookout View from Lions Lookout
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    Marvel Bar Hotel

    by keeweechic Written Aug 29, 2007

    This ornate old building was once the Marvel Bar Hotel. This hotel was popular for many reasons. It supplied good cheap meals and the owners were also sympathetic to those miners down on their luck and provided a free meal to help them out. It seems no one was turned away. The Marbel Bar remained a hotel until 1927. This piece of marble is all that is left of the marble bar. Today it belongs to the RSL.

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    Old Gaol

    by keeweechic Written Aug 29, 2007

    Within the old Gaol you will find the Pharmacy Museum which houses quite a selection of medicines and memorabilia from the 18th and 19th Century. It is apparently the one of the best historical displays of phamaceutical ware in Australia. Open 7.30am to 4.00pm with a small admission fee.

    There is a tree on Hunt St known as the Gaol Tree. It now has replica chains attached to it. Prior to the Gaol being built, prisoners were chained to the tree to await their fate at trial.

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    Poisons in Pretty Bottles

    by keeweechic Written Aug 29, 2007

    Poisons were usually stored in bright coloured bottles which were also more expensive, to prove as a warning. I was really surprised to see a tiny wee perfume bottle that I still have that was given to me as a little girl by an older relative. Mine still contains perfume which I believe was called Evening in Paris.

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