The Laslett building was constructed during the 1890’s. The style is quite unique with its Art Nouveau motifs, islamic styled curved windows and tiles. The owner constructed the buildings from a fortune he made from land dealings.
A much heralded feature of Kal's pub scene are its 'skimpy' barmaids. For those of you who have not yet been exposed to Australia's unique take on staff uniforms in pubs, a 'skimpy' is a young lady who (wo)mans the bar in nothing but her underwear. This is a wildly popular practice in the remote rural towns of inland Western Australia, and is particularly a feature of mining towns with heavily skewed gender ratios such as Kalgoorlie where blokes hugely outnumber sheilas.
Kal is stinking hot in summer, so I can begin to understand that over this period, the minimalist 'uniform' is probably quite welcome. However, Kal has a desert climate, and as the mercury can drop well below zero at night during the winter, this is one hardy breed of service provider!
Kal is a small town with a lot of pubs, and so keeping them in skimpies must be quite a challenge. I was amused to find out that - in common with a lot of the mineworkers - a number of the skimpies operate on a 'fly in, fly out' roster from Perth!
For a unique insight into the secret life of skimpies, have a look at the pithily written article below.
Welcome to the hugely enjoyable Mining Hall of Fame, which showcases not only the technical side of mining, but also the larger-than-life cast of visionaries, entrepreneurs, robber barons and rogues that it has spawned.
One of the things that I most like about Kalgoorlie (and, for that matter, my adopted home town, Johannesburg) is that they are towns that have always remained true to their mining roots. The Mining Hall of fame is an excellent example of Kal's willingness to embrace its colourful (and often less than cultured) heritage, and is a 'must see' for anyone wanting to understand the history of Western Australia's Eastern Goldfields.
The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame (to give it its full and rather cumbersome title) provides a nice mix of historical context and interactive displays that allow the visitor to gain a basic understanding of mining and marvel at the immense physical challenges that needed to be overcome to develop mines and settlements in this hostile environment. As with most mining museums, it is possible to go underground and to watch a gold pour, although for me, the highlight was the series of exhibits on the giant personalities of yesteryear who have dominated the Australian mining industry (but then that's my community, so I'm biased). It also boasts a "world class minerals gallery", although I can never work out why people get so excited about these: I'm a geologist by profession and rows of mineral specimens bore me rigid (but maybe that's why I'm a lapsed geologist ...)
A collection of old mining equipment and buildings has been assembled outside the museum building and it's also possible to try your hand at gold panning should you feel the urge (although don't expect the proceeds to cover the cost of your trip!)
The museum is perched up on a hill just outside town and the Observation Deck lends an unusual bird's eye view out over Kal - a perspective that you only otherwise get from a plane in this pancake-flat landscape. There's also an indigenous Eremophila (emu bush) garden as well as a Chinese garden whose relevance in this setting I struggle to fathom, although it is a pleasant place to bring a picnic. If you're not organised enough to bring your own, then there's is also a cafe, which proudly boasts of "an alfresco dining area with sweeping views to our new Giant 793C Truck exhibit!". Well, how could you possibly resist the prospect of such a captivating view??? ... I think you've got to be a seriously hardcore miner to consider that attribute to be a drawcard :)
This old hotel was built in 1900 in a mix of Federation and Anglo Dutch style. The hotel was run by Paddy Whelan who was a well known storyteller, poet and politician. The hotel also was know for a world record drinking record being set there in 1953 when ‘Shorty’ Western managed to thrown down 12 pots of beer while the clock at the Post office struck 12.
The hotel is now Sylvester’s Nightclub.
This amazing camera belonged to a Goldfields photographer, J.J. Dywer. Many of the photos you see in the museum were taken by Dwyer including a large display on the mezzanine floor. Dwyer had his studio in the Park buildings on Kalgoorlie’s Hannan Street.
This amazing clock during the early 1900’s was originally housed in Montgomery Bros Store which has now become Monty’s Restaurant. Neither keys nor a card were needed to keep the correct time, instead a worker would just turn the lever to his number, press it and the record was made. There were two coloured ribbons, one for ordinary time which was shown in blue and overtime and late was shown in red.
The Woodline Post Office is one of the outdoor displays at the WA museum. Woodlines were the railway lines that were used for tapping the timber reserves. They provided timber for the mines and firewood for power in the Goldfields.
The stay at home miners wife didn’t have it easy. She would be up early making her husband breakfast and his lunch. Then she turned her attention to getting older children off to school. There was no running hot water or electrical appliances which made cleaning and washing/wringing quite a chore. The making of the families clothes were all done by hand and old clothes were recycled and cuat up for younger children or rag rugs. Some basic items were delivered by cart from the butcher, milkman, green grocer and ice man but there were no freezers to keep food for any length of time.
This tiny wooden bilding is mounted on a railway flatcar so that it oculd be easily transported when the settlements moved. During the 1970’s it was used as a garden shed behind the Boulder Police Station until it was gived and relocated in 1992. The Police Office sits behind the WA Museum’s main building.
This was the office of the Golden Mile and Murchison Timber co and used tgo sit at the rail siding at Golden Gate. It was relocated around 1955. The office now sits as part of the outer area of the WA Museum.
As you transfer from the new building of the WA Museum into the historic British Arms, one of the first rooms you find yourself in displays some great examples of historic union tapestries and banners.
This old hotel sits vacant now behind the WA Museum. It was built in early 1900’s and was a key hotel in Kalgoorlie. In the 1920’s the hotel was turned into a boarding house until a fire destroyed most of the building in the 1980’s. It was sold and the new owner attempted to restore it with the idea of turning the old hotel into a residence. The project was never finished and just sits deteriorating.
There are two Visitors Centres. One in Kalgoorlie and the other one is in nearby Boulder. The one in Kalgoorlie is on Hannan Street and is open from 8.30am to 5.00pm Mon – Fri and from 9.00am to 5.00pm on the weekends. They offer a very good map and guide to all things of interest in both places. The Boulder office is found on Burt Street. Be sure to ask when the Super Pit are having their blasting.
Outside the museum is a set uup of a prospectors’ camp. On display is the accommodation which was used in the way of a canvas tent and hut of corrugated iron. Other implements such as tools and dryblowers which were often used in the Eastern Goldfields by the early prospectors.
Built in 1902 and is listed as a heritage site. It was designed in a Federation Gothic style in a cruciform layout and built from Coolgardie brick. Inside the church has timber floorboards and pews and is highly decorated.