From whichever direction you approach Kalgoorlie – the bustling gold capital of Australia, municipally merged but still fervently distinct from Boulder – it comes as a surprise after hundreds of kilometres of desolation. In 1893 Paddy Hannan and his mates, Tom Flannigan and Dan O’Shea, brought renewed meaning to the expression “the luck of the Irish” when a lame horse forced them to camp by the tree which still stands at the top of Egan Street in KALGOORLIE. With their instincts highly attuned after eight months of prospecting around Coolgardie, they soon found gold all around them, and as the first on the scene enjoyed the unusually easy pickings of surface gold. Ten years later, when the desperately needed water pipeline finally gushed into the Mount Charlotte Reservoir (see Kalgoorlie’s liquid gold), Kalgoorlie was already the established heart of WA’s rapidly growing mineral-based prosperity. As sole survivor of the original rush, and revitalized by the 1960s nickel boom, Kalgoorlie has benefited from new technology that has largely dispensed with slow and dangerous underground mining. Instead, the fabulously rich “Golden Mile” reef east of town, near Boulder, is being excavated around the clock, creating a colossal hole, the open-cast “Super Pit” , which is still going strong and grows larger every day.

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