We’re on an adventure at the moment, crossing the continent on Australia’s longest shortcut travelling some 4,600klm. Strictly speaking this is a outback route, largely a dirt road, one that stretches from Perth on the sunset side, through the centre of Aus’ and onto Cairns, this on sunrise side or vs vs. This route across Aus’ is also known to take in the remote stretch of track known as the Outback Way, which is nearly 2800klm travelling from Laverton WA to Winton Qld, and is presently from Laverton to Kata Tjuta (The Olga’s) a notorious 1000klm strip of dirt track that is subject to some extreme weather conditions and which is currently still rough and ready. Though they are threatening to tar this route over the next decade or so, at the moment it is very much an adventurous run.
In this post we will be travelling the 1000klm from Perth to Laverton and we plan on a spot of prospecting along the way. There are some exciting aspects of this run the least of which is the Gold fields of WA. We began in Perth, along the well travelled highway from Perth to Kalgoorlie. This is a long stretch of some 600klm, one which offers some interesting stops. The first would be the magnificent views of Perth from the Perth Hills, or the Darling Scarp. The Lesmurdie Falls in the National Park offers a beautiful lookout over Perth, along with some great walks and comfortable picnic spots. This is worth a picnic visit all on its own so if your in Perth take the opportunity before you head out with your rig in tow. Other attractions along the Golden Highway are Meckering, 1 1/2 hrs east of Perth, where you can lunch at the local park and see the earmarks of Australia’s most destructive earthquake and monuments to the earth quake which hit the region some 50 years ago.
For an overnighter one of our favourite bush camps is in the Yellowdine region. Karalee Rocks and Dam is a brilliant little bushcamp (and geocache), much loved by locals and travellers, with the added advantage of phone links and very few ammenities, but we don’t need those anyways. From here it is a relatively short jump to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie and Kalgoorlie is a world on its own. I won’t go into the fun to be had in Kal’ as it is more detailed in a little publication ‘Deserts of Gold’ one of my earlier travelling books, but needless to say, Kalgoorlie is one of my favourite places to visit, as one of Australia’s frontier towns of the outback… if not the largest and most industrious in regards to gold mining.
Not to be missed, and just outside of town, is the popular ‘Two-up’ shed on the road north from Kal’. This is the only place in Aus’ where you can legally play two-up all year round. Profits for charity is the aim, but undoubtably there are the die-hards and larrikins who just go for the venture of this popular game amongst the Anzac’s. 2pm Sunday, after church, is the time to rock up and it is sure to be an experience on its own if you make it. Be warned… they are hard playing and hard living around Kalgoorlie.
The run from Kalgoorlie to Leonora is also another interesting run with a few iconic stops, born of the old goldfields in our golden era. Not to be missed are the bushie icons on the ‘Goldfields Pub Run’ north of Kal’. A favourite amongst the grey nomads is Ora Banda and it is a great little pub to take in. Its history is as patchy as the Broad Arrow, though the Broad Arrow remains a bikies icon and while a little more rough and ready, it was our choice for the popular Broady Burger and a round of drinks to suit a travellers limits. The history of these popular bush pubs make for some great tales and if you have the time, make a stop of it. You wont be disappointed if you get to chatting with the locals.
Lake Ballard is another great overnighter all-be-it a 50klm side-track it has the added advantage of allowing you to enjoying the art on the Lake. There are 51 Black steel sculptures modelled after the inhabitants of Menzies. These mystic figures which emerge from the salt and heat haze is a great sight to take in, particularly at sunrise and sunset and if you want communication links you really do have to hike to the top of the island just out from the free camp. Wandering around the lake visiting the creative works is enjoyable though remember to take along water… its hot out there!
In the Eastern Goldfields of WA, the many salt lakes are remnant of an ancient river system considered to have formed the original headwaters of the Swan-Avon river system and part of an ancient and complex geology. Most recently the removal of native vegetation for cropping in the Wheat Belt has caused the ground water to rise, carrying salt to the surface. Salination is now a major problem throughout the wheat belt as across many area’s of Australia.
The best of the run into Leonora however, is a visit to the ghost township of Gwalia, just south of Leonora. An old gold settlement, Gwalia is a gem to visit and you can wander through the shanties of the old township and picnic under the shade of the small local park. Hoover House is also well worth a visit with the free museum relics available to see and the delightful residence of Herbert Hoover… who eventually went home to become the 31st US President.
After a visit to Lenora Mining Office in Leonora for any necessary permits and some mug maps we are off for a spot of gold prospecting before we head out on the ‘Outback Way’ and further adventures.
Check out one of Australia’s greatest gold attractions… the gold pour at the Perth Mint in the video below
Jan is a Traveller and an Author. You can find out more about her books on travel on the page dedicated to Oldies at Large, where you will also find a list of her blog postings in topic.