Part Two - Hyden to Albany

11th August, 1998
12th August, 1998
13th August, 1998

Tuesday 11th August, 1998

Pioneer Monument photograph

Pioneer Monument, Southern Cross, WA

Drop Cap ut early from Hyden for a very long ride, mostly on gravel, but smooth enough. (The Mercedes coach has great airbag suspension) We passed through rather monotonous salt bush scrub till our morning tea stop at the village of Southern Cross. We first looked down at the town from the very slight elevation where the Pioneer Memorial is placed. This commemorates the co-operation between miners and farmers and has examples of the tools of both on it.
We got a bottle of spring water at a deli in Southern Cross and it got a lot more comfortable later.

Coolgardie Street photograph

Main Street, Coolgardie, WA

Drop Cap rom Southern Cross we drove to Coolgardie for lunch at another Shell Roadhouse. Coolgardie is a regenerating ghost town with some old buildings but most of them were burned down in the Great Fire of Coolgardie in 1895.

Coolgardie Station photograph

Railway Museum, Coolgardie, WA

Drop Cap here is a railway station, alas, just a museum, in which we spent some time. They have a steam engine and are restoring some carriages and there is a collection of colonial artifacts from the Gold Rush days. While we were there we met a lovely plushpuss type cat who was happy to make Mac's day by rubbing him up and licking his hand.

Kalgoorlie photograph

Mining Museum, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA

Drop Cap fter Coolgardie came Kalgoorlie-Boulder (the two towns have joined but neither would surrender their name). This is a pleasant old-fashioned inland city. We went to the Mining Museum, which was quite fascinating with many well thought out exhibits with quiz points for kid's interaction. They had old buildings out the back, a bank, a police post, sandalwood puller's camp, miner's cottage, etc, and a vault with some interesting gold. Very well done.

Drop Cap ur driver, Wayne, had to take one passenger, an English lady, to the hospital as she slipped in the shower in Perth and has broken her wrist. She has been trailing about with it broken for two days, held in a makeshift sling, because there was no hospital in Hyden, now it is plastered and properly supported. She says it is much more comfortable.

Two-Up school photograph

Outside the Two Up School, Kalgoorlie WA

Drop Cap fter the museum, Wayne took us to the famous (or infamous) Two-Up School, a primitive corrugated iron shack with no roof, where a lot of money was changing hands. It may be a very simple game but the betting is too complex for me.

Two-Up school photograph

Come in Spinner, Two Up School, Kalgoorlie WA

Drop Cap o to the Mercure Motel. The first disappointing accommodation. The unit needs renovating badly (or well, really) and dinner tonight was a real shemozzle, too many tables, no room to move and a buffet so you had to move around. The food, however, was quite good.

Drop Cap he weather also is good, warm and sunny. I stripped off my jumper in Coolgardie and left it off. Wayne is taking us to see the lights of Kalgoorlie tonight (both of them) Actually, we went to a lookout point overlooking the "Big Pit", an enormous hole, brilliantly lit, being worked around the clock - gold must be worth it. It is the biggest gold mine in Australia.
Then we drove along the "red light" area (legalised) of Hay Street. Girls sitting in doorways under garish lights. It seemed quiet on a Tuesday night. What a day, two up schools and brothels. What are we getting into?

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Wednesday, 12th August, 1998

Big Pit photograph

The Big Pit, Kalgoorlie WA

Drop Cap reakfast was much more civilised this morning. Complaints from last night were obviously listened to. We drove first to the "Big Pit" for another look in daylight. It is simply incredible - immense!

Down mine photograph

Going Down the Pit, Hannan's North Gold Mine, Kalgoorlie, WA

Drop Cap hen to the highlight of the day, our visit to Hannan's North Gold Mine which is a tourist mine now. It has a lot of static displays of diggers' camps and gold panning etc but also takes visitors down the mine.

Down Pit photograph

Norm and his Big Drill, Hannan's North Gold Mine, Kalgoorlie WA

Drop Cap e squeezed five at a time into a tiny lift and went down to where a guide took us through the tunnels and showed us how the gold was extracted. It was very interesting and he was quite an entertaining guy.

Gold Pour photograph

"Gold" Pour at Hannan's North Gold Mine, Kalgoorlie WA

Drop Cap ater we watched a demonstration of a "gold pour", melted in a crucible and poured into an ingot. It looked most authentic but we found out it wasn't really gold, but brass, for obvious security reasons. What a swizz! Still it was an enjoyable, if rather strenuous morning.

Salt Lake Lefroy photograph

Salt Lake Lefroy, Kambalda, WA

Drop Cap e then headed off for Kambalda, where they mine nickel, for a look at another immense sight, the salt Lake Lefroy. It stretched to the horizon with a surprising amount of water in it as well as the pinkish salt flats. They are coloured pink on the map and it was peculiar to see that it was the actual colour.

Drop Cap hen, 132 km to Norseman through mallee scrub, so interesting that I fell asleep. We had a late lunch at a roadhouse there, then headed on for another 200 odd ks to Esperance. This state, (this country really) is huge and, to me at least, not very interesting between high spots.

Drop Cap he motel at Esperance is right on the beach. We went for a walk in the wind and spray along the beach before our excellent dinner in good company.

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Thursday, 13th August, 1998


View of Bay of Islands, Esperance WA

Drop Cap e went for a walk along the beach before breakfast, a much more pleasant day, no wind and the sun coming up. Our first part of the day's travel was short, being a jaunt to the Rotary Lookout where there was a panoramic 360 degree view over the Archipelago de la Recherche, or Bay of Islands. Wayne thinks it is better than the Great Ocean Road. I don't, but it is certainly very beautiful, the colour of the water was amazing!

Windfarm photograph

Windfarm near Esperance WA

Drop Cap e visited a couple of great vantage points then went on to a windfarm with those ultra high tech wind generators. We went along to look at the Pink Lake, but it wasn't, today. The pink colour is caused by algae which are photo sensitive but there hasn't been enough sun lately.

Drop Cap fter leaving Esperance we had some 500km to go to Albany. I must admit to snoozing both morning before lunch at an excellent "Country Kitchen" in Ravensthorpe and afternoon between Ravensthorpe and the Stirling Ranges. I am not really a fan of flat open spaces.

The Knoll photograph

Bluff Knoll, Stirling Ranges WA

Drop Cap he Stirling Ranges, however, were rather spectacular. We took a road through the National Park, where Wayne tantalised us with lyrical descriptions of the wildflowers we were too early for, till we reached Bluff Knoll. We stopped here for a cuppa next to the coach, admiring some early flowers and the rugged hills. Another 80km to Albany and what seems a very ordinary Motel. However, it will do, I guess. Dinner was OK but a walk to a phone box later showed not a very salubrious area

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