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Kalgoorlie History

The history of Kalgoorlie dates back to 1893 when three gold prospectors, one of them being Patrick Hannan, had to stop to tend to their horses when they came across several gold nuggets. News of the find spread like wild fire and soon people from all around came to claim their stakes in one of Australia’s fastest growing gold rush towns, Kalgoorlie. The site at this time was located 40km east of Coolgardie and was deserted until gold was discovered which saw building constructed and soon a small town seemed to emerge and was eventually named Kalgoorlie. It was originally spelt Calgoorlie but the ‘C’ was changed to a ‘K’ to saved confusion to the closely located town of Coolgardie. Until the government officially named the town Kalgoorlie which was in significance to the local Aboriginal name Coolgoorlie, the locals new it as Hannan’s Find. Two explorers by the name of C.C Hunt and H.M Lefroy did explore the area looking for pastoral lands back in 1860’s but it wasn’t until the find of gold did people start to flock to the region.

700 miners made their way to Kalgoorlie back in the days of the gold rush but 1894 the miners were becoming discouraged by the lack of finds that were being made in the area. Back in those days it was strongly believed that quartz was the rock to most likely hold gold within it but when the Canadian miner, Larry Cammilleri discovered this to be untrue miners travelled on south to new prospecting mines. This is where the town of Boulder was soon developed and the Boulder Fault saw many miners profit from this region. The Golden Mile as it was appropriately named years later held a deep golden reef that was slowly being uncovered.

With more and more people flocking to Kalgoorlie and Boulder to claim their lands and stacks in the gold finds a railway was soon constructed from Perth through to Boulder and was completed in 1902. Streets where being built and establishments such as hotels, breweries, brothels and more were all being constructed and can still be seen to this very day in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. With the building of the railway track saw a steady increase in the population which in turn saw the construction of a pipeline that would run 563km from the weir in Mundaring to a reservoir in Kalgoorlie and was managed by Engineer-in-chief Charles Yelverton O’Connor. Water was greatly needed and until the development of the pipeline in 1903 many health problems kept arising. Kalgoorlie-Boulder survived because of the pipeline that Charles O’Connor had built but unfortunately due to the pressures of the job, he did not get to see the completion as he committed suicide in 1902.

The town from this point on took many hits, one with the steady decline in the population due to WWII, the rising costs on the mining industry and then in 1934 race riots hit Kalgoorlie as many upset Australian hit back as businesses in both Kalgoorlie and Boulder that were run and owned by foreigners. Over the years businesses came and fell but then in 1989 the two cities of Kalgoorlie and Boulder were joined to become one. To this day many old buildings and museums tell the stories from the olden days and history that surrounds Kalgoorlie and you can wander through many attractions that hold many interesting tales from the gold rush days. Kalgoorlie is still a mining town but the progress of the city is helped by the steady and growing pastoral industry in the area as well as tourism. 35,000 people call Kalgoorlie home today and it is the biggest and most prosperous gold mining city in Australia and continues to play an integral role in the wealth and economy of Australia’s gold mining industry.