Around Australia Week 37 – Kalgoorlie and The Nullarbor

This week we decided to spend a few days in Kalgoorlie before heading off across the Nullarbor. We actually had only one full day there… the main reason for going to Kalgoorlie at all was to sign up for, and play the first few holes of, golf along the Nullarbor Links. As it turned out, we were sorry we hadn’t planned on a longer stay in Kalgoorlie. We really liked what we saw of it, and there was so much more to explore!

The first evening we were there we went up to the Super Pit because a blast was scheduled at 5 pm. As it happened, the blast was cancelled (which can happen if the wind isn’t right or other conditions aren’t met) – disappointing, but it was still great to just see the Super Pit itself. We stood at the viewing platform for the best part of an hour just watching those enormous trucks crawl up and down the winding roads leading into the Pit. Of course, from our vantage point they didn’t look enormous at all. This is some place!

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Rob also visited the Ghost Town and cemetery (while I went shopping for various bits and pieces we needed) then we met up with Janet and Bucko to do one of Langtree’s Bordello Tours. This was both fascinating and a laugh a minute, thanks to our vivacious guide Rosie. She knew so much about the place we thought she’d been there for years… but no, it turned out she’d been conducting the tours for only seven weeks! (How did she get involved with this? That’s a story in itself. Would you believe she was originally the owner’s interior designer… who persuaded her to come to Kalgoorlie for a holiday, and finally talked Rosie into working for her as a tour guide!) Rob found a connection between two of the Japanese graves he photographed at the cemetery and a couple of the girls who used to work at a bordello… a love triangle of some kind, we believe.

Apart from the usual tourist attractions, Kalgoorlie is one of the most picturesque towns you could wish to see. Building after building has historical significance and wonderful architecture, although some of the buildings in Kalgoorlie and Boulder took a pounding from an earthquake in April 2010 – there are quite a few buildings surrounded by scaffolding after cracks appeared in the façade, or part of the building collapsed.

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We’ll be back to Kalgoorlie for sure, and next time we’ll spend a lot longer in this appealing town. (And here’s a tip: if you’re after work: the signs in windows and employment agencies make it clear there’s plenty of work to be had here.)

And now… Nullarbor Golf!

I have never played golf in my life, but I couldn’t resist the idea of playing golf on the longest golf course in the world. What a great way to break up a trip across the Nullarbor!

We knew that it cost $60 for each person who signed up to play, but we thought it would be a bit of fun. However, when we started to look into it further, it seemed that the costs were going to mount up – mainly for hire of golf clubs and purchase of golf balls. (We ran into someone a few months back who had the right idea: he went to the Tip Shop and bought a putter, a wood and an iron for $2 each. If you’re thinking of playing Nullarbor golf, start planning ahead of time and buy cheap clubs… or borrow them!)

You can hire clubs for $5 from the Visitor Centre to play 2 holes at Kalgoorlie,   plus a $100 deposit (which you get back on return of the clubs). At other holes across the Nullarbor, you can also hire clubs… if there’s nobody there, there’s a phone number to call. However, we found that many of these places were completely deserted, and it could be a bit of a nuisance to have to phone someone and then wait until you meet up to get the golf clubs. (And at Eucla, the golf course is WAY out of town… you wouldn’t want to phone from there to see if you can get clubs!)

We found an easier way out. Kalgoorlie Kashmart (their equivalent of a cash converters) sells a half-set of clubs (6 of them) for $120. When you play the last hole at Ceduna, you can hand them in at the Ceduna Visitors Centre and get $60 back. That works out at around $3.30 per hole – even cheaper if two share! Which we did, of course…

So we played. And played. All the way across the Nullarbor. Mostly, it was fun… but we have to admit: the hole at Nundroo roadhouse nearly defeated us. The first challenge was to locate the tee (not easily visible from the hole, which was near the roadhouse). We followed the white pegs across country, then found we could have followed a dirt track as well. And the ‘cross country’ bit was full of long grass and scrub and low shrubs and definitely NOT what you would want to hike across in search of your golf ball. Which you would probably never find. It started to rain as well, so we opted to… er… play “creatively” and thought that just tapping the ball along the dirt track to the green would be a better option.

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A few memorable golf holes:

Kambalda (“Silver Lake” – Par 4): We liked this one because we found Lois and Ralph’s names in the visitor’s book… we’ve met them several times on the road (including Townsville) so it was nice to see them ahead of us along the famous Nullarbor Links!

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Fraser Range Sheep Station (“Sheep’s Back” – Par 3): This was a great hole to play. We drove up a short access road from the Station and played the hole with rabbits, sheep and emus visible in the background… not to mention Fraser Range itself. Good fun!

Madura Roadhouse (“Brumby’s Run” – Par 3): easy to find, right in front of the roadhouse, and well-tended (like the roadhouse itself, where we stayed overnight in the caravan park).

Eucla Roadhouse (“Nullarbor Nymph” – Par 4): Not a nymph to be seen (bad luck, Rob) but plenty of space to play the hole. We followed the signs to the golf course and several times wondered if [a] we were getting lost or [b] someone was having us on… but no, eventually we did find a golf club (deserted) and the tee (deserted) and belted the ball around happily before driving… and driving… and driving back to the roadhouse to have the card stamped.

Nullarbor Roadhouse (“Dingo’s Den” – Par 5): Ah, an interesting hole indeed. First, in the roadhouse, we got the warning: “Watch out for snakes”. OK, sure. Didn’t see any snakes… but we did spend time hunting for the ball down rabbit holes, and then when we finally neared the green [BE WARNED!], both Rob and I had our golf balls stolen by a crow. We watched in disbelief as first my pink ball disappeared skywards, then Rob’s followed it in short order. So in a nest somewhere at Nullarbor, there is a crow’s nest decorated with one bright pink and one bright orange golf ball. Isn’t that a nice thought?

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