6/07/16 The town of Norseman is located at the western end of the Eyre Highway which we joined 1,670kms to the east at Port Augusta, South Australia. The 14th and 15th holes of Nullarbor Links at the town golf club were dispatched very promptly with my trusty 5-Iron. After a refuel, we checked out the town and I checked out a meat pie from the local cafe.
Norseman was established after a rich gold reef was discovered in 1894 when a rider’s horse ‘Norseman’ uncovered a piece of gold-bearing quartz, and the resulting town was named to honour the horse. A statue of the horse is located in the main street, and further along is the Tin Camels sculpture honouring the role played by camel teams in the development of the goldfields.
Given the wealth of gold extracted in the past and still being mined, the parts of the town we saw had a strangely dilapidated and struggling appearance, with many businesses in the main street closed and little indication of any new construction. There was a rather bleak feel about the place.
From Norseman, we took the Esperance Highway north towards Kalgoorlie, through an area of large pink salt lakes. The road was excellent and we made good time, listening to podcasts and music. At a secluded truck stop for a cuppa, I took a wander just into the nearby scrub, kicking over rocks in search of a nugget, and found a nice blue/green opal, of all things! It seems there is a small area just to the north of Coolgardie where rare WA opals can be found. We were to the south, but there you go.
At Kambalda, we played the 16th hole for a triple bogey (three over par). I use that golfing term because with this particular hole I can. Any more than three strokes above par are apparently called “blow ups” or “disasters” and I decline to use those terms in reference to my previous scores.
This area has a type of tree that we hadn’t come across before, the Gimlet eucalypt, which Di particularly liked for its reddish, almost polished smooth trunk and waxy foliage that gives a moist look to the trees.
By far the most prominent feature of Kalgoorlie is the main open-cut gold mine located on the eastern edge of town, called the Super Pit; very appropriately named because it’s just so mind-bogglingly huge looking down into from the observation lookout perched on the very rim. Massive dump trucks moving in and out of the pit looked like Tonka toys in a child’s game.
We played the 17th and 18th holes at the golf club, on very swanky fairways with players in electric buggies and not a single saltbush to be avoided. How unexciting after roughing it around the rest of the Nullarbor Links holes. My only lost ball was on here as well.
In Kalgoorlie, we picked up an annual permit to cover entry to all national and conservation parks in WA for the next 12 months. This’ll eventually pay for itself as we’ll come across a lot of parks around the State. I still have a thing about having to pay entry fees to parks that belong to the people of Australia and are intended for their use. Don’t get me started.
We took a day trip to nearby Coolgardie to view the historic buildings in the main street, and came away as registered miners. To fossick for gold or diamonds in WA, each of us needed to purchase a Miner’s Right that provide lifetime prospecting rights. We are Seniors, and now we’re also Miners.
With the unseasonal rain WA has been experiencing, we learned today that there are a lot of road closures to the north of Kalgoorlie. This will prevent us from getting up to the north of the State from here as planned. So instead, we’ll take the Great Eastern Highway further west to possibly Northam, then cut across to meet the Great Northern Highway which should take us up through Meekatharra and Newman to Port Hedland where, hopefully, it’s not as wet. We’ve come too far to turn back and return another time; we’ll stick it out and try to get north above the wet weather.
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill