Fraser Range Station camp was on a old sheep station and had okay camping in a beautiful area – unlike the rest of the Nullarbor the area is covered in dense bushland eucalyptus forest. The station was founded in the 1870s and has a long history of Australian farming pioneers. The dense bushland that stretched across and out to sea is really beautiful- in the morning before we left for our drive to Kalgoorlie we went for a short hike to the water tank (highest point closest to the farm) and it was a truly magnificent sight – photos do not quite do it justice. We didn’t have time to drive the 4×4 and the station has more on offer than we could see although the original historic wool shearing shed has unfortunately fallen down and been removed. Bianca found a large pot in the Fraser Range camp kitchen and thought it was hilarious that she could fit into the pot!
We headed off from Fraser Range and headed straight for Kalgoorlie. Here we stayed in a caravan park and we were lucky to book a tour of the Super Pit whilst driving so we arrived set up camp and went straight to a tour of the Super Pit – Karlgoorlie’s big open cut mine for gold!
On the road to Kalgoorlie we stopped for morning tea and this was a chance to update the map on where we have traveled so far on our trip around Australia. Andrew loves the map and showing the children just how far we have travelled. Geography lessons on the road.
We jumped on a bus tour of the Super Pit and we were all amazed at the scale and depth of the pit. They literally extract tons of dirt from the mine to extract gold and the guide said that for every super big tip truck full of rock processed they get approximately a golf ball sized amount of gold – it hardly seems worth it but it is big business in every way.
The Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines P/L (KGCM) is a joint venture between an American and Canadian companies – it is officially names The Fimiston Open Pit and is Australia’s largest open cut mine. It is one of only four mines in the world to have produced more than 50million ounces of gold producing on average 700,000 ounces per year. Close to 3.6km long, 1.6 km wide and a depth of more than 600 metres…that is below sea level hence the water that collects in the bottom and the guide said it is as deep as Uluru (Ayers Rock) is High with similar circumference.
The truck below was a ute that was used in a safety demonstration to show what will happen to a car that get in the way of a mine dump truck – the engine had been removed but it doesn’t leave much to the imagination. I think a good reminder on the way to work.
The Super Pit was very BIG and impressive – the 166 tonne trucks and 680 tonne shovel loaders working below looked like toys. Currently the production is not very good quality making processing costly with greater throughput required to to get the same amount of gold and the mine will possibly only be operational for another 6 years. The area has a rich history of early gold mining and settlement in Australia.
Ironically our youngest Bianca crossed the Nullarbor without a nap but on the Super Pit tour (which cost a small fortune) she fell asleep in minutes! We had jumped onto the tour bus which we thought was a 1.5 hour tour and ended up being a 2.5hour tour and the kids were well behaved but keen to get off the hot bus. We stayed in a caravan park in boulder which was near the air strip and we were a bit worried when we had 3 flights overhead between 630 and 8pm but thankfully it all went quiet after 8pm.
The next day we visited the Royal Flying Doctors Air Base at Kalgoorlie. We got the history of the RFDS in WA and Australia, tour of the aircraft hanger and a look inside the specially modified ‘flying hospital’ in aircraft the PC-12 Pilatus used by the RFDS. These little planes are literally equipped for almost anything to help the remote land dwellers of our wide brown country and the many travellers that are on the roads. The RFDS is the third largest airline in Australia – although you can’t but tickets. The have a flight every hour somewhere across Australia for emergencies and the ongoing primary healthcare services that are provided to thousand of Australians living in remote parts of the country. The RFDS always get a donation from us – we travel into the outback and I have always been comforted by their presence when taking my small children into the outback. Thankfully we have never needed to call on them for help – I am hoping that we don’t see them again on our travels. Whilst we were there one of the planes was being prepared for a flight.
After the morning at the RFDS we were on a direct route to Perth to see the cousins and over the last week each day the children have woken up and said “Will we get to Perth today?”…well today is the day. We have previously covered the Margaret River and the South West of WA and so we are skipping this portion of the coast on this trip.