Kalgoorlie is a major city in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia and is located 596km north-east of Perth. In 1893 Paddy Hannan discovered gold at Mt Charlotte which started the biggest gold rush in Western Australia’s history. The area became known by locals as “Hannan’s Find”. In 1894, the government declared the townsite Kalgoorlie. The Aboriginal name for the area “Coolgoorlie” was chosen over the local preference of “Hannan’s Find”. The “c” was later changed to “k” to avoid postal mistakes with nearby Coolgardie.
The first Europeans to explore the area were H.M.Lefroy and C.C Hunt who were both searching for suitable pastoral lands in the south east of the state in the 1860s. It was only with the discovery of gold in Coolgardie (by Arthur Bayley) in 1892, that attention was drawn back to the area.
On the 17th June, 1893 Paddy Hannan discovered gold at Mt Charlotte and within days over 700 men were prospecting the area now known as Kalgoorlie. Though Hannan’s find was not part of the reef that would later become known as the “Golden Mile”, his discovery drew enormous attention to the area. By 1894 many prospectors and miners were becoming disheartened by the small quantity of gold found in the quartz deposits. It had long been believed that quartz was the rock most likely to contain gold. However, a Canadian miner, Larry Cammilleri, was the first to discover that the quartz in the area wasn’t carrying most of the gold. Soon new yields were being discovered further underground.
Miners, forced to move south of Kalgoorlie, soon discovered the deep reefs (Golden Mile) on the Boulder Fault which proved much richer and led to the establishment of the town of Boulder.
A railway from Perth to Boulder was established in 1896 and by 1902, wide streets had been built and 8 breweries and 93 hotels accommodated the 30,000 people that had moved into the area. Many of the original buildings still remain and are some of the finest examples of mining town architecture in the world.
Water became a serious issue in the area, as the harsh dry environment and the increasing population put pressure on the water supply and caused many health problems. A solution was sort by the government. The problem was placed in the hands of the Engineer-in-chief of Public Works of the time, Charles Yelverton O’Connor who proposed the building of a 563km pipeline that would transport water from a weir in Mundaring to a reservoir in Kalgoorlie, known as the goldfields pipeline. Though violently opposed by some members of the parliament, the project began in 1898 and was completed on the 24th of January 1903. Tragically, C.Y.O’Connor did not live to see his greatest achievement, he committed suicide in March, 1902, partly due to pressures placed on him during the project. The success of the pipeline assured the survival of both Kalgoorlie and Boulder.
By the end of World War II, Kalgoorlie was in a steady decline due to increase production costs in the mining industry and the static gold prices. In 1934 race riots took place in Kalgoorlie and Boulder, as disgruntled Australians set fire to foreign-owned businesses.
In 1989 the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder amalgamated to become the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Today Kalgoorlie is still a thriving mining town helped along by the pastoral industry and tourism.