Today, we headed north from Esperance into the Goldfields region of WA. It was a steady 4 hour drive to Kalgoorlie, which had us arriving by mid-morning. This was in perfect time to pick up a 4×4 hire car for the day. The reason for the 4×4 – we were heading off the beaten track to find a remote outdoor art gallery on Lake Ballard.
Before heading to Lake Ballard, we dropped by the town centre to pick up some cheap Crocs (shoes) to wear. We had read that the surface of Lake Ballard was quite boggy in places, so a pair of cheap shoes that could be thrown out once we were done would come in handy.
On our walk to Kmart, we witnessed some very sad scenes, including a lot of rowdy Aboriginal locals and a homeless man putting a cigarette butt out on his forehead. We later saw this same homeless man pissing on to a wall next to the shops. Police were in the area dealing with some troublemakers too. It seemed like Kalgoorlie was a pretty rough town to live. We hurried back to the car and locked the doors before heading off to Lake Ballard.
As we drove through town, we noticed that there was a pub on almost every street corner, and they all advertise certain “Skimpys” who will be working there during the week. Skimpys are waitresses who wear next to nothing (skimpy outfits) to keep all the male miners in town happy.
We drove for a solid 2 hours, through the sleepy town of Menzies, and soon after reached the eerie location of Lake Ballard. For those who’ve never heard of Lake Ballard, it’s basically home to Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery, which features 51 sculptures randomly spread out on a dried up salt lake. Antony Gormley is the artist responsible for this masterpiece, which is called “Inside Australia.” When we arrived, we were the only ones there.
The sculptures are rusty little men and women with dicks and tits hanging off them. While we aren’t overly cultured and we don’t understand what this creation is all about, we did enjoy walking around making inappropriate jokes with the statues. The ground was quite boggy as well, so we were glad that we had our Crocs on.
Once we had enough of walking around looking at statues, we climbed up the top of a little mountain that sits in the middle of the lake. It gave off some fantastic views over the salt lake and gave you an idea of just how big this place was. The statues looked like little ants from up there.
After a solid hour or so of roaming around, we made tracks for Kalgoorlie once more. We dropped the 4×4 off to the car yard and went and checked in to our accommodation – Rydges Kalgoorlie Resort & Spa. The room we were first given had an awful smell to it as water had got into the carpet and was going mouldy. So we got ourselves a room swap to a much nicer one that didn’t stink. It was a classy hotel with very good facilities.
Late in the afternoon, we drove up the road to have a look at the Super Pit, which is an enormous gold mine on the outskirts of town. It opened in 1893 and up until very recently, it was Australia’s largest open-cut gold mine. It is approximately 3.5km long, 1.5km wide and almost 600m in depth.
That night, we went out for dinner to the highest-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor – the Balcony Bar and Restaurant at the Palace Hotel. It was a very fancy establishment for such a bogan town. Service was great and the food was excellent! Meals were very expensive, but we were expecting that in a mining town. We also had a great view off the balcony, which overlooked one of the main intersections in town. It was quite noisy with a lot of hotted up cars driving around and racing each other from the traffic lights below.
After dinner, we weren’t game enough to visit any pubs, so we headed back to our hotel and crashed out after a massive day of driving.
- Distances Travelled:
- 392km (Esperance >> Kalgoorlie)
- 414km (Kalgoorlie >> Lake Ballard >> Kalgoorlie)