Monday, 2 April 2012

The Goldfields

This is my final practice run before the big trip. A few days in the Goldfields visiting Kalgoorlie, Boulder and the gorgeous little 'one horse' towns along the way. The purpose of the trip - to make sure all my prep has been well targeted and to visit an area of Western Australia that has long been on my radar.

Kalgoorlie is almost directly east of Perth and the road is an easy one to find, it's called the Great Eastern Highway. There are alternative less direct routes, but the Great Eastern Highway offers an insight into the way of life of goldfields inhabitants, plus it's a great road to ride. The huge road trains and wide loads constantly thunder along this road presumably helping to maintain life and business out there. The outback countryside looks amazingly green considering that we are towards the end of one of the lengthiest dry periods on record, it's a little dusty but beautiful nevertheless. There are many welcoming towns dotted along the way such as Northam, Cunderdin, Kellerberrin, Merredin, Southern Cross and Coolgardie, all able to fill up your tank or satisfy your thirst.


Almost all of the way alongside the highway runs a huge pipe (shown above) which carries water 560 kilometres from Mundaring dam, just outside of Perth, all the way to Kalgoorlie. This Golden Pipeline was built between 1894 and 1903. I regularly ride my mountain bike around the tracks that surround Mundaring and often ride alongside the pipeline always aware that it carries the water supply for Kalgoorlie and its surrounding areas but I had no idea of it's magnitude until I followed it all the way to its destination - and it's absolutely mind blowing! It meanders across the countryside like a huge grey drinking straw, never stopping for the rail line, the road or creeks, just going under, over or through undeterred, all thanks to C. Y. O'Connor.

Kalgoorlie is a large goldfields town famous for its fascinating gold rush history, old buildings and is surrounded by old miners' ghost towns. Kal, as it is known, was born amid the 1880s gold rush when thousands of starry-eyed prospectors flocked there seeking their fortunes. Kalgoorlie is still an active gold mining town and is also home to the 3.5 kilometre long, 1.5 kilometre wide Super Pit Mine, which gives up 800,000 ounces of gold each year. The massive hole in the earth created by the Super Pit is as deep as Uluru with a similar circumference.

Kalgoorlie is full of historic old buildings and many fascinating museums that will keep anyone out of trouble for many hours. It's a great place to immerse oneself and soak up the atmosphere of a time gone by.

coffee breakPalace HotelKalgoorlie PipelineSuper PitSuper PitSuper Pit
Super PitSuper PitGolden MileGolden MileGolden MileSuper Pit
Mine headBurt Street StatueSouthern CrossBulla Bulling RoadhouseGoldfields Water SupplyKaralee Rocks
Karalee RocksKaralee RocksKaralee RocksGreat Eastern HighwayGreat Eastern Highway

Kalgoorlie trip, a set on Flickr.

I thoroughly enjoyed the road, Kalgoorlie and the towns along the way, and even though nature threw no surprises my way, man always seems to have an unyielding ability to create ones own!

On the Beemer, part of the rather basic computer is a mileage range indicator which is supposed to calculate from current fuel consumption, how many kilometres the bike is able to travel on the fuel remaining. From previous long trips I know this range indicator to be ridiculously inaccurate, but old age does not allow me to retain important information for very long. When the tank is freshly filled, the range indicator informs you that there are 720km to be had, but in reality it is about 520km. Upon seeing that 720km figure after filling the tank, I was foolishly led to believe that I would easily be able to ride the 580 or so kilometres to Kal on one tank of petrol. So I sauntered along, lastly visiting Southern Cross, a stunningly quaint little town with two petrol stations neither of which I visited, before heading towards Coolgardie. The distance between Southern Cross and Coolgardie is the largest distance between towns of the whole trip, 186km. Almost exactly in between the two towns I glanced down to notice that my fuel warning light was illuminated and the range was now showing 72km, with 92km remaining to Coolgardie, shit! I wondered whether there would be a road side service station, and with this hope kept going but slowed to 90kph. I arrived at some roadworks which were controlled by lollypop operators who indicate go or stop. I stopped and asked the operator how many kms before the next petrol station, "about 60kms" was his response, my range indicator showed 40kms! I then asked if they had any petrol, to which the obvious reply was "no, diesel". I continued at my reduced speed of 70kph, hoping the slower speed would increase my chances of safely cruising into Coolgardie. As I got closer every sign I passed with the mileage shown, indicated the discrepancy at between 10 and 15 kms in walking's favour. I thought I could see a blue road sign in the distance, hopefully this is going to be the sign that says "Petrol 1km", unfortunately it said "Petrol 5km" and just as I passed it I looked down to see that my range had changed from a diminishing figure to a simple series of dashes - - -. Imminent failure? For those of you who can stand the suspense no longer, I limped into Coolgardie petrol station with the engine still running and a great sense of relief. This is indeed a lesson learnt. The last time I went on a good length road trip I almost ran out of petrol, nowhere near as close but close enough to cause concern. With a 30 litre tank there should be no reason at all to run out of petrol, and I have indeed learnt from this.

Other than that, everything went according to plan, the boots were comfy, as were the jacket and pants, the charging of various pieces of equipment worked well as did the entertainment piped to the helmet on the longer sections of black stuff. I appeared to have everything I needed, other than an inexhaustible supply of petrol... It turns out the Beemer and all that it carries are more than capable of a trip to the UK, am I?


Highwaylass said...

Does your fuel gauge still work? When I ran Ruby dry mine gave up the ghost, they're a bit fragile like that...

David Brookes said...

yes it does, but still as inaccurate unfortunately.