The Super Pit is the name given to the open-cut gold mine that is the economic reason for the existence of Kalgoorlie. The statistics of this mine are truily impressive. The open cut pit is 3.5km long by 1.5 km wide by 750 meters deep (in US measures that is 2.1 miles x 1 mile x 2500 ft. Gold bearing ore is brought from the bottom of this pit in trucks that carry about 230 tons per load, each trip uses about 50 gallons of diesel fuel and the mine in total uses between 6,000,000 and 7,000,000 liters of diesel per month (thats 1.5 to 1.75 millions gallons per month). A tour of this operation has been on our Australian todo list almost since the start of our planning and to day was the day.
In the flesh so to speak the pit was as impressive as the statistics, but the day and the tour was a little bit of a let down. The day was cloudy and hazy so we were never going to get good photos, to add to that most of the tour is conducted from a bus so visibility was poor, compounded by the fact that the tour company had not washed the bus windows. Never the less we got some OK photos.
After the tour we departed Kalgoorlie heading south in the direction of Esperance. Along the way we passed through Norseman a small town, still relient on mining, that in its hey day was another of Western Australias gold rush towns. The town was named after a horse (legend is that the first gold strike in the area resulted when a nugget was found lodged in the hoof of a prospectors horse - you guessed it, the horse was named Norseman). We were intrigued by the statues, made out of corregated iron roofing material, of camels at the entrance to the town, and the numerous plaques that explained the role of camels in the early exploration of the are. The very wide main street in Norseman was dictated by the turning circle of a camel train. Nina was fascinated that the first camels to come to Australia were shipped from the Canary Islands in 1840 and now there are about 400,000 in the wild. Australia has the laargest wild population of camels in the world.
I should say a word or two about our impressions of Kalgoorlie. A population of around 40,000 it seems quite prosperous with lot of new vehicles driving around the town. On the outskirts of the town are all kinds of heavy and high tech busiensses. The town provides a very wide range of services that would not be common in other country towns of this size. For example we were able to buy a Garmin Inreach at the first electronics store we tried. We were told by some locals the town has a large influx of "prospectors" once the weather cools down, and we could see for ourselves that there is a large flow of tourists through the town.
In recent days we have noticed a number of 24 hour rest stops beside the highway. These are nothing more than wide gravel parking areas, sometimes with tables, some times with pit toilets. Tonight we decided to camp in one of these named Kumarl about 25kms north of the very small village of Salmon Gum. Only 2 other vehicles and no facilities at all.