More Than a Pinch of Salt

I’m having breakfast in a car in the Bunnings car park at Kalgoorlie.  This is the first time I’ve had breakfast in a car…or in a car park…or outside a hardware store. If you’ve never done it, then I highly recommend it. It’s very satisfying to munch your way through muffins and mochas while ogling some of the extravagant excuses that pass for cars in this town. It’s great fun to read licence plates and figure out where the drivers are from. I wonder if a drive-in movie (does Perth have this?) will be just as much fun.

We’re on our way to Kambalda, my friend and I, to see Lake Lefroy where he works as a geologist. To my mind, anyone who works in mine is a miner. I’ve probably insulted all my geologist friends by saying this. So I will say no more on the matter. (But really, you work in a mine, therefore…?) Kambalda is south of Kalgoorlie and according to my friend there’s nothing there. According to the guidebooks, this is a good spot for landsailing and one of the final holes of the Nullarbor Golf Course. I’m only interested in the view.

So, after depositing our breakfast debris in a dustbin we pass on the way – I’m still very embarrassed about using someone else’s bin – we hit the highway and drive, quite literally, off into the wild blue yonder. Roads in Australia, I’ve discovered, go only one way. Straight.

Of mines and men: Open pits loom over the salty stretches of Lake Lefroy

Mid-morning and fifty kilometres later, we reach the lookout point over Lake Lefroy. This is the largest salt lake I’ve ever seen. It stretches all the way to the horizon and but for a few islands and open pits where nickel and gold are mined, this is a barren wasteland. The salt shining in the sun looks uncannily like water and I wonder how many prospectors have made that mistake in the past. Lake Ballard has nothing on this. Iron statues, yes, but these pale into insignificance against the vast expanse of Lake Lefroy.

Life happens: A wildflower pushes its way through the rocky soil

It may seem barren, but it’s beautiful – and not quite the wasteland either. Blue spring flowers are pushing through cracks in the red, rocky soil. Hardy bushes with cottony blooms cling tenaciously to the hillside. Somewhere out across the lake, men are working hard, mining for nickel and gold.

For us, however, it’s the weekend. “Let’s head down to Esperance,” says my friend. But that, dear reader, is another story.

For the photographs of Kambalda, I thank my friend, the miner geologist.

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