A Town Like Kambalda

There’s nothing sleepier than a mining town on a Sunday morning. Kambalda’s empty streets have less to do with full church pews and more to do, I suspect, with folks heading down to Esperance to test the beaches in preparation for summer. What could be a better time for a look around?

A former service station has become the final resting place for a few relics from the Silver Lake nickel mine. It’s a whole new world to me. Those giant wheels that remind me of wagons and Western movies are really a section of a headframe. The orange monster that belongs in a Transformers movie is really a jumbo formerly of the Western Mining Corporation.

Jumbo-sized: A relic from the Western Mining Corporation welcomes visitors to Kambalda, the nickel and gold mining town south of Kalgoorlie

Jumbo-sized: A relic from the Western Mining Corporation welcomes visitors to Kambalda, the nickel and gold mining town south of Kalgoorlie

I clamber on board the jumbo to strike up (to my mind, at least) an incredibly artistic and glamorous pose. My deplorably lanky legs dangle on the steps and I’m cringing at the sight of cobwebs. What can I say about the beer bottle that occupies pride of place by the driver’s seat? Words fail me.

Golden Wheels: The headframe from the Silver Lake shaft

Golden Wheels: The headframe from the Silver Lake shaft

A local artist ambles out to meet us. His name is John and the service station is to become the town’s art centre, he tells us. A town like Kambalda is a good place to bring up your kids. There’s windsurfing on the weekends and the nearby reserve is home to some of the regions oldest trees. Have we driven down the main street yet? Yes, there’s even a Woolworths and did we know that the town could be sitting on a very large nickel deposit. Had we driven up the Serpentine road yet and seen the view of Lake Lefroy?

Clearly, there was a lot more to be learnt about Kambalda. Is this the sort of town that inspires books such as Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice? However, the further mysteries of Kambalda we left for another day and turned onto the road towards Coolgardie. Another mining town and a story for another day.

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