I’ve ticked another thing-to-do-in-Perth off my list – the Perth Mint. I’m not quite sure what to write about the Mint. It’s an old building, built in limestone from Rottnest Island (been there, done that). It reminds me of the Porbandar limestone of Afghan Church in Mumbai.
The Perth Mint is Australia’s largest gold refiner – or so the brochure says. It used to be the Royal Mint and was opened in 1899 to cope with regional gold rush. It has WA’s first bougainevillea tree, a prospector’s camp in its inner courtyard, and statues of the two prospectors who first discovered gold out in the front. And you can’t take photographs of the gold pour, which is the highlight of the tour. Since I forgot to take my camera along, it didn’t matter anyway.
I know that I was supposed to be impressed with the making of a gold ingot, and then be tempted to have my own customised message engraved in a Perth Mint coin set in jarrah wood. Or perhaps invest in some of the jewellery displayed in the store. But I have a miserly Indian heart and just couldn’t loosen the purse strings for 9-karat-gold ornaments.
However, I found it far more interesting that India is the world’s largest consumer of gold. A thali or wedding necklace was on display, and the plaque proclaimed Kolkata’s jewellers as among the best in India. Hmm. Never heard of that one before. I always thought Mumbai was known for its jewellers. I remember seeing a student film about people who sweep the streets outside jewellery shops, hoping to find gold dust.
Also interesting was the fact that the walls of the refinery are probably soaked with gold dust, not to mention the chimney – don’t bother with stealing the ingots, just knock off the chimney, I say. I wonder just how much gold dust the workers have absorbed over a lifetime? Forget about gold beauty treatments – just work in the Mint!
Having finished our tour of the Mint well within an hour my friend and I braved the terrors of the tea room. It’s a very nice place, actually – the terror was the caramel mud cake which was, well – it would’ve been easier to cut a gold ingot with my fork, it was that hard. Still don’t know why they serve cake cold in Oz. As my friend and I mulled, or- more truthfully,- muttered and masticated – over our unwise selection, the tour guide came by our table.
“I must say that when I saw you, I thought the day couldn’t get any better,” he told my elegantly beautiful African friend. “And then you put on your lip gloss.”
Just exactly who was doing the sightseeing here, I wonder.