Goldfields-Esperance is a region of Western Australia.
Goldfields-Esperance is one of the largest regions in Western Australia and though the majority of it is sparsely populated, Kalgoorlie and Esperance are major towns supporting significant populations. Despite the region's seeming harshness and remoteness from Perth, many Goldfields-Esperance towns were some of the earliest to be settled in the fledgling colony. Esperance was settled in 1863 for agriculture and Coolgardie sprung up almost overnight when gold was discovered and was the third largest town in the colony by 1892. The gold rush of the late 1800s gave birth to many towns that flourished and faded when the gold ran out. Some such as Kanowna, Dundas and Niagara disappeared back into the dirt leaving little more than broken bottles and rusting wire to signify their existence, while others manage to hang on in a greatly diminished form.
For residents and travellers alike, the Goldfields-Esperance region is generally thought of as having two halves; northern and southern, demarcated with an imaginary line at Kalgoorlie. The northern is typified by desert landscapes dominated by mining, the southern sees trees and green farmland right up to granite bound coast.
Being both inland and southern, the temperatures daytime vary widely. Summer months can see scorching temperatures exceeding 40°C, and in the night it is not uncommon for temperatures to dip below 0°C. The coastal areas have particularly temperamental weather patterns with cold cloudy and warm sunny skies alternating throughout the day.
In the eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia, the idea of city, town or locality can be a problem. When you pass through some locations (on some maps they still show up as something significant) in many cases they might have been reduced to a single building.
Skywest airlines fly from Perth to both Kalgoorlie and Esperance, but not between them. Smaller independent airlines and bus services go to some other destinations.
The Prospector train has daily services between Perth and Kalgoorlie.
The Indian Pacific comes from Sydney and passes through Kalgoorlie. Most passengers stay on till Perth but you can get off if you want.
Distances between towns are usually counted in many hundreds of kilometres with little in between. Nonetheless, a network of highways cross the region with a speed limit of 110km/h for most of their length providing a quick way to get from one place to the next.
Starting in the north, the aptly named Goldfields Highway begins in Wiluna, passing through Leonora, Menzies and Kalgoorlie, and joins up with the Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy outside of Kambalda. The Coolgardie-Esperance Hwy starts in Coolgardie and makes a near straight line to Esperance on the coast.
Most people will drive. Some may ride a bike, but given the distances between towns this is not a method of travel to be taken lightly. Public transport options within the region are fairly limited. TransWA buses only ply between Esperance and Kalgoorlie 3 times a week.
- Wildflowers - at certain times of the year the red dirt is painted with every other imaginable colour.
- Salt lakes - White and flat and salty.
- Old buildings - Some classic architecture.
- CY O'Connor pipeline - It ends here.
- Wind farm - Outside Esperance is the states largest wind farm.
- Ghost Towns -
- Great Western Woodland - largest and healthiest temperate woodlands left on earth.
- Camping - Numerous camping sites with limited facilities .
- Swimming - Endless white sand beaches or sheltered coves along the coast with few, if any, people.
- Fishing - Beach and estuary fishing along the coast.
- Marroning - Many dams are stocked with these freshwater crustaceans.
- Gold prospecting - Keep your eyes to the ground. Not all the nuggets have been found yet.
- Play Golf - The 18 holes of the Nullarbor links starts in Kalgoorlie and has holes in other towns in the region as it continues 1365km over the Nullarbor Plain to Madura in South Australia.
Country food in Australia is simple and generally consists of steaks, lamb chops, beef and other basics. However, it can be difficult for a vegetarian to find a decent meal in many outback towns because many rural Australians just do not get this "urban affliction" and this is more particularly seen in the Goldfields-Esperance region. It is always wise to pinpoint the supermarket and stock up on fruit, vegetables and other vegetarian staples. Be aware, however, that prices for fresh food are likely to be higher as the food has had to travel quite a way and fuel costs are factored into the food.
"Pub grub" is a fairly easy and quick meal for travellers. If it includes a smorgasbord, there should be enough to satisfy all dietary types. Chips, hamburgers and basic fried items are fairly staple pub grub but you will also find some pubs are more innovative and carry local cuisine.
The pubs at Broadarrow, Ora Banda and Koolkynie would make one of the longest pub crawls you could imagine.
Falling into an abandoned mineshaft is a real danger in the northern parts of the region as the country around Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, Menzies, Leonora and Laverton is riddled with more than 100 years of mining activity. Most of these holes are not signposted or marked on maps but are readily identified by the white pile of quartz or greenish waste soil nearby. Perfectly normal looking ground may be honeycombed with old tunnels mere meters underground that could subside without warning. It would be prudent to tell someone where you are going if you plan to go out exploring and be careful about where you step.
King waves, as the name implies, are large freak waves common along this part of the Western Australian coast. They are difficult to predict and calm waves do not guarantee that one is not on its way. Many people have swept off the rocks with some ending in death. Some popular spots have float rings placed to assist in rescue. Take the sailors adage; Never turn your back on the sea.
Rips at some beaches can pose a danger even if you are a strong swimmer. Some beaches are signposted but with many hundreds of kilometers of coastline, more are not. If the beach has a reef offshore, a rip might be there.
Water, or a lack of it, has been the demise of many in this region. Make sure you take some with you if you are going away from towns for any length of time.