Gold is a common thread running through many of the town's attractions. One of the best is the Australian Prospectors & Miners Hall of Fame, Broad Arrow Road, 3km (2 miles) north of the Tourist Centre on the Goldfields Highway (tel. 08/9026 2700; www.mininghall.com). Opened in 2001, it has five interactive galleries focusing on modern high-tech mining, plus a number of historic mining and processing facilities, including several old-style head frames. There's a statue of Paddy Hannan (the prospector who started the region's gold rush), and you can find out how prospecting is done now, and then revisit the old days. The underground tour goes 36m (118 ft.) underground in a mining cage and explores the tunnels where "real" miners once worked. You can pan for gold, watch a gold pour, and pore over an extensive collection of mining memorabilia in a miners' village. The site is open daily 9am to 4:30pm March to October, and 10am to 4pm November to February; closed January 1 and December 25 and 26. Admission, which includes the gold pour, is A$20 adults, A$15 children, but with a Level 1 Underground tour is A$30 adults, A$20 children, and A$80 families. The Pitch Black Tour (includes level 2 underground) costs A$60 adults, A$40 children (over 10 years), and A$180 families. Allow half a day to see everything.
The WA Museum Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 17 Hannan St. (tel. 08/9021 8533; www.museum.wa.gov.au), is worth a look. You'll find it easily, with its enormous red head frame dominating upper Hannan Street and making a grand entrance statement. A glass elevator within it takes you to a great view over the city. You'll see the first 400-ounce gold bar minted in town, nuggets and jewelry, mementoes of the Goldfields Pipeline, a wooden bicycle, and other historical displays. It is open daily 10am to 4:30pm; closed Good Friday, January 1, and December 25 through December 26. Admission is by donation. Tours are at 11am and 2:30pm. Allow an hour.
Don't leave town without goggling at the Super Pit open-cut mine (www.superpit.com.au) -- it makes giant dump trucks (which carry 225 tons of ore apiece) look like ants. The lookout is off the Goldfields Highway in Boulder. It's open daily from about 8am to 9:30pm, but check with the visitor center when the daily blast will take place (the lookout may be closed then for safety reasons). Entry is free. The Super Pit Shop (tel. 08/9093 3488), where you can find out all about the mine and buy memorabilia, opens Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm and Boulder Market Days (every third Sun). Free Super Pit tours operate on Market Days at 10, 10:30, 11, and 11:30am, departing from the Shop, or with a small charge if pre-booked.
Finders Keepers Super Pit Tours (tel. 08/9093 2222; www.superpittour.com) provide a more comprehensive firsthand look at the mining and milling operations. The 2 1/2-hour tours run Monday to Saturday at 9.15am and 1.15pm (subject to availability), at A$60 adults and A$40 children under 17 (not recommended for children under 10). Advance bookings are essential. A shorter (1 hr.) family-oriented tour may operate (phone to enquire) for A$40 adults, A$25 children.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (tel. 08/9093 7500) base at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport is open for visitors to browse memorabilia, see a video, and look over an aircraft (if one is in). It is open Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm. Admission is by A$2 donation. Tours run on the hour, the last one at 2pm, and take 45 minutes.
Kalgoorlie's -- and maybe Australia's -- most unusual attraction must be Langtrees 181, 181 Hay St. (tel. 08/9026 2181), a working brothel presented as a sort of sex-industry museum, in the heart of Kal's infamous red-light district. Despite laws to the contrary, brothels had flourished in red and pink corrugated-iron sheds, known as "starting stalls," and became a popular drive-by spot for gawping tourists. Langtrees is a swish modern establishment offering 90-minute tours, which are fun rather than sleazy, showing some of the 12 themed (when unoccupied) rooms, at a cost of A$35 (A$25 for seniors!), with a minimum age of 18. Tours depart at 12:30, 2:30, and 5pm daily.
The two town halls are both worth a visit. Kalgoorlie Town Hall houses the Visitor Centre and has a replica statue of Paddy Hannan (complete with drinking fountain) outside, while the Boulder Town Hall has the magnificent 100-year-old Goatcher Theatre Curtain, depicting the Bay of Naples, inside. It's lowered for viewing Tuesday to Thursday 10am to 3pm, and on Boulder Market Days (every third Sun of the month) 9:30am to 1pm.
Take a step, and a taste, back to your childhood with a visit to the Little Boulder Sweet Shop, 41 Burt St., Boulder (tel. 08/9093 0011). It's a visual delight, stocking all the old style sweets and chocolates.
Wandering Coolgardie's quiet streets, which are graced with historic facades, is a stroll back in time. More than 100 signboards throughout the town, many with photos, detail what each site was like at the turn of the 20th century. The Goldfields Exhibition Museum, 62 Bayley St. (tel. 08/9021 1966), tells the town's story in a lovely 1898 building once used as the mining warden's courthouse. (The Tourist Bureau is also here.) Admission is free, and it's open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm weekends and holidays (except Dec 25).
"Inside Australia" is a series of sculptures scattered across a salt lake 187km (116 miles) north of Kalgoorlie. Fifty-one metal figures, derived from computer scans of the residents of nearby Menzies, were created by the renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley in 2003. They are spread in lonely splendor across the brilliant white salt surface of Lake Ballard, creating an eerily beautiful effect. Sunset can be particularly evocative. You can drive here, getting supplies and meals at Menzies, or Goldrush Tours offers trips with a minimum of 10 passengers.
The Golden Quest Discovery Trail is a 965km (598-mile) self-drive tour through old and new mining areas to the north of Kalgoorlie, including ghost towns and the "Inside Australia" statues. A comprehensive guidebook, with associated CDs, adds immeasurably to the drive and can be bought at all local visitor centers.
If you fancy trying your hand at a bit of prospecting, grab a half-day tour with Finders Keepers Prospecting Adventures, 20 Burt St., Boulder (tel. 08/9093 2222; www.finderskeepersgold.com). The tours, on Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:30am to 12:30pm, provide an introduction to the local bush and a chance to use a metal detector; you keep any gold that you find. The tour costs A$95 adults, A$50 children under 13. Advance bookings recommended.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.