The Boulder and the Beautiful – discovering Kalgoorlie’s sister town

Burt Street Statue
Burt Street Statue

Kalgoorlie is definitely one of Australia’s most iconic outback towns. Good old Kal is known Australia-wide for being a wonderful place, and is on many people’s bucket lists as a ‘must do’ destination to visit.

Kal’s formal name is the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, but we often forget the Boulder bit. We shouldn’t because Boulder is a really pretty place and well worth a visit.

When I last visited it was because I had driven up to the Super Pit, which is a great attraction. This was where Kalgoorlie’s famous Golden Mile was first established. It is one of the richest pieces of land in the whole world. 

The town of Boulder was named after The Great Boulder Mine, which was established by Paddy Hannan himself. The mine has subsequently been absorbed into the Super Pit.

Boulder is very close to the Super Pit Lookout, so when I was driving down the hill towards Boulder, I was expecting a place that was somewhat dusty and perhaps a bit drab.

I was wrong!

Burt Street, Boulder, the town’s main street is gorgeous. It is a tree-lined boulevard that is filled with lovely renovated heritage buildings.

Boulder telegraph office
Boulder telegraph office

Given the wealth that was created so near to the town, no wonder the buildings are so grand.

It is so good to realise that the town of Boulder has respected its history by ensuring that its existing buildings pay homage to the town’s golden age.

Of course, Boulder started off merely as a hodge-podge of tents and shanties as budding prospectors moved into the area in the hope of striking it rich. It would have been a rough old place in those days.

Boulder was gazetted as a town in December 1896, and that’s when some order was established, and a town plan designed.

The very first blocks were snapped up, and then when more parcels of land were put on the market just a few months later, they went for double the price of the original blocks.

Boulder was up and running, and it had some elegance.

The most imposing building in Burt Street is the Boulder Town Hall. Built in 1908 in what is described as ‘Federation free classical style’, a type of turn-of-the-20th-century architecture that applied to non-residential buildings, it is a quite magnificent brick and stone building that is adorned with a lovely clock tower. 

Inside, the Town Hall contains municipal offices, library, main hall and a theatre.

The theatre is considered to be very important because it contains the last known Philip Goatcher theatre curtain. Goatcher was considered to be Australia’s finest Victorian-era décor designer, and he was responsible for the decoration of many theatres, churches and public buildings.

Dame Nellie Melba performed in the Boulder Town Hall in 1914. You can do a tour of the Town Hall, which takes you behind the scenes and introduces you to the history and stories of some of Boulder’s interesting former residents. The War Museum is also very interesting.

It truly is a delight to wander along Burt Street, and to pop in to any of the cafés or pubs for refreshments. It is reminiscent of journeying to another era, and it is definitely one of the most attractive main streets in Western Australia.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a wonderful city to visit. Hannan Street is wide and quite grand, but make sure you head to Boulder to experience Burt Street for yourself. It’s not as famous as Hannan Street, but has a charm that is both captivating and extraordinary.

Ed’s note – our former editor Judith Treby was born in Boulder.