Coolgardie is a small town in the Australian state of Western Australia, 558 km east of the state capital, Perth. It has a population of approximately 1,400 people.
Although Coolgardie is known to most Western Australians as a tourist town and a ghost town population wise, it was once the third largest town in Western Australia (after Perth and Fremantle) At this time, mining of alluvial gold was a major industry: supplying the flagging economy with a new, radiant hope. Many miners suffered under the harsh conditions: for a few it was worth it, as they left with pockets heavier. Most men, however, left poorer than they had started off, with hopes dashed.
Coolgardie is host to the annual Coolgardie Day during the Kalgoorlie ‘Race Round’ season. Coolgardie Day offers the usual attractions of a country town field day, with something of a mining slant. Until recently Coolgardie Day featured the Coolgardie Rockdrilling Championships, in which underground miners compete in different events to see who can bore a hole the fastest through a concrete block using an airleg drill. Classic miners such as Wayne ‘Wick’ Hills, Gary ‘The Ledge’ Ledger, Peter Eastley, Richard ‘Rotten’ Timbs and others come out of the woodwork for the rockdrill, dust off the skills and go head to head in furious combat to the roar of the airleg. It’s well worth a look and it is hoped that the Rockdrilling Championships will be revived.
Coolgardie today is once again the centre of a municipality, the Shire of Coolgardie. Historical markers have been placed around the town to inform tourists of significant locations, and there are several active museums, including the visitor’s centre, old railway station, and the National Trust-owned Warden Finnerty’s Residence.
Great Eastern Highway (National Highway 94) runs through the town as Bayley Street. Just to the town’s east, Highway 94 turns south onto Coolgardie-Esperance Highway, which heads towards Norseman, the starting point of the route east across the Nullarbor Plain. The Transwa Prospector train stops 14 km north of the town at Bonnie Vale.