Kalgoorlie

We stayed the first night in Kalgoorlie at the bush camp just as you enter the town. It is 24 hour only and a ranger comes around in the morning and in the evening to check and make sure no one has stayed for another night and to make sure each camper is self-contained. We woke in the morning to the ranger telling some backpacker off as they had pulled in late to camp and they shouldn’t have been there. We then moved to a caravan park.

We walked around town. There are some very impressive buildings still standing. (I can only imaging what they would have looked like when they were first built.) You can’t go to Kalgoorlie without going to the “Super Pit” so off we went to ooh and ah with the rest of the tourist at how big the hole is

After the pit we went to the lookout where the first water pipe for Kalgoorlie terminated. On 24th of January 1903 Sir John Forrest turned a golden key and water arrived at the Charlotte Reservoir. At the time Sir John Forrest was the first premier of Western Australia, he was instrumental in getting parliament to approve the pipeline scheme. There was a huge crowd to witness the historic event. I can only imagine what the excitement must have been like. Oh the luxury of running water in the Goldfields. The view was striking from the hill as you could see all of Kalgoorlie.

In the evening we went to Questa Casa for a tour (if you are not familiar with the name Questa Casa, it is or was a brothel.) There was about 20 people sitting round the waiting room (or picking room), we went in and sat with everyone else and looked at the wall or the floor even the ceiling. The madam, who was our tour guide, also owned the establishment. She sat down and started to talk. There was a knock on the door. Two ladies stood there. The owner asked them to come back later as this session was full. They were not impressed as they had a booking for this time. The owner then asked if someone could leave. I looked at Adrian and he looked at me. Without saying anything we both stood up to leave, we were a “blow in” so thought it was only right we left. We arranged a time to come back and we went for a coffee.   When we arrived back we were the only once to be sitting in the waiting room. The owner waited for another 5 minutes just incase, before she started. We re-heard what she had said the first time when there was another knock. This time there was an old guy (maybe in his nighties from what we saw from where we were sitting), he was hoping to hire a girl. The owner explained that there was no one in residence at the moment and he should look out for an ad in the local paper for when they would be available. The owner came back a bit stunned. “He wanted a girl. At his age you would think he would have forgotten what to do, if he could do anything at all.” She started the tour again at the beginning, for the third time we smiled and listened again.

Kalgoorlie used to work on a form of confinement. The town deciding it needed the working girls to help keep the peace in the town so they gathered all the working girls together and placed their businesses in one street. Hay Street. The working girls were not allowed in the town itself unless escorted by the madam of the business. If they were caught out of the confined area they were then escorted out of town never to return again unless they wanted to end up in jail. When the madam took over (30 years ago) the girls were on a good wage, (when the average mining man was making about $30 a week they could be making up to or more than $200 a week) so they did the right thing and stayed in the confined area. It doesn’t work like that now as the girls can live anywhere or work anywhere so most of the brothels have closed down.

I had thought we would hear some really juicy stories but no, the owner seamed to be a little dotty to me maybe in her eighties and while the tour was interesting it wasn’t anything great. We were shown 3 rooms and told how the girls would wash the men before starting work and one woman in a 12 hour day, served 80 men, most of the men not getting past being washed. (The men paid for the service and if that happens quickly then too bad it is all over.) Questa Casa still offers working girls but now they fly in for a set time and fly out, hence the ad in the local paper to announce when they are in residence.

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