Hot article "Inside Australia" Lake Ballard

The Golden Quest Discovery Trail

Ladies and Gentlemen I’m currently blogging from the car. I’m in Australia’s Golden Outback on the Golden Quest Discovery Trail with my guide Outback Jac, and every time I try and write a post at night he drags me into an Aussie Outback pub (…drags? Hmmmm, probably the wrong word).

The Golden Quest Discovery Trail is a 965km self-drive round-trip adventure, exploring the historical towns that were once booming 100 years ago when the Gold Rush hit. Nowadays the towns are more of an education of How We Used To Live.

I like a bit of history stuff so found it really interesting.

After waking up in the 31st President of the United States old bed at Hoover House, it was time to hit the road.

We passed through the living ghost town of Kookynie, population 2,320 hardy souls 110 years ago, compared to today’s 12.

The Grand Hotel Kookynie pub’s still open though.

Then onto Menzies where steel cut-outs are dotted up and down the “high street” to depict what was where and who was doing what when the town was thriving. Today’s population, approximately 100, down 1000% from the early 1900s.

Nice pub as well.

And check out the historic township of Gwalia, where prospectors’ old tin huts are frozen in time in a kind of outdoor museum. Everything’s still as it was, from the beds, hessian sacks for walls, floors made of box crates, and set cutlery on the table. You can really get a feel of what life was like for miners and their families living here over 100 years ago.

Great pub down the road too, just happens to be Western Australia’s first State hotel.

Now, not only do I like a bit of history stuff, I like a bit of art stuff as well.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Anthony Gormley’s “Inside Australia” living art exhibition ever since I got the Taste Master job and it was spine-tinglingly spectacular.

Fifty one human sculptures set over a 10 square kilometre area of Lake Ballard salt lake.

I left Outback Jac at the car and just started to walk. All I could hear was the crunch of salt underfoot, the whistling of the wind in my ears and my own panting breath as I trudged across the salt lake towards the eerie silhouetted shapes in the distance. Each time I reached one I could make out faint outlines of more on the horizon.

I don’t know far I walked or how many more were out there, but I ran out of water and the 40 degree heat was starting to take its toll.

Commissioned in 2003, it was originally meant to last 18 months, but is still here 10 years later. It was inspiring and spectacular and all the things I hoped it would be. Strange, alien looking life forms set in a desolate, remote landscape. Complete solitude.

But there was something that wasn’t quite right. Something that was nagging in the back of my mind that I couldn’t let go. Something that didn’t quite fit in with the rest of our journey in the Goldfields…..

No pub!

Tips and Tricks

Getting to Kalgoorlie

  • Virgin Australia operate daily flights to Kalgoorlie

Where I stayed

  • Ibis Styles, Kalgoorlie
  • Hoover House, Leonora

My expert local guide

Events to keep an eye out for

  • Goldfields Golden Mile Off Road Desert Race, 18 -20 April 2014, Kalgoorlie
  • Goldfields Cyclassic, 31 May – 01 June 2014, Leonora
  • Leonora Golden Gift, 31 May – 02 June, 2014, Leonora
  • Country Cups, date TBC, Kalgoorlie
  • City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Multicultural Festival, 04 May 2014, Kalgoorlie
  • Boulder Market Day, every 3rd Sunday of the month

My insider tip

  • Take your camera to Lake Ballard at sunrise or sunset when the low light hits the red earth of the salt lake.