For our last weekend in WA, my relatives kindly arranged to take us down a working goldmine, situated in West Australia’s Goldfields. WA is largely defined by its mining economy and after spending weeks with family who spoke all about their life at the mines, it seemed only right to see what they were going on about first hand!
The mining towns are somewhat a curiosity in themselves. Built for no other purpose than for mining, they are in the middle of nowhere with nothing for miles around but, well, mines. Most housing is temporary for the fly in fly out employees, although some people do choose to take up residence in the town. As a result, the signs to the many different units can have a Alice in Wonderland like look to them:
Of course, ordinary plebs like ourselves had to go through lots of safety procedures and briefings before our descent. The safety kits the mines provide are second to none and one piece of kit used to help us breathe (should we smell smoke) was worth well over $1000 in itself – I made a note not to break that one! We also had yellow sunglasses to help us see underground, with ordinary sunglasses also provided so that the shifting light did not hurt our eyes. After being briefed and prepped, down we went…
It was absolutely boiling down the bottom of the mine and we had to put in our earplugs halfway through as the machinery was so loud. It really was like being part of a different world down there! As Simon aptly summarised: “I don’t think I would make a very good miner as I wouldn’t like getting my overalls dirty”. I learnt a lot about mining however and we both loved it. Definitely not an everyday experience, but that’s exactly what you want from travelling!
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