You will find Kalgoorlie six hours east of Perth, on a drive past rained-on war machinery and clean swept service stations, through the West Australian Wheatbelt and the Greater Western Woodlands. I moved there last year, and began working as a journalist at the town’s newspaper, the Kalgoorlie Miner. I had grown up in Perth and seen much of Western Australia, but I knew little about Kalgoorlie before I arrived – far from the coast, it had a reputation as an outback desperado town, full of eccentrics in the ‘mining game’. That was one reputation – the other was of a grim and utilitarian place, dominated by the enormous gold mine at its centre. These were contrasting versions not only of the town, but also of the state, which was now in the second decade of an uninterrupted mining boom.
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