Kalgoorlie, now known as Kalgoorlie–Boulder after Kalgoorlie and Boulder joined, is a city in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, Australia, and is located east-northeast of Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway. The town was founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn-Goldfields gold rush, and is located close to the so-called "Golden Mile".
According to the 2011 census, it had a population of 31,107, making it the largest urban centre in the Goldfields-Esperance region and the fifth-largest in Western Australia.
In January 1893, prospectors Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan, and Dan O'Shea were travelling to Mount Youle when one of their horses cast a shoe. During the halt in their journey, the men noticed signs of gold in the area, and decided to stay and investigate. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to hundreds of men swarming to the area in search of gold and Kalgoorlie, originally called Hannan's, was born.
The population of the town was 2,018 (1516 males and 502 females) in 1898.
The mining of gold, along with other metals such as nickel, has been a major industry in Kalgoorlie ever since, and today employs about one-quarter of Kalgoorlie's workforce and generates a significant proportion of its income. The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding the original Hannan find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet. The town's population was about 30,000 people in 1903 and began to grow into nearby Boulder.
The narrow gauge Government railway line reached Kalgoorlie in 1896, and the main named railway service from Perth was the overnight sleeper train The Westland which ran until the 1970s. In 1917, a railway line was completed, connecting Kalgoorlie to the city of Port Augusta, South Australia across of desert, and consequently the rest of the eastern states. The standardisation of the railway connecting Perth (which changed route from the narrow gauge route) in 1968 completed the Sydney–Perth railway, making it possible for rail travel from Perth to Sydney—and the Indian Pacific rail service commenced soon after. During the 1890s, the Goldfields area boomed as a whole, with an area population exceeding 200,000, mainly prospectors. The area gained a notorious reputation for being a wild west with bandits and prostitutes. This rapid increase in population and claims of neglect by the state government in Perth led to the proposition of the new state of Auralia but with the sudden diaspora after the Gold Rush these plans fell through.
Places, famous or infamous, that Kalgoorlie is noted for include its water pipeline, designed by C. Y. O'Connor and bringing in fresh water from Mundaring Weir near Perth, its Hay Street brothels, its two-up school, the goldfields railway loopline, the Kalgoorlie Town Hall, the Paddy Hannan statue/drinking fountain, the Super Pit and Mount Charlotte lookout. Its main street is Hannan Street, named after the town's founder. One of the infamous brothels also serves as a museum and is a major national attraction.
Kalgoorlie and the surrounding district was serviced by an extensive collection of suburban railways and tramways, providing for both passenger and freight traffic.