Last week we caught the Prospector to Kalgoorlie for a short holiday. The train trip takes about six and a half hours from Midland station (around 7 hours from East Perth terminal), leaving a couple of times a day – we opted for the morning train, leaving just before 7.30AM and rolling into Kalgoorlie around 2PM. It is a comfortable trip – the seats have plenty of leg room and come equipped with in-seat video to help while away the time.
However I found the changing scenery – from the Swan Valley vines, to the timbered hills of the Darling Scarp, the farmland approaching Toodyay and Northam, through the wheatbelt and then the changing landscape of the Great Western Woodlands – the largest temperate woodland left on the planet – keeps your attention out the window.
The only drawback on the trip is the fairly limited food available from the onboard kiosk – OK if you are happy to stick to microwaved pies and sausage rolls (they also had sandwiches on the trip up but none of these on the return), crisps and lollies – but very few options if meat isn’t your thing.
And the wine – served in the small 200ml bottles – and beer – are all blow-ins from the Eastern States. Why Transwa would not want to showcase WA wine and beer on their intrastate trains is beyond me.
Anyway we survived the food and drink and walked out of the station to our motel right across the road – the Railway Motel funnily enough and settled in before walking a couple of blocks to Hannan Street, the main street of the city and full of quite amazing old pubs – beautifully kept buildings from the goldrush era.
The York Hotel with its exceptional staircase leading up to the balcony bar and De Bernalis, a restaurant/coffee shop/bar, were our first stops for a couple of drinks, before we headed to Yada Thai which proved to be a great choice.
The food here was impressive. The steamed scallops with chilli and ginger were excellent, plump juicy and with a great chilli kick; well turned out fish cakes too. And the fried barramundi with pepper and garlic was exceptional, crisply crunchy with succulent fish inside, beautiful mildly spiced flavours. A top start to our short vacation.
Next morning, we had coffee at Montys – bar/coffee shop/café which serves excellent coffee.
Then we dropped in for a drink and light lunch at the Kalgoorlie – another great looking old place. The food was pub fare, but well done – a Caesar salad and nachos settled our hunger pangs.
That night we booked a table at the Balcony Bar and Restaurant at the Palace Hotel – it had been a hot day but sitting out on the balcony, air conditioned and protected from the heat by café blinds, we had an excellent meal.
A stand-out wine list led the way and the food followed suit. Tapenade crusted barramundi with capsicum sauce was succulent, with the black olive crust adding salty, earthy flavours; juicy chicken with hollandaise was well cooked and colourful. Xabregas rosé was a welcome change to some ordinary rosé we have had at other pubs around town, and Brown Hill Estate Hannans Cabernet an appropriate salute to Kalgoorlie. Certainly well worth a visit.
Coffee at a little hole in the wall spot next morning got us off on the right foot – The Proper Gander Espresso serves splendid coffee equal to any I have tried in Perth.
Then it was time for lunch – the weather had turned from hot to hot and humid so we headed for somewhere cool and found it at the Exchange Hotel – this a stunning looking old pub and it has a very good restaurant too, Paddys Bar. We enjoyed the fish tacos, crisply fried fish fillets, juicy, succulent, topped with salsa, mild sauce, avocado; Vietnamese summer rolls, filled with fresh Asian flavours, mint, coriander, crunchy carrot and lettuce, sprouts and thinly sliced prawns, with a mildly spiced dipping sauce; as well as a bottle of Madfish rosé – in fact, as it so hot that day we had a second to fortify us for the walk back. Really good food and drink; excellent service; attractive surrounds. Recommended.
As it was our last night so we checked out the restaurant at our motel and enjoyed both the food and wine. A dish of yellow curry and chicken skewers with satay sauce was all we needed, along with a bottle of wine of course. The breakfast here is also worth mentioning, a good buffet of all the usual suspects helped us kick our days off well.
So, we had finished our visit to Kalgoorlie and headed across the street early next morning to catch the 7.03AM back home. Again a comfortable trip back and I can only recommend booking a ticket and heading out that way. It was great to experience a little more of WA and those old pubs are just so impressive.