Western Australia recollections

I was recently in Western Australia for 2 weeks, spending 4 days in each of Kalgoorlie and Mt Keith, and the remainder of the time in Perth.


I arrived on Saturday night. While everything else was closed, after hours you can always be sure of the availability of alcohol and gambling. Seriously – they still have restrictive rules about the hours supermarkets are allowed to open.

I discovered that I was staying over the road from Perth’s new Apple store. It took me at least 2 hours after it opened on Sunday for me to make my first purchase.

It’s hard to be empathetic with their competition. The Sony store was sad and empty – and expensive. My i7 powered, 256 GB SSD MacBook Air was just $1800.
How Much?!

This Dick Smith store had no excuse for their hours.

Kathmandu had a sale on Quelle Surprise.
(for non-locals, Kathmandu is famous for always having a sale on, despite local laws around what a sale actually is)
And Borders was empty.

Another hint that Perth is stuck in the past is the weighty classifieds section in the weekend paper. There is a Trade Me sized gap in the market that nobody has really gone after properly. Trade Me and Fairfax could grab it, combining the Trade Me skill and site with the existing Fairfax classified listings. There are plenty of Kiwis in WA to get things going.

My first briefing was held in Cottesloe. Perth has fantastic beaches and a pretty good train system to help you get to many of them. We drove.

What you wear at work is important – and in Western Australia reflective orange is the fabric of choice.

I didn’t stick out – here’s a typical airport scene. It’s actually really good to see all of the hi visibility clothing, as it’s a sign of the continuing improvement in health and safety that the mining and processing industries are experiencing.

When arriving at many mine sites, which are absolutely intolerant of any alcohol and drugs in the bloodstream, you can self-test to ensure you are fit for work. The culture has changed for the better, and continues to improve as more people realise they want the guy driving the 200 tonne truck or controlling the values on the high pressure vessel to be sober and awake.

This was most likely the only Webstock bag on a site in Western Australia and certainly the only one with an Angry Birds sticker on it. In the background is a bag containing a respirator – used when walking around some areas of the plant. Protective glasses are mandatory outside most plants and so are helmets. Gloves are carried at all times, and hearing protection is as well. Some plants have a gloves always on policy, which is successful at reducing hand injuries. Savvy visitors have their own prescription safety glasses (I stepped on mine the other week) and their own work gloves – out of shot.
Webstock bag and PPE

Once in the middle of nowhere the scenery is fairly unvarying.

Kalgoorlie lacked an Apple store, but as always was well supplied with pubs.

I’m pretty sure this was in Kalgoorlie.

This fake grass was a Kalgoorlie classic – real grass would burn away.
Fake grass

Kalgoorlie will never be beaten on portion size – at least not out of the USA.

The Perth Taxi system, in a city double the size of Auckland, has just 1800 taxis. The price for riding and the number of cabs are both regulated. The outcome, naturally, is that you can never get a cab when you want, and when you do the cabs are second rate.
There are just two cab companies, and the largest. Swan, has 1500 of the 1800 cabs. A duopoly with controlled pricing and quotas – it’s out of the 60s.
Shown below are the taxis waiting for us.
And this is us – 200 or so. The taxi’s did come, but so slowly.

Published by Lance Wiggs


One reply on “Western Australia recollections”

  1. And they call it the lucky country. Still if you are a shop worker it sounds quite nice not having weird opening hours just to deal with the public (a.k.a. the great unwashed).


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