Perth: World’s Largest Gold Coin and Our Weight in Gold

Heading Towards the Left Coast 

Having spent three weeks flying around the Eastern part of Australia, we headed west to visit Perth, the capital of Western Australia and the only major city on the left coast. When we met people in Eastern Australia and mentioned we were going to visit Perth they would ask us why and proceed to tell us there is nothing there and it’s really expensive. Well, we thought, why not! It may be one of the most isolated major cities in the world, but it also right on the edge of the outback and home to the world’s largest gold coin.

So with some left coast exploration ahead of us, we caught an overnight flight from Sydney and landed in the middle of the night. Because we were catching a redeye flight, we booked a place near the airport via Airbnb so we could get a few hours sleep before heading to our hotel near the city center. The major industry in Perth is mining, so most of the miners fly-in for the week and fly-out for the weekend or FIFO, fly-in fly-out. This makes hotels cheaper on the weekend than during the weekdays, so to save money we planned our stay around a weekend.

Having gotten just enough sleep, well enough that we could function properly, we walked over to the bus stop down from the house we had rented a room from for the night on Airbnb. Hopping on the bus and heading towards the city we could see that Perth was different than other places we had visited. As we drove through the suburbs, we knew we were in the outback or bush. In the course of a month, we had gone from the tropical rainforest to the cool harbor side cities and now the edge of the desert outback. After what seemed like a short bus ride to the main bus terminal, we got in a taxi and made our way to the hotel we would call home for the next couple of days.

Since we didn’t get much sleep during the night, we took it easy and just rested and planned for the next couple of days at Sullivans Hotel. Besides, spending five hours in a cramped budget airline seat with little to no leg room, didn’t do us any good and left us feeling a little drained. The only way we could afford flying around Australia was because we bought cheap tickets during a two-day sale from Tigerair Australia. For short flights, it wasn’t that bad, but flying for five hours with my knees digging into the back of the seat in front of me didn’t provide for any comfort to take a nap during the flight. Perth is not known for its tourist attractions since most people just spend a couple of days there and then either drive through the vast expanses up the West Coast or go South towards the wine-producing valleys. We decided we would just visit Fremantle Prison and take a tour of the Perth Mint.

Australia’s Only Active Mint

Front of the Perth Mint

Founded in 1889, the Perth Mint is the only active mint in Australia with both Sydney and Melbourne closed. It is where all the medals for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney were produced. They are on display in the Perth Mint museum. We decided to go the gold pour tour, but since it is still an active mint, we couldn’t take any pictures inside.

Holding the World’s Largest Gold Nugget, a Replica

We met on the front lawn for our tour to begin where our guide gave us a brief history of some of the largest gold nuggets found in Australia. We were able to see and hold some of the replicas discovered and admire at its sheer size after the tour. We even discussed if we should try our luck on becoming amateur gold miners in Western Australia because the Hand of Faith nugget which weighed in at 876 troy ounces (27.2 kg or 61 pounds and 11 ounces) was found less than 12 inches below the surface while an amateur gold miner casually swept his metal detector around his trailer in Victoria, Australia. This same nugget was sold to a casino called to the aptly named, Gold Nugget Casino in Las Vegas where it is prominently displayed. Source: “Worlds Biggest Gold Nuggets” The “Welcome Stranger” nugget is the world’s largest alluvial nugget and was discovered only 1.2 inches below the surface.

Gold Nuggets
We Found Gold, Replica Gold That Is
Left: May with both the “Welcome Stranger” (top) and “Golden Eagle” (bottom)
Right: Josh trying to eat the “Welcome Stranger,” largest alluvial gold nugget

They found gold
They Found Gold, Just Like Josh
Left: Statue of Prospectors in Front of the Perth Mint
Right: Josh with the “Golden Eagle”

World’s Largest Gold Coin

Next on the tour was viewing the largest gold coin in the world; the one-tonne gold kangaroo coin. It is made of 99.99% pure gold with a diameter measuring 80cm and a thickness of 35cm; it is massive. The coolest part is that it is Australian legal tender. You can use this coin when you purchase something. Can you imagine pulling out this coin to make a purchase? There were no security guards or other security measures for this gold coin, worth over a million dollars. It is so large you would have to be superman to pick it up and run with it and if you are that strong, there is no way they could stop you anyway. The video below explains the great feat on the effort it took for the Perth Mint to create this coin.

Largest Gold Coin in the World
Largest Gold Coin in the World, the Australian Kangaroo 1 Tonne Gold Coin minted in 2012. Photo credit: The Perth Mint.

Gold Pour

Gold Pour
Gold Pour. Photo credit: Tourism Western Australia

Watching the gold pour was really nice. They have been pouring the same gold bar for years now. Heating the gold to its molten form and then pouring it in the mold. It is amazing how quickly it cools down, not mention how heavy it is. We all got to hold the bar briefly before exiting to the museum and looking at the nuggets they had on display.

Weighing Ourselves, What Was Our Gold Value?

After the gold pour, you exit into the museum. On display the second largest gold nugget in the world still in existence which the discoverer attempted to sell at auction. The government of Australia had something else in mind and wouldn’t let it leave the country. It is owned by a mining company and loaned to the Perth Mint for display. Also in the museum, there is a scale that you can use to figure out what your weight in gold is. It will then take your weight and give you a value based on the day’s price in gold. What was our worth?

Gold Weight

Over 4 million, we are some valuable people, or we just have some extra weight. Now that we were done finding our value, we decided to strike a souvenir Perth Mint coin. Not being satisfied with a generic Perth Mint coin to commemorate our trip, we needed a custom made coin. Our very own version of the kangaroo coin, it may not be worth a million dollars or be legal tender, but it is priceless to us.

Perth Mint Coin
Our custom coin to remember our Australia trip from the Perth Mint

Perth Mint Coin
Our custom coin to remember our Australia trip from the Perth Mint

Perth Mint Coin
Souvenir coin from the Perth Mint

Eating a Gold Bar

With our coins in hand and feeling a little hungry, we made our way over to the cafe and consumed a gold covered snack before going outside and taking silly pictures of ourselves with the replica gold nuggets. It is always good to not take oneself so seriously. Go out and have fun and let your inner goofball loose. The Perth Mint was one our favorite tours we went on in Australia and a great way to end our magical trip.

Perth Mint Snack
Our edible gold bar filled with chocolate at the Perth Mint

Saying Goodbye to Australia

After visiting the different parts of Australia, we could understand why East Coast residents wouldn’t want to visit Perth. It was just easier to visit other countries. As we would learn, it was quicker to fly from Sydney to Bali than from Sydney to Perth. Australia is huge but a great place to explore.

Fremantle Prison – Breaking in and Going Under – A Journey Through The Tunnels

UNESCO Site #11
Australian Convict Sites (Fremantle Prison)

Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison is a UNESCO Heritage Site, part of Australia’s convict prison sites and the only building listed in Western Australia. Being the most intact convict-built prison in Australia, it was in continuous use for almost 140 years until 1991. Opting for a more adventurous tour, we decided on the tunnel tour. Slipping into our coveralls and putting on our hard-hats, we had to descend down a 22-meter ladder where we would eventually go under the walls of the prison and underneath the city Fremantle itself.

Fremantle Prison
May and Josh giving their thumbs up at the end of the tour.

A Brief History

The tunnel system began in 1888 with prisoners completing the system in 1894. Used as a catchment area for water draining through the limestone formation to provide water for the commercial and domestic needs of the city of Fremantle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1910, the prison and Fremantle were connected to the metropolitan water scheme and the tunnels were no longer needed to supply water for the prison or city of Fremantle. They were still used to provide water for the lawn and gardens of the prison though.

The Tunnel Tour

Fremantle Prison
Descending down the ladder. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.

This has to be one of the funniest tours we have been on. There was no photography allowed, due to safety precautions, so we can only share the photos Fremantle Prison has. Descending down the ladder was a bit scary at first but we both made it down with ease. It was reassuring that we were connected to the ladder with a safety harness. When we reached the bottom of the ladder, the first thing we were shown were the fossils of shellfish, indicated that we were standing on the bottom of the ocean. Well, what used to be the bottom of the ocean. As we were led down dry sections of tunnel, we noticed what looked like roots hanging down from the top of the tunnel. Indeed, they were from the trees growing outside the walls of the prison. We were now outside the prison, we had escaped, or so we thought. The tunnel system only had entrances and exits inside the prison, but it stretched out from the prison and under the city, there was no escaping the prison from the tunnels. After reaching the end of one of the tunnels we made our way to the few tunnels that had water in them, boarding our replica convict punts. This was the best part of the tour.

Fremantle Prison
Paddling down the tunnels. Photo credit: Fremantle Prison.

Paddling down the knee-deep water of the narrow tunnel was a fun and exciting challenge. Keeping the punt from hitting the walls the hardest part, we both had to continuously put our hands out to brace ourselves and keep the punt from hitting and damaging the walls. The commentary from the other members of the tour had us laughing the whole time, especially when we floated under a beam with cockroaches on it and one lady started to freak out. Our guide told us that there were no officially reported deaths while the convicts constructed the tunnel, but it is hard to believe no one died in the construction of the tunnels. As we paddled our way down the tunnels we were aided by modern lights helping us to guide our way, but when he had the lights turned down to the level of what the convicts would have been working under, we could see very little. We think the reason no one was reported to have died was that officials did not want the general public to know that there were dead people contaminating their source of drinking water. At one point, we stopped the punts and could hear noise coming from above. It was hard to tell what the source was and we all guessed wrong as to the source. We happened to be under the main road in the city and heard cars driving by. Once again we had left the prison but could not escape. After paddling our way through the tunnel system, we had to go up the way we came down. This time, it was much easier going up than going down, concluding our being convicts for a day. A video of the tour by Destination WA.

Prison Art Gallery

Afterward, we toured the prisoner gallery which included art from the various prisons around Western Australia.

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison

Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison
Prisoner Art at Fremantle Prison