Worth Our Weight In Gold

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Oct 02, 2005

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Thursday, June 9, 2005

7th June 2005

Today we took a trip to the Perth Mint. The reason for it being built in the first place was due to the massive influx of gold seekers in the 1900's booming the population in Western Australia from 48,000 to 180,000 in just 20 years. As people hunted for gold, they needed a place to sell it to. It was agreed with the British government to open up a branch of the mint in Perth to meet these needs. The place is now used mainly for decorative coin making, but they also produced the Olympic medals that were used in the 2000 games in Sydney. The gold medal is effectively a silver disc covcered in gold, the silver is a silver disc, and the bronze is made up of melted down 1 cent bronze coins which the aussies dont use any more. Takes a bit of the shine off coming third when you know the medal was made for pennies!

We took the tour and watched a gold smelter ply his trade, taking heated gold and transforming it into a solid gold bar. The pots used to smelt the gold are sent back to be recycled after 2 weeks use, and normally there will be around $150 of gold stuck to the side of the pots that is reclaimed and sent back to the mint. When they cleaned the smelting areas down a few years ago, they found around $250,000 worth of gold that had gone into the atmosphere and stuck to the walls and ceilings. Not a bad haul at all. We had the opportunity to handle a gold bar, putting our hand into a plastic casing to try and lift a 12kgm block of gold worth over $200,000. You couldn't get it our of the hole, so our dreams of using it to fund a 5 star travel experience over the rest of our trip were thwarted. If anyone says to me or Sarah that "you're worth your weight in gold" we can now answer that Anthony is worth $2,066,540 and Sarah is worth $1,124,620! They allowed you to get weighed, then converted the weight to that days gold price. For something that neither of us thought would be a great tour, it turned out to be a very surprisingly good place to visit, and highly recommended.
We met up with Carol and Tom in the afternoon to say goodbye as they were off to Cairns for some much needed sun. The rain was still relentless and was on the go morning, noon, and night. We said goodbye (for a 2nd time) probably realising that we'd meet up again on the east coast. Lets hope we aren't given "Stalker Status" by them! That night we called up on some relatives that lived in Perth, Andrea and Dean, and arranged to meet them the following day.

8th June 2005

Today we took the train out to Midland station where we were greeted by Andrea, a relative of my side of the family. It may seem strange to some people, but me or Sarah had never met Andrea or Dean before (well not at an age where I can remember anyway), and they us, so for both it was a little of the unknown. As soon as we got in the car though, it felt as natural as anything. We chatted away on the trip to Andrea and Dean's home out at Mount Helena where we talked and had drinks. Me and Sarah were introduced to Benjy, the dog they owned, and also Blake, their 9 year old son ( a boy in Australia who knows that football is not called soccer!). We talked about members of the family and who had been up to what, and I showed a few pictures to them of grandma and grandad. We did have a little difficulty working out where the "relationship" was between me and Andrea, as I wasn't aware of some of the names she gave me and she of the names I mentioned. After a couple of pizza's (one of which was a wonderful desert pizza which had a topping of chocolate on a pizza base, sounds strange but was very good!) and after copious amounts of beer, and way too many glasses of white wine for Sarah, we were offered to stay the night and we accepted. It was probably the most comfortable nights sleep we had in ages!.

9th June 2005

We were dropped off at the station in the morning after our great nights sleep where Andrea asked us back again over the weekend if we were in Perth still, and we headed back into the city. We had had a great time with Andrea, Dean and Blake, but it was now back to finding a way out of Perth. There were no campervan relocations, all the flights were stupidly expensive and the train would have taken away 3 days of out life had we have opted for that route. We gave up and went back to the hostel to get some sleep. One of us was suffering from a little hangover, Sarah, so she needed time to recover.
We took a walk up to the Museum of Western Australia where we learnt a bit about the history of how Perth came about, and how it had progressed over the years. It didn't mention much about the Aborigional people (or Indigenous Australians as they are mainly now called) which is a shame, seeing as though it was only as recent as the 1960's that theres people were actually classed as "people" and given a vote). Maybe its because of the shame surrounding the whole Aboriginal culture. There is a useful site at www.dreamtime.net.au regarding the history of the Aboriginal culture and timeline's on all major historical events if you fancy reading further about it.
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