Australian Workers Film Guide


This is a well-crafted documentary with some striking and atmospheric footage of underground gold mining operations on Kalgoorlie’s Golden Mile in Western Australia. The film opens with shots of Kalgoorlie as its prosperous people go about their business, before showing the statue of prospector Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, who discovered gold here in the 1890s, sparking a gold rush. Re-enactments show an early prospector hauling dirt up a small shaft and panning for gold, followed by extensive footage of contemporary mining operations on the surface, which employ 4000 men from Kalgoorlie and Boulder. 

Men arrive for work and descend underground where we see remarkable footage of gold miners at work, including extensive footage of underground blasting. This is followed by footage of open cut mining operations and blasting. Workers are seen involved in smelting operations and the film informs the viewer that Kalgoorlie has produced a staggering 400,000 ounces of gold per year for 50 years.

Shifting gear, the film reminisces about bygone prospectors and gold rush towns, such as Coolgardie, which is seen as largely deserted.  Old timers are seen fossicking for gold among the mining ruins. A lack of water cost the lives of many early prospectors, but that was rectified by a water pipeline. There are further shots of Kalgoorlie where gold is the lifeblood of the town. Young men exit from the Kalgoorlie School of Mines, gold bars are carried into a bank, locals discuss the price of gold and in the spirit of Paddy Hannan, two young prospectors drive past his statute and into the outback in search of riches.

Special Notes/Achievements

Produced by the Australian National Film Board.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 10 mins 23 secs

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Film Sound Recordist: Alan Anderson, Don Kennedy,

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