Menzies is located about an hour out of Kalgoorlie, on the way to the Great Central Road. We passed through as we wanted to check out Lake Ballard and found the town of Menzies a big surprise.
I had only ever heard of it as the gateway to Lake Ballard but found that there is heaps to see and do. If you are wondering what the town offers in the way of things to do, then read on.
A Free Water Park and Playground
A water park is good at the best of times, but when it is completely free and unexpected, it is awesome. It is open for anyone and all you have to do is press a button for it to start. Once it started it went for about 20 minutes or so and then turned itself off.
The water park is located right next to the playground which is also well equipped. Public toilets are a short walk away as well.
Stories of the Wongi People
A series of Interpretive panels have been erected throughout the townsite with an image and story of the local Wongi people and their experience of the town of Menzies during the gold rush period. These stories are very interesting and very well done, telling the stories in the words of the Wongi people.
So much of what you see in surrounding areas seem to skip over this whole part of the history of the region and only focuses on the European goldrush experience so I was really pleased to see this installation in Menzies.
You can pick up a brochure outlining the 12 different sites of these stories or just have a wander through town and read those that you come across.
Menzies Visitor Centre
There was quite a lot to see and do in the information centre. There is a book exchange, an historical display, a rock and mineral room, and a room on Antony Gormley’s inside Australia art installation at Lake Ballard.
Of course it also has the usual brochures on the area, and it also acts as the Caravan park reception which is located at the back of it.
Self-guided Walk Past Historic Buildings
Pick up a brochure from the information centre to find the places of historic significance in the area. Many of the old buildings are still inhabited by Menzies locals so make sure you respect their privacy. There are plenty of interpretive panels with information about each location’s history.
Camping at Lake Ballard
Lake Ballard is home to Antony Gormley’s art installation, ‘Inside Australia’. This is probably the biggest drawcard to the area and was the highlight from our perspective. Even Lala loved it here, exclaiming, ‘I loved the water park, but this is even better!’
We free camped for the evening here and enjoyed our walks around the statues. We used the statues as a home school prompt with little Lala drawing one of the statues and collecting some of the clay from the salt lake to make a clay statue of another.
We all enjoyed taking our shoes off and walking barefoot on the lake and mud. We were lucky to be there at a time when there was a bit of moisture on the ground which meant that the clay was just soft and malleable and such a pleasure to walk on barefoot. You can also climb up the island in the salt lake, which is bigger in real life than it looks in the photographs.
You could spend plenty of time walking from one statue to the other. We only got to see about 10 of the 50 that are there. If you have a bike that would be the best way to get around the salt lake and see all the statues. There is no driving on the lake as it is slightly soft underfoot and you will end up bogged if you try.
Lake Ballard offers free camping and has a drop toilet on site but no other facilities. It is about 50km away from Menzies. 30km on a sealed road and the last 20km on an unsealed track.
The cemetery really brings the ghosts from the ghost towns alive. It is very interesting to see how people in those days died of such simple causes, like diarrhea. There is also history about the typhoid epidemic which affected about 50% of Menzies population of the day. Interesting for a wander around.
Menzies is definitely worth a stop for at least an hour or two and Lake Ballard is a great camping stop. It was one of our favourite places in the goldfields area. You can read more about our adventure in our weekly updates especially Week 1 and Week 2. If you are traveling to Kalgoorlie or the Great Central Road, then you can read my individual posts on those places as well.
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