Totally MINT!

4 Apr

I just think it’s funny when people say “mint” in regular speech. But it was sorta the theme of the day. Before leaving home, my dad was very adamant about me visiting the Perth Mint Factory while I was in town. I told him I’d give it a shot with no real intention of ever actually going. It just so happened that we had some time to kill before heading north out of Perth, and we were driving by the Mint Factory so I thought I’d hop out to take a picture (between the fencing.. I didn’t want to pay to get in).

Perth Mint Factory

Then I walked around the corner and realized it was free to walk inside, HA! Britt came inside and checked out the gift shop area with me, then she bailed to run some errands when I became sold on going through the tour. (Fine Dad, you were right!) I would like to say I was the youngest visitor by at least 20 years, but there ended up being a family with kids. Way to steal my thunder! Our tour guide, Jesse, took us outside for a quick briefing… In the late 1800s (“ancient history in Aussie terms”), some guys were out camping in Western Australia. After a heavy rain, they stuck their heads out their tent and realized that when the top layer of soil was washed away, they were literally camping on a gold mine. They reported it to authorities (as was law) and a massive gold rush ensued. There wasn’t enough money to pay people for their gold findings, so the Australians gave their mother country a choice… either Britain could ship in a boat load more money (very expensive for them) or Australia could open their own Mint. So Britain allowed them to open their own factory, and as Jesse said, “they all went back to drinking tea and hunting foxes.” Skipping all that stuff in the middle, now the Mint only produces commemorative coins for Australia as well as currency for Hungary and Singapore… and the American nickel!

The tour ended up being pretty cool… Jesse told us some stories of the largest natural gold nuggets ever found in Australia. 2 of the worlds largest ended up being melted down, but the remaining largest in the world (found in Australia) was sold to a Las Vegas casino. My favorite story was of the Golden Eagle: some kid and his dad were trying to make it through the Great Depression by getting a few extra bucks scrounging for gold nuggets. The boy pulled out a massive nugget that looked like a dead bird all covered in mud. Rinsed off, it was a nice and shiny gold piece! Largest in the world at that time, but it was melted down. “The family did what any Aussie family would do with their reward”… (as Jesse said)… they opened a pub called The Golden Eagle!

the "Golden Eagle" replica at the Perth Mint

We walked through the show room at our own leisure. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures… something about real gold costing alot? The highlights for me were the “How much are you worth” weighing station (which must have been broken cause it said I was only worth $2.5 million), the Vietnamese gold leaves (refugees used to roll them up or put them under the sole of their shoes to smuggle them internationally), the 12.54 kilo gold brick (I thought I was gonna break my wrist trying to pick it up), and the exhibition room. We all sat in stadium seating in the exhibition room so that Jesse could show us the process of making a gold brick. He explained the process to us then flicked off the lights so we could “ooooh” and “ahhhh” at the glowing gold. He put on some space-like suit (apron and gloves.. I may have exaggerated) to pull the liquid gold out of the furnace, which was set to 1064 degrees Celsius – 64 degrees hotter than molten lava! We “ooooh”ed as he poured it into an iron cast. You could visibly see the liquid gold beginning to stiffen as it cooled to room temperature while he was pouring it. After a few seconds of watching the glow dim, he chunked it out onto the table – already a solid brick. Then he set it into a trough of water and we “ahhhhh”ed when he pulled the brick back out… no longer glowing, but rather a solid shiny gold – only it was still steaming. Pretty cool! The whole experience reminded me of something I would have done in a middle school field trip, but I quite enjoyed myself.

Once I met back up with Britt, we drove north an hour or so to Lancelin. It’s a small town, but it’s well worth visiting for its massive sand dunes! Britt and I tested our impeccable athletic abilities sand boarding. I can’t emphasize enough just how steep those dunes were! Every step was like an avalanche, and it was a straight hike up in the soft sand… not the easiest task in the world. But the rewards were well worth the effort… every time!

the sand dunes from afar

the climb

view from below

We never really quite got the hang of how much (or little) wax to put on the board, but we had some good rides! The key was to find the steepest and straightest slope, flyyyy, then bail before you literally hit rock bottom. SO GOOD!

accomplished sand boarders

After Lancelin, we drove off into the sunset (literally) and reached our destination in Cervantes. We split a wonderful seafood dinner for 2 at the Country Club (more like a retirement home cafeteria), complete with rock lobster, chilli mussels (believe the hype), fried calamari, prawns, and a fillet of snapper each. Above all, we scored our own dorm room in the hostel.. sweet as!


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