Daydream Historic Mine
It’s a scenic drive along Silverton Road to the mine. Your experience here starts with the fun of dressing up in miners’ helmets, complete with lamps and battery belts. On entering the disused mine, your kids will be competing to find the first glimpse of silver. But as the guide leads you through eerie, tight tunnels of rock, you will all start to think more about the terrible life of the miners than the treasure. It’s sobering to learn that boys as young as eight worked here in the 1880s. Among the tools still lying around are the boxes these small boys had to fill with ore.
13 km off Silverton Rd, Apollyon Valley; (08) 8088 5682
■ The delicious Cornish cream teas available on site (the original miners were Cornish).
Mining was an extremely dangerous and unhealthy job. As you stand in the narrow darkness breathing the smell of earth, try to picture children being sent into freshly blasted tunnels, coughing and half blinded by dust, to heave up shattered rocks with their bare hands. Their first fear was mine collapse. Look at the huge tree trunks propping up the rocks and earth of the tunnels. If one of these props started to groan, the miners scrambled for their lives. And then there was the problem of dust in their lungs and eyes. Child miners often went blind, and by the age of 13 they were coughing up blood.
■ The underground tours are not for the claustrophobic – but you can also do above-ground tours (lower cost).