The Project Gutenberg eBook of Travels in Western Australia

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Title: Travels in Western Australia

Author: May Vivienne

Release date: October 19, 2022 [eBook #69184]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: William Heinemann, 1901

Credits: MWS and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)





Some Press Opinions of the First Edition

The Daily Chronicle: “This book is a pleasant and interesting one; it tells what somebody really saw and felt, not what somebody thought the proper thing to say. The average man will find May Vivienne a delightful and exhilarating guide to the still only half-understood pleasures and resources of Western Australia.”

The Empire Review: “It contains much first-hand information, clearly given, concerning the cities, goldfields, and agricultural districts of Western Australia. It is well illustrated, and will be found a most useful work of reference.”

The Financial Times: “Among the several books published dealing with Western Australia, we know of few, if any, which are at once so entertaining and so instructive as this volume. Any one who desires to obtain in a most pleasant way a good general knowledge of this distant colony could scarcely do better than purchase this book. As a mere record of travel, apart from its special interest as dealing with a gold-producing colony, it is well worth reading, and it contains a profusion of interesting illustrations.”

The Pall Mall Gazette: “Miss Vivienne knows her Westralia up and down; she takes us to farms and timber estates; she has visited the goldfields more than once, inspected all the chief mines, pegged a claim with her own hand, and pluckily traversed the pioneer fringe of civilisation. Her delightful journeys, which (with admirable illustrations) take us over the whole country, reveal its astounding promise, which has already largely become performance.”



John Forrest








First Edition, May 1901
Second Edition, January 1902

All rights reserved


He Masters whose Spirit Masters

P.C., K.C.M.G., G.C.M.G.

Steer thou with good strong hand and wary eye, oh Helmsman



Some readers may be disposed to question the accuracy of my statements regarding the mines, and the actual wealth in gold of the State. I can assure them that these statements are absolutely devoid of exaggeration, and capable of being easily verified.

This is true also of what is said respecting timber, fruits, and agricultural produce.

Finally, my hope in issuing this volume is that it may induce people not only to visit but to settle in Western Australia, and so share in the benefits offered by its prolific tracts.

M. V.



Albany—Sweet Boronia—Middleton Beach—Little Grove—Regatta—Buildings—Whaling—Old Colonists—Travelling Dairy—Splendid Vegetables—Wattle Farm—Porongurup—Land Regulations—King George’s Sound Pp. 1-14
Torbay—Denmark Timber Mills—Mount Barker—Katanning—Wagin—Narrogin—Beverly—York—Lovely Wildflowers Pp. 15-28
Perth—Public Buildings—Yacht Clubs—Government House—Recreation Ground—Lovely Perth Park—“Bond or Free” Pp. 29-40
Darling Quarries—Kalayamba Vineyard—Mr. Brookman—Lady Forrest—Cambria—Mayor of Perth—Mr. Hackett—Canning Park Races Pp. 41-46
The Museum—Flower Show—Musical—Native Risings—Zoo—South Perth—The Old Mill—Moonlight Pp. 49-69
Drive to Claremont—Osborne—Keane’s Point—The Chine—Cottesloe—The Ocean—North Fremantle—Arthur’s Head—Smelting Works—Our Contingent—Fremantle Pp. 70-83[x]
Rottnest—Steam to Rottnest—The Lovely River—Crawley Point—The Island—Boys’ Orphanage—Fremantle Harbour Pp. 84-89
Guildford—Henley Park—Hunting—Mundaring Weir—Sir John Forrest—Darling Nurseries—Kelmscott—Armadale—Jarrahdale—Whitby Falls—Mandurah—Yarloop Mills—Harvey—Collie Coalfields Pp. 90-105
Bunbury—Exploring Days—The Estuary—Early Times—Whaling—Native Murder—Mr. Layman—Retribution—Pasture Land—Robert Scott—Old Residents Pp. 106-117
Dardanup Park—Donnybrook—Bridgetown—The Grange—Dallgarrup—A Prodigious Prize—Greenbushes—Tinfield—The Great Forest Pp. 118-123
Busselton—Napoleon’s Grave—Cattle Chosen—“All aboard”—Karridale—Touring the Forest—King Karri—The Sand Patch Pp. 124-136
Deepdene Caves—Margaret Caves—A Welcome Lunch—Cape Leeuwin Pp. 137-147
Pretty Newcastle—Oranges!—New Norcia—Native Love—The Mission—Northam—The Grand Old Man—Ploughing Match—Oat Crop—The Show Pp. 148-158
Southern Cross—Early Discoveries of Gold—Heavy Tramps—Walking on Gold—Bayley’s Reward—Fabulous Finds—The Potato Ground—Bayley’s Death—The 90-Mile—The Treasure House—Great Boulder Find—The Londonderry Pp. 159-175[xi]
Coolgardie—The Camels are Coming—The Landlord’s Record—Meeting a Friend—A Goldfields Camp—“Nap”—The Reward Mine—Bonnie Vale—Londonderry—Nearly Lost—King Solomon’s Mine—Hampton Plains Pp. 176-195
The Golden Butterfly—Norseman—Gold Exhibits—Coolgardie—Alluvial Treasures Pp. 196-203
Kalgoorlie City—The Six Great Mines in the Golden Mile—Mr. Kaufman—Early Predictions Verified—Associated—Lake View Consols and Great Boulder Pp. 204-223
The Ivanhoe—The Famous Stope—Climbing the Ladders—Boulder Perseverance—The Rock Drill—Down 500 Feet in a Bucket—Blasting the Rock—British Westralia Syndicate—Mr. Frank Gardner and our own Zeb. Lane—Kalgoorlie Again—Wages on the Mines—Yield of the Goldfields Pp. 224-236
Kanowna—The Great Alluvial Rush—Big Nuggets—“The Joker”—Father Long’s Golden Sickle—Nobility Represented—Bulong Pp. 237-245
Broad Arrow—Menzies—Rich Mines—Lady Shenton—Luncheon in the Caverns of the Earth—Hon. H. J. Saunders—Welcome Tea and Cake—Native Murder—A Lost Prospector—Cake of Gold—Box-seat of the Coach—Mount Malcolm—Gold Escort—Windmills and Fresh Water Pp. 246-256
A New Field—Mertondale—Stupendous Richness—Gold, Gold Everywhere—A Lucky Prospector—Garden in the Bush—Murrin! Murrin!—A Welcome Surprise—Western Australian Mount Morgans—Golden Hills—Blackfellows on the Trail—The Lagoon Pp. 257-268[xii]
Laverton—Excitement among the Miners—Bachelors and Grass Widowers—More Souvenirs—Lucky Discoveries—Erlistoun—Lost—Eagle Nugget—Euro Mine—Hospitality in the Bush Pp. 269-279
Leonora—The Gwalia Mines—In a Gingerbeer Cart—More Nuggets—Gold Blocks—Pastoral Land—Swampers—Scarcity of the Fair Sex—Saturday Life—Alas, poor Prospectors! Pp. 280-291
Lawlers—Splendid Vegetables—Waiting for a Samaritan—Mount Sir Samuel—While the Billy boils—The Kangaroo—Lake Way—Across the Country—The “Back-blocks”—Camping Out—Arrival at Nannine—Bed Once More—Splendid Mines of the Murchison—Peak Hill—The Gold Patch—An Old Friend—A Hearty Welcome Pp. 292-312
Tuckanarra—The Lights of Cue—Surprising Vegetation—Sweet Flowers Again—High Wages—Splendid Meat—The Island—The Mirage—Jolly Faces—Mount Magnet—Donkeys—A Tasteful Camp—The Morning Star—Windsor Castle Pp. 313-324
Yalgoo—A Cold Welcome—Native Shepherds—Geraldton—Pearls—The Abrolhos—Dutch Navigators—Aborigines—Finis Pp. 325-344



The Right Hon. Sir John Forrest Frontispiece
Bird’s-eye View of Albany 1
The “Omrah” at Albany 1
A Part of Kendinup Station 5
Civilised Aborigines at Kendinup Station 11
The Residency, Albany 13
The Homestead, Kendinup Station 17
Hauling Logs at the Mills 19
Ready for Cross-cutting, Denmark Mills 23
York 25
Moirs’ Buildings 29
Swan River, Perth 29
Hay Street, Perth 31
Perth Railway Station 33
Melville Water 35
Perth Water 37
Mount Eliza and Swan River 43
St. George’s Terrace 47
City of Perth 53
Aboriginal Camp 55
Driving in Perth Park, at the Summit 59
Gathering Wildflowers 63
South Perth from the Banks of the Swan 67
Fremantle Pier 70
Freshwater Bay, Claremont 73
North Fremantle 77
High Street, Fremantle 81
Government House, Perth 87[xiv]
Hon. H. J. Saunders 91
Government Bore, near Mundaring 93
Lunatic Asylum, Western Australia 99
Paper Bark Tree 106
Lady Forrest 109
Bunbury 115
Blackwood River 118
Davies’ Karridale Timber Station 129
Felling the Giant Karri 132
The Sand Patch 133
Cave 139
Lighthouse 145
Newcastle 149
Avon River 157
Camel Water Train going to Coolgardie 159
Teams Returned to Southern Cross from Coolgardie 163
Bakery and Miners’ Camp, Southern Cross 166
Bayley’s Reward Mine—Underlay Shaft 169
Bayley Street, Coolgardie, 1897 176
Early Days, Coolgardie 177
Water Condenser—Filling the Water-bag 183
Burbanks Grand Junction Mine 187
Vale of Coolgardie Mine 188
Jubilee at Red Hill Mine 191
Golden Butterfly Nugget 196
The Main Shaft. Butterfly Leases 197
The Miners’ Holiday 201
Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, 1898 204
Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie 207
Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, Early Days 208
Great Boulder Mine and Offices from Lake View Consols 213
Overlooking the Great Boulder 215
Hannan’s Star Mine 217
The Ivanhoe Mine 219
Mr. Zebina Lane 221
Roll-up at the Boulder Perseverance Mine 226
Lane’s Shaft, Boulder Perseverance Mine 227
Mr. Frank L. Gardner 231
Hannan’s Public Crushing Company 233
Central Boulder Mines and Manager’s House 234[xv]
Saturday Afternoon at Kanowna 237
Deep Lead, Kanowna 240
Alluvial Diggings, Kanowna 243
Hill End Mine—Broad Arrow 246
Part of Lady Shenton Battery 248
Messrs. A. Forrest and J. Dunn on a Prospecting Tour 251
Merton’s Find, Mertondale 257
Mr. Alick Forrest Inspecting Dunn’s Shaft near Mount Morgans 261
Westralian Mount Morgans Mine 265
Mine at Laverton 269
Miners’ Camp, Laverton 273
Sons of Gwalia Mine, Mount Leonora 280
Camels at Diorite King 285
Auction Sale, Goldfields (Tin Hotel) 287
Off by Coach to Lawlers 292
Lake Way Gold Mine 293
Kangaroo 297
A Well near Lake Way 300
Lubra and Pickaninny 301
Dry-blowing in the Golden West 307
Mine at Cue 313
Inclined Shaft, Cue One Mine 315
Colonel North’s Expedition to Mount Magnet 319
Donkey Team, Mount Magnet 323
Marine Terrace, Geraldton 327
Four Generations of the Western Australian Native 334
Aborigines with Spears 338
Distant View of Fremantle 341


Bird’s-Eye View of Albany


Albany—Sweet Boronia—Middleton Beach—Little Grove—Regatta—Buildings—Whaling—Old Colonists—Travelling Dairy—Splendid Vegetables—Wattle Farm—Porongurup—Land Regulations—King George’s Sound.

The Omrah at Albany

Having travelled all over Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia (now United Australia), I one day made up my mind to set out for the land of gold, Western Australia, that has created such a furore in these last few years. Accordingly I took my passage from Sydney in the mail-steamer Omrah and, after a very charming voyage on board that splendid vessel, landed at Albany. It was a lovely day, and the first things that pleasantly greeted the passengers on stepping from the tug-boat to the wharf were various small boys with huge bunches of the exquisite-smelling[2] boronia, of which I had often heard. Pretty little Albany looked charming. The day was really perfect in its loveliness; the country round looked like an exquisite emerald robe fringed with pearl and sapphire, the grand blue mountains in the distance, the opal sea, with its white-winged yachts and various sailing vessels lying at anchor in beautiful Princess Royal Harbour; the blue sky above, with here and there a tiny white cloud like a dove carrying a message to heaven; the matchless wild flowers springing around in profusion, and the scent of the sweet boronia wafting on the breeze from the gullies, where it grows in such luxuriance that one wonders no scent farm has been started to distil the exquisite perfume, made the drive taken by most of us before lunch most delightful. The peacefulness of this charming place was broken only by the arrival of the great steamers, with their crowds of passengers, who always went ashore for an hour or so, some of them to take the train en route to Perth, Fremantle, or the goldfields; the others, after driving, lunching, or dining, as time will allow, at the Freemasons’ Hotel (where I put up for a week), returning to the steamer to continue their passage “home,” as all we Australians call dear mother England.

After an excellent lunch at the above-named hotel we set out to view the surroundings of Albany.

On that day everything really looked so beautiful that one might believe Nature to have put on her most attractive garb for us, as if to say, “Why go from here?” Driving round the Marine Drive to Middleton Beach, we thought nothing could be lovelier than the view to which no attraction seemed wanting. The calm and stillness were broken only by a few other tourists, also feasting their eyes on this scene of beauty. It is a five-mile drive to Middleton Beach. The beach forms a circle of some three miles. Mount Clarence is in the background; in front is the land-locked Princess Royal Harbour, with its narrow gateway for the passage of ships; tiny bays surround it, and the picturesque islands look like so many lions guarding the portal. This is a favourite place for picnics; family parties are[3] often here in numbers; the water is so limpid and shallow that children can dabble about to their hearts’ content; the sand is beautifully white and firm, and many little spades and buckets are employed in making sandhouses. Afternoon tea-parties are also quite an institution; it is considered quite “the thing” to bring a party of friends to tea, and, if you do not wish to have it al fresco, there is the pretty Esplanade Hotel, where everything, from afternoon teas to wedding breakfasts, is served up in most excellent fashion.

Another beauteous spot near Albany is Little Grove. The day I went the steamer was full, it being a holiday. Launches were plying from jetty to jetty, taking parties of picnickers to the pretty shady groves. A regatta was also being held, and many people were watching it. It was a pretty sight to see the contest of the boats as they sailed merrily round the lovely bay. The weather was exquisite, but a strong breeze was blowing; good seamanship was called into play in the sailing of the yachts and robust muscular exertion in the rowing events. Albany may well be called the sanatorium of the colony. The air is so invigorating that, after being there only a few days, one feels almost a new being. Any one suffering from brain fag or exhaustion cannot do better than go to Albany for a holiday. One need only look at the faces of the children, see their healthy looks, bright eyes and general activity, to know that they have been born and brought up amongst healthy surroundings. One feature of the children is their beautiful hair; many possess such luxuriant tresses that one feels inclined to envy the lovely colour and beauty of them, and to wish one also had been born in Albany.

The town possesses some very good buildings, and, although not of very large extent, is well laid out. It lies between the Mounts Clarence and Melville, and the many dwellings on the hillsides give it a most quaint and charming appearance. The principal places are the Town Hall, Post Office, Customs House Office, and large sheds, also some fine stores. There are still some very old structures standing, for Albany is an old town, Princess[4] Royal Harbour having been called after the daughter of King George of England. The old-fashioned church of St. John has been beautified by the hand of time and adorned with a mantle of ivy green. Many stone cottages show the primitive way of building that prevailed in 1836. The gaol, built about that year, and in much the same style, still exists, but the stocks then in use have almost disappeared. A very old woman to whom I was speaking told me she remembered three women at a time being put into them. Other evidences of days gone by are immense heaps of bleached whalebones lying about in some parts. Albany was once a fishing village frequented by traders of all countries, who did a large trade in whale-oil, seals, &c., and exchanged for these things not only coin but also potatoes and fruit. There were evidently stirring times in Albany in those early days, and it was not an uncommon thing to see nine whales at a time disporting themselves in the harbour. The huge mail-steamers must have frightened them all away, for a whale is now a rare visitor. I spent a pleasant hour at the house of Mr. J. McKenzie, which in the ’fifties was the only hotel in Albany, and was known as The Thistle. It was also the general concert-hall and theatre. There were no theatrical companies in Western Australia in those days, and the small community used to get up its own entertainments without aid from outside. Among the relics cherished by Mr. McKenzie is the speaking-trumpet used by his father, a master mariner, an imposing-looking instrument of brass, something like a cornet. A magnificent double-pearl shell, with five or six lovely pearls embedded in its sides, must be of great value.

One of the most prominent early colonists was Captain John Hassell, who, after calling two or three times in his brig the Belinda, being wrecked, and undergoing many hardships, was still so much attracted by the splendid locality that he resolved to settle here, took another trip to Sydney, N.S.W., and returned with his family in 1838, bringing with him 700 sheep, 12 horses, 20 head of cattle, poultry, 15 men, also rations for twelve months. Captain Hassell went first to[7] Strawberry Hill and afterwards to Kendinup Station, where a fine mansion stands, which now belongs to his son, John Hassell. It comprises 41,144 acres of freehold and 122,000 acres of leasehold property; the area is 225 square miles, and there are 320 miles of fencing on it. 6000 sheep are on the run, and one magnificent flock of imported sheep cost Mr. Hassell £4000. The samples of wool I saw from this station are really splendid. There is a plentiful supply of water, one well being 80 feet deep, and nearly always full. There are 30 civilised natives on the station, photographs of five of whom are here given.




Albany has been connected with the capital by rail since 1886; previous to that time the overland journey of more than 300 miles was made by mail-coach or private conveyance over a very lonely road. The first railway here was negotiated by the late Mr. Anthony Hordern, of Sydney, N.S.W., and constructed under the land-grant system by a company of which he was director-chairman. Mr. Hordern took up large grants of land near Albany, having a high opinion of its agricultural possibilities. He had also large schemes for the future of the south-west part of the colony, and intended to build agricultural colleges to teach people how to use the splendid soil to advantage. Unfortunately Mr. Hordern did not live to complete the schemes; he died at sea, and a splendid monument to his memory tops the incline of the principal street in Albany. The late Premier, Sir John Forrest, said he remembered taking a journey from Albany to Perth in 1880, when the coach broke down at a distance of some 40 or 50 miles from the town, and it was necessary to get a team and travel by it another 40 or 50 miles; also many other difficulties were encountered before arriving at Perth, and the journey took a week. My own experiences when I visited this colony in 1882 were worse than the Premier’s. I landed in Albany with a party of four others; we hired two conveyances and four horses, paying £50 for them, provisioned for ten days, and set off through the sand and bush. As it took us sixteen days to perform the[8] journey, as very little food could be obtained anywhere, and as we arrived at our journey’s end with only two horses, the other two having died on the way, the pleasures of that expedition can better be imagined than described.

The garden lands which lie in the valleys close to the town are being largely cultivated, and selectors from England and elsewhere are frequently arriving with the intention of taking up selections, and undertaking dairy farming and market gardening. The new travelling dairy instituted by the Government will be a great boon; it will have all the latest appliances, and the plant will be erected in places where the people have not facilities for making butter, &c., and persons who do not understand the process can be instructed. The yield from this district is one ton of hay, or fifteen bushels of wheat, per acre. This quantity has been exceeded at Toobrunup Lake, where the yield was twenty bushels per acre. Further proof of the fertility of the soil is given by the fact that cabbages grown at Mr. Horton’s selection weighed from 20 to 30 lb., and grew to maturity in thirteen weeks. Forty-two tons of cabbage came off three acres of land last year, and brought £10 per ton. Potatoes from the farm at Strawberry Hill, cultivated 60 years ago by Sir R. Spencer, weigh over a pound each, so that at dinner you are not asked to take potatoes but a part of one. These potatoes are really stupendous; one that I had in my hand I measured, and found it to be nearly a foot long, and wide in proportion! Seventy tons of these gigantic tubers, grown without the aid of any fertilisers, were taken from nine acres. Turnips flourish in the same way and grow to the weight of 3 and 5 lb. It is not “some pumpkins,” as they say in America, but “some turnips,” as they say in Australia. Onions also grow to an immense size, often weighing over 6 lb. each.

Albany and its surroundings are really as near perfection as it is possible for any place to be. It has a heavenly summer climate, the coolest in Australia. A day is considered hot if the mercury rises above 80°. During the week of the terrible[9] heat-wave, when in other parts of the colony the temperature was from 110° to 115°, the record heat here was 95°. There are never by any chance hot winds. The grass is always green and flowers are always blooming. With its miles of harbour frontage, its lovely valleys nestling at the foot of its grand hills, its beautiful river, and the natural drainage which keeps the little town always clean and healthy, no wonder it should be regarded as the very choicest of health resorts. The rainfall is abundant, and the district seldom suffers from frost. The winters are very mild, snow has only been known to fall two or three times, and then was so novel a sight as to excite wonder in all the native-born Albanians. Last winter, however, Mr. Knight, of Wattle Farm, carted into town a huge snowball that had been rolled on his farm in the Porongurup ranges, which then were covered with snow, and afforded the grandest spectacle ever seen here. At Mr. Knight’s farm and orchard some magnificent fruit is grown, the apples being sometimes over a pound in weight. I shall never forget the lovely sight of that orchard. It is on an elevation of 1200 feet above the sea-level, and commands a view of the rich and fertile valleys around. The soil is of a rich deep chocolate colour, and the country is stated by experts to be volcanic.


Besides being endowed with beauty and richness of soil, Albany is likely to become famous as a coal- and gold-producing district, for coal has recently been found, and a company which will make further researches formed. Timber also is abundant, and copper has recently been found at the Phillips River, about 180 miles away. Thousands of people who have gone direct to the goldfields have no idea of the beauty of this place. They only think of Western Australia as a place in which, to look for gold, and when that has been obtained in sufficiency, to be left behind as quickly as possible. Tinned fruits, meat and vegetables have until recently been the staple food of dwellers in the goldfields; but, as population increases and fertile lands are taken up and cultivated, a sufficiency of fresh fruits for all requirements will probably be produced before long.




The land regulations of Western Australia are so favourable to the colonist that, if well known in England and upon the continent of Europe, they would probably attract many families of the vine-growing, artisan, and small capitalist classes. Any person over the age of eighteen, who is the head of a family, can take up an area of 160 acres of land for a free or homestead farm. A deposit of £1 is required as a guarantee of bona fides. The applicant must live on the land for six months of each year, and within two years must spend £30 in clearing or cropping, or put down two acres of garden, orchard or vineyard; within five years, one quarter of the selection must be fenced and one-eighth cropped; within seven years the whole area must be fenced, and one quarter cultivated. The selector then becomes entitled to his certificate of title, after having paid for it and the cost of survey. Direct purchase can be made, if desired, of from 100 to 5000 acres. The land is valued at 10s. per acre, of which 10 per cent. is payable on application and the balance by four quarterly instalments. Applicants must fence in the course of three years and spend 5s. per acre within seven years, and then can acquire their certificates of title. Grazing farms can be taken up at a rental of 2½d. per acre. Pastoral leases, or grass rights for grazing purposes, can be got for the nominal rental of 2s. 6d. per 1000 acres per annum and upwards. Garden lots, from 5 up to 50 acres, can be obtained. In this case the land is valued at 20s. per acre, and the plot must be fenced within three years, one-tenth to be put under cultivation as a bona fide garden. The terms are 10 per cent. deposit on application and the balance in six half-yearly instalments. In addition to all this, the Government have done yet more to induce land settlements by offering assistance from the Agricultural Bank, created by the late Premier, Sir John Forrest, for the benefit of all who desire to make a home in Western Australia. This bank will lend money on freeholds at conditional purchase (already fenced) to the amount of £800. An application fee of 1 per cent. on the loan is demanded, and this amount covers cost of[13] inspection and mortgage. The amount lent is repayable by the borrower in thirty years; for the first five years the interest is payable half-yearly. At the sixth year a sinking fund of 4 per cent. commences, and continues until the end of the thirty years, when the debt is wiped out. There are Government land agents in nearly every agricultural town of the colony, and a would-be selector arriving and communicating with the Government agent receives all the assistance he wishes in making his selection. The present population of Albany is about 3500.

The Residency, Albany

A fine Quarantine Station has lately been built at a cost of £10,000. The forts are very interesting. No doubt, in the future Albany will become an important Naval station. An Imperial Officer of the Royal Artillery is in command, there is a small garrison, and some murderous-looking guns are in readiness to give a warm reception to any enemy who may appear. Before leaving Albany I accepted an invitation to take a trip out into the Sound. This was named by Vancouver, in 1791, King George’s Sound, after the then reigning sovereign of England. It is sheltered by magnificent granite rocks or headlands, and the anchorage is perfect, for the islands of Breaksea, Michaelmas, and Haul Off Rock—an immense block of stone, almost like a mediæval fortress—break the ocean swell. The beauties of King George’s Sound have been well known since the first navigators sought refuge in its quiet waters, and its maritime value can never cease.


I said “Good-bye” with much regret to the many friends made during my short stay in this little town, where even the Railway Reserve is a perfect garden of Arum lilies. These peerless flowers seem to grow wild, and their stately heads are to be seen everywhere. The scent of the boronia is wafted on the breeze from afar; you hear the merry laughter of boating-parties and of children who come along with their hands full of gorgeous wild flowers. One of the townsfolk brought me a lovely collection of orchids, of which there are many varieties to be found hereabout; another friend brought me a collection of Western Australia curiosities, shells, corals, &c.; indeed I was overwhelmed with kindness by the warm-hearted people, and could not but be sorry to leave a place where I had been received with so much kindness.


A Chopping Contest.


Torbay—Denmark Timber Mills—Mount Barker—Katanning—Wagin—Narrogin—Beverly—York—Lovely Wildflowers.

Leaving Albany under more auspicious circumstances this time than when I had left it by road, I took my seat in the train, my destination being Denmark Mills, where I went to see a great timber station and Jarrah Forest. On arrival at Torbay Junction, 9 miles from Albany, I left the mail train and took the timber train, as the company, who own the Denmark Timber Mills, have a private line running to that place; once seated I was soon carried into the timber country. We passed through country covered with boronia and other sweet flowers, and with Sheoak, Karri, and Jarrah trees. We crossed the Hay river and came to Denmark Mill and township. We were now in the thick of the Karri country, covered with immense trees. The site of the township, covering 150 acres, has, of course, been cleared, and there are many comfortable wooden and slab cottages with nice gardens attached, giving a[16] plentiful supply of fruit and vegetables; as well as a good store, where everything appertaining to housekeeping can be obtained. No liquor is allowed to be sold at the mill on account of the dangerous nature of the occupation, consequently this is a model township. There are several coffee-houses, and, in spite of their enforced sobriety, the men seem to be very jolly and happy. An enormous stack of timber was ready to be shipped to Colombo, and the men were at work cutting more, as the enormous demand for Western Australian wood keeps the workmen busy night and day, working in relays. The line train wound round the hills in picturesque fashion, until we came to a valley which looked more picturesque still, but rather dangerous to cross in a timber-train. Here the flying fox or aerial tram is used to bridge the steep part and to carry small timber. I was glad I did not venture down into the valley, for I was afterwards told that it was not an infrequent occurrence for the timber-trucks, and occasionally the engine also, to leave the line, and as the trucks are of the roughest description, consisting merely of four wheels and a platform, and are loaded with immense logs, the passenger can only travel on the engine, or on the “dummy,” which is a special truck placed immediately behind the engine to keep it from being damaged in case some huge log, weighing perhaps 20 tons, should slide forward in the course of a descent. It is difficult to give an idea of the size of the gigantic Karri-trees here. One which I saw was quite hollow, and a bullock team drove right through it with perfect ease. In returning to the town I saw another large quantity of battens or pickets waiting to be shipped for London to fence two large cemeteries. Enormous fires are always burning in the town to consume the great heaps of waste from the mills. A pile, about 120 feet high, was waiting to be burned, and it did seem a pity that good wood should be reduced to ashes merely to get it out of the way. A scheme for shipping the refuse of the mills to America for conversion into paper has lately been mooted.




Hauling Logs at the Mills


The Karri-trees, grow to a height of 300 feet, with a circumference of from 20 to 30 feet. From one Karri-tree alone 100 tons of timber have been cut. Karri is also called Eucalyptus collossea or diversicolor, the latter name denoting the difference between its leaves and those of other eucalypti. The timber is impervious to damp. I was shown a block cut from a log that had been buried forty-six years in moist earth, and it was perfectly sound. For mining, harbour works, railways and street-paving the wood is unequalled, and is now greatly used in different parts of London, notably in paving Charing Cross, where traffic goes on at the rate of 402 omnibuses every hour; and in Paris the Rue Lafayette and Rue Château d’Eau are also paved with our famous Australian woods. This particular wood is preferred for street-paving because it is safer for horse traffic than other kinds; observations taken by Colonel Hayward, late City Engineer of London, have shown that horses might be expected to travel over 446 miles of Karri road without accident. On Westminster Bridge, London (south side), the Jarrah paving has lasted for seven years. This wood is also being used all over the world for jetty piles; some enormous ones, 90 feet in length, were waiting at the train-shed to go to Albany, where thirty vessels are under charter to take the timber away to South Africa, South[20] America, India, &c. There is another very large karri district which I mean to visit; I must not therefore exhaust all I have to say about karri timber here, but pass on, leaving behind Denmark Mill with its 20,000 acres of forest, where the manager told me over two million loads of timber were waiting to be cut down. Mr. Millar also owns very large jarrah forests, the Wagerup of 35,000 acres, and the Mornington, 55,000 acres, and employs upon them a very large staff of workmen.

Returning next day to Torbay Junction, I caught the mail-train and continued my travels, passing thousands of acres of land waiting for selectors. Stopping at Mount Barker, 28 miles from Torbay, I visited the homestead of Mr. Somnes, the land around which was first cultivated over 40 years ago by Mr. Somnes, senior, now 90 years of age, and many of the fruit-trees, though planted so long ago, are still bearing good crops of fruit. Over 55 acres of fruit-trees of different kinds, bearing lovely fruit, testify to the excellence of the soil. Two thousand apple-trees seem to be specially prolific. In another part of the Mount Barker district, Mr. Miller’s estate, comprising more than 5000 acres, has a fine orchard of over 6000 fruit-trees of all descriptions. Two other orchards, not quite so large but with much exquisite fruit, are not far off, and the old homestead of St. Werbergs, where the late Colonel Warburton resided, is a place of much interest. In addition to fruit, the necessary potato and onion are being cultivated, and in some cases yield very largely per acre. It was my intention to stay at Katanning, as I wished to see the much-talked-of orchard and vineyard of the Hon. F. H. Piesse.

It being night when I arrived, I could not see what the place was like, but in the morning light I found it a most charming little village. A great deal of land has recently been taken up by selectors; during last year over 1500 applications were made for homesteads and farms on conditional purchase, and many more for pastoral leases and town and suburban lots. The[21] harvest returns here are very satisfactory, 15 bushels of wheat to the acre being the average. Many farmers are coming over from the other colonies to select land for farms, as well as people from England and other countries. The Katanning area contains 100,000 acres, so there is plenty of room for many farms and orchards. Assisted passages are granted from England to intending farmers and agriculturists and their families, also to single women and widows. They can come to this colony by only paying £8 5s. towards their passages. These people must, however, be approved by the Agent-General, Hon. Henry Bruce Lefroy, in London (15 Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.), from whose clerks intending passengers can get any necessary information by writing to ask for it. On arrival in Western Australia the new-comer will be afforded every assistance by the Government land-agents who are stationed in the principal towns.

The orchards and vineyards of Mr. Piesse are really wonderful. There are 65 acres of fruit-trees, bearing all kinds of fruit of exquisite flavour, some of the pears weighing over 2 lb. each, and the peaches, apricots, and apples of equal size and beauty. The apples grown here are famed for their size, sweetness, and flavour.

There were acres and acres of vines loaded with large and luscious grapes, the purple ones, with their lovely bloom, offering a picture to the eye as well as refreshment to the palate. The cost of clearing land in this district is only from 35s. to £3 per acre, so that any one with small capital could soon have an orchard or farm of their own. The day is evidently not far distant when Western Australia will not only produce sufficient for all her own requirements, but, being nearer the European markets by several days’ journey than the other colonies, will be able to supply the markets of the outside world with her fruits, especially grapes, the soil in some parts being particularly suitable for vine culture. Her goldfields may in time be exhausted, her forests may be converted into timber, but the soil will always remain and vines[22] will always grow as long as the sun shines to mature the grapes for wine to make glad the heart of man. Almond-trees also grow wonderfully well, and tons of almonds are sent every year from Katanning to different parts of the colonies.

One very great feature connected with fruit farming in Western Australia is that there are no fruit pests in the colony, no phylloxera, no codlin moth, and no nasty little fruit-fly to spoil the growth of things. Every care is taken that nothing of the kind shall be brought here from other places, all fruit being rigorously examined by experts before being passed by the Customs.

Seated behind a fast pair of Australian brumbys—(these horses, called by the natives Warrigals, are very hardy animals, and are well known to go longer distances without nourishment of any sort than any others of their kind; when proper food is unobtainable, they can subsist on the driest of spinifex grass, or scrub, and what would kill other horses does not seem materially to injure them)—I had a lovely drive over Mr. Piesse’s properties. One splendid field of wheat, 300 acres in extent, was a great sight. As far as the eye could reach this field, with its magnificent crop, waved before the breeze. We had passed the orchard with its acres of fruit-trees bending beneath the weight of fruit. Then we came to the vines with their rich and luscious grapes, then—a complete and charming change of scene—to the cornfield. On the far side of the field two waggons, each drawn by nine horses and laden with a tremendous load of produce of the glorious earth, were wending their way to the mill, which was seen in the distance on the other side. A forest of trees, white gum, York gum, and raspberry wood, sent a subtle perfume through the air. Opening a large white double gate (one of many), we drove right through the pretty cornfield, and one could imagine the feelings of Bobby Burns when he wrote his exquisite poem, “When the corn is waving, Annie dear.” Returning on the other side of the field, a pretty view is seen of the village of Katanning bathed in the golden sunlight.


We passed the model farm of Mr. Stanbury and came to Mr. Piesse’s splendid and most interesting mill: all the very newest machinery for turning the ripe corn into flour is here. I thought of our ancestors crushing wheat between stones, and watched the beautiful white stuff coming down the huge cylinders, automatically filling the corn sacks and coming to a dead stop when full, with no assistance from the human hand, while the man who had placed the sack on the cylinder stood by sewing up with twine the last one filled. The click came to notify that a bag was full; it was taken off, and another put on to go through the same process. Tons of refuse from the wheat were being thrown out, and on my asking what was done with it, Mr. Piesse said that it was given to the pigs. This splendid mill was built in 1891, but, in consequence of the rush to goldfields which broke out in 1893, lay idle for nearly two years, all the produce being wanted for chaff, which could not be cut quick enough for the demand.

A great deal of land-clearing is going on in the different selections, and it is interesting to see the forest devil or tree-puller at work. This operates by means of a chain placed round the tree and a lever worked by a man; in about 15 minutes a great tree will come up root and branch, and fall never to rise again.

Ready for Cross-cutting, Denmark Mills

Resuming my journey next morning, I once more sped on by train through the flower-scented country, passing Wagin, Narrogin, famous for oranges; Pingelly, and Beverley (all rich agricultural country). Here we partook of a very good repast, this being the place where many Perth passengers break the journey when going to Albany, or vice versâ; then, after a further run of 20 miles, we stopped at the pretty little town of York, on the banks of the Avon river. It nestles in a valley[24] almost surrounded by green hills, and as I walked across the bridge, built of jarrah-wood, that spans the pretty river, I thought I had never seen a more pastoral or a prettier place. The town is in two parts, one each side of the Avon, which is crossed by three bridges. The pale yellow fields of corn, the pretty houses on the hillsides, the beautiful cattle grazing, and the fruit growing in profusion in the various gardens and orchards, make a charming picture. Quantities of sandal-wood grow close to the town, and constitute a valuable industry; the jam-wood also thrives well, and the scent of it makes one imagine oneself in the vicinity of a raspberry-jam factory. The headquarters of Parker’s Eucalyptus Distillery are here. The distillery is at Dangin, about 40 miles off, where the beautiful fruits that grow at York are preserved by the same firm, and are quite tempting to look at and exquisite to taste. Farming is very advanced in York. I was shown some wheat from a farm, a portion of a crop that yielded 32 bushels per acre. The farmers employ the very latest improvements in machinery, and say that, though expensive at first, they find these cheaper in the end, the expense of working the land being greatly reduced by using the newest strippers, &c. It speaks well for the productive capacity of the district that 24,000 bushels of splendid wheat were waiting, at the Empire Milling Company’s storehouse, to be turned into flour.

Driving from York to Greenhills, through the Avon valley, I passed Mr. Jesse Scott’s magnificent farm. Imagine a cornfield, or, I should say, a succession of cornfields, of 450 acres, on some parts of which the oats had attained the height of 7 feet. These portions of the fields would yield 60 bushels to the acre, and the whole 450 acres would average 35 bushels per acre. It was, indeed, a magnificent sight. On other parts of Mr. Scott’s property rye, buffalo, and prairie grass were making great progress, while 12 acres were planted with vines.




The tanning industry is well represented. I saw splendid samples of plain and fancy leather when visiting Mr. Hay’s factory; one enormous side weighed 39 pounds, kangaroo[27] skins are also tanned and make a beautiful shiny leather. Kangaroo meat is eaten here, although beef and mutton are plentiful. Many people seem to prefer “Roo” steak. I confess I was rather surprised at breakfast to hear the waiter, in reading the menu, mention the latter dish. I did not test it, but at dinner tried kangaroo-tail soup, and found it really excellent. The much-esteemed Roman Catholic priest, Father Gibney, brother of Bishop Gibney, lives in York, and also has a pretty little place (which is his hobby) called Springfield, about three miles out. The Rev. Father has hundreds of fruit-trees of different kinds, and quite an orangery. I brought away several branches with eight or nine oranges on each as mementoes of my very pleasant visit. There are some good buildings, a fine Post Office, Mechanics’ Institute, Court-house, and some handsome churches, as well as many good shops. York is one of the oldest Western Australian towns, and enjoys the distinction of being the place where the first official execution took place in 1840. The wife of a settler, Mrs. Cook, and her infant, were murdered by aborigines during the absence of her husband. The murderers escaped into the Bush, and were only brought to justice through a tribal quarrel which resulted in some natives betraying them. They were conveyed to the scene of their crime and hanged in chains, in the presence of a large gathering of natives. Up to this time there was an impression amongst the natives that an absence in the bush, long or short, absolved them from punishment. This execution dispelled any idea of that kind which they may have entertained, and taught them a wholesome lesson.

A very well-known person in early times was called the Duke of York. He used to go between Perth and York in a little cart carrying goods, not least of which was a keg of rum, the virtues of which would have been even more warmly appreciated if the old fellow had left it in its natural state, and not mixed so much aqua pura with it. His descendants have risen in the world, and in place of the keg of rum of their ancestor have now bonded stores of large extent.


On leaving York en route for Perth the train journey was rendered delightful by the beautiful carpet of wild and many-coloured flowers on each side of the line. As the train sped past the idea struck me that these flowers—lovely immortelles, white, pink, and yellow, growing in countless millions—could be turned to good account. Conversing with a Westralian (white) native in the train, I find such a thing had never been thought of, and what could be made a source of wealth by some energetic people seems here hardly to be noticed. Thousands of crosses, wreaths, anchors, screens, fans, and other decorations could be made of these flowers, and would, I am sure, command a ready sale on the Continent, especially in France, where there is such a love of flowers for ceremonial purposes. At present, like the boronia, which usually seems to waste its sweetness on the desert air, they appear to be not much admired, except by people travelling through the country, who cannot fail to be impressed, like myself, by their beauty. For perfumery purposes, the little coffee-coloured boronia must have a great future before it, as well as the lovely immortelles. My friend in the train said, “I don’t think they are much good.” He put me in mind of the soldier, a good many years ago, who, on the defeat of Parses the Persian, found a bag of shining leather filled with pearls. Not knowing their value, he threw them away, but kept the leather bag, saying, “What was of no use could be of no value.”


Moirs’ Buildings


Perth—Public Buildings—Yacht Clubs—Government House—Recreation Ground—Lovely Perth Park—“Bond or Free.”

And now for Perth, the capital city of the Golden West. As I remember it on my last arrival, after my memorable journey across the sand plains, it was a very sleepy little town. Now it is a handsome and prosperous city, with noble buildings on all sides, electric light, tramcars, beautiful parks around it, and yachts dancing on the broad waters of the Swan river. Perth is beautifully situated, and one cannot fail to be charmed with its picturesque and lovely surroundings.

Swan River, Perth

Perth on a Spring day presents a charming and animated picture. Boats and steamers ply across Perth Water to and from South Perth on the other shore, while[30] black swans, which are to be seen in hundreds, are much admired by the many visitors. The pretty villas, shrubberies and trees, the old mill at the Point, and Mount Eliza lifting above everything its smiling face perfectly ablaze with gorgeous wild flowers of every colour, all help to give charm to the scene. St. George’s Terrace, the principal fashionable street, is nearly two miles in length and planted with shady trees. The Council have also lately had lemon-trees put in, with the idea, I suppose, of presently raising a crop of lemons. The golden fruit growing along the street will be something novel, but not, perhaps, financially profitable, since in the hot summer time it will offer rather a temptation to small boys who may have a leaning towards lemon squash. Russell Square will, in course of time, be as fine a public ground as any in Western Australia. A great day of tree-planting recently occurred there. Mr. Randall, Minister of Education, and the Mayor of Perth, assisted by some of the city fathers, planted the first trees: the rest were set by the school children, who had been invited to attend. Many beautiful Westralian, tropical, and sub-tropical trees will in future throw their grateful shade over this fine square.




Many handsome public buildings have lately been erected in Perth: Moirs’ Buildings, Prince’s Buildings, the Bank of New South Wales, De Baun’s Hotel, the Esplanade Hotel, and the new Public Works Offices would do credit to any city in the world. The Town Hall, which, although an imposing-looking building, is old, will shortly be removed, the Government having been offered a very large sum for the site, which is one of the most important in Perth, and very valuable. A new Town Hall will, accordingly, rise in some quieter part of the city. The Post Office is a fine building in the French Renaissance style. Then there are the Mines Department Offices, the Mechanics’ Institute, with its large hall for entertainments, and St. George’s Hall; Cremorne Gardens, where in the hot weather people take their amusements in the open air while smoking and otherwise refreshing themselves; there is a[33] fine theatre in Hay Street, and another will shortly be erected in Barrack Street; across the bridge we come to the Victoria Public Library, a splendid stone building recently built, with an excellent library of 28,000 books and pamphlets. The Museum adjoins it, and contains valuable specimens of all the minerals of the colony, as well as biological and botanical samples. The Railway Station and Offices form a fine block of buildings, and an overhead railway is shortly to be started. There are some very large churches, Trinity Church, St. George’s Cathedral, and Wesley Church, in connection with which the new Queen’s Hall and the fine block of buildings adjoining it have been erected. The Roman Catholic Cathedral, an imposing structure on the hill overlooking the city, has on Sundays a very large congregation. The Bishop’s Palace and Convent are near it. Not far off is the Hospital, which is a credit to Perth, not only on account of the arrangements, which are excellent, but on account of the kindness, skilfulness, and attention received by the patients. It is most highly spoken of by all who have ever been its inmates. The Royal Mint is a new and handsome building, recently opened and Western Australia can now coin its own gold into sovereigns, instead of sending it to Melbourne, as was formerly done.

Perth Railway Station

Perth, having such a broad river, has also several very fine yachts and rowing clubs. The Swan River Rowing Club is one of the oldest institutions, and has not only a splendid new boathouse, whose accommodation and appointments excel those of any other on this side of the continent, but also the newest racing-skiffs procurable and handsome sailing-boats. The[34] Club also has splendid gymnastic appliances, of which the members avail themselves largely. The Club’s rowing prowess has earned the distinction of being “at the head of the river.” The Royal Perth Yacht Club also has a spacious club-house by the riverside, and the many white-winged yachts that form the flotilla are a pretty sight when sailing on the broad bosom of the Swan.

Government House is a very handsome residence, its towers and colonnade giving it a most picturesque appearance, and the grounds, though small, are very beautiful; they slope gently down to the river by a series of terraces, and contain many rare plants and shrubs.

The Recreation Ground is quite close to the city. It is well laid out, and on holiday afternoons the cricket and football clubs indulge in their favourite sport, under the sunny skies and genial air that render open-air existence so delightful in Perth. A mimic fleet moored in the river faces the ground. This fleet belongs to the Royal Perth Yacht Club, whose club-boathouse is here. At the upper part is the bowling-green, where the gentlemen of Perth who have passed their first youth take their favourite exercise. Many ladies are to be found there on a fine afternoon, for the club members are very gallant and always have nice afternoon tea and its accessories for their lady visitors. The Cricket Association possess a very fine ground, covering fourteen acres, at the other end of the town, near the Causeway.

Melville Water

It is only recently, since Western Australia has made such remarkable strides, that the now lovely Perth Park has been appreciated. A few years ago it was nothing but wild bush, and though, of course, the view was just as good as it is now, few people ever cared to toil up the sandhills to the top of the Mount in order to see it. You can now go by tram, and a transformation has taken place. The park is surrounded by a fence, and has been laid out in paths and gardens, while pretty summer-houses have been built; it is five miles in circumference, and on the west side are numerous villas, gardens, and good roads.[35] The observatory, near the entrance gate, forms an imposing landmark. Standing at this point a magnificent panorama is spread before you. The city of Perth lies at your feet, while far away in the distance the noble Swan river winds its way to Fremantle and Guildford. You feel as if you are almost up in the clouds looking down at the lovely scene of the earth beneath. Going along the broad drive you come to the highest pavilion on the summit of the Mount. Perth Water, with the boat-sheds and their many boats and yachts, and little steamers plying across to South Perth, lies like a jewel below. At the foot of the Mount are situated the Infirm Old Men’s Depôt and the splendid Swan Brewery. The road continues on, and we soon begin to go down the incline, where another still finer view looms in the distance. Crawley Park and the residence of Sir George Shenton are at the foot, the point standing sharply out of the blue water. Across the river is Melville Park. The scene is so exquisite that one cannot bear to go on, but must pull up the horse and stop for a few minutes, that the mind may drink in the sight. I have seen many beautiful places in the other colonies, and in New Zealand; but the view from Mount Eliza on[36] a spring morning in the season of blossom, when every wild bush is ablaze with flowers, is a sight never to be forgotten. I felt I must stay for a while and gather some of the beautiful and quaint wildflowers, which are far more varied than any I had ever before seen. I found afterwards that by doing so I had transgressed the law, but, being a stranger, hope for forgiveness. Besides the flowers that grow in native profusion, many species have been transplanted from other parts of the colony. Young eucalyptus and tica folia, trees which are indigenous to the Albany district, and bear a handsome scarlet flower, have been planted on both sides of the road, and will in time form an avenue.

Many kinds of trees and flowers abound, the callistemon, with its brilliant scarlet plumes; the petrophila, with its exquisite velvety softness; banksias, honeysuckles, verticordias, with their lemon-centred foliage; the beautiful snowflake flower; the sweet-smelling, rich yellow hibbertia; the pretty blue gardenia, the lovely lilac hibiscus, or native tulip, fringed lilies, satin flowers, and others too numerous to particularise, form a picture so strikingly beautiful that I shall never forget the magnificent scene of green hills and flowery dales, country and town, blue sky and opal water, stretching far and wide. Terraces have been formed, and paths wind their way down the hill to the lower road. Here and there are rustic seats, where visitors can rest and enjoy the splendid view, and there are, of course, tea-houses, where you can enjoy the cup that cheers, or regale yourself with other refreshments. Rockwork, grass plots, and all kind of flowering plants add to the natural beauty of the spot. From the highest pavilion a really superb view of the city and surrounding country is seen on all sides. Steamboats are going merrily through the Narrows to the famous and beautiful Melville Park. In the background, the Darling Ranges loom grandly; in fact, the view is a magnificent panorama that could never be justly described by pen. Sir John Forrest and the members of the Park Board deserve the hearty thanks of the people for the[39] improvements made to this lovely spot in so short a space of time. Perth has now settled down and become quite a quiet city again, whereas a few years ago, when the gold fever was at its height, the state of the town was very different. Then the excitement was tremendous. The talk everywhere was of nothing but gold; wherever one went gold was the universal topic, and one scarcely met a person who did not exhibit a nugget or some gold dust, or who had not specimens in hand—received from persons interested, who expected to make fortunes, and, indeed, in many cases did so—of gold in quartz, or of some other stone from one of the different “shows,” as they were called.




Western Australia was once a convict settlement, and every stranger who came to the country had to conform to the country’s laws. The term “sandgroper” means white native; another term used here is “straight hair,” given in the early days by the free inhabitants to the convicts, on account of always having their hair cropped short. Thirty years ago any one walking in the streets of Perth after 10 P.M. took his chance of being arrested for the night. The constables on their beats invariably threw out the challenge, “Bond or free?” and unless the person so challenged could answer to the complete satisfaction of Constable X.Y.Z., he was marched off to the Waterside lock-up. A well-known citizen was challenged by a newly appointed officer. “Halt! Bond or free?” “Free,” answered the pedestrian. “Your name?” “Churchyard.” “Ah, that’s not good enough,” said the officer incredulously; “who ever heard of a person of that name before? You’ll have to come along.” After a deal of explanation the minion of the law rather reluctantly let the citizen proceed on his way. A few yards further along he challenged another man, who gave the name of “Snowball.” This name was too much for the new policeman, who remarked that he was foolish to let the other fellow go, for who ever heard of such names before? Explanations, though freely offered, would not be accepted by the officer, who[40] triumphantly marched a well-known and reputable citizen to the police-station under the belief that he was some desperate criminal on a midnight excursion. It was not until the prisoner was identified at the station that he was permitted to go home. All this is now changed in Western Australia, the only convicts who are now alive being a few old people whose terms have expired and who are now inmates of charitable homes.



Darling Quarries—Kalayamba Vineyard—Mr. Brookman—Lady Forrest—Cambria—Mayor of Perth—Mr. Hackett—Canning Park Races.

It was a very pretty drive from Perth to the Darling Range Quarries, where great quantities of stone for road-making and other purposes were being turned out. The quarry is situated on the western slopes of the range, and commands a magnificent view of the whole country to the sea-board. The proprietor of the now prosperous quarries, Mr. Statham, gave us a brief history of his enterprise, which began nearly five years ago. For the first three years, March 26 was for him an unlucky day. First he was burned out and lost between £300 and £400. In the following year the same thing occurred, and he was a loser by £1200. The third time, when March 26 came round, he felt disposed to stop the machinery, but the day did not pass without accident, for the engineer was blown up, and had to be taken to the hospital, but recovered in about a month. Since the third accident Mr. Statham has felt proof against disaster on March 26.

Stretching away from here in the direction of Bunbury are over 80,000 acres of well-matured land waiting for clearance and then cultivation; at present there is no stock to feed on it, no creatures being seen but a few wild horses.

The homestead and vine plantations of Kalayamba, belonging to Mr. Wiedenbach, are prettily situated on the wooded banks of the Canning river, and the grapes some of the finest that I have ever seen. Five years ago Mr. Wiedenbach obtained cuttings[42] at a cost of 2s. 6d. each, and from these he grafted six vines, out of that number four grew, and at the present time the vines from the four cuttings number 500 or 600. The vinery contains 4000 vines. There are 3100 citron-trees, and over 5000 other fruit-trees, many of them having fruit of phenomenal size and most exquisite flavour. The oranges, especially the mandarins, are really splendid. Last year 300 orange-trees yielded over 3000 dozen oranges. The lemon-trees are almost as good. The climate of Western Australia is specially suited to the growth of the orange. The most delicious oranges I have ever tasted grow on the slopes of the Darling Range, and must be eaten to be appreciated. The apple- and quince-trees were positively bent to the ground with their lovely burdens; while the almond-trees were a beautiful sight.

There is also a magnificent estate situated on the Canning river at Cannington, called Riverside, and belonging to Mr. W. Brookman, the well-known mining millionaire of Perth and Kalgoorlie.

This gentleman’s town house is full of fine furniture and curiosities brought in part from Europe, among these being a dinner service of 120 pieces, each of which bears a different pattern of Venetian lace, the whole set representing every pattern made in Venice since the earliest manufacture of lace. In the drawing-room are exquisite chairs, the embroidery of which is the work of a continental sisterhood; vases of Venetian glass which cost 100 guineas each, Bohemian glass bowls in amethyst, thickly encrusted with gold; priceless statuettes of Carrara marble, and elegant Louis Seize cabinets containing rare curios from all countries, are a few of the contents of this rich room; while on the polished floor are handsome Brussels squares, on which lie rare skins, one specimen of a magnificent Polar bear, with glistening teeth, bright eyes, and perfect head, lying almost life-like. A fine aviary adjoining the house is full of the twittering of birds and chattering of parrots.




After the wealth and magnificence of the Gold King’s house, it is not to be wondered at if other homes look plainly furnished, and yet Lady Forrest’s, although an old-fashioned house, is most pleasant to visit. The furniture and surroundings are in exquisite taste. The afternoon I called, the artistic drawing-room looking out into the garden of sweet flowers was most restful to the eye. Lady Forrest is most kind and genial, and very much liked by every one. She takes great interest in her husband’s work, and takes many a worry from him by seeing people herself who come to interview him. “Sir John is nearly always busy,” said Lady Forrest pathetically, “I can’t get him to talk to me sometimes.” There are a great many works of art in the house, especially pictures, some by Lady Forrest herself and some by well-known artists; many portraits of Lady Forrest’s ancestors, and also bits of lovely English scenery from her father, the late Mr. Hammersly’s, old home in England, called Pyrton, of which she is justly proud. Mr. Hammersly was an English sportsman, and came to Australia many years ago. Lady Forrest is a Western Australian born.


There are many other nice old houses in Perth, notably Mrs. O’Grady Lefroy’s, at the upper end of St. George’s Terrace, called Cambay. The house stands back in spacious grounds, and belongs to the family, which is of old standing in Perth. Mr. H. Maxwell Lefroy in 1843 made an excursion into the Lake District to the east of York, and his discoveries have been of great value to the country. Twenty years after, in 1863, Mr. Lefroy made a more extended exploration. Mr. H. Bruce. Lefroy, the late genial Minister of Mines, is a Western Australian, but was educated at Rugby, England. He was Minister of Education in 1897, and has administered the Department of Mines with great skill, and to the satisfaction of Parliament and people.

Next to Mrs. Lefroy’s house is that of the late Mr. Alexander Forrest, in 1900 Mayor of Perth for the third time. Mr. Forrest has also done good service in the early exploration of the[46] colony, and is now known as the Cattle King, because he took up immense tracts of land in the various districts, utilised them for cattle stations, and amassed a large fortune.

There are two daily newspapers in Perth. The West Australian is edited and owned by the Hon. J. Hackett, M.L.C. Mr. Hackett is an Irishman who landed in Melbourne thirty-five years ago. He was a barrister, but shook off the shackles of the law, came to Western Australia, took up land, and eventually became proprietor of the Western Australian newspaper.

The other daily, the Morning Herald, belongs to a syndicate. As there are several weekly papers, and a Sunday Times, Perth is well supplied with newspaper lore.

The weather being beautifully fine, I one day accepted an invitation to the races, and behind a spanking pair of horses, and in congenial company, whirled away to Canning Park. Arriving at the course, after a pleasant drive, we found fully 3000 people on the picturesque racecourse. Nature had donned her most inviting garb, the day was beautifully cool, and the effect of the mantle of green with which the lovely country was decked was heightened by the shades of the surrounding hills. The vista from the grand stand was delightful, and everybody was in good spirits and well pleased. The terrible stiffness which, as a rule, characterises Perth society, seemed to be thrown off for a time, and the leaders did not, as they often do, glare at all newcomers as if to say, “How dare you come here? This is our country; stay away.” Many pleasant afternoon tea-parties were in evidence, the racing was good, and the band played excellently. Some very handsome dresses were worn. When we left to return to Perth I felt quite charmed with the pretty course, and also with my good luck, for I had won two dozen pairs of gloves and ten golden sovereigns—quite a run of luck for me.






The Museum—Flower Show—Musical—Native Risings—Zoo—South Perth—The Old Mill—Moonlight.

The new public library and museum in Beaufort Street is a very handsome building, and well worth visiting. It contains many interesting collections of birds, beasts, fishes, and other specimens indigenous to Western Australia. The fossils found in the coastal limestone and in the carboniferous formations extending from the Irwin to the Gascoyne and thence to Kimberly are truly wonderful.

The upper part of a mastodon gives one an idea of the tremendous size and strength the animal must have had. The casts of the fish-eating reptiles and saurians are marvellous. Any one going through the museum and noting the productions of Western Australia, past and present—other than gold, which many people seem to think is the only thing the colony can produce—will be considerably surprised.

The marsupials are, I think, of especial interest, and of these there is a large and varied collection. These marsupials or pouched animals, from the tiny crescent wallaby, no larger than a very small rabbit, the pretty little kangaroo-rat, and the funny spectacled wallaby, to the rufus or red kangaroo, and the great old-man grey kangaroo, taller than a big man, and possessed of enormous strength and vitality, are, according to Mr. Woodward, the curator of the museum, characteristic only of the Australian region, the only kind of animal at all like them in the world being the American opossum. Some opossums, however, have no pouch, but carry their young on[50] their backs. The kangaroos, as I think all Australians know, always carry the little Joeys snug in their pouch. And during my travels I have often seen them peeping out of their snug home. Many different kinds of pretty opossums come next, ranging from the pigmy flying opossum, little ring-tail opossum, and the odd little rabbit bandicoot to the pussy-looking black, grey, or white opossum, whose skin and fur make such warm and comfortable rugs for cold places, but are not often wanted in the mild climate of Western Australia. One tiny little mouse-coloured kangaroo-rat, found only in the south of the colony, is very pretty, and makes a dear little pet; these animals feed on the nectar of flowers, and when tamed, on bread and honey; they sleep all day curled up into a ball, but are very lively at night. Sleepless persons desiring a companion may be glad to note this. The Myrmecobius fasciatus, or banded ant-eater, from Coolgardie, is a most remarkable-looking creature, as, indeed, its Latin name indicates.

The splendid collection of Western Australian birds is really surprising; after seeing it one wonders how some people could say that there are no birds in Australia. The typical black swan, white swan, and pelican from the Swan River; the handsome bittern from Herdsman’s Lake, near Perth; the giant petrel from Fremantle; enormous emus from the Murchison, are all to be seen here, the last named with some dear little striped fluffy young ones, the size of goslings. I have often seen these birds when travelling on the Murchison myself. The ossifrag, a gigantic black-necked stork from Derby, in the far north; the Australian egret, so often plundered for ladies’ hats; magnificent sea-eagles; a most interesting nest of the sparrow-hawk made of twigs and gum-leaves, and containing four young ones, over whom the mother mounts guard; cockatoos, parrots innumerable, with most lovely plumage; and last, but not least, the graceful native companion from Broome. These are only a few of the birds belonging to the colony of Western Australia, but I have not space to mention more of them.


The nests of the trap-door spider are very peculiar; they look like a piece of ordinary clay, but when the door is opened a perfectly hollowed-out room is seen within, where the spider and his prey almost exemplify the old rhyme of childhood’s days. Some of the moths are very handsome, notably the diuran and the podacanthus, the first named being very large and of a lovely heliotrope colour. From these insects to a whale is a big jump, and the skeleton of the whale stranded at the Vasse in 1897 and secured by Mr. E. C. B. Locke, M.L.A., for the Museum, is one of the largest of its species, if not the largest; it is nearly 80 feet in length, and when in the flesh it must have measured 86 feet. The head alone weighs a ton or more, and the whole skeleton is prodigious. Coming back from viewing the whale, my attention was drawn to the first two sovereigns struck off in the Perth Mint, which repose on a velvet bed, and are, it appears, of much interest to the rising generation, for three boys were looking at them with great attention. The models of all the great and wonderful diamonds ever found in the world, some very ancient Greek coins, and famous French medals, work of noted French medallists also a cast of the celebrated Moabite stone, the original of which is in the British Museum, are near here; the last named is of great interest, being inscribed in three languages—Egyptian hieroglyphics, Semitic, and Greek; it was discovered in 1799 in the little town of Rosetta, on the Nile. It was the deciphering of this stone in the Greek language that gave the clue to Egyptian hieroglyphics. There are also copies of many of the great works of art in London and Paris, so that, although separated by so many thousands of miles, Perth still keeps touch with the old world.

The relics from the wrecks of the Batavia in 1629, and of the Zeewyk, wrecked in 1727 at the Abrolhos Islands (the story of which I will tell later on), are the most interesting things to be seen in the museum. They consist of silver and copper coins, rosary beads, clay tobacco pipes, copper kettles and stewpans, knives, spoons, scissors, fish-hooks and sinkers,[52] tumblers and wine-glasses, some of most delicate glass, enormous greenish-looking liquor bottles, and some round ones, capable, I should think, of holding gallons, cannon-balls and bullets, said to have been manufactured by the mutineers on the islands, and two complete but rather gruesome skeletons tell a silent and sorrowful tale of the past.

The wonderful shells and corals from these islands made me no longer wonder that the Dutchmen in 1629 named them “Abros vos olhos,” or “Keep your eyes open”; they must have named them not only for the dangers of the coast but for the marvellous things to be seen there.




The different kinds of shells, sponges, corals, fish, and birds are simply amazing. I can only specify a few, amongst which are the tremendous cup-sponge shell, fully three feet long, the peculiar montipara or screw coral, and the enormous sponges, the many wonderful kinds of fish, birds, &c., from these strange islands so near our shore, as well as from Mandurah, Rottnest, Garden Island, and Fremantle must be seen to be appreciated, and I recommend every one visiting Western Australia to go and see them for themselves. The collection of aboriginal curiosities and relics is ample. The skull of a notorious aboriginal murderer called Pigeon, who gave the police much trouble in catching him, was shown to me. This native was named Pigeon on account of his favourite way of despatching his victims by wringing their necks. There are some fine native shields, spears, knife dabbas, meeras or throwing-sticks, kileys or boomerangs, &c., and some most peculiar boat-shaped shells that are hollowed from young trees and used for carrying water or food; a wooden helmet, exactly like a sou’-wester, makes one think that one of the Dutch sailors who came ashore in the early days must have dropped his hat and some savage have copied the pattern in wood. The fish-spears have about eighteen barbs both ways; the spearheads are made of many kinds of different glass, and nowadays the natives knock down the telegraph insulators and make them into spearheads. In former times silex, of which knives and[55] chisels were made, was used, but the other material is easier to get, and the black fellow is well known to be as much averse to trouble as some of the white fellows. I possess three spear heads from the Kimberly district, one of which gave the death-blow to a man from whose chest it was extracted.

Aboriginal Camp

The medicine-stick or bunganarrie used by the natives as a cure is very strangely marked, the markings no doubt constituting some imaginary spell. The dandie is used for tattooing, and the gunda-stick, with a knob at the end, looks like our life-preserver. The pindie pindie is a native ornament stick, frilled to represent a feather, and sometimes made of pretty green and cream colour. The effect is produced by scraping down the green part of a young branch about two inches till it frills, then scraping the inner pale part to frill over that. A space comes next, and then another frill, until the ornament reaches the length required. These objects the natives stick all over their heads. They also make very handsome ornaments of large mother-of-pearl shells by drilling a hole through the top, and hang them by a string of hair about their bodies. The women have an ornament made from pearl-shell called the binjah binjah, which hangs down their back attached to a currican or woman’s necklace. The long marrie is an ornament of kangaroo teeth attached to a hair-string, to hang down between the eyes. The booran is a belt made from human hair, worn by the Kimberly natives. The native women have[56] most stringent ideas of mourning for their dead. A picture of one mourning for her brother shows her hair all screwed up in little knobs with wilgie clay and fat. Wilgie is a red-coloured clay or earth used for various rites and ceremonies. The tomahawk or pulboo has a handle of wood, the head being made of a kind of flint or stone, fixed in with a resinous substance called pulga or gum, made from the roots of the spinifex grass. Native spearheads too are fastened on with this gum, which is found in solid lumps, and dissolves with heat. String is made by the natives from the skin of the opossum by means of an instrument called the boolga, which consists of a long thin round stick, crossed near the top by two shorter sticks, and has somewhat the appearance of a boy’s kite. In making their implements they generally employ a tool called a bedoo, which resembles a spearhead. The ongath or fire-stick is used for lighting fires, and keeps alight a long while, burning very slowly. These sticks are carried about almost as we carry matches. The letter-sticks of the natives, or paper-talk as they now call them, are beautifully marked and of different sizes, the designs on those from the Gascoyne district being quite remarkable. Around the stick will be marked, in a kind of blue ink, all sorts of odd signs and figures, such as a crab, a gun, a leg, an arm, a lover’s knot, a hand and arm outstretched almost like a masonic emblem, and many other peculiar signs best known to themselves. The dewark, or throwing-stick, is also an interesting object, and so are the many aboriginal carvings and the sharp stones used in their sacred or tribal rites. The stones used for grinding their food consist of a large flat stone and a round smooth heavy one. Nalgo is the name of the principal seed thus ground, but they have many different kinds of food, which I will describe later. A tree called the boobah-tree grows at Derby, and produces a nut as large as a goose egg.

The natives about Perth and Fremantle were in early days very numerous and troublesome. Native risings were frequent, and many hundreds of aborigines were shot. The present site[57] of the Great Western Hotel was the scene of a large fight, arising out of the murder of two boys, the sons of settlers, who were minding cows, and were set upon by the blacks. The boys ran away to the Swan river, and one jumped in and swam across, only to be speared on the other side. The other boy did not reach the bank, but received five spears in his back and died at once. At this the settlers were soon up in arms, and one bloodthirsty native called Yagin was outlawed. He was eventually shot near Hutt Street, where the rising took place, by Dr. Dodd, who afterwards took a large strip of his skin from shoulder to foot, tanned it, and made it into a belt, which he wore for years!

That silk can be grown in Perth is testified by some lovely blue and cream-coloured handkerchiefs made from silk grown here, and presented to the museum by Sir John Forrest. Next to this case is an old plan of Leschenhault Port, now called Bunbury, in 1803. Also a little picture of the ship Success and a man-of-war in Careering Bay, Swan River, in 1829.

Perth does not yet boast of a large Botanic Garden, but as, in the spring, the whole country around is one vast garden the absence is not severely felt. There is a charming public garden, small, but very prettily laid out, near Government House, and opposite the Post Office.

Sir John Forrest prophesied, ten years ago, that in the future Western Australia would come to the fore, and the prophecy is being amply fulfilled; no travellers now ever think of making a tour in Australia without coming to the West. Mr. Frederick Villiers, the famous war correspondent, says that when he came to the colonies, seven years ago, he was nearly coming here, and, now having been, he professes to be so much charmed with Perth, and the view of the Swan River, as to feel inclined to settle down and end his days there. These little corners of the world have made him dissatisfied with his business, and as I gazed upon the many spots of beauty on the river before me, while the faint red blush of the sky deepened into a crimson sunset and cast a glorious reflection on the water, I[58] felt myself agreeing with Mr. Villiers and disposed to stay in my pretty Claremont home for ever, where the sun seldom shines too fiercely and the winter is like a gentle friend.

One spring day I drove in to Perth to see the flower show, then being held in the Town Hall. The drive over the bloom-covered slopes of the park, the sweet odours of the pretty flowers of the Bush mingling with that of the golden wattle, was most enjoyable. I can never ride or drive through that park, and gaze on the beautiful scene below, without feeling that God has indeed given us a lovely world to live in. It was a holiday, and consequently many little parties (frequently of two) were exploring the flower-scented knolls and enjoying the breeze from the water. Perth was quite gay, all the carriages of the élite seemed engaged in carrying their fair owners to the flower-show. On entering the Town Hall a perfect blaze of beauty in the shape of wild flowers met the eye. The silver and golden wattle, laden with fragrant perfume, drew me immediately to the spot where they were. In the “Salyang Mia-Mia” (wattle-house) a most refreshing cup of tea was to be procured. Sitting in this fragrant bower and sipping tea brought to mind the lines:

All the world is turning golden, turning golden,
Gold buttercups, gold moths upon the wing,
Gold is shining thro’ the eyelids that were holden,
Till the spring.

“Djanni Mia-Mia” (bark-tree house) was a triumph of rusticity, and the collection of hibiscus, boronia, flannel-plants and mauve everlastings were so lovely that I was obliged to buy several bunches of the different kinds. The bamboo stall was also very artistic, and the bamboos furnished receptacles for water, by means of which the flowers were kept fresh. “Yanget Mia-Mia” was the name of the bush-house, which had a background of bulrushes and blossom, and various bouquets of all sorts, sizes and scents were so tempting that I bought more, and found myself becoming a walking flower-garden. Wild flowers were here in every variety[61] and hue. Specimens of native flora had been gathered from the hills and dales for miles around. The anygoxanthus (kangaroo paw), a most wonderful flower, was to be seen in many different hues: the blue and red leschenaultia, the trailing white clematis, or virgin’s bower, hanging in charming clusters, white and red hibiscus, and the more delicate heliotrope variety of the same flower, the delicate grey smoke-plant, with its dark green leaves, the snowflake flower, which, when blooming on its native earth, looks like a snow white carpet, one after another caught the eye. These flowers have long stems, and make exquisite table decorations. The thysanctus, or fringed lily, is a remarkable satiny-looking flower, and has a habit of climbing. The delightful boronia has many different varieties, the pale yellow being the prettiest, and the pink and white coming next; the dark red or brown, however, gives off a most delightful and refreshing perfume. The native roses are very pretty, the small blue ones being the first and last flowers to bloom during the season. The blossoms of the eucalyptus are of a magnificent crimson, and the delicate pink and white flowers of the crowea hang in loose clusters. Having travelled through so much of the Western Australian country, I recognised many of the beautiful gems that are to be seen adorning the Bush in various parts I visited. The kangaroo paw, before spoken of, has many varieties, ranging from faint cream colour, through scarlet, crimson, yellow, chrome, and green to sable, and in form is exactly like the foot of our typical Australian animal. The little trigger (candolea) plant, with its white flower suffused with shades of pink and yellow, and the marianthus, a climbing flower, are extremely beautiful.




The peculiar-looking ice-plant grows in the hot dry sand of the coast. I admired greatly some soft-tinted native tulips (pink), which were prettily veined and almost transparent. The actinotis (or flannel flower) is very abundant and long lasting, and therefore well fitted for decorations. Pilotus (or cat’s paw) has a pink and white flower, and retains its colour[62] for a long time. A flower called the lactinostachys is most phenomenal; the stem and leaves seem to be without sap, and have a thick woolly covering; the flower looks so artificial that one can hardly believe it to be real. It is found in the northern part of the colony in hot dry localities. The clematis is a sweet pure white flower, which literally covers the trees and shrubs where it climbs. The banksia (or honeysuckle) is a handsome flower, with a kind of crimson cone. The parrot-plant looks like a many-coloured bird. The grevillia (or native fuchsia) is here in many hues. Sturt’s desert-pea is a very handsome, brilliant scarlet flower, with black centre. The fringed verticordia, with its lemon-centred foliage, is pretty, and so is the callistemon, which has bright scarlet plumes. The petrophila flower has striking blossoms that look like rich pink velvet, while the yellow flowers and peculiarly formed leaves (resembling a stag’s horn) of the synaphea were the most remarkable growths that I saw. Everlastings in every colour imaginable were there. The delicate but striking beauty of various orchids was shown to great advantage; the calendia (or spider orchid), with its peculiar spots, was particularly attractive: the douris (or dog-ear orchid), and the prasophyllum, with its spikes, 18 inches long, of dense white flowers, were interesting; so was the lyperanthus orchid, whose flowers turn black when dried; while the drakea (or hammer-head orchid) looked almost like a little duckling. The glossodia, spotted white, seemed as if it were varnished. Then there was a sensitive plant called the pterostylis, which almost resembled a tiny box, with a movable labellum, which is sensitive, and, when irritated by an insect, closes the box and imprisons the insect. Droseracea belongs to the fly-trap family, and has leaves and tentacles covered with a sticky juicy kind of acid, which arrests the inquisitive little insects, who come doubtless attracted by the dew on the leaf. As soon as these tentacles are touched the leaf closes in upon the unwary insect, which is soon absorbed by the juice exuded by the plant. The flower of the byblis, by[65] far the largest and most attractive of the species, is of a rich salmon-pink colour. Probably the brightness of the flower attracts the insect to the stem and leaves, which are covered with the same juice as the droseracea, but in this instance the insect is absorbed on the surface of the plant. There are thirty-six species of insectivorous droseracea.




There are hundreds of other species of orchids and thousands more of wild flowers. The late Baron von Mueller said, “Australia is a great continent, and much of its vegetation is yet unexplored.” The Baron added “that more than half of the total vegetable species known in Australia were represented in the West,” and mentioned over 9000 of them. Dr. Morrison, our Government botanist, informed me that there were more than 3000 species of wild flowers.

As I was leaving the flower-show I noticed some very fine Anthorreas. “The King Blackboy” is a Western Australian grass-tree much admired. A handsome painting of the Nutsyia fire-tree, or Christmas-bush, also demanded notice. This tree bears very bright yellow or amber flowers about November and December, and the blossoms being of such a brilliant colour, and growing on trees that attain the height of from 20 to 30 feet, are very conspicuous and visible at a great distance.

Taking the little steamer one morning I crossed to South Perth. The new Zoological Gardens are worth seeing, if only for the superb view from them. A recent visitor said that he had seen many gardens in various parts of the world, but none in a more beautiful position than at Perth. The gardens occupy about forty acres of ground, and are a favourite resort on Sundays and holidays. Family parties are made up to go to the “Zoo,” for many Western Australian children have never seen wild animals elsewhere, except in picture-books. The grounds are beautifully laid out; the aromatic flower-beds, ornamental ponds and rockeries, gushing fountains, miniature castles, turrets, &c., make it a charming place to spend an afternoon and evening. At night the grounds are illuminated with hundreds of different-coloured lamps, which send a[66] rainbow radiance over the scene. Concerts are held every Saturday evening during summer, and there is a really fine quartet, called the Orpheus, whose harmonious blending of sweet music in the lovely summer nights is well worth listening to; the Headquarters band also plays. Many of the animals awakened by the sounds of music (which is said to soothe the savage breast) evince much curiosity, others slumber on, no doubt soothed by the sweet strains. There are two splendid lions in separate cages. The lioness is very bad-tempered, and on being placed in the cage with the king of beasts, instead of showing a taste for his society, clawed him unmercifully, he standing the bad treatment in a most kingly manner. Her highness was, therefore, placed in a cage by herself to recover her good temper.

The baby tiger seemed to be a great favourite, and it was quite amusing to see the antics of the monkeys in their play-room with the little ourang-outang, with whom they seemed to fraternise amicably and to play with quite happily. A ride on the donkey was much enjoyed by my little niece. I wanted her to mount the dromedary, but she declined that pleasure. Boys are pleased with the ponies, and the handsome goat-carriages come in for a share of admiration. The sacred Indian cow from Singapore, the newly arrived leopards, the white kangaroo (a great favourite), and all the others, too numerous to mention, were thoroughly inspected, and the children from the goldfields seemed delighted to see animals hitherto only known to them through the medium of books. Hot water is provided free of charge, and picnics are frequent; happy parties of little ones were sitting down in the cool shade and making the place ring with their voices. A view of the Canning river lies on one side and of the Swan river on the other, the garden being situated on an arm of land almost surrounded by water.




South Perth was in early days intended for the site of the city, but the business parts having occupied the other side of the river, South Perth has been left to become a most charming[69] and aristocratic suburb, many handsome residences, pretty villas and gardens adding to the natural beauty of the place. An old mill is still standing on the extreme end of the Point, and eventually a bridge will span the Swan river and connect Mill Point with Perth at the foot of Mount Eliza, near the park. Land is becoming very valuable here, and I have bought a plot with a view to building a villa in this beautiful place.

I did not return by steamer, which only takes ten minutes to cross the water, but preferred to drive round by land—a drive of about four miles. We drove about three miles before coming to the glorious Causeway, a stretch of water which is spanned by an enormous and handsome bridge. From this point a moonlight view of South Perth, Perth, and the Swan river winding its way to Guildford, is seen, and forms a very fitting end to a day’s pleasant excursion.


Fremantle Pier


Drive to Claremont—Osborne—Keane’s Point—The Chine—Cottesloe—The Ocean—North Fremantle—Arthur’s Head—Smelting Works—Our Contingent—Fremantle.

One bright morning I started to drive from Perth to Fremantle, a distance of twelve miles. Taking the lower road around Mount Eliza, a beautiful prospect lay before me. The Mount rises 200 feet above the road, which is only a little way from the broad river; the sun shone on Melville Water in the distance, while on the other side lay the Canning river, with trees and hills beyond. The pretty suburb of South Perth on its arm of land, with the old mill at the extreme end; the many little boats and steamers going to and fro, made a charming summer-day’s picture. Along the road past Perth Park we saw the blue and silvery water all the time, and then, when we came to Crawley, we entered a road fenced on each side. Valuable land is placarded for sale, and no doubt in course of time will become even more valuable. Already streets have been laid out for a suburb, which, being so beautifully situated, will be charming to live in. After a pretty drive of six miles we reached the fashionable suburb of Claremont, where there are some very elegant villas and mansions. A mile farther on is Osborne, the most magnificent[71] hotel and grounds in Western Australia. This fine building stands in large gardens and grounds, and is surrounded by splendid conservatories and terraces. There are wide balconies, arbours, and seats, and, in the matter of beauty, the place almost realises Claude Melnotte’s description of “a palace lifting to eternal summer.” It seems almost incredible that three years ago this exquisite spot was the abode only of the blackboy, banksia, and other native trees, and a shelter for the dusky son of the soil. Towering high above the hotel is a turret of spacious dimensions, from which the growing port of Fremantle, with many merchant vessels and steamships riding peacefully at anchor, may be clearly seen in the distance. The adjacent islands of Carnac, Garden, and Rottnest, with their rugged coast-lines, lashed by the surging waves of the ocean, are but a few miles distant. The clearness of the air gives a wonderful range of vision from the tower. As you turn, you behold in the distance the dark woodland of the Darling Ranges, whose summits seem to touch the sky. In the zenith of summer heat in Western Australia, Osborne is always delightfully shaded and cool.

An artesian well in the grounds, which struck water at a depth of 150 feet, gives an abundant supply, capable of supplying the whole of Perth. No less than 50,000 gallons of water are used every day on the grounds of Osborne alone. Steamers come to Osborne jetty during the week, and every Sunday in the summer, bringing hundreds of people to enjoy the scene. The steamer moors at a landing at the bottom of the cliff, and hundred of steps have to be climbed before the top is reached. The climb is made easy by a platform with seats at the end of every flight of steps, of which there are five, and one can rest on these to enjoy the pleasing prospect. Pretty villas are built all around the hillsides; dear little Freshwater Bay, with its numerous bathing-houses and jetties, the pretty yachts and boats on its bosom looking like white-winged birds, lies at your feet; and the wild note of the magpies, not yet frightened away by civilisation as the[72] aborigines have been, is heard from the trees in the distance. Continuing our drive, we took the inner road up the hill. Another pretty little bay and suburb called Peppermint Grove, from the fact that at one time it was a grove of delicate peppermint-trees, discloses itself. There are many beautiful villas with gardens, a nice white, hard sandy beach, a fine jetty for the many boats that come from Perth and Fremantle, and the Yacht Club House. Keane’s Point, with a handsome old bungalow on a fine site, hides a bend of the river. The Chine, so called from its peculiar conformation, the ridge appearing like the backbone of an enormous whale or other gigantic sea monster, is another pretty spot. Any one who has the fortitude to climb to the top of the Chine will be rewarded by one of the most exquisite panoramic views of ocean, river, flower, shrub, sea and sky ever seen. The tints of the water from the reflection of the azure sky melting into pale yellow, then into rich gold and crimson from the setting sun, once seen will never be forgotten. Turning back, we resumed our drive up Forrest Street and into the main Fremantle Road. We were now in the seaside suburb of Cottesloe, and away over the hill lay the beautiful Cottesloe Beach, stretching along for miles. Cottesloe is one of the most flourishing suburbs of Perth. A few years ago it was all one dense bush; now it is full of human life, and houses are going up in all directions as fast as the builders can erect them. Past the quarries we went until a turn of the road brought us to a view so magnificent that its effect can never fade from my memory. In the distance the dark blue Indian Ocean rolled in all its majestic splendour; North Fremantle was in sight, and so was the mouth of the Swan river. We approached the bridge to cross it, and saw an effect even more beautiful. From the bridge on which we stopped a few minutes in order to gaze on this gorgeous scene we saw many fine ships lying at anchor on the broad ocean; up the river many small boats and steamers were moored; in the distance were white cliffs and pretty houses; the magnificent German steamer, the Friedrich der[75] Grosse, was just going out to sea—and altogether the scene was truly a grand one. I hope I shall not be thought to rhapsodise too much, but I can assure my readers that I am writing exactly as I felt when first viewing the approach to Fremantle.




When the new harbour is finished, Fremantle will be, as Sir John Forrest puts it, the Brindisi of Australia. And now we crossed the bridge and entered East Fremantle, leaving behind us the broad river winding its way to the ocean between two splendid breakwaters.

On we drove down Cantonment Road into High Street, the principal thoroughfare, at the top of which is the fine Town Hall with its splendid clock. From that point the street runs to Arthur’s Head, and is connected by a tunnel with the sea; on the top of the limestone cliff is an old building called the Old Cantonment, formerly used as a lock-up. Fremantle is built on a low-lying neck of land between Arthur’s Head on the one side and the limestone heights on the other, hemmed in on one hand by the river and on the other by the sea. The city was named after Captain Fremantle, who first hoisted the British flag there, in 1829.

There is a fine lighthouse on Arthur’s Head. It is a white stone tower 71 feet high, with a fixed white light, visible for 16 miles. Fremantle still possesses some old and singular-looking buildings. The old gaol and court-house, with the harbourmaster’s quarters and the barracks, will, no doubt, in course of time be replaced by more up-to-date structures; there are already many very fine new buildings. Fremantle has an excellent Grammar School, where most of the boys from Perth and the country districts receive their education. Mr. G. Bland Humble, the present worthy and respected Town Clerk of Fremantle, was the first master, having been brought from England in 1886 to teach the young idea of Western Australia how to shoot.

There are many good hotels, the Hotel Fremantle being the best at the city end of the town, and the Hotel Australia at the upper end. This latter is really a splendid hotel, standing[76] in an excellent position, with a grand view of the river, harbour, and islands beyond. The jetty is half a mile long, and some large vessels are always lying there.

Fremantle is rapidly increasing in size and population, and social life is not so divided as in Perth; there seem to be more geniality and not so much stiffness about the people. A volunteer artillery corps, turf, bicycle, rowing, cricket, and football clubs provide various forms of social activity. There is a nice park, also a good recreation-ground, and several places of entertainment, and the large hall in the Town Hall is very handsome and superbly decorated. An inexhaustible supply of water is obtained from three large wells connected by drives. The water is pumped up by steam into reservoirs at the rate of 45,000 gallons an hour.

The smelting works about two miles from Fremantle, at Owen’s Anchorage, have lately commenced working, and are a great boon to the goldfields, which until recently were very much handicapped by having to send their ore to the other colonies to be smelted.




The South African War is the general topic of the day, and with what sorrow do we read of the sacrifice of so many noble lives! Several contingents of our brave Australians have left the different parts of the colonies to assist their British brothers with a little of the courage we have in the Sunny South. The second contingent has just left these shores, and Fremantle has had the honour of giving them the send-off. Over 30,000 people assembled to bid them farewell, and a scene of such unbounded enthusiasm ensued as has never before been witnessed in the colony. The magnificent steamer Surrey brought the New South Wales and South Australian contingents, and these soldiers came in for their share of admiration no less than the Western Australians. The enthusiasm shown for the Western Australian contingent from the time they left the camp at Karrakatta until they waved their last good-bye from the steamer’s side will never be forgotten. The street decorations, although hurriedly got up, were handsome and[79] patriotic. At the Oval, where the reception to the troops was held, a huge marquee occupied considerable space, and rows of tables laden with every delicacy were provided for the troops and for the many distinguished visitors. Over 200 of the leading society ladies of Fremantle acted as waitresses, proud to attend on brave men soon to embark for the perils of war. Although the men were going away to face battle, all seemed jubilant, proud, and confident. The three contingents were all like brothers. The cries of the multitude were: “Cheers for the Cornstalks of New South Wales,” another for the “Gum-suckers of Victoria,” one for the “Crow-eaters of South Australia,” and “A great big one for Westralians; do your best, boys!”[1] At the wharf, prior to the Surrey leaving next day, somebody handed up a bottle of whisky, intending it for a Westralian trooper. A Cornstalk, however, became possessed of it. “That’s not for you, it’s for one of the Western Australians,” shouted the donor. “It doesn’t matter, we’re all alike, we’ll soon be Federated Australia,” laughed the Cornstalk, and opening the bottle took a drop, then handed it round to the rest, who all participated in it with real federal spirit. When the time came for the troopship to leave, some affecting scenes took place between mothers, sisters, wives and soldiers, but all bore up as bravely as possible. Were they not going for the glory of Old England and the honour of their beloved Queen?

A Bushmen’s contingent has since left all the colonies, comprising men who are accustomed to rough-riding and thoroughly used to rough life in most trying conditions. From what I know of many of the Bushmen I have met in my travels, I should say that they will afford the British troops valuable aid in reconnoitring the wily Boer.

As we all know, the Australians have since bravely distinguished themselves, and our late dearly beloved Queen testified her approval of their actions in many ways. Her late[80] Majesty’s gracious act of proposing that the Duke and Duchess of York should go so far in order to open the Federal Parliament of Australia endeared her still more, were that possible, to the hearts of her colonial subjects. As one of them who saw the late lamented Prince Edward and Prince George when they went out to Australia years ago in the Bacchante, “I can testify to the unswerving loyalty and affection of Australians for our beloved Queen and all her family.”




And what a brilliant record our Western Australians, especially those of the first contingent, who have returned to Perth, have taken back with them! Truly they deserve the laurel-wreath of honour, while those who fell on the field of battle, giving up their lives for their beloved Queen and country, will live for all time in our hearts. I cannot do better, I am sure, than give Major McWilliams’ description (at the banquet given in Perth in honour of their return) of the way in which some Australians bravely distinguished themselves.

“Before closing, he desired to tell them a story about their entry into Pretoria. He thought it was an incident that all who participated in would remember to the last days of their lives. The hills around Pretoria were most strongly held by the enemy. Their mounted infantry, which included the 1st Western Australians, were ordered to take a hill. They climbed up the kopje, the horses being led behind them, and fought until relieved by the Gordon Highlanders. Their little band had to do the work of infantry, and the handful of men held the top of that hill, and kept the enemy at bay, until the Imperial troops appeared on the scene. The latter said: ‘This is our job now; you are mounted, and you will be required somewhere else.’ The colonials informally handed over the work to the Highlanders, and an order came from Colonel De Lisle to move back to the hills to outflank the enemy, if possible. They did so under a heavy fire, but the enemy, on seeing them, must have exaggerated their numbers, for they made off into Pretoria as fast as they could. The Western Australians followed, and on that night got within a thousand yards of Pretoria. At[83] that time Lord Roberts’ main column was six miles in their rear. Their infantry decided to hold the position close to Pretoria until morning. During that night one of their number, a son of an esteemed resident of Perth—he referred to Captain Parker—was sent with a few men into Pretoria to blow up the line, and he certainly had the honour of being the first armed man to enter Pretoria. That, he thought, was a great thing to claim for a Western Australian. He might also state a fact not generally known, that the flag of truce on the night before was taken in by a New South Wales officer, an Australian born. This little company numbered less than one hundred men.”


The Gazette of October 4 states that the King has been graciously pleased to signify his intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on Lieut. F. W. Bell, West Australian Mounted Infantry, and Farrier-Major W. J. Hardham, 4th New Zealand Contingent.

At Brakpan, on May 16, 1901, when retiring through a heavy fire after holding the right flank, Lieut. Bell noticed a man dismounted, and returned and took him up behind him; the horse not being equal to the weight fell with them; Lieut. Bell then remained behind, and covered the man’s retirement till he was out of danger.

Lieut. F. W. Bell is a Western Australian of the third generation. He was one of the handful of men who so distinguished themselves at Slingersfontein, when twenty-five members of the corps held a body of twelve times their number of Boers in check while the main body of troops—to which the corps was attached—and the guns retired.

Near Faauwpoort, on January 28, 1901, Farrier-Major W. J. Hardham was with a section which was extended and hotly engaged with a party of about twenty Boers. Just before the force commenced to retire Trooper M’Crae was wounded and his horse killed. Farrier-Major Hardman at once went under a heavy fire to his assistance, dismounted, and placed him on his own horse, and ran alongside until he had guided him to a place of safety.

Farrier-Major Hardham is a blacksmith, of Wellington, New Zealand.



Steam to Rottnest—The Lovely River—Crawley Point—The Island—Boys’ Orphanage—Fremantle Harbour.

A very pleasant excursion is to Rottnest Island, twelve miles from Fremantle. We left Perth in the morning in the steamer to go down the Swan river, and then across the harbour from Fremantle to the island. The day was perfect, the scenery exquisite. I do not think the Eastern Colonists are aware how beautiful their Western sister is, or they would flock over here still faster than they are now doing. Leaving South Perth at our back, we had the magnificent stretch of Melville Water in front of us. Melville Park Estate is a very valuable property, and is rapidly being transformed from the primeval bush into a place of busy life; residential areas are being laid out, houses have been built, suburbs will soon arise, and land is rapidly going up in value. The little steamer for Coffee Point was just ahead of us, and at the Point we could see a fine bungalow, which must be a pleasant house to live in. Wattle-trees and beautiful flowers were seen in abundance through the field glass I had brought, and we decided that Melville Water was another beautiful feature of Western Australia.

We steamed past Mount Eliza, with its beautiful terraces of flowers and shrubs looking down upon us. The water was shining like a jewel at its foot. After rounding Crawley Point, where the handsome residence of Sir George Shenton stands, we soon passed into the loveliest little bay conceivable (Freshwater), its high cliffs studded with pretty villas, and the grand Hotel[85] Osborne in the distance. Then on past Cottesloe, and into the Swan river again, down past Fremantle, and across to Rottnest. It was a most delightful trip, and I am sure the lovely Swan river is without a peer in Australia for rowing and yachting; it is perfect.

Rottnest is an island about 7 miles long and 2½ miles broad, and the scenery is very lovely. I do not know when I shall come to the end of all the beautiful scenery of Westralia, as the more I travel the prettier each place appears. The summer residence of the Governor is here, and although not a palatial mansion, yet the situation is so exquisite and the fishing on the island so good, that the Governor always enjoys his time of residence there. An avenue of Morton Bay fig-trees, a mile in length, has lately been planted on the shore of the Serpentine Lake, near the viceregal residence. Salt lakes abound on the island. There are chains of them, and the salt contains medicinal properties, but at present the lakes are only utilised for the manufacture of salt. There are some nice gardens, and agriculture is carried on by means of the labour of the prisoners on the island, for at Rottnest is the prison for aboriginal offenders and juvenile delinquents. There is a splendid lighthouse on the hill, with a revolving light visible for 40 miles. A most peculiar phenomenon appeared at Fremantle during the extreme heat of the summer, namely, a perfect mirage, so that two Rottnests appeared, one immediately above the other, and the lighthouse seemed to be of immense height. Strangest of all, about half way up the double-edged island there appeared a long line of foam, while beyond the island there seemed to be a line of rocks—recorded by no chart—on the far-distant horizon. It was a most uncommon sight. Rottnest has rich little valleys, and all kinds of fruit could be grown there, for the soil is extremely fertile. There are some very peculiar rock formations and caves, one particularly fine one being called, after our eminent tragedian, “The Henry Irving.” No better spot could be found for an invalid in search of health. Many people have cause to thank the Western Australian climate for[86] a return to health after having been threatened with consumption. A friend of mine came from Victoria very ill, and was thoroughly restored after a few months’ residence here. The long summer, the bright sunshine, the dry warm air and pure atmosphere are just suited for delicate lungs. The winter is quite invigorating, with just enough rain and cloud to give variety—the spice of life. This colony seems to combine all the good qualities of the famous health resorts about which we colonials hear and read so much—Madeira, Egypt, the Riviera, &c.

After a most enjoyable day we returned to Perth in the moonlight, and with the scent of many sweet flowers wafting from the shore, to the steamer, arrived all too soon at the end of our charming excursion.

A very pretty drive is to Woodman’s Point, not far from Fremantle. This is a great place for camping out and fishing at holiday times. Numbers of tents dotted about testified to its being a favourite spot. The boys of the Swan Orphanage are taken out every year to the seaside for a holiday, and this year Woodman’s Point was chosen. Their happy faces and healthy appearance told you how well they were looked after. The poor little fellows were delighted at the sweets and cakes taken to them by several lady visitors. Their tents were models of tidiness and comfort; the dining-room was a floor of bushes under a big gum-tree. With the lovely blue sky overhead, the sparkling water of the sea close by, the beautiful view all around of ships, steamers and boats, it is an ideal place for boys to enjoy themselves, and they appeared thoroughly to do so, playing cricket, climbing trees, and pursuing other amusements dear to the hearts of boyhood. Some of them sang and recited very nicely, one patriotic boy giving “The Absent-Minded Beggar” with much enthusiasm. As we drove back to Fremantle the harbour looked splendid. A great deal of money has been spent by the Government to make it suitable for large vessels; at one time no very large ship could get a safe anchorage. At an expenditure of over a million of money,[89] however, Fremantle Harbour has now been made able to anchor and berth the largest vessels coming to the colony. The trade of Western Australia is now most important, and sums up to the big figure of £12,000,000 a year; 50,000 people travel between here and the eastern colonies every year, and millions of pounds worth of gold produced in the colony have been taken away by sea. The mail-steamers now put in at Fremantle in place of Albany as heretofore, thus giving great dissatisfaction to the Albanians. However, the change of port is not only necessary for trade, as Fremantle is the principal port of the colony, but will also give people travelling from the other side of the world a better opportunity of seeing the metropolis and goldfields of Western Australia, which they were often deterred from doing by the journey from Albany to Perth, a distance of 338 miles, so it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.






Henley Park—Hunting—Mundaring Weir—Sir John Forrest—Darling Nurseries—Kelmscott—Armadale—Jarrahdale—Whitby Falls—Mandurah—Yarloop Mills—Harvey—Collie Coalfields.

One morning I drove to Guildford, 9 miles from Perth. Such a pretty drive! The Swan river winds its way so far, and is there joined by the Helena. The many farmhouses and crops of this fine agricultural district impress one very favourably. About half-way there is a fine hotel and good pleasure-grounds, called the Hotel Ascot, overlooking the river, where much boating and fishing are enjoyed by the visitors patronising the hotel.

Guildford is a pretty place, and, being so near Perth, is likely to become quite an important town. There are some good residences near. On Mr. Hammersly’s estate, called Pyrton, after the family estate in England, is a fine house, standing amongst unrivalled scenery. The scented foliage of the big gum-trees casts a grateful shade for the sleek cattle, and in the sweet springtime almost every bit of ground is covered with wild flowers of exquisite beauty. The Hon. H. J. Saunders’ estate at Henley Park is a few miles farther on, with a very quaint-looking house 70 years old, and built of sun-dried bricks. The walls are nearly covered with ivy, and woodbine runs over the fences. All kinds of flowers spread their rich perfume around. The orchard is close by, the scented blossoms of the various trees mingling their fragrance with that of the flowers. Mr. Saunders[91] has a large racing-stable, and takes great interest in racing matters. The private training-track, made at great expense, is a mile round, and looked like a smooth lawn; the stud flock of Romney Marsh bred sheep had been feeding there for the previous few weeks. Mr. Saunders’ racing-stables are recognised as the best in Western Australia, and he has a small and select breeding-stud, including Leda by Trenton and Lady Sylvia by Newminster. His racehorses are likely-looking animals, especially Henley and Black Rock, which have some very good records. As we drove back to Guildford the sun was just setting, and the country road with its red soil contrasted well with the different greens of the trees and fields, and with occasional waving crops, vineyards, and blossoming orchards. Everything was perfectly peaceful, until, all at once, the stillness was broken by a party of huntsmen returning from a good day’s sport. One of them turned out to be an old friend, who told me that the country around Guildford is excellent for hunting, and that there is a very good hunt club. Our Australian poet, A. L. Gordon, writes:

“Here’s a health to every sportsman,
Be he stableman or lord;
If his heart be true I care not
What his pockets may afford.
And may he ever pleasantly
Each gallant sport pursue,
If he takes his liquor fairly,
And his fences fairly too.”

Hon. H. J. Saunders

I put up at the Guildford Hotel for the night, and in the[92] morning thoroughly enjoyed the fresh fish caught for my breakfast in the river close by. Some excitement was one day caused in quiet Guildford when, some new works being in progress, some of the quartz boulders forming the old foundation were dug up and carted elsewhere; a boulder fell from the dray, and was crushed by one of the wheels; a glittering object was noticed in the débris, and turned out to be gold; the quartz had originally been taken from the Darling Ranges.

I went on to Midland Junction, 2 miles away, en route to the Mundaring Weir, from which source the much-needed river of water is to be taken to the Coolgardie Goldfields. This gigantic scheme will cost two and a half millions of money, but what a boon it will be to the waterless goldfields, of which far-famed Coolgardie is perhaps the most waterless! In spite of the croakings of those who are adverse to the scheme, Sir John Forrest will, I am sure, be found right, and when plenty of fresh water is obtainable at Coolgardie, so that the millions of tons of ore waiting for treatment can be properly crushed, people will see that the first Queen of the Goldfields is not yet dethroned.

The reservoir, where the waters of the Helena river will be stored by hundreds of millions of gallons and then carried across the country to the goldfields, is now in course of construction, and in two years a river (so to say) of fresh water, yielding 5,000,000 gallons daily by means of enormous steel pipes, 330 miles long and 30 inches in diameter, will be flowing, and the Coolgardie housewives will be able to turn on their taps for fresh water. A new era will then dawn for that beautiful city, and its true prosperity begin. The sum paid yearly by the Railway Department for water on its goldfields’ service would more than pay interest on the cost of the scheme. The morning that I arrived at Mundaring Weir the workmen were in a great state of excitement; their residence blocks were being allotted. There were 130 applications, 6 of which were refused, the applicants not being considered desirable residents. The Department will not allow an hotel to be established.[95] Work at the weir was progressing well. At the huge quarries masons were working up granite into blocks. There is an almost inexhaustible deposit of granite, and the chief engineer, Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, intends to form the outer face of the wall with granite instead of using concrete, as is generally done. One enormous dam, nearly finished, is to hold 10,000,000 gallons of water. The watercourse has been divested of timber, and the appearance of the landscape thereby greatly changed. The weir, when finished, will be 560 feet long, and will hold 4,600,000,000 gallons of water.




The train that carried us back passed through miles and miles of everlasting flowers. The ground on each side was covered with a carpet of them. Acres first of white, then of pink, blue, yellow and purple, charm the eye, and the kangaroo paw, standing up in its vivid hues of crimson and green, added a still further charm to the scene. On we went through the country robed in its spring garb of beauty, until we came to Smith’s Mill, named after Frederick Smith, a young gentleman explorer in 1836, who died of exhaustion at this place after having shown courage and endurance of hardship worthy of his cousin, Florence Nightingale. Here I left the train in order to visit the Darling Nurseries, which, although it is only seven years since they were first planted, are remarkable for luxuriance. The trees, with their loads of fruit, were weighed down with their own excellence. Thousands of citron-trees, 50,000 apple-trees, peaches and nectarines in enormous quantities, plums, pears and prunes in profusion, persimmons and other Japanese fruits were to be seen; and as for the flowers, the scent of them was almost overpowering. The roses were especially fine; all possible sorts seemed to be growing here. The foliage of the English and Canadian elm-trees and poplars formed a pleasing contrast to the forest vegetation around. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the station to this charming place, which is but 16 miles from Perth; and any one wanting a change from the city should take an afternoon and visit it.


Five miles from Mr. Hawter’s nursery garden is the Haughton Vineyard, now owned by the Mundaring Wine Company. The vines grow at an altitude of 1000 feet above the sea-level. The wine is delicious. There is a notable grape growing there called “Tarbinet Sauvignon,” from which is produced the celebrated Lafitte claret. Mundaring seems to be a congenial home to the vine, and its productive powers are of a high order.

Another charming place to see, 28 miles from Perth, is Kelmscott, nestling in its bed of flowers. Everything looked delightful on the morning that I went there. Nature never appeared more beautiful; it seemed cruel to pluck the flowers from their beds and crush the sweet grass with the horse’s hoofs. I felt almost like Mr. Ruskin, who was such a passionate defender of nature that he would never pluck a flower. Two miles from Kelmscott is another sweet little village called Armadale. I put up at the picturesque inn and enjoyed a few days’ quiet rest among the beautiful surroundings. The orchards, gardens, and vineyards here are so many that it would take a whole book to describe them. Sir Arthur Stepney and Mr. Jull own the largest properties, and have recently equipped a vinery. Only a few years ago immense jarrah and cool white and red gum trees stood in undisputed possession. Now fruits of all kinds are growing in luxuriance. Oranges, lemons, and sub-tropical fruits seem to flourish especially well. So do flowers; blue lechenaultias, coral creeper, heaths of all colours, heliotrope, primroses, pink, and yellow blossoms nestle in the grass. Lovely bouquets can be made from the delicate grey smoke-flower and the pink immortelles, and will last a long time without water. Six miles farther on we came to Jarrahdale. As its name imports, this is the home of the jarrah-tree, and there are large timber mills called the Jarrahdale Jarrah Mills, owned by a London company with a capital of £300,000. This company have the advantage of the fine harbour of Rockingham, where large ships call to convey the timber to all parts of the world. There are five mills on this property. I stayed at the town one[97] night, and attended a concert got up by the employées, which was quite enjoyable, many of them being really good singers and dancers. There is a nice hall, built, of course, with the handsome jarrah-wood, which polishes so beautifully that it looks like mahogany. It never shrinks or warps, so that for a dancing-floor it cannot be excelled. There has been a great demand from South Africa for this wood, which is almost impervious to the ravages of time. Piles that have been driven into the River Swan at the Causeway, and others into the sea at Fremantle, have been taken up after 57 years and found to be uninjured, having resisted the attacks of the sea worm. This wood is one of the best for building purposes, for it resists the white ant and is the least inflammable kind known; yet when burning it throws out immense heat and makes splendid charcoal. There are many charcoal-burners about who are making a good living. Iron bolts and nails driven into the jarrah do not loosen from rust, and there is no doubt the jarrah is the principal tree of the colony. It has come triumphantly through several severe tests, and is now in great demand all over the world. The Golden West does not depend on her mines alone, but, as Mr. Zeb Lane said last year, “Make no mistake about it, the jarrah of Western Australia will yet pave the streets of many of the leading cities of the world.” The late Mr. Ednie Brown, Conservator of Forests, told me that there were 20,000,000 acres of timbered land in Western Australia valued by an expert at £124,000,000. At present there are 50 sawmills in the colony, employing over 4000 men, and still the demand is much greater than the supply, so that there is a great opening for more capitalists.

Whitby Falls Lunatic Asylum is near Jarrahdale, and the poor souls who inhabit it must, I am sure, find there a real haven of rest. The asylum nestles in a sweet valley at the foot of the Darling Range, and the hills make a grand background. Gardens, large fields and paddocks, with cattle feeding, stretch all round, and close by is a magnificent orchard. Five miles farther on are the famous Serpentine Falls, whose[98] glittering cascades falling among the big rocks and boulders, nearly covered with scented foliage, then bubbling and rippling down the valley in joyous frolic among the sweet flowers and ferns, form an idyllic picture. By many this spot is called the “garden of the colony,” and certainly the luxuriant ferns and flowers seemed to grow more beautiful at every step. The blackboy and red gum trees grew more thickly than in any place I have seen, and where those trees flourish everything seems to grow with extra luxuriance. The blackboy is a most peculiar-looking grass tree, with a rough thick stem and a crown of thick heavy dark green grass, looking at a distance, especially in the twilight, like a real blackboy. The gum from the tree is eagerly eaten by the natives and cattle. It also exudes a resin from the stem, which is used for pitch in thatching the native houses, or Mia-Mias, as well as for other purposes; these trees burn brilliantly. The falls come rapidly down from the Darling Range in picturesque cascades, falling over the crystalline rocks into pools below, thence into the river. Twenty-six miles farther on is Pinjarrah. To see this quiet little place now, one would not imagine that years ago it was the scene of an immense native rising; that the soldiers and mounted police had followed the aborigines for miles, and that here the climax came, and hundreds of natives fell. Things are changed since those days of bloodshed, and the few aborigines left do not seem to bear any ill-will to the white fellow. An old native said to me: “I like white fellow; he take all my land, but he make my house, and my big railway, grow big corn, big potatoes; black fellow do nothing, white fellow know everything, so white fellow do what he like—you give me sixpence?” The black fellow always finishes up any conversation with that request. Pinjarrah is on the Murray river, and the centre of a large agricultural district, where plenty of splendid land is available for the selector. Some economists say that population is pressing on the earth’s productive powers, and that by-and-by there will be a dearth of animal food; yet before mankind is starved out he can become[101] vegetarian, as meat diet is expensive compared with a vegetable one. It is said that twenty acres of land are necessary to feed one man on meat, while the same land under vegetable crops would support a great number. One acre of wheat will support 42 people; one of oats, 84; of potatoes and rice, 176; so let us not despair while the rich land is still wailing for cultivation. Cabbages flourish exceedingly at Pinjarrah, and the climate and soil are well adapted for English fruits. There is quite a thriving village, with good buildings and private houses. From this place I took a drive of 14 miles through rich fruit-growing country to the charming seaside town of Mandurah. Pears, peaches and nectarines loaded the trees, and there is a fine fruit-preserving factory, as well as several factories for preserving fish. The Brighton Hotel is very comfortable, and you can get a vast amount of pleasure at this charming resort. Boating, fishing and shooting can be indulged in to your heart’s content. I had a right merry time; several people I knew were staying there, and I became quite an expert at fishing. Across the ferry from the hotel is the Murray estuary, which is really teeming with fish. The goldfields people patronise Mandurah largely, and many huge catches of fish have been chronicled by them on their return to the fields from their holiday. Very large kingfish are frequently caught with hand-lines. Almost any kind of line will do; it is amusing to see the greedy things snapping at anything you put on the hook. I saw one caught that measured 5 feet in length and weighed 38 lb. Black bream weighing 4 lb. are a common catch. Hosts of crabs are about, making the fishing more exciting than ever. At one time I thought fishing the slowest amusement in the world, but after this experience at Mandurah I am convinced that there is some fascination in it after all. In two days a visitor caught 17 dozen whiting, bream and mullet. The mullet is a delicious fish, more like salmon than anything. Some English people staying at the hotel said it was quite equal to the English salmon. As you may imagine, plenty of well-cooked fish is always supplied[102] at table, and any one requiring a quiet and enjoyable rest from city troubles cannot do better than visit Mandurah, where, in addition to the splendid fishing, other sports can be indulged in, since plenty of good duck, teal and snipe shooting is to be got at the lakes 5 miles out.




Returning to Pinjarrah, I drove out to a fine orange grove. Some idea of its character can be gained from the fact that some well-known fruiterers of Perth bought four trees from the owner at £100 per tree, and, after ripening and picking, made £50 profit per tree. The Drakesbrook Experimental Government Farm is about 12 miles off, and I there saw enormous cucumbers, pumpkins, and other vegetables.

Seven miles farther on are Millar’s Yarloop Mills. The export from these mills is very large; 21 sailing ships and 15 steamers were employed to take away the timber to various places last year. The settlement presents a busy appearance. When the train stopped over 100 men came from the mills to get their newspapers and see if there was any one they knew in the train. I left the train and looked for an hotel to put up at, but there is none; however, I obtained comfortable quarters at a private house. There are several mills connected with Yarloop, among them Iron Pot, so called from a conical hill near to it. Hoffman & Waterhouse’s Mills are 13 miles away, and are connected by telephone with the head mill. The office is very handsomely built of jarrah lined with polished wood, tongued and grooved. Much of the wood of Western Australia is suitable for small manufacturing purposes, such as making picture-frames, walking-sticks and knife-handles, while the jam-wood, with its aromatic perfume, is the very thing for pipe-making. I am sure a large trade could be worked up in that business.

Some beautiful artistic work in jarrah carving has lately been done by Mr. Howitt, of Perth, and was shown at the Paris Exhibition. One piece especially, a font, is most exquisitely carved. Besides these jarrah carvings, Mr. Howitt has made some panels from the following Australian[103] woods—karri, tuart, redgum, sandal-wood, raspberry jam, banksia, she oak, prickly pear, York gum, blackbutt, wandoo and morrell; each of the panels is decorated with a carving of the tree’s foliage. I also saw at Robertson & Moffat’s furnishing warehouse, before leaving Perth, a handsome dinner-waggon made from seventeen kinds of Western Australian woods, with which, besides the before-mentioned woods, salmon gum, gimblet, castor-oil, swamp gum, and curly jarrah were most artistically introduced in the mosaic part, and with the handsomely carved typical swan on the top made a very effective piece of furniture.

The Chamber of Commerce, Prague, Bohemia, have recently written to Mr. Ulrich, of Fremantle, asking for specimens and samples of Western Australian woods to be sent to that place with a view to future business; and when the beauty and excellence of the woods become more generally known I think they will be put to more artistic uses than wood-paving. Outdoor enjoyments are yearly coming into more favour, and the demand for outdoor chairs, seats, and tables must increase. The jarrah-wood never shrinks, and being of a beautiful dark red colour does not require paint. The timber resources of the colony are marvellous, and it is estimated that it would take fully a century to exhaust the now matured trees, while fresh ones would be growing all the time.

The Harvey agricultural area, 9 miles from Yarloop, comprises 43,000 acres; of this 19,803 acres have been surveyed into 155 plots. The land is splendid for fruit and vegetables, and there are a good many selections, 10,000 acres having already been taken up. The soil is rather heavy, and expensive to clear and drain. The Korijekup Estate is managed by Mr. Asche, and is well under cultivation, the oranges grown there being especially fine. There are good paddocks for horses to run in, and the next time our family steed is sent out to grass it will be to Korijekup. There are about 12 homesteads on the estate, occupied by different families. The pasture lands are very good, and the soil well adapted for strawberry and[104] gooseberry growing. There are about 10 acres of these delicious fruits under cultivation. The manager’s house and men’s quarters are near the river, the latter a substantially built structure of slabs, made 60 years ago by convict labour for Sir James Stirling, to whom the land was originally granted (in lieu of payment of salary). In the winter time there are a great many trappers about, who gain a good living by trapping the native bear and opossum, for the skins of which they get 9s. per dozen in Perth. The grey skins, when edged with black, make beautiful rugs for a cold climate, but the winters in Western Australia are so mild that things of that kind are not required. In the early days the old coach-road to Perth from Bunbury passed near Korijekup, and where there were formerly only halting-places many flourishing farms now stand. The land about there is very suitable for dairying, the grass being green all the year round; the soil is brown loam, interspersed with rich black swamps, and suitable for intense culture.

Another 15 miles brought me to Collie Station, where I took the branch train to the Collie coalfields. Until recently these fields have been somewhat neglected, but are now coming into great favour, the coal got there having been proved to be of excellent quality, and now being extensively used. The Government have decided to use it on the railways, and many of the shipping merchants trading to different places have also signified their intention of using it. The Smelting Works at Fremantle are following suit; householders are consuming it largely, and I can state from my own experience that it is excellent coal, which never goes out, but burns to the last bit, just leaving clean brown dust behind. It will in time be a mine of wealth to Western Australia and constitute a great industry, making work for thousands of coal-miners, for the deposits of coal are almost limitless. Bores have been used in different parts of the field, and have proved the existence of enormous bodies of coal. The Collie coal-mine has recently been bought from the Collie Company by Mr. Zeb Lane, for the British[105] Westralia Syndicate, and is now called the Collie Proprietary Coalfields of Western Australia.

Collie is a very pleasant little town, with some hotels, several stores, and many snug and pretty dwellings. One usually thinks of a coal-mining town as an uninteresting, grimy place, but Collie is nothing of the kind. In the midst of a magnificent jarrah forest, at an elevation of 600 feet above sea-level, this place has, I imagine, a brilliant future before it. The air is delightfully bracing; the sea breeze blows in from the coast, and in the near future, when the gardens now being planted by the men on their residential plots have come to maturity, the miners will be able, after their work underground, to sit under their own vine or fig-tree and enjoy the pipe of peace. This is not a mere form of words, but will be solid fact, for the ground is so good that, beside containing coal underneath, it will grow all kinds of products on its fertile flats and valleys.

Many of the men are making very comfortable homes for themselves; they can see that the field is permanent, and that they may hope to remain here. Collie will, I predict, be in the future one of the principal towns of the colony.



Bunbury—Exploring Days—The Estuary—Early Times—Whaling—Native murder—Mr. Layman—Retribution—Pasture Land—Robert Scott—Old Residents.

Paper Bark Tree

Bunbury is 13 miles from Collie, and is the terminus of this line of railway. In passing through Picton, 4 miles before you come to Bunbury, you can see the homestead of the Forrest family. It is a picturesque-looking old house on a little hill with a pretty brook running below, and the surroundings are very beautiful. Mr. William Forrest, the ex-Premier’s father, who recently passed away at the ripe age of 80 years, arrived in this colony by the ship Trusty in 1842, and first settled at Australind. Some three years later he erected a mill on what has since been called Mill Point, on the banks of the estuary near Bunbury, and in 1849 removed to Picton, where he resided until the day of his death. Mr. Forrest bore with indomitable courage many misfortunes, such as the burning of his flour-mill, the engine and stones of which were afterwards removed to Bunbury, and formed the nucleus of the[107] well-known Koombanah Mill, now owned by Mr. Robert Forrest, his sixth son. The above-mentioned mill was the first water flour-mill in the South-West, and was erected in 1849. Mr. Forrest dammed up the Preston river and utilised it for the purpose of his business. You may be sure that he was particularly proud of his explorer sons, John and Alick, and also proud of the fact that one was Premier of the colony, and the other Mayor of Perth. Sir John made three exploring expeditions, and it is amusing to hear what “Tommy Pierre,” one of the natives who accompanied him, said at the banquet held in honour of the explorers’ return to Perth: “Well, gentlemen, I am very thankful to get back to Swan river, Bunbury, Fremantle; I thought that we never get back again. Many a time I go into camp, going through desert places, and say, ‘Master Forrest, where the devil are you going to? Master Forrest, I give you one pound to take me back.’ Master say: ‘Hush! What are you talking about? I’ll take you right through to Adelaide,’ and I hush. I always obey him; I only black fellow, you know, but I am all thankful; I always very glad to see white fellow around me.” The South Australian Register, of August 27, 1870, says: “On Saturday morning, the band of explorers from Western Australia, under the leadership of Mr. John Forrest, reached Adelaide. They were escorted to Government House by a number of horsemen, and the crowd heartily cheered them as they came up. These men are heroes in the highest sense of the term. The expedition, as many in Western Australia still remember, was organised through the instrumentality of Governor Weld.” The late Premier, who a year before had piloted an expedition to search for the remains of the explorer Leichhart, readily acquiesced in the suggestions that were put forward by the then Governor of the colony, and on March 30, 1870, accompanied by Mr. Alex. Forrest as second in command; H. M’Larty, a police constable; W. H. Osborne, farrier, &c., and two natives, he set out for Perth. The party followed the course taken out by Eyre in 1841, but in an opposite direction, and although they did not experience[108] the difficulties that Eyre encountered, the troubles were numerous enough. On March 18, 1874, Sir John Forrest led another expedition to Adelaide. From Perth his party proceeded to Champion Bay, and the wild, untrodden desert was safely crossed. On November 3, the explorers reached Adelaide, and at a banquet which was given in their honour a few days afterwards, the Premier of South Australia (the Hon. Arthur Blyth), speaking of the leader, said: “Here we have the likeness of a man who knew not what fear was, because he never saw fear—who carried out the thorough principle of the Briton, in that he always persevered to the end.”




I have before me as I write a picture of Sir John as he was in 1866, 34 years ago; also a picture of the third expedition crossing the spinifex desert; terrible country to go through. An extract from Sir John’s diary says: “Tommy (a native) went on with the only horse not knocked up to find water. I followed his tracks, leading the two done-up horses. Spinifex everywhere. We can only crawl along, having to walk and drag the horses with us.” At some places the aborigines were very troublesome, the camp being attacked one night by 60 of them, who could not be driven off until some of them had been shot. Sir John Forrest is a man who has the colony’s interests at heart. By his wisdom and foresight great tracts of land are being opened up. In his own words: “We have a great work to do in the great continent of Australia, all of it encircled by the sea, and flying the flag of Old England, no other nation having any right or part in it. And what a continent it is! The Western Australian territory is as big as France, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Germany, and contains 973,000 miles (square). If you were to walk round it, you would have nearly a 4000-mile walk. The Empire of Australia represents nearly one-seventeenth part of the world’s surface. We have great works and great responsibilities before us, and we are proud of Western Australia. We want to be in the future one of the brightest gems in the English Crown.” In 1890 Sir John spoke the following words into Edison’s phonograph:[111] “I firmly believe that Western Australia has started on a progressive and prosperous career.” Such words bring to mind the prophetic words of Cowper’s “Boadicea”:

The progeny that springs from the forests of our land
Armed with thunder, clad with wings, shall a wider world command;
Regions Cæsar never knew thy posterity shall sway
Where his Eagles never flew, none invincible as they.

It was in 1890 that representative government was granted to Western Australia, and Mr. Forrest chosen as Premier. In 1891 her Majesty Queen Victoria conferred on him the honour of knighthood, and for ten years Sir John Forrest remained Premier of Western Australia (establishing a record in Australia’s history), a post which he resigned in order to assume that of Postmaster-General for Australia; but has since been appointed Minister of Federal Defence in the Ministry of the Commonwealth of Federated Australia. Not long before her lamented death, our late beloved Queen was pleased to bestow on Sir John Forrest the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George, he being, I believe, the first Australian born who has received that honour.

I was quite surprised to find such a fine hotel as Gordon’s Pier in a country town. The dinner was excellently served, the meat especially tender, the fish sweeter, the vegetables nicer, and the fruit more juicy, than usual. Perhaps it was because I had been roughing it a little just before that I valued the extra comfort I obtained here. A splendid balcony reached right round the hotel, from which was visible the sparkling water of Koombanah Bay, with its long pier and beach of silver sand. The lighthouse on the hill, with its square tower and grey walls, stood like a sentinel against the sky. The light that shines out to sea at night is 117 feet above high water, and is visible 12 miles. As it was a hot night, most of the guests were out on the balcony. I lay back in my comfortable lounge-chair, inhaled the health-giving sea breeze, and thoroughly enjoyed a cup of delicious coffee brought me by the attentive waiter. From the drawing-room, where some of the[112] guests were passing a pleasant half-hour, and while singing for their own pleasure, also affording gratification to the visitors outside, came strains of music. I retired early, and was agreeably surprised to find my bedroom lit up with electric light. The noise from the machinery rather kept me awake at first, but I soon passed into the land of dreams. The housemaid told me in the morning that a great many people from the goldfields stay here in the summer to recoup after the dryness and heat of the fields, and that the managers of the mines usually wish to have their bedrooms on the side near the machine-room, as the noise is home-like, or mine-like, and lulls them off to sleep.

In the morning I took a waggonette and drove out to explore Bunbury, going first to the Leschenault Estuary, a sheet of water divided from the sea by a strip of land 10 or 12 miles long. The surface was dotted with wild fowl and its depths are full of fish. The Collie and Preston rivers fall into the estuary. On the shore there are plenty of black swans and wild duck which seem to be quite tame. On the east side of the estuary is the site of Australind, to which, 57 years ago, many people came from England to settle, but finding the place was not what it had been represented to them by unscrupulous agents, they disbanded and settled in different parts of the colony, so that Australind now is merely a name. It is very prettily situated at the junction of the Brunswick and Collie rivers. There are large dykes about there not yet explored, which may contain wonderful mineral wealth. Manna gum-trees are to be found, and yield sometimes as much as fifty tons of gum from one tree.

Bunbury’s history dates from the first settlement of the colony, when New South Wales sent soldiers to King George’s Sound in order to circumvent the French, who nearly had possession of Western Australia. Governor Stirling took up large tracts of country near Bunbury in lieu of salary, and settlers were granted 200 and 300 acres of land as an inducement to go there. When, 60 years ago, the intending[113] settlers arrived and pitched their camps, a few soldiers were stationed for their protection, but as the natives were mostly friendly and intelligent, the soldiers had little to do, so whiled away the time by helping the settlers, and as many hands make light work the little community soon became prosperous.

In those days the post was sent twice a month by an aboriginal foot postman. Sometimes he got tired of his work, and would leave the post-bag under a tree and decamp. Then scouts had to be sent out to find the mail. An old colonist, Mr. R. Scott, related to me many of his experiences at that time. Mr. Scott’s father arrived in the colony in 1830, and not liking the look of Fremantle, which was merely a sandy beach and wild bush, with a few tents scattered about, intended returning to Scotland, but Governor Stirling persuaded him to go to Bunbury with some other intending settlers. The younger members of the party traversed the 115 miles on foot, the older people going in the Governor’s ship to the port. The tramp was a long one, and young Scott’s clothes were so tattered when he arrived that he would not go out to speak to the Governor, but hid behind a tree. He was, however, persuaded to show himself, and the Governor, seeing the poor boy in such a plight, sent to the vessel for a suit of his own clothes and a cap, no others being available. By cutting off portions and tucking in other parts the boy was made presentable. Mr. Scott’s mother, who died some years ago, aged 88, kept those clothes with great pride until the day of her death.

Whaling was a local industry in those days. Mr. Scott and his brother had several whaling-boats, and sometimes took as much as 90 tons of whale-oil to Fremantle. An American vessel went ashore at that time, and the enterprising captain, being stranded, took up a piece of land and started a garden, which he fenced in with the staves of olive barrels.

The only native murder at Bunbury was perpetrated in 1840, Mr. Layman, a settler at Wanerup, being the victim. He was speared by the king of the black tribe then at Wanerup, about[114] 6 miles from Busselton. This booka (king) came to Mr. Layman’s camp when a native boy, servant to Mr. Layman, was packing up his damper (a kind of large colonial scone cooked in ashes) to take with him as rations when he was going out with sheep. The booka took the damper from the boy, and throwing him a small piece, was going off with the rest. Mr. Layman came up and saw this, and taking the booka by the beard forced him to give up the damper. This was evidently too much indignity for him, and when Mr. Layman turned his back he speared and killed him, then immediately made off into the bush. The settlers, about twenty in number, determined to follow and execute him, but found many difficulties in the way, as none of the natives would lead them to his tracks. They, however, tracked him as well as they could, and to frighten the tribe they shot down every native they came across. This put such fear into them that an old man called Crocodile was induced to show them the way, and they then tracked the murderer to the Capel river, to a hollow tree, whence it was some time before he could be dislodged. When this was effected he was found to be well armed with spears ready to fight. He was, however, summarily shot by Corporal Gill, and his head carried back on a pole to the Vasse (now called Busselton). Since then the only known murder by natives was that of Mrs. McGowan, who was speared by a half-witted native. The shooting of the blacks, although it seems cruel, was the means of showing them that the white man was their master, and after this no more trouble arose with the various tribes. Had it not been done the tables would have been turned, and all the white settlers might have been murdered.

The natives are divided into four families or tribes—the Ballarook, Deduruk, Donderup, and Gnakerunk. Consequently, if you want to find out what tribe a certain native belongs to you must say to him: “You Ballarook?” If he does not belong to that tribe he will say: “No, me Donderup.” They are all brothers and sisters in each tribe, and bound to protect one another. When civilised they make fairly good servants,[117] but never quite lose their wild instincts; and when they have a holiday, which they frequently take of their own free will, away they go to their tribe, and revel in free life until they tire and once more long for the flesh-pots of civilisation, when they again return to their work.




Thousands of acres of land are available here for purchase. The Mangles Estate has lately been opened up for settlement on very easy terms. Potatoes, onions and other vegetables grow most luxuriantly. The pastoral and agricultural land is very rich, and as many as three crops a year are sometimes taken off the same land by Mr. Clarke, who has a farm near Bunbury. The forest lands around abound with splendid jarrah and other timber. The harbour is very safe and partially protected by a coral reef. There are many handsome residences. The Hon. Charles Spencer has a large house on a hill in the most beautiful position in Bunbury, and there are some splendid vineyards, the soil being specially good for vine culture.

The town has 1200 inhabitants and the district about 3000. It is very prosperous, and has many fine public buildings; some of the early settlers who went through so many rough times are now in the enjoyment of comfortable homes, and passing peacefully down the vale of life. There is an exceptionally fine post-office, standing near the spot where the barracks were erected for the soldiers in the long-ago days. The hospital is an imposing building, on an elevation commanding a fine view of the bay, and has very pretty grounds. It would be by no means intolerable to be ill in this lovely seaside resort, but, as a rule, people who come to Bunbury get well, not ill. The walking, driving, boating, fishing, bathing and shooting excursions that are the order of the day give one no time to think of being ill. Cycling is a favourite pastime, and there is a very good club. The streets are wide and planted with shady trees. The Preston river runs into the estuary, its banks are loaded with bright flowers, and the golden sunshine shining through the trees, the blue water and the massive breakwater in the distance make beautiful Bunbury look like a bit of Paradise.


Blackwood River


Dardanup Park—Donnybrook—Bridgetown—The Grange—Dallgarrup—A Prodigious Prize—Greenbushes—Tinfield—The Great Forest.

The Hon. H. W. Venn has a splendid estate called Dardanup Park, 10 miles from Bunbury. The dwelling-house is built in old English style and surrounded by a garden, where all kinds of beautiful flowers grow in profusion. There is an enormous shed, capable of holding large quantities of hay. The dairy cows, standing knee-deep in pasture, are specially sleek and fat; the milk and cream that I tasted at Dardanup seemed exceptionally sweet. I went for a six-mile drive to the Ferguson river, passing many pretty farms, nearly all on Mr. Venn’s land. One goes for miles down a narrow road like an English lane, except that the hedges are formed of the beautiful Australian wattle in place of English hawthorn. The grand Australian trees, red gum and jarrah (some of immense size), the pretty banksia, the delicate paper-tree, the coral creeper, which, as its name implies, is of the colour of pink coral, and[119] in some instances, had embraced the banksia-trees and mingled lovingly with their broad green leaves, all combined to make a pretty picture. A little Roman Catholic church and, farther on, a Protestant one, gave token that the spiritual welfare of the people at Dardanup is well looked after. It is singular how many native names end with “up.” On to the road to Bunbury there is a station called Wagerup. An old settler in the district was not satisfied with that name, and wrote to Mr. Venn, the member for the district, to say that he was an old settler of 30 or 40 years, and thought he ought to have a say in the naming of the railway station. Being a loyal Englishman, he wished it to be called Queen Victoria Station. I am sorry to say his request has not yet been acceded to. Another loyal subject at another railway station, where there are about two other dwellings, has recently built a bush public-house, and outside is printed, in large letters, “The Palace Hotel.”

Mr. Venn is very much liked by all the farming community. I overheard a controversy on politics at the dinner-table between several farmers, and they were unanimous in their opinion that Mr. Venn was the man for them, and for the country.

Beyond lies Donnybrook, not the great Irish fair of that name, but a fertile spot of Western Australia. A mile before arriving there we stopped at Baxter & Prince’s siding, 2½ miles from which are their well-known sawmills, in which are employed a large number of workmen. There are some fine farms at Donnybrook, and the estate of the Hon. J. W. Hackett, with its orchards and gardens, is half a mile from the station. In these gardens all kinds of fruits, especially raspberries and strawberries, grow in luxuriance.

On account of the marvellous fertility of the ground there are a great many applications from people wishing to establish themselves on the land here, and take up small plots for fruit growing. Two miles out of Donnybrook is a goldfield, which may some day turn out to be immensely rich. Gold was first discovered in the surface soil by some men searching for the[120] alluvial deposit. Further investigations with the miner’s faithful prospecting-dish eventually led to the discovery of quartz veins. There are several shafts sunk now to a great depth, all of which have yielded a profit. Perhaps a new Coolgardie will one day spring into existence here.

Mr. Maryanski, the well-known mining expert, is largely interested, has purchased property here, and has now gone to Europe for the purpose of floating companies.

To drive up the Preston Valley from Donnybrook in the lovely weather was pleasant. The roads were certainly not all that could be desired, but the forest scenery compensated for a little jolting, and the more one travels in the West the more is one convinced of the resources of the colony. The soil is a rich chocolate loam, and grass and water plentiful all the year round. Hay is principally cultivated here, as a great quantity of chaff is required for the horses at the mills in the district.

On my return to Donnybrook, rather tired with my day’s excursion, I retired early, and after a refreshing night’s rest started for Bridgetown in the morning. The line has only recently been completed, and was formally opened on December 2, 1898. It must have been pretty hard work to make this railway, for the various cuttings are in some parts so deep that 40 or 50 kegs of powder per day were often used in blasting the hard rock. There are 178 cuttings and 204 embankments on the line of only 42 miles, so no wonder it cost the Government a considerable sum of money. Donnybrook is 208 feet above the sea-level, but Needes Hill, 7 miles farther on, is 770 feet above. After that the road drops down again to 400 feet, then it rises again to an altitude of 1000 feet, and at this point comes within 10 miles of the now well-known Greenbushes Tinfield (of which more anon). A further depression of this elevation brings it to Hester’s Brook, and then a further rise ascends to Dalgarup Station, landing at an elevation of more than 1000 feet, whence the line drops again to Bridgetown, only 510 feet high in the clouds. I quickly made my way to Warner’s Hotel, and after an excellent dinner proceeded to[121] investigate Bridgetown and the Blackwood river. The orchards around this district appeared to be very fine. Sir James Lee Steere, the member for the district, gives a handsome silver cup every year as a trophy at the annual show for the best-kept orchard. This has been now won three years in succession by the Messrs. Allnutt, the Grange. Their orchard covers an area of 30 acres. Mr. Allnutt, the father of the present owner, planted this fine orchard 30 years ago. One can imagine what a wilderness the place must have been then, and what perseverance has been practised to achieve such a successful issue. The latest development is a steam sawmill on the property for the purpose of cutting up timber and making boxes for packing the fruit in. Every kind of fruit one can think of is here. As well as fruit, magnificent potatoes are grown, and often yield 15 tons to the acre. Now that the railway touches the place, the inhabitants say that this will be the chief agricultural centre of the south-west district. The people seemed so genial that it was really a pleasure to converse with them.

A very beautiful drive through richly wooded hills, the tender green grass of which was dotted here and there by clusters of trees and covered by the perfumed golden wattle and by many spring wild flowers—appearing between an occasional field of newly growing wheat—brought me to Dallgarrup, the homestead of Mr. Godfrey Hester, who has over 7000 acres of land altogether. I found this gentleman engaged in skinning and dressing a sheep; he had taken on a Chinese cook, and all the other hands, objecting to the introduction of Chinese labour, had left in a body. Consequently Mr. Hester had to turn to and do the work himself.

About a mile farther on is Blackwood Park, Mr. Gerald Hester’s homestead, with an orchard of 23 acres, 6 of which bear most lovely apples. There are 2000 acres, and many cattle and sheep. The house is an old-fashioned one, having been built 50 years ago for Mr. Hester’s father, who was the oldest settler on the Blackwood river, and came out 52 years ago[122] He was the first Stipendiary Magistrate in the district. The house is in a charming spot, and many handsome willows grow about the running brook close by. The largest grape-vine I have ever seen is here. Mr. Hester told me it was planted 40 years ago by his mother. The height of this marvellous vine is 7 feet to the first branch. There are 6 enormous branches measuring 8 inches round and averaging 100 feet long. The body of the vine is 50 inches round. A very large trellis, which from time to time has been added to, now takes up 39 feet of ground in length by 54 feet in width. The kind of arbour thus formed maybe imagined. 2064 bunches of magnificent black Hamburg grapes, weighing over a ton, came off this vine last year, which I am sure breaks the record of production of one vine in any of the colonies.

The drive from Bridgetown to Greenbushes Tinfield through forest country is most enjoyable. This tinfield has of late been richly developed. Until recently it was not thought much of, gold-mining having deadened all other kinds of mining in the colony. Now, however, things have taken a turn, and quite a large settlement has sprung up, and over 2000 men are on the field. A good town has been formed where three months before was a dense forest, and solitude reigned supreme. Jarrah growing on the spot, and two timber-mills being close by, nearly all the houses are built of the handsome dark wood, are thus much more pleasing than the usual tents and camps of mining places, and stand out well against the tall green forest trees. People have built very nice houses, evidently having an eye to solid comfort, and thinking the field a permanent one.

The town of Greenbushes is one long street or avenue. On either side tower the enormous forest trees. The ring of the axe and the crash of some of these falling giants, together with the immense fires burning day and night for the purpose of getting out the tremendous stumps of the trees; the energy of the people, and the numbers of visitors constantly arriving to see the field, make Greenbushes a lively place. The town seems to have sprung up by magic; there are 30 stores of[123] all descriptions, 3 hotels, the Court House Hotel being a very comfortable one, post and telegraph offices, warden’s court, and other public buildings.

Miles and miles of the country contain rich tin. The tinfields are on the highest point of the Darling Range, 1100 feet above sea-level. The gullies and watercourses are very picturesque being in the heart of the green forest. I drove down to Spring Gully, where the men were all at work in their claims, and the various workings were most interesting. Dumpling Gully is the name of another part of the field.

There have been some rich finds. The Cornwall Mine, on the highest point, has been proved to carry 13½ per cent. of lode tin. Another lode tin mine is the Yarana, which has given good results. The lode in this mine is similar to that found in Cornwall, England, being associated with quartz, schist and kaolin. Tin ore is most peculiar-looking stuff. Some lumps of it that are called “nuggets of wood tin,” weigh 30 lb. each; another kind is like fine sand, and another like gunpowder, and the colours range from white to red, yellow, ruby, black, grey and brown. Some of the men have sold their claims to the syndicates for £4000 and £5000, and gone on their way rejoicing. I was surprised to find plenty of horses and cabs at Greenbushes; these are, no doubt, accounted for by the distance of the town—three miles—from the railway station, which I passed going to Bridgetown. The cabbies were doing a roaring trade, and the whole community seemed very well satisfied with things in general. Gold has also been found at a depth of 33 feet, the reef being nearly 8 inches wide, and comprised of quartz; the formation enclosing it contains free tin worth about 3 ounces to the dish.



Busselton—Napoleon’s Grave—Cattle Chosen—“All aboard”—Karridale—Touring the Forest—King Karri—The Sand Patch.

Starting from Greenbushes railway station, I made my return journey as far as Boyanup Junction, where I changed trains for Busselton, or, to call it by its first name, “The Vasse.” This was one of the earliest settlements of the colony, and is one of the most picturesque. It has a beautiful bay, which, like Bunbury, was at one time a great whaling place. There are about 30 fishermen there, and most of the fish caught is sent every day by the Perth Ice Company to the metropolis. The bay is nearly always calm, and English people say that it resembles Bournemouth in old England. The lovely beach, with its hard white sand, is a favourite place for cycling.

In the afternoon I sallied forth to inspect the beauties of this place and was quite delighted with this ideal town. Everything is sweet and clean; the grass and the trees seemed to me to have a more tender green than in other places. The beautiful sky, with white fleecy clouds, was reflected in the sparkling sea; dear little boats were dancing on the water, and at the jetty, which is a mile long, two ships were moored, while another had just spread its white wings to fly to fresh seas. It was a perfect afternoon for fishing, which accounted for the number of fishing-boats out.

The morning sun shining in all its glory awoke me early. I strolled down to the pier, and met some boys coming along laden with fish that they had just caught. I wanted to buy some, but the boys would not hear of that, and presented me[125] with two for my breakfast, which I took to the hotel to be cooked, and no fish, I think, ever tasted sweeter.

Looking one way from the top of the lighthouse at the end of the jetty one saw an exquisite carpet of green stretching for miles, white houses nestling in shrubberies near the winding river, and sleek cows in the pasture, nearly up to their knees in the waving grass; out at sea the fishing-boats were dancing on the waves; a big steamer in the distance was on its way to the East; a white-winged ship was just disappearing from sight on the horizon; and all these, with flocks of birds soaring across the sky, formed a picture pleasant enough to charm any eye.

There are some remarkably fine old houses about Busselton; Fairlawn, the old Residency, for one. The immense China tree in front of the house was a favourite spot with the late Colonel Molloy, when resident magistrate. Under its shade he sat many a time transacting the business of the Residency, and soldiers of the Queen have often passed beneath its shady branches. Colonel Molloy was with Sir John Moore’s army, and also fought under Wellington at Waterloo. A magnificent willow-tree, planted by the Colonel in 1862, a few years before his death, from a slip growing over Napoleon’s grave at St. Helena, is now 12 feet in circumference. I asked for a slip as a memento, and it was graciously given to me. Fairlawn now belongs to Mr. R. Gale, who has a nice dairy, with all the latest improvements, stables and stockyards. As much as 380 lb. of butter, from 60 cows, is made weekly by the Laval cream separator, worked by horse-power. This part of the beautiful country is so noted for its fine milch-cows that there would be great scope for a large butter factory, since real nice country butter is seldom to be obtained in Perth at any price; and I am sure housekeepers would hail the advent of fresh pats of butter from the country with delight.

Mulberry-trees were loaded with their luscious fruit, and the bees were hovering around and sipping the sweets from them. Honey is very plentiful. In some orchards at Busselton there[126] are as many as 130 hives, yielding four tons of the sweet commodity.

Mr. J. Bussell’s estate has a singular name, “Cattle Chosen,” and it was a strange chance that named it so. Mr. Bussell, the oldest settler in these parts, had taken up land at Augusta, nearer the coast, but was not entirely pleased with the place, and while driving some cattle to the Swan Settlement lost one of his cows. On his return journey he saw cattle-tracks, and following them up found not only the lost cow, but a beautiful calf also, on the richest pasture he had seen. Considering the circumstance as an omen of good luck, and delighted with the locality, he applied to have his grant, 6000 acres, transferred to the Vasse, and named the place “Cattle Chosen.” The town was afterwards called Busselton out of respect to his name.

The homestead of Cattle Chosen is a pleasant place. Willows grow over the pretty brooks and white bridges. An avenue of palm-trees leading to the house, and an old cannon in the garden in front of it, add romance to the scene. I was shown some marvellous ears of wheat grown by Mr. Tanner near here, 12 inches long by 8 inches round; also cabbages 12 lb. in weight. Tomatoes grow by the ton, and as to potatoes, 11 tons have been taken off one patch of two acres. There is some swamp land near Busselton which it is said would produce as many potatoes as the whole of Ireland.

In Mr. Pries’ orchard apples and pears load the trees so heavily—some of the trees yielding 16 cases of fruit each—that the boughs actually break beneath the weight. Wax models of some of the pears grown here are to be seen at the office of the Agricultural Bureau, St. George’s Terrace, Perth.

The children on the beach and in the flowery meadows seemed to revel in their play, and their healthy faces and merry laughter proclaimed that doctors were not required. No wonder they looked so well, with such a beautiful place to live in! The summer temperature is never over 100°, and the winters are mild. With the ample supply of milk, butter, eggs, fruit, and[127] other good things, the lives of these children are cast in a pleasant place.

Mr. Locke, the member for the district, has a great racing-stable at Lockville, and several horses are training for the coming races. I admired the beautiful creatures very much. Several of them have already won important races. Mr. Locke has also many dogs, which have taken prizes at various shows; he is further well known as one of the best judges of horseflesh in the colony, and the breeding of bloodstock is carried on extensively on his estate.

The recreation-ground is a very level ground of 20 acres, and sport of all kind is carried on there. Near the fine new bridge is the pretty English church, covered with ivy, with the peaceful God’s Acre adjoining it. St. Mary’s Catholic Church, served by that genial and benevolent parish priest, Father Tracey, is near. Busselton, in addition to its agricultural capabilities, offers a good opening for the timber business, and one gentleman, Mr. Porritt, late of Queensland, who has settled there, with the intention of developing this trade, has obtained a lease of the Ballarat tramline, and purchased two sawmills, as well as taking up 60,000 acres of forest land. Employment will thus be given to a great many men, so emigrants will be welcome.

Tin has been found close to Busselton, at Quindalup, and as water is plentiful close by, profit to the district is likely to arise from the discovery.

The morning sun was shining in all its splendour over the fair River Vasse when the driver of the four-in-hand mail-coach cried, “All aboard!” I climbed to the box-seat, and with a crack of the driver’s whip off we went. The day was beautiful; the air was exhilarating, and after the 50-mile journey to Karridale I felt inclined for a good dinner. Luckily I had supplied myself with sandwiches and sherry, or should not have fared too well. As the journey is nearly all through the bush, one must not expect to find luxuries in the way of provisions. The scenery and country we passed through satisfied my eye and soul, but after four hours in the[128] coach I began to feel that the cravings of the material inner woman required satisfying also, and was very glad of the little basket that had been prepared for me. The peppermint-trees growing by the road are very pretty. These graceful trees grow in thickets, are very shady, and give a pungent scent. We passed many homesteads on our way, and right in the middle of the forest a large brick building loomed up. I thought at first it was a church, but found it was the Newtown Agricultural Hall. There are no people living about it now, but I suppose there will be a settlement some day, and Newtown is evidently taking time by the forelock. When I saw the first karri-tree I was surprised. Without doubt it is the handsomest kind of tree in the colony. It over-tops all the other trees, towering to the sky, with delicate feathery leaves, and the huge trunk, as straight as a mast, is covered by white smooth bark. Some of these trees are known to reach great heights—as much, indeed, as 400 feet. Captain Pemberton Walcott is stated to have measured one whose circumference was 60 feet. I did not see any quite as large as that, but they certainly looked gigantic.

On approaching Karridale we passed the racecourse and cricket-ground, where several lads were at play. This spot is singularly picturesque, and the district is one of the oldest in the colony. (Augusta, where the trees grow to 400 feet high, is 11 miles from Karridale, and is the site of one of the earliest settlements in 1826, but it has never been a favourite place, and has been abandoned several times.) The magnificent forest trees await the woodman’s axe; life and industry are everywhere; the people are like busy bees. I was agreeably surprised to find such a large township. It is a regular little colony of itself, right away in one corner of the continent of which we are so justly proud.




Karridale is the headquarters of Mr. Davies’ Karri and Jarrah Mill Company, and 18 years ago was an impenetrable forest. Mr. Davies has 42,000 acres leased from the Government for 42 years from 1882, and the mill was started in[131] that year amid many difficulties that have been overcome only by much perseverance. To-day the settlement is a credit to Mr. Davies and to the colony, and there is a population of 800 persons dependent on the estate for their living. There is a good post-office, through which last year the sum of £2340 was remitted; 3700 telegrams were sent, and 15,000 letters were posted; all the result of the energy and enterprise of the gentleman above mentioned, who is assisted by his handsome sons. The Government now derives a revenue of £5000 per year from this district. Many of the employées have pretty gardens by their cottages, which are dotted about the bush in most picturesque fashion. The single men have rows of cottages to themselves, and there is a large dining-room built for their use, presided over by a good housekeeper, and as house-rent is free, and there are no rates or taxes to pay, this seems to me to be a paradise for the working community. Any article that a civilised being requires is obtainable here; you might almost say, from a needle to an anchor. A large store adjoins the office, and although it is a private agency, settlers in the district also can get their supplies there. There is a nice hall for entertainments, which are often got up by the people, and a ball is one of the frequent recreations in the winter-time. A handsome little church has just been built, which we observed when coming into the settlement. Moreover, there is the unusual institution of a hospital for horses, of which there are 200 in the place. A hospital for the people is being built, but everybody looks so very healthy that I think it will be almost a superfluity. Two market-gardens and orchards give one an idea of the splendid productivity of the soil. Ten tons of potatoes per acre, and apple-trees that yield seven cases each, are quite usual. There is plenty of good grass, and the bullocks of the estate, 300 in number, live entirely on it, without artificial food, which means a large saving, and they look splendidly fat and strong. Mr. Davies was the first man to introduce karri timber into the markets of the world, and now the company[132] send supplies of it through England, China, Egypt, India, South Africa, Mauritius, and all the eastern colonies. Melbourne has patronised karri timber largely. For wood-blocks it has great strength, and has been proved by British Admiralty tests to be equal to English oak. The floors of the art gallery and museum in Melbourne are laid with karri-wood, and in London, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, and Regent Street have lately been paved with karri blocks. A log cut over 40 years ago was presented by Mr. Davies to the Kew Museum. It had been in the ocean 30 years, and is now as good as when first cut. Karri-wood has the further advantage of not being slippery, a very essential point in wood-blocks. The karri is an exceptionally quick-growing tree, and when the matured trees are cut down the young trees shoot up at once. All the latest improvements are to be found at Karridale, electric lighting and a telephone service running to the port and to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin. Mr. Davies has a very handsome house, built in bungalow style.

Felling the Giant Karri

Taking a seat one morning, by invitation, in the inspection-car, with its comfortable seats, I started for a tour through the forest to the adjoining mills at Baranup, where a great many men are employed, and where there is another little place, more evidences of happiness and prosperity, and more little cottages nestling among the trees. In the butcher’s shop I saw an enormous block, the complete section of a tremendous tree. Seeing a strange lady on the car, the men looked somewhat surprised, but quite pleased. I wished to see the felling of one of the kings of the forest, upon which four men were then engaged, two at each end of the cross-saw. It takes six to fell one of these[135] giants, and when it is coming down one needs to stand “off the grass,” as the saying is. When felled, the tree is marked off into certain lengths and severed into so many logs, then numbers of horses and bullocks appear on the scene and drag the logs to the nearest landing, then they are put into the truck and borne off to the mill. At Baranup I was to see the King Karri that I had heard about before coming, and now, when I saw it, I was satisfied that, although not yet 400 feet high, it is a king of the forest; indeed, this giant tree is the largest on indisputable record in Western Australia. It stands in its great majesty in one of the most picturesque spots of the colony. Its gnarled and weather-beaten roots of immense size show that it must be of great age. Its dimensions were given to me by Mr. Davies, and are as follows:

Girth 4 ft. above ground 30 ft. 8 in.
6 ft. 2 in. 28 ft. 1 in.
132 ft. 6 in. 20 ft. 7 in.
Height to top of branches 342 ft. 0 in.
first fork 146 ft. 0 in.

This tree would make 146 loads of timber and cut up into 3000 sleepers, enough to lay a mile and a half of railway. Around here are many more tremendous giant trees awaiting the woodman’s axe. The demand for Western Australia hardwood is now far greater than the mills can at present supply.




Hamelin Harbour was another surprise. Next morning I proceeded on an excursion to that place, the train taking a quantity of wood-blocks for Melbourne streets. A mile and a half on our journey we arrived at the top of Hamelin Hill. A perfect panorama lay around us; the forest was at our back, while in front lay the Southern Ocean in all its grandeur, with little bays and headlands falling into its depths. The pier at Hamelin Bay, which is seen in the distance, a mile and a half off, is 1800 feet long. As we approached the bay, the homes of the people employed there and a charming little lake at the bottom of the valley, with Mr. Davies yacht and several pretty boats lying at rest on its placid bosom, added fresh charm to the scene.[136] Arrived at Hamelin Bay, I took a walk down the long jetty, and the salt seabreeze from both Indian and Southern Oceans fanned my cheeks with a breath so fresh and bracing that I almost felt as if I had wings to my feet. Two large vessels were being loaded; the men seemed to be vying with each other in the effort to do the most work. Two very large and rather dangerous-looking rocks are not far off the jetty. I think one is called Mushroom Rock, and certainly it looks more like a huge mushroom than anything else but a rock. The other is Peak Rock. At one of the cottages the wife of one of the men was most hospitable, and made me a nice cup of tea and some toast, which I enjoyed after my early morning’s start.

On my return to Karridale, having some time to spare, I drove out about a mile to see the Sand Patch, which is a most peculiar place. It is a tremendous sandhill 100 feet high, a few miles from the sea, and has slowly moved inland a few inches every year. Tops of trees may be seen over the summit, looking like bushes. It is 2 miles wide, and can be seen a long way off at sea. Many sea-captains take their bearings from it. An attempt has been made to arrest its march by planting 70,000 grass roots in the direction it takes, so as to stop its advance, but whether the attempt will succeed will only be proved by time.



Deepdene Caves—Margaret Caves—A Welcome Lunch—Cape Leeuwin.

The Deepdene Caves were my next place of call, Mr. Bruce kindly driving a party of us to them, and explaining everything to us in a most agreeable fashion. I enjoyed the drive so much that I was almost sorry to arrive. The approach to the caves is through a deep dell, where there is a brook, called Turner’s Brook. A very quaint old house stood on a slope, and the high cliffs in the distance looked picturesque. But I could see no sign of a cave, and when we came to a stop I was still looking for one. However, Mr. Bruce soon stopped the trap, and we got out and were guided by him through some dense bush up the hill until we came to a yawning gulf, like a gigantic chasm. I own to feeling a desire to turn back, without seeing the caves at all, so forbidding did the approach look, but pride came to the rescue. It would never do to say I was afraid, so assuming a valour, though I had it not, I followed my guides, who had now lit candles and also armed themselves with bundles of blackboy rushes. We entered the cavern, and I found the chasm not so terrible as I had anticipated. The first large gallery once had a number of fine stalactites, but some vandals have torn them away. The path now became very steep, and I had to cling to jutting stalactites. It was very dark, the candles had gone out, and the vapours we breathed were not exactly refreshing; but I had to go on—on—on. I was not sorry when my friends set light to the friendly blackboys and lightened the darkness. We were now in a splendid hall, roofed with icicles. There was an almost perfect opera-box, with lace curtains, carved[138] arm-rest, pillars, and everything complete. The ground sounded rather hollow; I did not feel comfortable, so we moved on to another vast cavern, called the King’s Council Chamber. It was a grand sight. The light, of course, was imperfect, as the cave is of enormous size, fully 100 feet high. The stalactites hang from the domed roof like huge crystal lights, and shadows play about the walls, which look as if festooned with lovely lace. Great seats seem to fill the cavern in the middle. One could almost imagine a king and queen holding court there, with all their attendants, and being suddenly turned to marble. It was all very grand, but I felt glad when I was out in God’s sunshine again, with the blue sky over my head and the blue sea at my feet. Darkness and gloom, however grand, do not forcibly appeal to me.

Various other beautiful caves have been discovered comparatively recently, and named the Margaret Caves, in compliment to Lady Forrest.

No beaver ever made a more artful concealment of the entrance to his nest than the lip of the Wallcliffe Cave. Part some peppermints, push aside the flowing fronds of ferns and bend low, almost on all-fours, creep slowly for 30 feet, eyes bent to ground, and then, what a transformation scene! The fairy grotto of a pantomime, the lustrous lair of the King of Jewels in the Arabian Nights—these are the only similes that give even a prosaic idea of it. A circular chamber, richly bedecked by gleaming white stalactites, with mammoth bunches of grapes, fleecy wefts apparently as soft as lambs-wool, but solid as marble, and—upspringing from the floor of the chamber, as if greedy to clutch the fruit, yet frozen in making the grasp—a monstrous hand several feet long—these are just hints of what we see.




The Warrawerrie or Blackboy Hollow Cave is about 2 miles south of Wallcliffe, and is a mantrap for the unwary, for if you fall in instead of using the ladder that the discoverer (Mr. John Bussell) made in order to sound his find, and was thoughtful enough to leave behind him, you drop 15 feet. This[141] vertical hole will not take in any one of very round proportions. So rough and high are the boulders that we scrambled over on the floor of this cave by the dim, flickering light of a candle, that we called it “Spion Kop.” It was more than worth the scramble, however. There is another chamber of this cave that has never been entered. A broken column, apparently cut from Italian marble, as pure as alabaster, would make a noble monument for a patriot. There are also semi-transparent shields which look like snow-white tapestry from an Indian loom, but which touch shows to be hard as flint.

While all the caves we saw are worth many times the journey, the most beautiful is, in my opinion, that known as Doodjijup, a mile south of Blackboy Hollow, and 100 feet above the slanderously entitled “Devil’s Pool.” A lady could go through this cave without soiling her dress. You enter this lovely “bower” from the side of a high limestone ridge and the commanding situation allows a pretty prospect of water and lea, with the shimmering streak of the Doodjijup brook in the foreground. The access to the cave is rather steep and somewhat rugged, but when once the inlet is gained the labour is rewarded, and the visitor can move at ease and admire the terraces, the columns like the pipes of a cathedral organ, and the pendants that glow like the stars of night in the three chambers of this wondrous arcade.

Nearly 3 miles south there is a descent of about 100 feet, first through an enormous pit like the excavation of a quarry, and then by the side of a limestone cliff, when the “door” of Calgadup Cave is disclosed. The floor of this cave is moist enough to show that it is the bed of a subterranean creek; it is about 70 feet across. The chamber sides are hung with many stalactites of myriad shapes and colours under the rays of our artificial light. What would be taken in a lady’s boudoir for a very beautiful opera-cloak of swansdown thrown over the top of a low pillar stands out in the foreground. This is a stalagmite “growing” upwards, while the stalactite is formed downwards like the tendrils or fruit of a vine. Here, too, in my opinion, is[142] the gem of all the caves, the suspended dome, the delicate tracery of whose splendid and fantastic fretwork hangs in mid-air, held by almost gossamer crystalline threads.

A running stream which flows over the bed of Crystal Cave, half a mile south of Nannup Caves, gives it its name. This cave, of sandstone formation, is almost a ruin owing to the ravages of marauders and the falling of karri timber overhead, which have wrought havoc among its former grandeur. Ascending some 50 or 60 feet another vast chamber is entered; the dome-shaped roof that is set off by colonnades is cracked, and to all appearance unsafe. Already this season, although there are few facilities for visiting the caves or for enjoying the fishing and shooting of Hardy’s Inlet in the cool climate by the seaside, about 70 goldfield visitors have equipped themselves at special expense for the tour, which, I understand, they found highly beneficial, interesting and enjoyable.

From the caves we returned to Karridale, and during the pleasant drive I somewhat recovered from the fatigue of so much cave clambering. The next morning early I was fortunate in getting a seat in a buggy to Cape Leeuwin, the first Australian land sighted by mail-boats coming from England, and the last seen by those that leave for the dear homeland. I was anxious to see this place and to go up the famous lighthouse. So off we went, bidding a regretful farewell to the hospitable people of Karridale. We had a drive of 16 miles before us, but I am never so happy as when seated behind a good pair of horses and spinning merrily along. I feel sure that, though thousands of people have seen the cape and lighthouse from the sea, very few have been so fortunate as I was in being able to visit it by land. So I felt particularly well pleased with myself and my trip through the west that day. As we drove along for 7 miles nothing particular was to be seen, except perhaps that the forest vegetation seemed to grow more luxuriantly than ever, and in greater variety; I noticed several kind of trees that I had not seen in other parts. Then we got occasional gleams of water shining through the[143] foliage, and the hills around loomed in grandeur to the sky. The trees seemed to become smaller as we went along; that was because we were near the coast. A few miles farther on a pretty house on the banks of a lovely broad sheet of water, the Blackwood estuary, came into view. A lady, seeing us driving along, came out to meet us, and cordially invited us into the house to partake of refreshments in the shape of fruit and fresh milk with hot scones, which had just been baked for the family lunch, and of which we had arrived in time to partake. The horses were glad of a little breathing-time, during which I looked round at the scene before me. Over the broad sheet of placid water wild ducks and swans were dotted. A fisherman had just come up with a haul of fish, the finest whiting I have seen for some time, and a tremendous schnapper. In the distance could be seen the white sandy bar, with its long white breakers stretching out into the depths of the ocean beyond. What an ideal spot for a sportsman, a convalescent, or a pair of honeymooners, so quiet, so peaceful, so beautiful! Mr. Ellis has lived in this place for years, and will tell you how, 50 years ago, food was almost unobtainable, and American whalers were looked to for nearly all supplies. It is most interesting to talk to this gentleman. Governor Broome, Governor Weld, and Sir Gerard Smith (the late Governor), have visited this place, and enjoyed Mr. Ellis’s hospitality. We soon passed through the old and once ill-fated settlement of Augusta, and I wondered why fate was so unkind to such a charming spot, especially as there is such a natural harbour as Flinders Bay close by. On we went and reached Point Matthew. Now we were near the corner where two great oceans meet. On we drove to the edge of the peninsula and soon arrived at Cape Leeuwin, and its fine lighthouse. In 1867 the coast east of Cape Leeuwin was called Nuyts Land from a passenger on board the Guilde Zeepart, or Good Shepherd, on her voyage to Japan. Cape Leeuwin, or Lioness, was so named in 1822, after the vessel from which it was first seen, or, as others say, because the cape[144] standing at the corner of the two oceans, with the breakers dashing round, seemed like a lioness defending her home. Be this as it may, I came here, and was delighted. Years ago, during a heavy storm, I was a passenger in a sailing barque loaded with pearl shell that was blown out to sea 600 miles beyond Cape Leeuwin, but we safely weathered the storm and I live to tell the tale. Since that time I have always had strong recollections of this particular cape.

As we drove up the lighthouse stood before us like a sentinel guarding the seas. We were now on that corner of our continent where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Right on the southern point at the foot of the high bare hills, and 700 feet above the sea, stands the white lighthouse and its shining dome, the building of which was an event of national importance. It was a solemn and magnificent sight. To-day the sea was beautifully calm, but sometimes the breakers roar and lash the strong lighthouse in their fury; then mariners have to beware of the Lioness and to keep at a safe and civil distance. The base is 70 feet above high water-mark, the foundations are deep down to bed rock, 23 feet. The building was erected by Messrs. Davies and Wishart, and cost £6000, exclusive of the dome and light. The handsome white stone of which it is built was all quarried half a mile away. The walls are 7 feet in thickness on the ground-floor. To get to the top we had to mount a spiral iron staircase, broken at intervals by 7 floors. These breaks give one time to breathe and comment on the peculiar sensation of mounting to the top of a lighthouse; strange it is certainly, but I would not on any account have missed it. A heavy iron column goes down the centre to hold the chain and the three-quarters of a ton weight propelling the clockwork that causes the light to revolve. It takes 7 gallons of oil each night to keep this burning. Mr. Tattersall, the head keeper, was most attentive and kind in explaining all this to me. On the fifth floor is the telephone connected with the men’s quarters and with the Karridale Post Office, from which all messages are forwarded[147] by telegraph. Here also observations are taken every two hours and recorded. Down the wall there is a lightning conductor. The lighting apparatus is on the sixth floor, and is a wonderful piece of mechanical work. The operative power is clockwork, and the light reflected is equal to 250,000 candles. The flash is sighted fully 30 miles out from land on a clear night. Are not the improvements in lighthouses since the days when little Grace Darling stood on her bible to reach the lamp that lighted the shipwrecked mariners to safety truly wonderful?




I must confess to feeling very giddy in the head when I stepped on the balcony outside the dome, but it was the grandest sight of my tour. On the north side was Hamelin Bay, on the east the mouth of the beautiful Blackwood, and the many little islands, reefs and rocks, lying at our feet; also Cumberland Island; while away on the land side stretches the vast forest with its millions of giant trees, combining to form a picture not easily forgotten.

The lighthouse-keepers, of whom there are six, work four hours each and are then relieved. They report every ship that passes, and wind up the clockwork weights every hour. Coming down to terra firma again, and before leaving this grand piece of man’s work, I read the following inscription on a huge block of stone: “Foundation-stone laid by Sir John Forrest, Premier of the Colony, 13th December 1895.” And on the other side: “Dedicated to the World’s Mariners, 10th December 1896.”

Outside are some comfortable-looking stone cottages, where the lighthouse-keepers live. My only feeling of regret as I left was that Leeuwin Lighthouse is not more accessible, so that many people could take the same enjoyable tour that I had taken; but time may change even this cape’s inaccessibility.



Pretty Newcastle—Oranges!—New Norcia—Native Love—The Mission—Northam—The Grand Old Man—Ploughing Match—Oat Crop—The Show.

There is without doubt a great field in Western Australia for workers who will settle on the land and cultivate it. Newcastle is a little town, nestling at the foot of hills and beautifully situated near the Avon river. It is a splendid farming district; the soil will grow almost everything. I saw some magnificent oranges and vegetables. The cattle are as fat and sleek as can be. Rain had been falling when I was there, and now the sun was shining and a beautiful rainbow rose over the hills. The pink everlasting flowers—acres of them—surrounded by the green grass, the pretty winding river, the white bridges and long good roads made up a very pleasant picture. There is plenty of good land around here waiting to be taken up and utilised. Newcastle is one of the oldest Westralian towns, and the roads and bridges were nearly all made by convict labour in days gone by. There is a great quantity of stone lying about, and granite is obtainable in large quantities a little way off. There are vineyards and orchards, and an elderly woman at the Clackline Junction Station seemed to be doing a good trade with an enormous basket of splendid oranges and bunches of pink everlasting flowers. She came across the meadows and joined the train at Delmore on the way to Newcastle a boy helping her with the big basket of oranges just gathered from the trees. She told me she came to meet all the trains and invariably did good business.




Gold was found about here in 1887 by Mr. Glass, of[151] Mugakine, who found a piece weighing 11 grains while digging a well. The ground about the hills is very rocky, but the flats are fertile and favourable for fruit-trees and vines, and there is plenty of water in ponds; Mr. Clarkson, in the early days, found sandstone ranges rising 1000 feet; small rivers fall between these ranges into the sea.

New Norcia, the Benedictine’s Mission settlement, is situated on the Victoria plains, about 50 miles from Newcastle by road, and 80 miles to the north of Perth. You can also go to New Norcia by taking the train to Mogumbur on the Cue line, and thence driving 15 miles to New Norcia. Here the late good Bishop Salvado, laboured amongst the aboriginals for over half a century, and died at over 85. The religious community numbers about 60 monks, most of whom are Spanish. The Abbey is called Abbey Nullias, and there are a cruciform church of stone, a monastery, and 51 other buildings. Over 1000 acres of land are cleared and fenced, 800 are under cultivation, and 150 aboriginals are clothed and educated by the monks. The object of these good men of the Mission is to civilise and christianise the natives. Bishop Salvado describes his first interview with the aboriginals thus: “I tried to begin a conversation by signs with these poor Australians, so hideous to view, though mild and almost timid; but all that they would say was ‘Maragna’ (food).” In 1846, Father Salvado and Father Serra, with a few catechists, were guided by some natives to the site which is now called New Norcia. Fifty acres of land had been granted them by the Colonial Government, and thus was laid the foundation of this now well-known and flourishing settlement. In 1848 the first R.C. Bishop of Perth, Dr. Brady, sent Father Serra to Europe to obtain subscriptions and more missionaries for New Norcia, and 1250 acres of land were purchased by him with the collections obtained in this way from Europe. In 1849 Father Salvado went to Europe, taking with him two native Christian boys. There he collected large sums of money, and on his return a number of missionaries, competent in agriculture[152] and trade, returned with him, thus giving new life to the Mission, where they built a chapel, cottages, corn and granary mills, wooden houses, workshops, and quarters for natives. The land was soon cleared by these good and energetic men, assisted by the aborigines whom they had befriended, and to-day one can look around the Mission and see happiness, prosperity, and contentment on all sides. All the aborigines now there are civilised, but, for years before they became so, they looked on the Bishop as a god who possessed superhuman knowledge, especially in doctoring the sick. One native whom he had relieved leaped and danced, and shouted war-cries, and said: “Father, when you die I shall be so sorry that I shall kill, not only one man of the enemy’s tribe, but six kangaroo-hunters, to show everybody the love I have for you.” Many years have passed away, and if you now visit New Norcia you will see 1000 acres of fields, stocked with sheep and cattle; a most prosperous agricultural settlement; corn in abundance; barley, hay, vegetables, tobacco, and acres of vineyard, from which a wine, said by those who have sampled it to be excellent, is made. Fine olives are grown; olive oil, pure and clear, is made; candied almonds, figs, raisins, grapes, and apples are in profusion. The Bishop’s only luxury was snuff, grown at the Mission, which is very aromatic and provocative of much sneezing. Almost everything required and used is made and produced on the spot. The aborigines learn quickly and are most devout Christians. The Mission has a brass band of natives, who have been well trained, and their efforts are most pleasing.

Bishop Salvado was in Perth a few months ago, and received a warm welcome from all creeds and classes; he was then on his way to Rome, in which city he recently passed away.

Progressive Northam, the gateway of the goldfields, in the lovely Avon Valley, was the scene of my next visit. The green undulating fields through which I passed in the train on my approach to Northam showed a perfect blaze of wild flowers in every spot where there was room for them to spring[153] between the well-cultivated farm lands. The rich soil of this beautiful valley is quite different from the deep sandy soil near the coast, or from the loam and ironstone of the ranges of the Darling. Quantities of water are always obtainable by shallow sinking, should other supplies fail. The fat cattle always seem to be waiting to accumulate wealth for their owners, and the comfortable-looking farmhouses impress one with the idea of solid comfort within. Northam has a population of 2000 people, is increasing fast, and prospering more than any other agricultural district in Western Australia; and being the starting-point of the Yilgarn, Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Mount Malcolm and Mount Margaret goldfields, is really the threshold of the fields, as well as the great centre of the agricultural industry in this part of the colony.

A large staff of railway men is employed in the locomotive department, over 400 men being paid every fortnight at Northam. The railway platform is half a mile long, and I believe a magnificent railway station will shortly further improve the town.

Northam has gone ahead with gigantic strides. On my first visit, a little over two years ago, it was a very small place indeed, in fact two places, as I found to my sorrow when I got out of the train at the wrong station (there are both East and West Northam) and had to walk a mile and a half up a desolate country road to get to my destination. Now houses, shops, banks, &c., are built nearly all along that road, and omnibuses ply from one end of the town to the other. Northam bids fair to become one of the most important towns in Western Australia.

There are some charming estates about here, notably that of the Hon. George Throssell, late Commissioner of Crown Lands, and now Premier since Sir John Forrest relinquished office. Mr. Throssell might almost be described as the father of Northam. He has resided in what he so poetically describes as his lovely valley home for 36 years, and it is chiefly due to his strenuous exertions, the devotion of his energies to its development, and his manly spirit of help to all, that Northam[154] is what it is to-day. Mr. Throssell goes home to Northam after his week’s official work every Friday and remains until Tuesday in the company of his wife and numerous and happy family of sons, daughters, and grandchildren. This grand old man has a large and important business in Northam in conjunction with Mr. Stewart, and branches in different parts of the colony as well. The machinery stores are well worth inspection. Every possible kind of English and American machinery for tilling the soil is here to be seen. The drill and fertiliser now coming into use make farming a pastime and pleasure, instead of the weariness and hard work of past ages. With these new implements of agriculture, 600 acres of land can be drilled with only 20 lb. of wheat to the acre, in place of 75 lb., as in olden days.

Many new implements were going out to the Jenapullen ploughing-match, a few miles away, for trial that day; so, availing myself of the offer of a drive there, I started off to see this match. The pastoral country appeared very thriving as we drove along by the beautiful River Avon, and the richness of the soil gave ample promise of the harvest to come. Bush flowers were growing all round, native grasses were flourishing in wild luxuriance, healthy green crops were waving in the gentle breeze, giving promise of a most abundant yield and adding beauty to the surrounding scene.

On arrival at the ploughing-field, I found many kinds of entertainments going on as well as the ploughing, which I was sure was very splendid, although I did not understand the art. There was a fine collection of vegetables, bread, butter, fruit, and many other things; also some very splendid horses, bred in the district. After the ploughing-match was over, the folks amused themselves with jumping, running, and pony races. Every one looked prosperous, happy and contented, and no doubt was so, for there are many well established farmers in this fertile district, who long ago secured for themselves a position of independence.




What a future lies before this wheat-growing district![157] One of the most prominent townsmen of Northam says that more wheat has been produced there than in any other part of the colony. Many farmers are also thinking of raising pigs, to be turned into the toothsome bacon. Mr. Throssell told me that there are big openings for bacon-curing, as the quantity of bacon and ham imported to Western Australia last year was very large.

The Department of Agriculture is doing good work, and experts are sent out into the different farming districts to teach the benefits of mixed farming to persons not already acquainted with them, and any one who wants advice on the management of vineyards, orchards and farms can, by writing to the Department, have an expert sent at once.

There is also scope for the establishment of a butter and cheese factory here. This valley of the Avon is an ideal spot for a large dairy, and might have thousands of sleek cows grazing on the rich pastures, and hundreds of rosy-cheeked dairymaids turning sweet cream into butter and cheese for the dusty goldseekers.

Northam has a fine town hall, some handsome churches, a convent, magnificent post-office, and many beautiful mansions and villas standing in fine grounds with nice gardens. Many of the favourite English flowers flourish here. Roses, honeysuckle, geraniums, and mignonette grow very fine in this soil, and the flowers indigenous to the colony bloom in sweet and infinite variety. The splendour of Western Australian flowers cannot be imagined by those who have not seen it. Their dainty delicate odours are unsurpassable, and if people in other lands only knew of our glorious wealth of flowers, I am sure they would be anxious to obtain seeds and cultivate the lovely blossoms.

Coming from one of the splendid homesteads around Northam, I passed a wheatfield in the valley that extended farther than my eye could reach. Oats grow to perfection. One farmer in the valley, who has a field of 90 acres, last year harvested as much as 36 bushels to the acre; barley is also grown with great success.


Our young country has a chance of great and lasting prosperity for population increases and new people settle on the rich lands to cultivate them. Mr. Throssell says: “We look forward to seeing our harbour filled with ships laden with not only gold, timber, pearl shell and wool products of the colony, but also with golden grain, wine and fruit.” Our Agent-General in London, Sir E. Wittenoom, recently said at a dinner in Paris: “There is something fascinating in the phenomena of the rise of this new colony of Western Australia, which 10 years ago, with an area equal to nearly half that of Europe, had only the population of the Isle of Man. Gold reefs were discovered, and the population advanced with great strides in less than 4 years from 50,000 to 186,000.”


Camel Water Train going to Coolgardie


Southern Cross—Early Discoveries of Gold—Heavy Tramps—Walking on Gold—Bayley’s Reward—Fabulous Finds—The Potato Ground—Bayley’s Death—The 90-Mile—The Treasure House—Great Boulder Find—The Londonderry.

Lake Polaris, or Southern Cross, was so called by the Phœnix party of prospectors, who, owing to an accidental discovery of gold by Mr. Ansty at Mugakine in 1887, determined thoroughly to prospect the country from Newcastle and the Yilgarn hills. Their first discovery of payable reefs was named Golden Valley, and, as would be supposed from the name, the reefs were rich. Travelling by night, guided by the Southern Cross, the party went on, and 30 miles farther on found reefs still richer on the site of what is now called Southern Cross. Two of the prospectors were eventually lost in the Bush, and their mates, taking a black fellow for tracking, followed their tracks, mostly in circles, for 30 miles, and at last found the two poor fellows dead, doubtless from thirst, as they were without clothing, which is always a sign of that terrible death.

Southern Cross was destined to become in a short time a most important place in Australian history, although it did not[160] become the talk of the world, as Coolgardie afterwards did. It was from Southern Cross that the news of the magnificent discovery of Bayley’s Reward and the other rich finds at Coolgardie came. From the time when Mr. Colreavy, of the Phœnix party, first found Golden Valley until now, the finds of gold on the Coolgardie goldfields have been without parallel in Australian history. Fraser’s Mine, Southern Cross, paid the first dividend received from any mine in Western Australia. Captain Oats, one of the most genial men in the West, is the legal manager for Fraser’s Mine.

When the train came to a stop on our arrival at the Cross, as it is now usually called, I must confess that I was not much attracted by the appearance of the place, for anything more dreary-looking one could not well see. Imagine a sandy desert, with here and there a stunted-looking tree, a string of camels, with Afghan guides, some bare-looking houses, and a few mines with poppet-heads standing out like crosses against the sky. That is Southern Cross. The train stops at 7 A.M. for 40 minutes for breakfast, and, after travelling from five o’clock the previous night, one feels inclined for hot coffee at least. I hurried across to the hotel, and after partaking of a really excellent breakfast, felt a little more friendly to the place, and had my luggage taken off the train with the intention of stopping here a day to make inquiries. After a two-hours rest I started off to see Fraser’s Mine, and then found that I had to walk half a mile in order to reach the town, the part where the hotel is being only the railway portion of it. Across flat uninteresting ground affording very scanty herbage to a few grazing goats, I came at last to the town proper, which is one fairly long street and two cross ones, of little houses and shops. I here presented my letter of introduction to the mayor, who, with his wife, was most hospitable; and, in fact, I found that, in spite of the dreary-looking surroundings, Southern Cross was not a bad place after all, and that there were a great many nice genial people living there. Fraser’s Mine is another two miles on. Nothing much is to be seen, but close to the mine is a[161] small empty house. It is the house formerly inhabited by the notorious Deeming (who murdered and cemented three wives and four children), in which he had stored the cement in readiness for a new grave for his next wife when he was stopped by his arrest. I looked inside with a kind of morbid interest, remembering well the stir there was in Melbourne at the time when this terrible man committed his last awful crime.

When one thinks of the hardships people had to endure when gold was first discovered in this desert, and when water was scarce and food still more so, one feels that they deserved all the money and gold they got.[2] It then took four days to get to the Cross from York and Northam, and the Bush roads were terrible. One party of fifty Victorian miners started from Albany on foot, on what was known as Holland’s Track, and after undergoing terrible privations, 35 of them reached the Cross in safety. Holland’s Track is so called from the following circumstances: John Holland and party set out from Brown Hill, 103 miles from Albany, to reach Coolgardie viâ Southern Cross, the distance being nearly 350 miles. They paid £50 for three horses and a conveyance. Their road was through an almost impenetrable bush. Holland’s way of finding the road was to ride ahead, the team having instructions to follow his tracks. He then made observations from the highest points, and was enabled to judge many miles ahead the nature of the country before him and the probable whereabouts of water. In this respect he was singularly successful. He would then take his bearings, retrace his tracks, and lead the team in as direct a line as possible to the place. The length of the track cut was 230 miles. The greatest portion of this was through country unexplored, and 130 miles were traversed without encountering tracks of any description, save that of an occasional emu. There were many high granite rocks in the country, one of such height and extent—200 feet—that they named it King Rock.[162] On investigation a splendid supply of water was found on the top of this, and at the base there is a salt-water lake 2 miles in circumference.

Another party started overland from Adelaide to the Western Australian goldfields, and went through hardships that can be better imagined than described. The course taken was from Port Augusta along the west coast to Israelite Bay, thence to Fraser Range and Southern Cross. The track ran through dense forests and sand plains, where little exists save stunted herbage, which not even a camel could eat, every bush on these plains being armed with thorns. The party camped about 6 miles from Southern Cross on the only decent patch of pasture for 100 miles.

A Bendigo miner, with his party, started from Narrogin, beyond Broome Hill, for Southern Cross. After going 15 miles they got bogged twice on the road, the horses being in the bog to their knees and the dray to the axle. The second time the men had to carry all their things on their backs. Next day they had to cut away with an axe big trees that had fallen across the track. Another day they camped 100 miles from the Cross, and on getting up early found the horses gone. After a long search of 15 miles, during which time they had nothing to eat, they finally found them. Next day the party set out again, and after 25 miles the axle broke and the dray became a total wreck; they then waited coming events, and luckily a teamster came along and took some of their things. The rest they had to leave behind. They arrived at Southern Cross after three weeks travelling.




These are a few of the experiences of the early days of the Golden West. After such experiences Southern Cross, no doubt, seemed an oasis in the desert. Who will say these poor men did not deserve success? I truly hope they got it. It was five years after the discovery of Southern Cross that Coolgardie was discovered by Arthur Bayley, who had formerly been working at the Cross, but afterwards went to[165] Nannine and took 1000 ounces of gold from a claim there; then returned to the Southern Cross in 1892, started from that place prospecting, eventually finding Coolgardie.

People who were here in 1892 tell me that when the news came of Bayley’s find the excitement was indescribable. Southern Cross was almost deserted. Coolgardie lies about 120 miles from the Cross, and along the track were to be seen men in scores, using every means of locomotion conceivable. Some were lucky enough to get teamsters to carry their swags; others had to carry them on their backs; others, again, had pack-horses; some had what is called a “one-wheeler” cart. The wheel is fixed underneath, in the centre is a frame or miniature platform, on which the goods and swags are placed; four men take hold, one at each corner, and a start is made. One enterprising man pushed in front of him an ordinary beer cask, which he had rigged up to resemble a miniature road-roller. His goods were on top and he was in the shafts. Other adventurous spirits had their goods in wheelbarrows, which they drove through the heavy sand. Camels sometimes crossed as much as 22 miles of sand plain at a stretch, getting one meal at the end. As pack-camels only travel at the rate of 2½ miles an hour, such a journey would occupy the whole of the daylight, then the Afghan drivers would let the camels lie down until the moon rose; then on again in search of food, until at 7 in the morning perhaps they were lucky enough to find some salt-bush on the shores of a salt lake.

At the stores at Southern Cross in those days you would see all sorts and conditions of men coming for their provisions. New chums with white soft hands would sometimes appear on their way to the goldfields. Those poor hands would look very different after their owners had put in a month on the burning sands of the mines.

The railway to Coolgardie from Southern Cross was begun in 1894 and opened soon afterwards.

Bakery and Miners’ Camp, Southern Cross

It was with feelings of curiosity that I viewed the desert-looking country as the train approached the world-famed place.[166] It is nearly always in waste, arid, and uninteresting places that gold is found. As the train drew up at the spacious station and I stepped out on to the wide platforms, where some hundreds of people were waiting, I looked round me and said to myself: “Am I really at the famous Coolgardie at last, the Queen Gold City of the West?” I took a cab—dozens of them were waiting—and drove to Summers’ Hotel, where apartments had been reserved for me, and with a sigh of contentment gave myself up to the thought of thoroughly inspecting this famed place. After a very good dinner, with white-waistcoated waiters in attendance, and with every elegance and comfort that could be suggested, I took my coffee on the broad balcony overlooking Bayley Street. I found several people who were here in the early days, and who gave me all the information I desired about the past and the present. The first thing that struck me in Coolgardie was, “What a splendid lot of men there are here!” They were, indeed, unusually tall, stalwart, and good-looking. And why not? The pick of the Australian colonies, the flower of our manhood, were here seeking for gold. Next I was struck by the fine wide streets, lit with electric light, the handsome buildings, and, lastly, the beautiful horses to be seen in cabs or carts, or ridden by horsemen. It is wonderful to view this city of the Golden West[167] which was so recently a desert of sand, mulga-trees, and scrub, where an occasional emu or kangaroo was monarch of all he surveyed; where Sir John Forrest and his party of explorers twice camped, little dreaming of the wealth of gold lying beneath their feet.

The facts about the finding of Coolgardie are thus given in Mr. Bayley’s own narrative: “One morning before breakfast, while going after horses, I picked up a nugget weighing half an ounce, and before dinner found 20 more ounces in the same way. We had left Southern Cross three months previously, prospecting, in consequence of the report of Mr. Hardman, the Government geologist, who had issued a map showing the places where gold was most likely to be found, and had not found any gold of consequence until now. The spot where we made the first find was about 200 miles from the present Reward Claim. In about a month, by specking and a little dry blowing, our gold consisted of about 200 ounces. Our rations ran out and we made tracks to Southern Cross, but went back to the old workings, and on Sunday afternoon, while fossiking around, we struck the reef. That evening we picked up about 50 ounces of gold, and on Monday we pegged out a prospecting area on the reef. That morning a party of three men came on the scene. They had followed us from Southern Cross. That day we obtained 300 ounces from the cap of the reef. The party who had followed us stole about 200 ounces from our claim, so we had to report it. For that purpose I went into the Cross, carrying 554 ounces, which I showed to the Warden. The field was then declared open. After another two days we collected another lot of gold, amounting to 528 ounces. I conveyed them to Southern Cross, and a fortnight after returning to the field had to make another trip there, escorting 642 ounces. All we found was right on the surface, and all we did was to knock the stuff out and dolly it with a pestle and mortar. There were six cartloads of tailings left. After the gold referred to had been extracted from the quantity of stuff, we obtained a[168] further amount of 298 ounces. We got a little over 2000 ounces altogether out of the claim. We only had a five-acre lease of the Reward Claim.”

The news of the unprecedented richness of Bayley’s Find had long ere this found its way over the entire world. Shortly after the goldfield was proclaimed, and when the enormous richness of Bayley’s Reward Claim was flashed all over the Australian continent, Mr. Sylvester Browne, of Melbourne, a brother to Mr. T. Browne (better known as Rolf Boldrewood, author of the famous Australian book, “Robbery under Arms”), travelled to Coolgardie and, after making an examination of the property, bought the Reward Claim from Bayley and Ford for £6000 and a sixth share in the mine. The bargain completed, Mr. Sylvester Browne and some three or four other gentlemen (mostly connections of his) set to work with their own hands, and with no other tools but picks, shovels, hammers, and an iron dolly, extracted the enormous quantity of 9000 ounces, or £36,000 worth of gold, in a few weeks. On April 8, 1893, a parcel of 2500 ounces, worth £10,000, arrived in Perth, and was lodged in the Union Bank. Then, on June 7, 3185 ounces more were received by this bank and exhibited, and on September 6 a third lot of 3605 ounces were deposited by Mr. Everard Browne on behalf of Bayley’s Reward Company, and, finally, during the Christmas holidays, a trophy, valued at £30,000, was gazed upon by admiring crowds at the office of the bank. The trophy is a stirring sight. It consists of 7000 ounces of smelted gold and 600 or 700 ounces of rich quartz specimens, and everybody, from the Governor downwards, has been to see it. This gold was taken from a depth of only 40 feet, while some of the biggest nuggets at Ballarat, Victoria, were found more than 1000 feet below the surface. It is now placed beyond all doubt that our golden reefs are what is termed “permanent,” a fact which pessimists, both in and out of the colony, have until now been loath to admit.




Facts are stubborn things, and an ounce of experience is[171] worth a ton of theory. Here was a mine which in a few months yielded over,£80,000. The following is an extract from a Perth newspaper:—

“The cry from Coolgardie is still of astounding discoveries of such rich gold-bearing rock as mankind has never known before. There is actually being exhibited at Counsel’s Stores a lump of gold and stone weighing a little over two hundredweight, in which, it was estimated by experts, there was nearly a hundredweight and a half of the precious metal. It looks as if the time were within reasonable distance when Punch’s old prophecy would be realised, and the Cheapside hawkers be seen going about with gold snuff-boxes and a ha’porth of snuff for a penny.”

One of the prospectors wrote thus: “I left the field at the end of January last, when things were at their earliest stage, and even then phenomenal finds were of daily occurrence. I remember one evening particularly when the whole camp was thrown into a furore of excitement owing to three men coming in with a gunny sack full of quartz some 60 lb. in weight (I saw and handled the stone myself), and before the evening they had dollied 150 ounces from it. At Adams’ Reef, 25 miles north of Bayley’s, I saw tons of stone on which the gold was sticking in small nuggets. There was one place we christened the Potato Ground, owing to the large size of the nuggets picked up there.

“On Sundays, by way of rest, picks and shovels were abandoned, and almost every one in the camp went out for an afternoon’s specking (looking on the ground for nuggets). Before leaving Coolgardie I had the pleasure of seeing over Bayley’s Reef. I shall never forget the sight; it settled my career, and I do not think I shall ever follow any avocation but that of a miner; for there on this reef, instead of, as one usually sees in an ordinarily rich reef, specks and perhaps here and there nuggets of gold—on Bayley’s there were veins, in fact, literally outstanding bars of gold. So much so that if Mr. Bayley had given me leave to do an hour’s work on it and take[172] the results, my trip to the old country and back to Western Australia would have cost me nothing, and I warrant I could have had a pretty good time too.”

Arthur Bayley did not live long to enjoy the wealth he acquired through his discovery, as he died at Melbourne in 1897, at the early age of 34 years. Gold-mining will trouble him no more. The handsome city of Coolgardie remains a monument to his memory.

Many other reefs had by this time been discovered by various parties at different distances from Coolgardie, one notably big and rich one at the 90-Mile, called the “Roaring Gimlet.” No stores or provisions lay that way, consequently great privations had to be endured. However, those who managed to remain got surprisingly rich stone on the surface. Here the quartz was quite white and barren looking, but, on sinking, rich alluvial gold was found at the rate of 250 ounces to the ton. Half-way to the 90-Mile, at what they call the 45-Mile, surprisingly rich results were also obtained.

The camp at Bayley’s was at this time a scene of intense excitement; 3000 men were on the field. Such a collection of habitations was never before seen—blanket-shelters, bush-humpies, and tents covered the ground; men were digging, specking, dry blowing, and knapping every bit of available quartz. Then provisions and water got scarce; famine was feared, and many of the miners had to move on. “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” Many a poor parched prospector on the weary tramp has said this, and many explorers in this vast country have given the same cry. No water—this is the terror of the Australian desert, more deadly than wild beasts or savages in other countries. As the dragon in olden days guarded the gate of the Hesperides wherein grew the golden apples, so thirst, famine and fever seemed at first to guard Nature’s treasure-house. Civilisation and engineering have now greatly diminished these terrors, and in the new Eldorado large cities have arisen where once was an inhospitable desert.


The marvellous City of Kalgoorlie stands on the site of Hannan’s Find.

Twelve months after the finding of Coolgardie an important discovery was made 24 miles away in a north-easterly direction. About 150 miners had set out to search for some lost prospectors near Yerilla. They were compelled by lack of water to halt, and actually camped on the spot where the find was afterwards made! Rain fell and the main body went forward and continued their search, but two of the party, named Hannan and Harrigan, remained, and stumbled on what has since proved to be the richest field the world has ever known. They had begun specking, and obtained nearly 100 ounces in a few days. As gold is worth nearly £4 per ounce, that was good work. They returned to Coolgardie, reported the find, and secured an area equal to 10 alluvial claims. Nearly 2000 men followed them on their return to the find, most of whom remained there. It would be impossible to tell in words the value and marvellous richness of this new Eldorado. Nine thousand ounces of gold were taken from 4 tons of stone at Hannan’s mine, and other claims of 50 feet square yielded 400 and 500 ounces of gold each. Some of the prospectors were new chums, and had never been on a goldfield before. One who knew nothing of mining sunk his shaft by sheer luck fair on the gold. Hundreds of practical diggers had walked over the ground before, little thinking that the ironstone gravel was so rich in the precious metal and that they were passing over thousands of ounces. Another man dollied (that is, crushed by hand labour with a heavy weight) 650 ounces in three weeks, the only implements being half a bottle of quicksilver and the head of a pick. Many a time these prospectors of the gold country have felt that a spring of fresh water and a few loaves of bread would be more welcome to them than all the gleaming gold they were getting. Under what trials did they work! No water to wash the dirt, and yet the ground so moist that they had to dry the dirt before they could blow it to find the gold; yet they persevered, and many found fortunes by hard work and persistence. No[174] wonder many miners say that gold-mining is not so easy as falling off a log.

An Adelaide syndicate at this time sent Messrs. W. G. Brookman and Pearce, with a capital of only £150, out of which passages, camels, and rations had to be found, to prospect around this marvellous new find, which they did with such success that they discovered a still more wonderful place 3 miles from Hannan’s Find, and now called the Boulder. Their find has since proved the greatest of all. The first claim was called the Great Boulder, and the property included two ironstone hills, one 100 yards long by 50 feet wide; the other twice that size. These hills were covered with rich stones, the prospectors picking them up from all parts, and Mr. Pearce picked up several large slugs (nuggets) at the foot of the hill. They afterwards took up several more claims, and soon found these to contain enormous gold-bearing reefs. Messrs. Brookman and Pearce, by keeping to the old adage, that “a still tongue makes a wise head,” remained undisturbed, and were able to take up all the ground they wanted. Lake View Consols, Ivanhoe Associated, and other rich mines were taken up by this little syndicate, and are now valued at £21,000,000. Mr. Brookman, as you may suppose, is now one of the millionaires of Western Australia.

The next great find was the Londonderry, in May 1894, when thousands of ounces were dollied out from the surface. Lord Fingall bought out the claim for an interest and £180,000 cash. Then followed the Wealth of Nations, from whose first find was taken an enormous quantity of gold and specimens worth £20,000. This claim was soon bought up for £150,000. The inevitable rush to both these places followed. The men all seemed to run mad in their thirst for gold. It was at this time that almost everything showing gold was snapped up and put on the London market. Stories savouring of the Arabian Nights were in free circulation, and thousands of people from all parts of the world began to flock to Western Australia, which from comparative obscurity has now become[175] the greatest gold-mining country the world has ever seen, and, no doubt, the interior of this vast country holds an almost inexhaustible quantity of gold-bearing quartz, which in years to come, when railways and other appliances have made it easier to reach the far-off fields, will be discovered and used. We may see such marvellous discoveries of gold that “Golden Western Australia” will be the fitting name for the once neglected Cinderella of the colonies.


Bayley Street, Coolgardie, 1897


Coolgardie—The Camels are Coming—The Landlord’s Record—Meeting a Friend—A Goldfields Camp—“Nap”—The Reward Mine—Bonnie Vale—Londonderry—Nearly Lost—King Solomon’s Mine—Hampton Plains.

At 9 o’clock in the morning after my arrival in the Golden City, I stood gazing in amazement at a string of 135 camels, with numerous baby camels, such funny-looking creatures, walking by their mothers! The Afghan leaders came crying “Hoostah,” and their Indian dresses and huge turbans made a most picturesque sight for eyes that had before only seen the like in pictures, or, yes, one, I think, at the Melbourne “Zoo.” Then another camel came trotting or galloping with a European on its back, who seemed as much at home as on a horse. I am told camel-riding gives one a sea-sick feeling. I have never tried the experiment of a ride, though several ladies on the fields have done so. To look at the camel you would think a step-ladder required to mount one, but it is not so, as the camel kneels down and allows you to get on his back; you then cling on tight, while he proceeds to get up, which he does with an awful jerk, at the same time making a peculiar bellowing noise, which sent me away to a good distance. When I tell you that a camel’s hind legs will reach any part of him, over his head, round his chest, and on to his hump, and[179] that he has the unpleasant habit of shooting out his legs without warning, and also that his neck is of the same pliancy, you will not wonder that the “ship of the desert” has no charm for me. The camel is the great beast of burden of Western Australia; the first were brought as an experiment to the West by two Hindoo traders; these animals quickly came into favour in the waterless districts, and now there are thousands of them carrying supplies to the different parts of the colony. They are very obedient to their Afghan masters, but it is difficult for a white man ever to obtain great influence over them; they never seem to take kindly to white people. A string of these useful but ungainly animals is led by one of their own species, a string passing through a peg in the nose of every camel in the train, and keeping them in a line. The headgear of a leading camel is a gay affair; a network of fancy coloured wool with many a bright-hued tassel and white shells, finished off with blue and red beads. The Afghans are very careful and proud of their “leading gentleman.”




Taking a drive round Coolgardie I was much surprised at the size of the place. It is four miles square. Driving out to the racecourse we passed the recreation-ground. As it was Saturday, many of the boys of the town were playing cricket. We passed through the suburb of Toorak. Certainly there are no fine mansions; for the most part the places are Hessian camps with occasional tents, but there are also some very comfortable-looking wooden cottages, many with praiseworthy attempts at ornamentation, painted light green, and not at all unpleasing to the eye in this sandy and desert-looking country. There are no large trees here at all, a few medium-sized ones, and plenty of mulga scrub and salt-bush, which looks most dry and uninviting, but contains much nourishment, so that sheep and cattle thrive well on it, and mulga is almost the only food of the camel. Returning to Coolgardie, we passed through the town again and crossed the railway bridge to the other chief suburb, Montana. Here we saw the fine residence of Warden Finnerty, and the hospital, called John of God. On we went past the[180] suburb along the road to the famed Londonderry. The country just here was very pretty; there is a deep gully on one side with a good deal of vegetation, which, after all the sand and mulga, was most pleasing to the eye. The sun was just setting, and the brilliant red of the sky seemed to cast a reflection on the earth. The mines in the background, with the tents scattered round, a camel-train along the bush, and the town in the distance, formed a unique picture. Returning we took another direction, past the oldest part of the town, and past the Afghans’ camp. The day’s work was done and hundreds of camels were lying down or munching the mulga. The Afghans were preparing their evening meal and chattering to one another in shrill voices. I soon saw quite enough of this part, and was not sorry to return to my comfortable quarters at the hotel.

The population of Coolgardie and the immediate neighbourhood is at the present time about 13,000; a few years ago there were more than twice that number, most of whom have gone to the Kalgoorlie and other fields, as the enormous richness of Coolgardie is now a thing of the past, although many mines are still yielding well.

There is a really splendid post-office, also a court-house and warden’s offices, recently finished. These are three of the finest public buildings in Western Australia. There are many other fine buildings, notably the Grand Hotel, Union Bank, and Beaconsfield Chambers. The Chamber of Mines is another handsome building on a splendid site, and a most valuable place for the mining community. The Chamber of Mines keeps the people of the world well informed concerning the great gold-mining industry, and communicates statistical information of a trustworthy character to every member interested in the mines of the colony, as well as information concerning the fairness and justice of legislation dealing with mines. One half of the building is occupied by the Coolgardie Club. Looking at these magnificent buildings in the wide and spacious streets, all lighted up by electricity, and supplied with every luxury, one[181] can scarcely realise that a few years ago Coolgardie was a sandy desert; where many men went through hardships almost beyond imagination; where fever reigned supreme; where the bare necessities of life were daily longed for in vain; where comforts were the things to be only dreamed of and the isolation was terrible; where tinned meat, the only kind obtainable, became almost hateful, and received the name of “tinned dog”; where one could almost cry, “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink,” since the pioneers often found themselves in a wilderness with nothing but salt water, quite unfit to drink, and refused even by the camel, who is supposed to drink almost anything obtainable. Camels would stray away seeking for water, and then the owners would return to their camps disheartened, saying that they had no time to look for gold, it took all their time to look for water and camels. The terrible longing for home news, and the uncertainty of getting any; the wall that seemed to divide the miners from the rest of the world, together with the feeling that there was untold wealth of gold lying beneath their feet if they could only hold out and keep up strength to get at it, made their lives almost intolerable, and many of those first prospectors have gone under, poor fellows! leaving others to reap the reward and to make Coolgardie the wonderful place it is to-day.

Then came better times, when sufficient food could be obtained, and water condensers were brought, which, by a certain heat process, made the salt water more fit for use, although it was still sometimes so bad that the rich prospectors often performed their ablutions in champagne by preference to it.

Going down Bayley Street that morning there was quite a stir outside one of the smaller hotels. Of course, woman’s curiosity prompted me to stop and look, and I found a wedding-party just returned from church. The landlord of this hotel, Mr. Faahan, has really had a unique experience in servants, for this is the twenty-second of his women assistants, presumably in the bar, who has entered the bonds of wedlock while in his[182] employ. The hotel is one of the oldest in Coolgardie. I have since entered it and met the genial Mrs. Faahan, who took me outside and showed me an old tree beneath which the first drink under licence was served in Coolgardie. The place that is now the kitchen was then the bar, gold-dust was plentiful, and champagne ran like streams of water. Opposite to Mr. Faahan’s is the Cremorne Theatre, a very large place now, but in the first days it was a shed with a stage made of rough planks laid across beer-casks, and no accommodation for visitors to sit down, and it is said that the miners used to pass the time between the “turns,” as they call them, by calling out the favourite players and throwing nuggets or screws of gold-dust at them. Good old days!




Taking my bicycle I went for a tour of inspection around the various streets adjacent to the town, where I found many very nice houses, and to my surprise saw a lady in a very nice carriage drawn by a pair of greys. Truly, I ought to be surprised at nothing in wonderful Coolgardie. The roads here are the most level and the best for cycling I have ever ridden on; not only are the streets remarkably wide, but the footpaths also. The town is on quite a plain. Riding merrily along I was overtaken by a man cyclist, who did not favour me with more than a passing glance, lady cyclists being no rarity here. I, however, recognised him as an old friend and called out, “Jack, don’t you know me?” He stopped in astonishment at seeing me riding about Coolgardie on a bicycle, as we had last said good-bye in New South Wales, three years since, before his leaving for the Golden West, whither I then had no intention of migrating. After a little chat, in which I discovered that Jack had not struck a gold patch or “made his pile yet,” he invited me to the camp to dinner with himself and the boys (his mates), and feeling quite anxious really to see for myself what the inside of the camp was like, I did not require a second invitation. We accordingly rode off side by side, past endless rows of tents and hessian camps, all alive with the miners now home for their dinner. Some of them had wives in the camp[185] to cook their dinner, but the majority of the campers had to cook for themselves. “We must hurry up, for I am cook this week,” said my friend, and pointing to a parcel on the bicycle, remarked, “Here is our dinner that is to be.” No tinned dog now, as it used to be, but real, genuine steak. On arrival at the camp we found two of the boys anxiously awaiting the arrival of the steak, and somewhat surprised at seeing Jack accompanied by a lady cyclist, whom, however, they greeted with much heartiness. Poor fellows! here were four of them all away from home and mother; all had given up good appointments on the other side to come over and search for gold. They were all very jolly, however, and said that they had no cause to complain of Coolgardie. My first anxiety was to inspect the camp, which was a neat one. It consisted of five little Hessian houses: four of these were the sleeping apartments of the four mates, and two of them especially were models of comfort, as far as the boys could manage it. One was lined with bright cretonne, a shaded lamp by the side of the bed, a rough bookcase with the owner’s favourite books and photographs of various friends opposite; a nice cosy chair and a wooden table, made by my friend Jack, completed the furniture. Then another had his camp lined with green baize, very nice in winter, but too hot, I imagine, in summer-time. Here was a nice little table, two shelves painted with white enamel paint, and some sketches done by the owner; many little presents that had been sent from home were being proudly shown to me when we heard the welcome sound, “Dinner is ready.” We then adjourned to the fifth tent, which proved to be dining-room, parlour, and card-room in one. A table down the middle covered with oil-cloth, a bench at each side, with a side shelf and rustic dresser, formed the furniture. The steak was cooked splendidly. My thoughts went back to the time when I had seen Jack last, quite a swell young man at Newcastle, N.S.W., and now here he was in a wide hat and shirt-sleeves, cook to the camp, and looking, I must say, all the better for his roughing experiences. They had brought out the man in him.[186] Before he was somewhat inclined to be effeminate, now he had become a fine fellow. But I am wandering away from the dinner-party. The butter was good, although it was tinned butter, and the bread as light as a feather. “The baker calls every day,” they told me, “and if we are all out we pin up a memo. on the door and tell him how many loaves to leave.” “Now,” said Jack, “I must go out and get the pudding.” I felt I ought at least to assist, and was also a little curious to see how it was being cooked, so getting up in spite of protests that I was the guest and must do nothing, I went out to quiz. I found the fireplace consisted of two iron spikes in the ground with a bar across, from which hooks were hanging, and on the hooks were two billies (tin cans with wire at top to hang by), one with tea and the other with pudding. I was presently to have what we call in the colonies “billy tea.” I could see no pudding-cloth, but presently Jack fished out a shining tin which proved to contain one of Swallow and Ariel’s Melbourne plum puddings, and a delicious one it was. Mothers in the colonies and in England need never fear that their boys away on the goldfields do not get nice puddings or cakes while Swallow and Ariel are to the fore. Returning to the dining-tent pudding laden, I found the boys had just extracted from a tin a sweet cake and also a preserved pineapple. This, with tinned Viking cream and the billy tea, finished up a dinner fit for a Princess of Coolgardie, as indeed I felt myself to be that evening, with those four boys doing me homage. I found out afterwards that they had all these nice things in the camp in reserve for Christmas, but they were only too glad to open them all in my honour. Apropos of tinned articles, the piles of discarded tins on the fields make one open one’s eyes; there must be millions of them. One of my friends told me that in earlier days, when everything in the palpitating heat-waves and fearful grilliness of the camps got destroyed with heat and dust, they used to come home to their meals feeling almost inclined to fall down and worship the tinned vegetables and meat that they had buried in holes to try and keep cool, and that these were the only eatable things to[187] be got. Canned apples were a special luxury for Sundays, and took them back to orchards and gardens where they had wandered in the past. “Those apples, with a lump of plum pudding, full of good things, sustained our waning energies and brought us up smiling out of our then dreary camp life, and,” said another, “it brought back happy recollections of civilisation and home.”

After dinner we played a game of Nap on the camp-table, and I was the winner of nine shillings, after which they all escorted me back to my hotel, calling in on our way to see some other friends at another camp, which proved to be a more pretentious place than the first, and consisted of one of the pretty cottages before spoken of, the tenants again bachelors. The inmates, a mining manager, his secretary, and clerk, are attended by a Japanese servant; a very nice piano was in the pretty drawing-room. One of the boys sang “Queen of my Heart,” in compliment he said to me, and after a friendly glass of wine we resumed our bicycles and rode gaily into the town, where I bade them good-bye, after spending a most enjoyable afternoon in a goldfields’ camp.

Burbanks Grand Junction Mine

I went next day to see Bayley’s Mine, where those wonderful first finds were made. As I drove down broad Bayley Street and looked at the stately buildings, I could not but think of those early days and of the excitement of that time.

Of course I did not expect to pick up lumps of gold as people did then, but I certainly intended to keep my eyes very wide open, for I knew it was not an infrequent occurrence for men to find good slugs of gold about Coolgardie still. There are always a lot of men fossicking (looking for gold at the surface)[188] about Bayley’s, and recently a man found a specimen of quartz weighing 144 ounces, and containing 97 ounces of pure gold; later on he found several smaller pieces near the same place. The country around Bayley’s is not very striking. Beyond the mines working and the smoke from their batteries there is nothing to be seen except miles of holes where the prospectors have been at work seeking for gold. It must have been a busy scene when they were here. Thousands of miners digging away, and then washing the stuff in tin dishes to see if there was a show of gold; and if one hole showed nothing, away they turned to another. The manager of Bayley’s took me round and told me that the mine is still very rich.

Vale of Coolgardie Mine

I think the people of Coolgardie ought to erect a memorial pillar to mark the wonderful spot which may well be called the Mother of Coolgardie. Little did the pioneers think, when they camped on this spot a few years ago, that the arid desert would turn into a fine city, with more golden country farther out, and other cities, with tens of thousands of people earning good wages, and many amassing large fortunes. Such a transformation in so short a time the world has never known.

After leaving Bayley’s I crossed through a network of poles until I struck the main road, and drove off to Bonnie Vale, which deserves its name, the country being very hilly and[189] quite surprisingly fresh and green. Here many fine mines, viz., the Vale of Coolgardie, New Victoria Consols, and others, under the control of Mr. A. E. Morgans, the member for the district, are in full swing, and only wanting plenty of water to give big results. A very nice little town lies close to the mines. In another direction are the Big Blow and the Flagstaff; then come Burbanks and Burbanks Birthday Gift. Burbanks Birthday Gift is really a splendid mine. The main shaft, with its steel poppet-heads, is well worth a visit, and so are the interesting models of different parts of the mine, which were sent to the Paris Exhibition. Lady Charlotte Mine is well worth inspection; a fine new battery has lately been erected, and operations are now in full swing. The gold I saw from this mine—what they call “coarse free gold”—was very splendid, and the quartz with the gold showing through was exceedingly rich.

I next visited the famous Londonderry Mine, some five miles farther on through the bush. I had some difficulty in finding my way, as, after leaving the last mine a few miles behind, there were several tracks, and I did not know which to take. However, I took the one to the right, and, after going on another mile, came across a party of five prospectors, who looked somewhat surprised when I drove up and asked to be directed to the Londonderry. They were, however, most civil, and gave me the requisite directions, one even offering to accompany me. That, however, I thought unnecessary, so I drove off, and soon came in sight of the big poppet-heads of Londonderry, and none too soon, for I had just discovered that a portion of the buggy I was driving had given way and I could not have gone on much farther. The mine and its surroundings gave one a very favourable impression. Everything looked bright and nice. I drove up to the manager’s office, who immediately sent a man to take the buggy to the blacksmith’s shop for repair, the horse to the stables for a feed, after which he kindly invited me to his house, and giving instructions to his housekeeper to[190] attend to all my wants, had to leave me, as it was time to go down the mine for inspection. I was not at all sorry for a rest in a cool room, with a cup of tea and some excellent cakes made by the housekeeper, for after the drive of ten miles in the hot sun through the Coolgardie bush I felt that there are drawbacks to travelling. When the manager came up from below he escorted me over the mine and showed me everything of interest. Londonderry was, after Bayley’s, the richest find near Coolgardie, and held a wonderful record. The mine is the brightest-looking I have seen. Everything about it seemed spick and span; the manager’s house was a model of comfort. There was a store, a blacksmith’s shop, offices, and, indeed, every appurtenance that could be desired for a mine. The manager unlocked the great iron safe and showed me such gold that I had never seen before. I felt like Shakespeare’s Benedick, “I did not think that I should live to see such gold.” It was really the most brilliant and beautiful sight I had ever seen. One large block of white quartz was thickly studded with gold in nuggets all over it. I wanted to pick one off, but on trying to do so found it firmly imbedded in the quartz. Over a dozen magnificent specimens came from one rich pocket. Down below in this wonderful mine, at the 200-foot level, a huge case is fitted up with iron doors for the reception of the rich surplus ore that the safes cannot hold. I admired some peculiar-looking specimens that I was told were felspar, which is valuable for glass-making, and is found here in large quantities.




After all the kindness I had received from the manager I bade him a reluctant farewell, as it was getting late and a ten-mile drive through strange country to Coolgardie lay before me, but I knew there was a moon that night, and did not fear the Australian bush at all, so I refused the offer of an escort, and drove off by a different road from the one I came for I wanted to see the township of Londonderry before I left. This is about half a mile from the mine, past the tidy camps of the men, who all came out and bade me a cheery good-bye.[193] I stopped long enough in the town to see that it is remarkably well laid out, with a very wide principal street, a few very nice buildings, viz., post-office, store, hotel and church; also a nice recreation-ground, where a number of the miners and other townfolk were playing cricket. But I had to hurry away, so, turning round a corner and following the telegraph-line, I started for Coolgardie. The sun was just going down, the heat of the day was over, and with the evening a refreshing breeze had arisen. I drove on quite happily. Nothing happened, except that I met two swagmen in the Bush, who looked at me so hard that I must confess I whipped up the horse and got on as quickly as I could. I was now on quite a different road from the one I came by. Everything looked strange, and I began to wonder whether I was lost, but consoled myself by looking at the telegraph-line, which I knew must lead to Coolgardie. The Wealth of Nations Mine lies in this direction, one of the Western Australian golcondas of early days, where discoveries of gold, frequently in pockets—small holes containing comparatively large quantities of gold—such as had not previously been known, were made near the surface, and caused the wildest excitement. It was, however, too late to go there now, so I continued on the same road. Another mile brought a big mine in view, and to my relief I found myself at Burbanks again, and on the main road, so I was all right, and drove merrily along, meeting only a carter or so walking by the side of their teams, who, seeing a lady driving alone, said, “Good-night, missus,” and went steadily on. As we got to the rise of the hill at Montana the presence of hundreds of lights gave me welcome to the Queen City of Gold, so there was a safe ending to that day’s journey, and both myself and horse were quite ready for a good supper when we arrived at the hotel.

Next morning I started for Hampton Plains, which is a large area of ground taken up many years ago by an English syndicate at 2s. 6d. per acre for pastoral purposes. However, when the rush of ’92 broke out at Coolgardie, the news[194] travelled to England that the great rush was only a few miles from their territory. No wonder that they then immediately sent out an expert, Mr. Lapage, M.I.E.C.E., to reconnoitre. On Mr. Lapage’s arrival he found that a considerable number of alluvial surface holes had already been struck, and 1000 ounces of gold had been taken out within their boundary. Going over the land he found shows of gold in various places; owing to the scarcity of water, nothing much, however, had ever been developed there until recently, when the estate was thrown open to prospectors. Large brickworks are now started on one part of the plains, and the demand from Kalgoorlie for bricks is so great that the company have lately duplicated their plant in order to make bricks enough to meet the orders they receive.

On my way to Hampton Plains I called at Bayley’s South, which are yielding up very good gold. I saw a lot of ore come up out of the mine that showed gold distinctly. I felt myself becoming quite an expert now. The ore brought up here is in part hornblende schist, carrying very visible gold. The manager told me the gold had evidently been shed from the reef into the surrounding country rock, where there are cross reefs. I also saw some ironstone, which I was told was very rich, but the gold in it was so fine that one required to use a magnifying-glass, with the aid of which I could distinctly see it.

I next visited King Solomon’s Mine—not Rider Haggard’s famous one but an exceedingly interesting namesake. Here there are quantities of the diorite mixture of felspar and hornblende, with gold distinctly showing through. This is an unusual and peculiar geological formation, and the best specimens found on the field are at this mine. The gold has been found impregnated in the diorite at a considerable distance from the reefs, probably deposited there by water. I presently passed the Golden Queen, and thought this such a nice name for a mine that I had to get down and inspect it. I was lucky in just being in time to see two bars of gold come up from the smelting[195] works, and felt very covetous. The manager told me that if I liked I could take them. I tried to do so and found they were too heavy for me to carry, so perforce had to leave them, much to my regret. I now approached Hampton Plains, a very flat part of the country, as its name indicates. I looked around in vain for a hostelry where I might put up and refresh myself and horse, but no sign of anything of the kind appeared; about a dozen nice-looking houses in a line were all I could see, the rest was plain, plain, plain. I summoned courage to open the double gates of one of the houses and drove up to ask for a drink for my poor horse, who seemed almost overcome with the heat of the day. A man seeing me came to inquire what I wanted, and while I was speaking to him a lady appeared on the broad verandah and kindly invited me to enter. I was really glad to do so. Mrs. Ridsdale—for such was the lady’s name—kindly told the man to put the horse up and go and try and find enough water for a drink for him. They were really without water on this dreadful hot day, waiting for the water-carts to come with supplies. However, I was hospitably entertained with soda-water and claret and biscuits, and after a rest, finding that my horse had been refreshed with water, and also with some food, the carts having arrived, I started off to investigate Hampton Plains. I did not find a great deal to see. Several claims have been taken up, with no very great results so far, except at the Italians Reward Claim, where some very rich stuff has been got from the mine. There I was shown some handsome specimens, which were kept in pickle-bottles, and very much admired one large nugget, weighing 15 ounces. The land around here seemed suitable for pastoral pursuits, if it were not for the scarcity of water, a difficulty which will be overcome when the river of fresh water arrives at Coolgardie, and there will no doubt in time be plenty of gardens and orchards, for the soil is most productive. I saw a finger-post marked, “To Red Hill.” That is another goldfield likely to be rich in the future.



The Golden Butterfly—Norseman—Gold Exhibits—Coolgardie—Alluvial Treasures.

Before leaving for England Mr. St. John Winne, the manager of the Butterfly Leases at Red Hill, showed me some marvellously rich gold specimens that he was taking with him to show the English investors. One particular piece from which the mine derives its name is in the shape of a butterfly—wings, body, even the little horns are perfectly like one. I have read the “Golden Butterfly,” and have seen many golden butterflies careering in the air, but never thought to have one of natural solid gold in my hand. Mr. Winne has now returned from England, and I believe the English shareholders’ eyes were fairly dazzled with the samples of the prospective wealth before them.

Golden Butterfly Nugget

It is 40 miles from Coolgardie to Red Hill and Lake Lefroy, and the journey is anything but pleasant; the “Brumbies,” however, knew their way, and the manner in which they got through the bush was astounding. There was no road, only a track, but they took us safely over fallen trees, &c., for which we were duly thankful. There were several camps of prospectors about and the men seemed to be quite contented, and were getting[197] gold; they were, however, like all alluvial miners, rather reticent about the quantity. Water is very scarce; it was a good thing we had provided ourselves with water-bags and a good hamper of provisions, otherwise we should have fared badly, for the only bush hotel we came to was made of the proverbial tin, and everything inside was nearly at boiling-point, so we preferred camping out under a tree. Water-bags are a great institution in Western Australia. They are made of canvas, and have a metal spout; as you drive along they swing in the air, which makes the water delightfully cool. Lake Lefroy is a beautiful-looking lake, and I longed for a bathe after the intense heat and dust of the day; but, alas! the water was but a mirage, and you could only look and long. It was, however, a beautiful sight; the white salt on its surface, stretching for miles, seemed to reflect the blue sky with the sun shimmering on it. There are a great number of lakes in Western Australia, but they are nearly all dry and salt; no water can be obtained except by boring, and then it has to be condensed before it is usable. After being condensed it is quite palatable, and many fortunes have been made on the goldfields by people owning condensers.

The Main Shaft, Butterfly Leases.

Red Hill is not a bad little place. The accommodation of the Bush “hotel” was very primitive, but we were in the “back-blocks” of the West, and felt that we must not be too critical. There were several mines and numbers of alluvial miners at[198] work getting good results, and very sanguine of making a big find one of these days. I saw the stope (excavation) where the Treasure Chamber was, in which all the before-mentioned gold at the Butterfly Mine was found, and I wished a similar rich pocket might be struck while I was on the spot. Thirty miles from Red Hill is Wigiemooltha, and 65 miles farther on is Norseman, a rich mining town in the Dundas Goldfield. In the future there is to be a railway line through these places, and, the people hope, to Esperance, a seaport 200 miles from Coolgardie and 237 miles from Albany. Norseman is a very flourishing goldfields town of over 1000 people. There are some good mines there, the foremost one, The Norseman, turning out considerably over 1000 ounces of gold per month. The Princess Royal and Break o’ Day Mines have also given splendid results, sensationally rich gold having been recently found at the latter mine.

The clergyman at Norseman performs the tying of the marriage-knot for many hundred miles around, and it is recorded that two couples were so anxious for connubial felicity, and wrote so many pressing letters for the minister to come and unite them, that he started on his bicycle for a 150-mile ride through the desert country, and that when within 20 miles of the place the bicycle broke down and he had to push it the rest of the way! Had this not happened he had intended going on another trifle of 100 miles or so to make another couple happy! The breakdown, however, put a stop to his travels, and the couple are perhaps still watching and waiting for the parson, who returned to Norseman per camel.

An exhibition was being held at Coolgardie during one of my visits there, and was very interesting on account of the many magnificent gold exhibits. As well as the gold, there were many splendid exhibits from the agricultural districts, which opened the eyes of the goldfields people, most of whom had never been in any other part of the colony but the goldfields, and who had an idea that gold was Western Australia’s only product. Many of these people have been so much impressed[199] that they have taken up agricultural land with a view to having a country residence, to which they can retire after the heat and dryness of the goldfields and recruit while planting their gardens. In the Agricultural and Fruit Court bunches of grapes, weighing 8 lb. each, apples, pears, and quinces, 2 lb. each, pomegranates, oranges, and other fruits, were shown in rich and tempting profusion. A trophy of pumpkins, marrows, and cucumbers of all hues, shapes, and sizes was displayed. The crown of the trophy was a huge brown pumpkin weighing 165 lb.! A vast array of watermelons, some weighing 50 lb. each, mangels and other sorts of homely vegetables, of immense size, were to be seen. All kinds of cereals were represented. It is a fact that no less than 32 distinct varieties of wheat can be grown in the colony. The wool I thought very good, considering what a small quantity is grown here yet. The collection certainly demonstrates the fitness of certain parts of the colony for raising flocks. One fleece of 330 days growth weighed 13½ lb. I was also surprised to see some cotton that was grown on the East Murchison at Mount Warragi.

The row of gilt pyramids representing the output of gold from each field struck my eye as soon as I entered the exhibition. It is interesting to remember that, when the Colonial and Indian Exhibition was held at South Kensington, London, Western Australia was not known as a gold-producing country, and was represented principally by wild flowers. In this exhibition the collection of auriferous ores was simply marvellous. There were many bags of rich gold ores from all parts of the country, as well as curious beautiful and interesting specimens of tin, iron, copper, asbestos, mica, and coal; in fact, samples of almost everything found beneath the earth’s surface in this wide colony. Then the gold: gold in granite, gold in quartz, gold in diorite, gold in telluride, gold in the wash, gold in the pug, gold in all kinds of alluvial deposits—in fact, gold, gold everywhere. A section of the calcite vein from the Block 45 Mine, where the[200] telluride was first discovered, is interesting. The auriferous breccia from Nullagine, in the North-west, was shown to me by my guide, who explained that the stuff was of similar formation to the gold deposits of the Rand in South Africa, in which diamonds are sometimes found; and, speaking of Nullagine, there is now a syndicate there looking for diamonds. The mine is called after Lady Forrest, some small diamonds have been found, and from the latest reports fresh wonders are expected there soon.

There was a splendid specimen of fine flake gold, and a magnificent large piece of quartz with gold all through it. This was from the Brown Hill Mine. The Golden Horseshoe showed such wonderful specimens of richness that my eyes were fairly dazzled, and it is impossible to enumerate them. Free gold, mustard gold, and the sparkling sponge gold that really shone like diamonds were shown me, and a part of the rich finds that were discovered when the shares went up to £45; it nearly took my breath away to look at them. The Associated Mines had a wonderful exhibit, the finest of its kind in the world. It consisted of a block of ore showing massive telluride gold of different kinds. A dark mineral in the centre of the block when analysed proved to be sulphide of copper. By way of contrast, a small piece of ore containing telluride has been placed in front, and acid employed to dissolve the tellurium, and this helps one to comprehend the value of telluride.

The Boulder Perseverance had a very fine collection of different kinds of ore and gold and also some diamond drill cores which I had not seen before. The magnificent collection of the Lake View Consols, consisting of 68 specimens, showing telluride of gold, 34 valuable samples of sulphide ore, and 32 pieces of oxidised ore, showing immense quantities of gold, besides many others showing the various stages of oxidisation, really ought to be seen, words cannot describe their beauty. The Great Boulder Mine showed 14 splendid specimens of rich oxidised ore from the 100-foot level, containing[201] sponge and free gold, and 15 specimens from the 200-foot level. In the centre of these was a block of ore with a hole right through it full of sponge gold; there were 12 specimens of rich sulphide ore from the 300-foot level, 10 very interesting samples of tellurides of gold, mercury, and silver, and saucers with chips of telluride of gold. Kalgurlite, which is a new mineral, a telluride of gold, silver, and mercury, containing 35 per cent. of gold, 10 per cent. of silver, and 46 per cent. of tellurium, was also exhibited, and a very unique collection of sponge gold occupied a case in the centre of the court. This was found in a very large vugh, and 60lb. weight was obtained from one spot in the oxidised ore. It was composed of a mass of minute crystals, and is the most brilliant form of gold found upon the field. From the 400-foot level came some marvellous samples of ore showing telluride of gold and free gold, and from the hanging wall of the lode, and the foot wall of the same level, more rich specimens were shown.

The Miners’ Holiday

There were some splendid exhibits from the Ivanhoe Mine, and from hundreds of other mines on the field. Those I have first mentioned were from Kalgoorlie alone. There were splendid exhibits from Coolgardie, Kanowna, Menzies, and Murchison Mines, and from many other parts of the colony, whose unparalleled richness called forth the following remark from an American mining-man, who was visiting the court at the same time as I was, and who had come from Cripple Creek in Colorado: “Wal, I’ve seen a big lot of specimens in my time, but I must take off my hat to these; they lick creation!” I returned next day to have a look at the alluvial gold from the famed Kanowna. The court of alluvial[202] diggings was attracting a great deal of attention, not because of its richness but also on account of the stir made in 1897 by the rush there, when the rich alluvial gold was first struck by George Sim. Not only has Kanowna proved itself a mine of wealth for thousands of hard-working alluvial miners, who chiefly worked the claims themselves, and consequently had all the gold “on their own,” as their saying goes, but it also produces a very fine building stone. There was in the exhibition a most remarkable-looking perfect crystal 17½ inches long and 9 inches thick, which was discovered in the alluvial wash at Shand and party’s Claim. The display of alluvial matter in all its varied forms shown in this court was almost enough to spur on any one to become a prospector. A golden harvest has been reaped by thousands of men in a few short months, for the rush to Kanowna began in November 1897, and at that time the town of Kanowna was virtually dead; three months later it was estimated that there were 2000 miners in the field and 20,000 people in Kanowna all told. In twelve months the field was virtually worked out, and although a few parties are still getting a reward for their labours, there are not now more than 1000 men on the field. The stuff called “pug,” from which they get very fine gold, is a most peculiar greenish, soft, putty-looking substance, and there was a fine show of it from Hampton’s Claim in the Golden Valley. This was found 61 feet down, and the deposit is 7 feet thick. Some splendid specimens of lode material showed crystalline gold extremely rich, worth 40 ounces to the ton. The Red, White and Blue Claim, owned by Pratt and party, displayed rich ironstone alluvial wash. This claim yielded 4500 ounces of gold, worth £18,000, and only a few partners divided it. Some green alluvial wash which has given rich results was from the Moonlight Lead, which also showed flake gold; and from the Magpie Claim there was rich alluvial ore shown worth 9 ounces per ton.

Rich treasures similar to these were sent from the mines to the Paris Exhibition, and the Western Australian Court was[203] universally said to have the finest collection of minerals the world had ever shown. The Bobby Dazzler nugget, weighing 413 ounces of solid gold, valued at £1500, was a surprise to many beholders; among the hundreds of other solid lumps of the precious metal sent to Paris was the large nugget that was cut in two by one of the two men who found it, and who then drew lots for the sections and found that there was only a difference of 30s. in the value of them. Another slug of gold, worth £639, had the distinct mark of a pick on it. I suppose the man who found it could hardly believe in his good luck until he struck it a second time. Another strange lump of gold is shaped like the map of England, another like a camel’s head. The last “clean up” of the Westralian Mount Morgans Mine was sent in bars of gold worth £11,600. The Westralian Government purchased from the owners of various mines I mention in these travels over £100,000 worth of gold for the exhibition, and this, supplemented by quantities more since won, will be shown at the Glasgow Exhibition this year. The pearl-shell exhibit, was composed of 600 enormous gleaming shells, which, when lit up by electric light, looked like a fairy grotto. During last year there were 179 vessels engaged in the pearl-shell fisheries in Western Australia, and their aggregate tonnage was 2707. The number of men employed was 1165, of which total 991 were Asiatics. The pearl-shell raised amounted to 720 tons, valued at £80,479, and the value of pearls found was £15,529. Also our colony took four first prizes for timber, wool, wheat, and minerals, at the Paris Exhibition, besides eight gold medals, five silver ones, and five bronze for other productions.


Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, 1898


Kalgoorlie City—The Six Great Mines in the Golden Mile—Mr. Kaufman—Early Predictions Verified—Associated—Lake View Consols and Great Boulder.

Hannan’s, or Kalgoorlie as it is now called, is 24 miles from Coolgardie, and as I took my comfortable seat in the railway carriage, sped along the once forsaken desert and arrived at the now famous City of Gold, with its broad streets and splendid buildings, it seemed incredible that such a transformation should take place in a few short years. It would be difficult to point to any place in the world that has developed so rapidly. During their short existence Kalgoorlie and the Boulder City have turned out over 31 tons of gold, and Coolgardie has been quite outstripped by her younger sister. I think, when gold is measured by the ton, the colony from which it comes may be fairly considered marvellous. It is only seven years since Hannan and Harrigan threw themselves down to rest on the ground at the eastern corner of what is now Kalgoorlie, and, fortunately for thousands of lucky people,[205] discovered gold, and now, as far as that precious metal is concerned, Kalgoorlie is the hub of Australia. Kalgoorlie is a well-laid-out city. Bicycle tracks are laid down on the 30-foot wide paths, electric lights are everywhere, trees have been planted in the broad streets, and by-and-by will afford shade in the hot days for which Kalgoorlie is noted. The new post-office is a splendid building, and has cost £40,000. The warden’s and other public offices are also on a grand scale. There are several magnificent hotels, especially the Railway, opposite the station, and the Palace, covering half an acre of ground, which I have made my headquarters. This hotel is far the best on the goldfields of Western Australia; every luxury is obtainable; it has a spacious dining-room with electric fans always going, exquisite drawing-rooms, and good attendance.

There are several newspapers, the chief of which is the Kalgoorlie Miner, edited by Mr. Kirwan, who identifies himself in every way with the interests of the people as well as with his editorial duties; the miners have a staunch friend in him. There are many fine shops, especially jewellers, where gold nuggets of all shapes and sizes made into handsome ornaments may be bought. Land at Kalgoorlie is daily increasing in value. An offer of £100 a foot was refused by an acquaintance of mine for a plot she is lucky enough to own. Some mining-men, including the well-known Mr. Zeb. Lane, were dining at the next table to myself on one occasion, and one of them remarked that he was sure that in a few years there would be 300,000 people in Kalgoorlie. You may be sure, holding that opinion, that the gentleman was looking out for investments. A handsome new theatre is being erected in Hannan’s Street. At present the Miners’ Institute supplies the entertainments. The suburbs of Piccadilly and Mullingar stretch far beyond the town site, and the three miles to Boulder City are fast being built on, and will shortly form one continuous busy road. Three fine breweries supply the needful refreshment to thirsty souls, and altogether[206] Kalgoorlie is a splendid goldfields city, but the summer weather is almost indescribable. One of the days had been unbearably hot and oppressive; but dark clouds were overhead, and I said, “Soon we shall have a rain storm, which will cool the air.” My friends whom I was visiting laughed, and one of them, with a merry twinkle in the eye, said, “There will probably be a storm, but you will soon get accustomed to this kind of weather; wait awhile.” In the evening Fitzgerald’s “Great World Circus” being in town, we decided to risk the “storm,” make up a party, and go to the performance. All went well until about nine o’clock, when suddenly came “the dreadful thunder”—the clouds had broken; then came, not the rain, but dust, dust, dust—red, stifling, blinding, and terrible; for the roof of the “Great World Circus” had been completely lifted off by the red-dust fiend, while with his breath he had extinguished almost every light in the tent. Crash! whiff! whirl! and the “willy willy” had madly danced far away. One minute’s terrified silence and then through the remaining red haze could be seen the circus performers bravely continuing their entertainment as if nothing had happened; and blended with the echo of the distant din could be heard the strains, “Gaily the music go-o-es, so gaily.” But the vast audience of upwards of 3000 people, who, though the roar had been so strangely “hush,” had witnessed enough excitement for one night, gradually filed out through the rent of the swaying canvas wall, my friends and I amongst them, arriving home very white-faced, underneath the brown-red war paint so cunningly and weirdly distributed on us by the fiend. After wiping the dust out of my own eye, I remembered the twinkle that I had seen in some one else’s, and I laughingly exclaimed, “Was that the ‘thunderstorm’ you recommended me to ‘wait’ for?”

Palace Hotel, Kalgoorlie

“We had a narrow escape,” tersely and grimly (I had almost written grimily), remarked my friend; but he must have rubbed the twinkle out of his eye and the dust into his temper for he declined to see the joke; however, as mirth is catching, we were soon a merry party once more, and I was regaled[207] with “willy willy” stories of roofs being carried for miles, and of houses being torn down by these huge “dust spouts,” and, as at intervals I heard the “thunder” in the distance, I could well believe the dancing, whirling devils capable of anything. Many good theatrical companies now visit the goldfields, but the expenses of a travelling company are very large, the railway fare from Perth being about six pounds each return ticket first class, and four pounds second (there is no third class in the colonies). The hotel tariff is from twelve shillings per day (Palace sixteen), the smallest drinks (a big item in such a hot and thirsty country) are a shilling each, and half a crown is the usual price for a bath, as before said. There are no large theatres on the fields, but the managers make the prices for admission high, the community not caring how much they spend if they really wish to see anything; in fact, that is one of their little worries, they are always looking out for something to spend their money on. Horses, yes, the best procurable, and they are a very high price. Champagne is from twenty-five shillings a bottle, and that is the first drink the lucky miner calls for; his great mania is “shouting,” as they call it, that is treating wine to everybody they know. “Wives and families to spend it on?” “Oh, yes; but they are on the other side,” meaning the Eastern colonies; “I always send them plenty to live on, and when I’ve made my pile (fortune) I’ll go home with it; in the meantime I must do something to[208] make life endurable here,” and the Hebe at the bar smiles sweetly, and for it receives perhaps a diamond bracelet. I am not speaking of the miner who earns his weekly wages, but of the man who is lucky in his speculations of shares, or who owns part of a mine, and when they strike rich, as they call it, spends his money lavishly. I sat on the Palace Hotel balcony in Hannan Street one afternoon and watched the crowd passing up and down; I was surprised to see the women so richly dressed, elegant Redfern tailor-made gowns and Worth carriage costumes (although no carriages were to be seen, but plenty of buggies with dust-covered hoods) were much in evidence; many of the rich women send to London and Paris I am told for their gowns. Occasionally a plainly-dressed woman in a tweed or Assam silk costume with neat sailor hat would pass, probably a mine manager’s wife or English visitor, but the majority of the women of the goldfields spare no expense in the style and richness of their dresses. At the present time the population of Kalgoorlie, its suburbs, and Boulder City is nearly 60,000. In a very short time electric tramways will be running, and extensive swimming baths are now being built. There are many good churches, which shows that in the rush for gold the welfare of the soul is not neglected. Goldfields places are usually looked on as somewhat lawless. I can assure my[209] readers, however, that those in Western Australia are an exception.

Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie, Early Days

Over the hill, not to the poorhouse, but to the rich Mount Charlotte Mine, I one morning took my way. From the hill a splendid view is obtained, and for three miles beyond nearly all to be seen is mines, their poppet-heads and batteries showing distinct against the sky. The manager of the Mount Charlotte Mine was away, so I could not get much information, and so, like Jo in “Bleak House,” I had to move on. The next mine is Hannan’s Reward, where gold was first struck (found) at Kalgoorlie; and although such wonderful results came from this place at first, the mine has now been outpaced by many others. I passed dozens more of mines, but did not stop until I got to the Brown Hill Mine, under the control of Messrs. Bewick, Moreing & Co., one of the finest on the field. This mine, as its name indicates, is on the top of a hill, and is a most imposing-looking one; wealth seems to speak from the buildings around it. The manager’s house is a splendid bungalow style of place, replete, I believe, with every modern comfort. Outside is a tennis court and other evidences of the manager’s tastes. The offices are large and convenient. The manager, Mr. Feldman, being away in England, I did not go down the mine, therefore cannot tell you anything about it; but Dr. Diehl, who represents the London and Hamburg Gold Recovery Company in connection with the Brown Hill Mine, has lately made a most interesting discovery re the treatment of sulphide ore, likely to be of much value in the mining world. From this place I went to the Crœsus, thence to Block 45, another mine that has given big results. Of course there are many mines that have not proved as rich as those mentioned. Mining seems to be like fishing: there may be any number of fine fish, but it does not fall to the luck of all anglers to catch them.

Away again past more mines, down through Golden Valley, now past the Oroya, North Boulder, Bank of England, and Coolgardie Mint—all splendid mines; then up the highest hill at the Boulder, as this part of the goldfield is called, where[210] I came to the great Australia mine (Associated). From this place one has a glorious view of the other great mines on the Golden Mile, so-called on account of the marvellous quantity of gold that has been and is still being extracted from its depths—Lake Mew, Great Boulder, Ivanhoe, Boulder Perseverance, and Golden Horseshoe. They present a magnificent spectacle. It is almost impossible to describe in words the wonders of the golden hills on which these wonderful mines are placed.

Close to the Golden Mile is a small square of business places—hotels, stores, different kinds of little shops, and a brewery; this was the beginning of Boulder City, but in consequence of the influx of people and the increasing prosperity of the mines, it was found necessary to establish the Miners’ City, a mile farther away, the intervening ground being required for mining. According to mining laws any ground taken up for that purpose cannot legally be built on, but miners are allowed to camp there on sufferance, and the area is therefore dotted over with mushroom-like tents and canvas houses.

The Australia is the largest of the Associated Mines. Everything seen is of the latest date; every appliance that man’s ingenuity can devise is here. To convey the stone along the open cut to the mill there is a wonderful aerial tramway composed of wire cables, on which the trucks run high up in the air; it is a marvellous way of conveyance, but more peculiar still is what is here called the “Flying Fox,” which has an iron bucket on a single rope of twisted wire. Machinery on the top of the shaft and above the crushing mill conveys it to its destination; then the bucket empties as if by magic, and flies back to the bottom of the open cut, a quarter of a mile journey, to be again replenished. It seems almost incredible that a girl ever had the courage to take that journey, and yet one actually performed the perilous feat. The manager in jest had dared her to do it on her visit to the mine, and she, being a strong-willed Scotch girl, took him at his word, got into the new aerial car, flew through[211] the air, and arrived quite safe at the bottom of the cut, while every one present held their breath with amazement; and I believe that all the workmen, on seeing a pretty girl deposited at their feet in place of the usual prosaic empty bucket, stood in consternation and amazement, wondering what the clouds were going to rain next. The underground workings of the Australia are brilliantly lit with electric light, which shows up the gleam of the rich gold through the ores so beautifully as you peer through the light into the magnificent chambers of oxidised or sulphide ore, you can almost imagine yourself in Aladdin’s Cave. On the 300-foot level there is a magnificent chamber or stope, 16 ft. high and 40 ft. wide, from which thousands of tons of ore have been taken, returning 8 oz. to the ton. A specimen weighing 1½ cwt. had just been broken off. It was studded and seamed with rich telluride. Owing to the telluride lodes, mining presents wonderful possibilities. There is no knowing what marvels may any day come to light. The rock-drill, whose motive power is compressed air, had pierced down 550 ft. There was a large gang of men down the mine timbering, enormous great poles, almost tree trunks, were being put in position, propping up the earth to make it safe. It made me shudder to think of the dangers of a miner’s life, and yet, comparatively speaking, there are very few accidents in the mines here. The genial underground-manager told me that every precaution was taken in all the mines nowadays. We emerged from the shaft once more into the light of day. The first thing to strike the eye on the top were the enormous looking cyanide tanks, then the amalgamator’s rooms, where we saw all the modern appliances for extracting the gold, wonderful vats of chemicals where the rich tailings were lying waiting for the chemical action to take place, ripple beds, then ball mills, pug mills, rock breakers, and enormous stamping batteries in their various houses; then last, but not least, the new roasting furnaces with their huge boilers, and other parts looking like some immense military fortifications; these are used for smelting,[212] and cost £100,000. There were 20,000 or 30,000 bags of ore waiting for treatment, full of gold. It is wonderful to see the gold being smelted. To stay in the furnace-room for a minute or two, even before the furnace-door was opened, was like taking a Turkish-bath. I was quite content to stay on the outside when it was opened, and to see the man, dressed in an asbestos suit from head to foot, pull out with a great iron hook the red-hot pot full of molten gold and pour it like golden sunshine into a mould. After seeing this man at his work I thought him a kind of hero, and wondered what he weighed in the asbestos suit. About 200 yards from the mine are the large and commodious offices, and the quarters of some of the managers of different departments. The gold produced from this mine up to the end of November 1901 was 214,485 ounces, and the dividends paid amounted to over £258,750.

A Boulder Mine and Offices from Lake View Consols

Driving over to the Lake View Mine was not altogether pleasant, as, when nearly half-way down the steep and stony hill, my horse stumbled and nearly fell; however, a kindly pedestrian seeing my difficulty came to my assistance, and, much to my relief, led him down to the foot of the hill. I then crossed over to Lake View, which is said to be the greatest gold-producer of this marvellous field, outrivalling even the famed Mount Morgan in Queensland, which was almost a mountain of gold. Mr. Charles Kaufman purchased this wonderful mine for a company when he was on a visit to Australia; seeing the wealth and magnitude of the Kalgoorlie mines, he did not hesitate to pay the sum of three-quarters of a million sterling, and to take a quantity of shares for himself, and since that time he has also purchased other large mines. There is a very large and efficient staff of experts in their different departments on high salaries. Lake View Consols, to give the mine its full title, was, until the advent of Mr. Kaufman, a mine that seemed fated to bad luck. It was at that time owned by an Adelaide company. The first manager pronounced it a failure, the second died of typhoid, and the third, Mr. O’Neill, managed to pay out a dividend of 3d. per[213] share! This was the first dividend ever paid on the field. Since then many dividends of £1 per share have been made. When Mr. Kaufman purchased Lake View he soon had it equipped properly and started on a new basis. Now, in place of the meagre poppet-heads and small shafts, a gallows-frame towers 120 ft. into the air, and immense shafts, sending up their continuous supply of splendid ore, give token of the change that has taken place. When you go down the mine in the “cage,” as they call it, you need only close your eyes and fancy you are in an elevator. When you get down 100 ft. you step out to a drive running 1700 ft., then on the north side you go 450 ft., and must not go any farther, because you are near the Boulder Perseverance ground, which is another rich mine close by. Here is an immense body of rich high-grade sulphide ore, 51 ft. wide. Teluro sulphide (in which telluride is found) and sulphide ores differ from oxidised ore, which is usually of a light colour and shows the gold freely; the other ores have a silvery-grey appearance, seldom showing gold, but when treated at the mills and smelting works they frequently yield a large percentage of it. Down again the visitor goes in the cage to 500 ft., the mine growing richer and richer to the bottom. Coming up again, the stope[3] at the 300-foot level,[4] from which such phenomenally rich telluride, assaying 150 ounces[214] to the ton, has been taken, shines like a star-bespangled sky on a dark night. The shares in this great mine have been sold at £28 10s. At that time the production was one hundred and twenty thousand pounds worth of gold per month. The immense quantity of huge timber down below is astounding. I am sure there must be enough used in timbering this great mine to build a town. The level at the 100-foot is quite large enough to give a ball in; the electric light and electric bells are all ready, and the air is so beautifully cool that this would be an ideal place for a ball on a hot summer’s night. The production from this wonderful mine has been enormous, and when one has been down and seen all I saw below, one does not wonder at it; it is a perfect marvel of richness. I went over all the drives, stopes, cross-cuts, &c., and saw everything. In place of men pushing the trucks of ore below, as is the case in other mines, horses were drawing 8 or 9 trucks at a time. One of the horses is a real pet with the miners, and at crib-time (mid-day, dinner-time) he is unfastened and allowed to walk about the drive. He always finds out where the men are, and comes up for bread or cake, which he eats with a relish. He is lowered down the mine every morning in a net, and is as quiet as a lamb now; at first, when he was very young, he did not like the lowering process at all, but he has since got quite used to it. Such bodies of rich ore have been opened up that years will be occupied in treating it, the plant belonging to the mine not being yet large enough to cope with the quantity. After the magnitude of the under workings, nothing surprised me on the top, although the rumble and stamping of the batteries, the hum of the mighty machines, the beautiful bright engines that seem to work with perpetual motion, the enormous furnaces, the magnificent cyanide plant, with its wonderful machinery for extracting the gold, the electricity that seems to fill the air and almost takes one’s breath away, are all so vast and wonderful that a sense of something like awe came over one, and I was not sorry to get into the open air again and see the blue sky above me.


Only five years ago a miner returned to Adelaide, South Australia, from the West, and called on a sharebroker, giving him 500 Lake View shares to sell at as high a price as possible. They were sold for a few shillings, and when the miner got his cheque he remarked “he was sorry for the ‘bloke’ who bought them, as he had been working on the mine and knew she was no good.” Those 500 shares would now be worth several fortunes to that miner had he kept them. The biter was bitten; I wonder how he feels at the present day about it?

Overlooking the Great Boulder

That Mr. G. Brookman, of Adelaide, was certain five years ago of the great future of Lake View Consols is shown by a piece of paper with his calculations on it, now in the possession of Mr. Fotheringham, also of Adelaide, which reads as follows:—

“Reef on Lake View, 3000 feet long, 100 feet deep, equal to 300,000 feet, 6 feet wide, equal to 1,800,000 cub. feet, equal to 140,000 tons; 3 ounces to the ton, equal to 420,000 ounces; £4 per ounce, equal to £1,680,000; allow £420,000 for cost of raising and crushing, &c., leaves £1,260,000 available for dividends.”

This great mine stands first in the field as a gold-producer, the total yield in 1900 being 528,368 ounces, and dividends at the time of writing having been paid to the amount of £1,187,500 (one million one hundred and eighty-seven thousand five hundred pounds). When Brookman and Pearce arrived at Coolgardie where Bayley found his Eldorado, and not finding much there,[216] went on to what was then called Hannan’s, now Kalgoorlie, to look at Cassidy’s Claim, they saw plenty of the golden metal to gladden their eyes. They began to work upon a reef, but Mr. Pearce, in his wanderings around the then Bush in spare time, was attracted to some ironstone hills. He prospected about, and was so well satisfied that he and his mate shifted camp and began to work on what is now the Ivanhoe property. Not keeping exactly within the pegged ground, they discovered a rich leader (a small lode running into a large one) not far from the camp. This was the first gold found on the Great Boulder. They then pegged out 20 acres around each find, and keeping their good fortune to themselves (knowing that a still tongue makes a wise head), soon pegged out what is now Lake View Consols. The present value of these syndicate holdings, if realised, would be about £30,000,000! So little was thought of the leases at first that they were called “Brookman’s Sheep Farms.”

I have a few pieces of really fabulously rich telluride that were given to me from the same place, the 300-foot level, which yielded the magnificent specimens sent to the Glasgow Exhibition. The veins of the precious stuff were nearly four inches thick. They are so handsome that it seems almost a pity to break them up and turn them into what is called “filthy lucre.”

After coming from the mine I, with the rest of a party that I had been so fortunate as to meet on my visit here, was hospitably entertained by the manager. I then resumed my journey. This time I thought myself growing so clever, and beginning to know so much travelling alone, that, seeing an opening between two large heaps of what I afterwards discovered to be rich tailings (from the crushings of the ore from which all the gold has not been extracted, and when treated by cyanide, which is a solution for extracting every particle of it, often gives good returns), I started to take a short cut through. I had, however, not thought of the air-tram going along with its freight of ore overhead, and just as we were going through the opening whirl it went along, frightening the poor horse, who nearly[217] upset the trap. But a second time that day I was saved to continue my journey, this time by two miners, who were just emerging from a shed close by, and who said, “Private road, missus.” However, on seeing my look of distress, and on my mentioning my business as a lady explorer, they let me pass on my way again rejoicing. From the side of Lake View on which I now was, a totally different view presented itself. The large buildings of the mine completely block the township of the Boulder, and for a mile ahead nothing can be seen but mines, mines, mines, and on the flats tents, Hessian camps, offices, and mine-managers’ houses. Many good-sized places about here are boarding-houses. The majority of the men camp and cook for themselves, but some of them merely sleep in their tents and take their meals at the above-mentioned houses, usually looked after by two or three women, who do the mending and washing required. They speak in highest terms of the conduct of all the men; indeed, from what I saw and heard, the camps are very well conducted, and I am sure I have met with the greatest kindness and politeness from the mining[218] community in general. I drove all round these mines and camps, but only stopped once to get a cup of tea at one of the houses, where I found the housekeeper most kind and communicative.

Hannan’s Star Mine

Hannan’s Star, Boulder Main Reef, and Chaffer’s are the mines adjacent to the one I next stopped at—the Golden Horseshoe. Here I interviewed Mr. Sutherland, the manager, at the office, who sent for the underground boss (as he is termed), Mr. Morgan, to show me over the mine. To give an idea of the wealth of this famous mine I must tell you that, when shares were £8 each, such magnificent finds of gold were made that they went up in value to £51! On going below, Mr. Morgan courteously showed me all over the golden mine which has proved so profitable. He also showed me some of the most magnificent gold, and specimens I have ever seen. These were some of those that were found when the shares went up to the tremendous price before mentioned. Sometimes the gold is found in solid pieces; when mixed with quartz, the pieces are called “specimens.” We went down to the 200-foot level, and saw the wonderful place where the finds ran for weeks at a rate of 80 ounces and 90 ounces to the ton; 2000 ounces, valued at £8000, were won in a few days. This was oxidised ore, and at the same level is still abundant, but not quite so rich as the above quotations. We then proceeded to the 400-foot level, where more rich ore and wonderful workings were seen. Then along a drive down another shaft to the 700-foot level, through stopes and cross-cuts, picking out more specimens until I was fairly bewildered. Coming up we stopped at the 400-foot level, where the rich sulpho-telluride ore showed free gold quite plainly. Mr. C. D. Rose, the chairman of this mine, estimates that the monthly production from oxidised ores alone will reach 14,000 ounces, and will be maintained at that. This estimation has been more than reached, one month’s production of the mine since that time having been 15,280 ounces of gold.

The Ivanhoe Mine

When the mine’s great richness was first becoming apparent,[219] a very jovial meeting of the shareholders was held. The shares had then made a big jump to £17. Previous to the time when the shares in the Golden Horseshoe were £7 10s. a strong “bear” attack was made on them. (A “bear,” in mining parlance, is a speculator who sells stock he does not possess, with the idea of being able to purchase at a cheaper price later on.) The mine was at that time “jumped” on account of some legal technicality; but, instead of this producing the desired effect of a fall in prices, the shares shortly afterwards rose, and the “jumpers” made a hasty retreat, sadder but wiser men. A director of this mine told me of the time, not very long past, when he advised his friends to buy shares up to as he had himself done. Some of them acted on his advice, but shortly afterwards the shares went down to £2 10s. He was then overwhelmed with inquiries as to what was the matter. After making a strict examination of the Golden Horseshoe properties, and seeing the large bodies of valuable ore below, this gentleman’s advice was to stick to the shares. Shortly afterwards they rose to £5 and £6, and now, as I before said, they have been as high as £51 per share, and up to 19 ounces of gold to the ton of ore has been got. This speaks for itself, and no doubt it is one of the best mines in the world. I was told a story about this mine, which at first I thought too incredible to be taken seriously, but which I am assured is a fact. It is stated that an old lady recently entered a London broker’s office and produced the certificates for various shares which she said she wanted to dispose of, saying she would take £5 for the lot.[220] The broker found most of them to be shares of a valueless kind, but one represented 500 Golden Horseshoes, which he sent into the market and sold at £40 each, so that the old lady, instead of getting £5 for her entire collection, was credited with £20,000 for one slip of paper alone!

I made my next move onwards along a narrow road between two hills. On one side is the Ivanhoe, and on the other that marvellous mine the Great Boulder. This is the second on the list as champion gold-producer, having produced over 449,726 ounces. If each ounce of gold were to be coined into four sovereigns, these ounces would represent over a million and a half of money, of which £910,000 has been distributed in dividends. Mr. George Inglis, well-known in England and on the Continent, was one of the foundation members of the board of the Great Boulder Mine, and was instrumental in finding some of the working capital of the company, and has been deeply interested in it ever since its inception. The offices of this great mine are close to it. I had to wait some little time before seeing any one who would conduct me round, everybody seeming to be up to their eyes in business. I accordingly mounted a hill to the open door of a large building, which I found to be the amalgamators’ room. Here was a feast of gold in bars, in ingots, in oval shape. It had just been brought from the smelting-room, and the police escort was waiting to take it into the bank at Kalgoorlie. I was fortunate in arriving at the time I did. I had seen gold before, but never to this extent in its newly smelted state; it was a revelation.

The manager, Mr. Hamilton, was very courteous to me, and on my telling him I wished to go underground at once acceded to my request. It was hardly necessary to show him the letter I carried with me from the Minister of Mines, Perth, asking all managers to extend their courtesy and help to me in my travels on the goldfields. On arrival at the shaft, a crowd of men had just come up, and another crowd were waiting to go below; they were changing “shift,” which is the term used to denote their working time of eight hours. During the week the mines[223] never stop working, consequently relays of men are required. In these shifts their hours of labour are changed at certain times, and so the men are sometimes on what is termed day shift or night shift.


Mr. Zebina Lane


When I descended the 800-foot level the men who were there were taking their mid-day meal, most of them sitting down on the great stones. Their bright dinner cans, which contain three compartments, one for tea, one for bread and meat, and one for sweets, looked very clean and nice, while the many candles that lit up the otherwise gloomy cavern, the picks, shovels, and other mining implements lying about, helped to make up a characteristic scene of underground life.

The diamond drill was at work. It was wonderful to see how the diamond penetrated the hard rock, for the quartz must be nearly as hard as the diamonds are themselves. Mr. Hamilton gave me a piece of the core of the drill, which I shall place among my treasures from the mines. I peered down the 300 feet below where I was, as the mine went down to 1100 feet, but it was so dark and wet that I had no wish to descend any farther, so mounting the cage I again ascended, stopping at two of the other levels and climbing all around them, and seeing all the wonders beneath the earth, and collecting more specimens.



The Ivanhoe—The Famous Stope—Climbing the Ladders—Boulder Perseverance—The Rock Drill—Down 500 Feet in a Bucket—Blasting the Rock—British Westralia Syndicate—Mr. Frank Gardner and our own Zeb. Lane—Kalgoorlie again—Wages on the Mines—Yield of the Goldfields.

The Ivanhoe Mine is quite close to the Great Boulder, and next morning I set out to take a look at that, although I must confess I was getting weary, having walked many miles underground in the last few days. However, I was determined to go over the 6 biggest mines of the field, so away I went. The manager received me in the kindest manner, and offered me his room to prepare in, and told everybody to do everything I wished, as he had important business at Lake View, and could not take me down himself. The important business afterwards turned out to be that he was taking over the charge of the Lake View Consols as well as the Ivanhoe. Accompanied by three gentlemen visitors and the underground manager, I descended the great Ivanhoe Mine. I had a particular wish to see an enormous stope, 1500 feet long, about which I had heard; so at the 600-foot level we got out and went along a long drive until we came to what looked like a hanging ladder. If I wanted to see the famous stope I had to mount this ladder. It was very narrow, and I felt rather dubious of my climbing powers; however, it was only about 60 feet high, so I ventured. I climbed up very carefully and got into the stope quite safely. After walking along for a few feet I found we had to bend down to get along; next we came to a small aperture through which we had to creep; then we could not[225] walk any more, but had to go on our hands and knees, like our Darwinian ancestors. I had not bargained for this, but having come down below to go over the 1500-foot stope, I went on. So, gradually creeping and sometimes walking doubled up, we got to the end where the men were working. They all threw down their picks and spades and looked in amazement at me coming along that stope; they never did it. There was a ladder over 100-ft. long by which they went up and down to their work. I had been told about this ladder, but I felt afraid of the 100 feet ascent, and preferred walking, as I thought, through the stope. I must here explain that the stope was originally quite deep enough for any one to walk comfortably in, but after the lodes—mineral veins containing ore—have been taken out, the stopes are filled in with refuse tailings, which have been treated by cyanide, and later thrown out for refuse and used as filling-in stuff. Of this I had traversed 1500 feet, bumping my head innumerable times against the hanging wall. Oh! I was tired, and the worst of it was that I had to go back, or else go down in mid-air on a 100-foot ladder. After sitting on a boulder for a few minutes’ rest, and accepting many compliments from the miners about my courage, I decided to descend the ladder, which I did in fear and trembling, but got safely to the bottom, for which I felt duly thankful; and we went down to another level, and saw much more rich stone waiting to be taken up; then up to the 400-foot, where the sulpho-telluride ore, worth 10 ounces to the ton, was being taken out; then to the 200-foot level, where the rich oxidised ore is. There is a million’s worth of ore at sight here, and yet in the first year of the mine’s existence many shares were forfeited for non-payment of 6d. calls. The market value is now over £2,000,000; production of gold, 304,848 ounces.

Roll-up at the Boulder Perseverance Mine

After coming up from the Ivanhoe Mine, a telephone message was given me that the underground manager, Mr. Flynn was waiting at the Boulder Perseverance Mine to show me over that. So, hastily untying my horse, who had been taking[226] his food under the shade of the offices of the Ivanhoe, I hurriedly drove over to the Boulder Perseverance, and after making a change in my toilet, such as was necessary, jumped into the cage and went swiftly down to the 300-foot level. Here we stopped and walked through the long drive to the stopes, where much richness was to be seen; it was a veritable jewellers’ warehouse. Mr. Flynn gave me a pick and told me I could knock out some sulphide ore for myself, which I did, and many beautiful specimens from this mine are in my collection. While here I heard a tremendous rumbling noise, and thought the mine was falling in. On inquiry I found that the miners were blasting rock 200 feet below us at the 500-foot level. I expressed a wish to go there, and Mr. Flynn said it would not be safe for half an hour, and then I should have to go down in a bucket, as the cage only went to the 300-foot level. After walking all over the stopes on this level we went up to the 200-foot level, and I saw all the wonderful oxidised ore. I learned much[227] during my travels underground. Oxidised ore is always found on the top levels. At a depth of 300 feet the sulphide ore, which contains telluride, is reached.

Going through the various drives we often met miners walking along to different parts of the mine. We were all carrying candles, so could peer into each other’s faces, and the look of surprise on some of them at seeing a strange lady rambling about underground was quite amusing. Then we would come on a group of workmen at a stope; then sounds of the rock-drill would make me curious to go in its direction. The heat is fearful in places where the rock-drill is at work making holes for the dynamite charge which is to blast out tons of rock. The men were just going to begin a new hole, so I asked to be allowed to start it. The sensation was like an electric battery; I held the drill too tight, I suppose. However, I persevered for fully five minutes, and when we looked at the machine I was told I had drilled quite a quarter of an inch of rock, so I felt very proud, especially as they told me no lady had ever touched the rock-drills down here before.

Lane’s Shaft, Boulder Perseverance Mine

By this time I was ready to go down in the bucket, so we took another walk of about a quarter of a mile along the drive to another shaft called Lane’s Shaft, named after Mr. Zebina Lane. In this shaft was the bucket. Never having been in a bucket before for the purpose of a downward journey of 200 feet I felt a tiny bit nervous. However, the journey was perfectly safe, and when I arrived at the bottom I saw a grand sight which I shall never forget. There was still much smoke hanging about from the blasting. Some 20 men with candles[228] alight were waiting about in the gloom, some of them partly black from handling powder. Over 70 tons of sulphide ore had just been blasted out, and lay about in great pieces and boulders. The cave—for such it looked—fairly sparkled with richness, the different minerals in the sulphide rock shining like diamonds. I climbed over the great boulders and went all over the stope, picking out any sparkling bits that took my fancy, and a miner was sent on ahead to try the sides for fear of any loose rock falling on me. The lode here is 41 feet wide, and very rich indeed. It was pretty rough climbing, I can assure you, but I would not have missed it on any account. On the return journey I went up the entire 500-foot shaft in the bucket, and although deeply interested by all I saw, I was not sorry to breathe once more in the sunshine away from dynamite and rocks.

Some idea of the wealth of this mine may be given by the fact that the last shipment from the western lode averaged 17 ounces per ton. The high-grade oxidised ore in the upper levels, of which I spoke before, is an immensely rich body of mineral, continuing in richness for an eighth of a mile. Another lode, on a lower level, near the Lake View Consols, is nearly three-quarters of a mile long, and so phenomenally wide and rich that even Americans, who are generally apt to throw cold water on our mines, admit that its equal is unknown in the world; in fact, the Boulder Perseverance shows every sign of becoming the richest mine on the field, for the more it is opened up the better it looks and the richer it becomes.

Mr. Zebina Lane and Mr. Frank Gardner, besides controlling the Boulder Perseverance, the Boulder Bonanza, Great Boulder South, and other rich mines in Western Australia, have more recently taken over Hannan’s Public Crushing Company, Central Australian Exploration Syndicate, and Collie Coalfields, lately floated with a capital of £150,000. At the banquet given to Mr. Lane last year previous to his departure for London, he said that on this coalfield there was enough coal at sight to last the colony for 20 years. It was Mr. Lane who in 1893 placed[229] the now wonderful Great Boulder Mine before London investors. The Boulder Perseverance Mine shares could at that time be bought for a few shillings, now they are of high value, and Mr. Lane has made a large fortune out of his various mining transactions. Among the properties in Western Australia turning out among them the enormous quantities of gold of which we know, the properties partly controlled by Mr. Lane have turned out nearly half. Western Australia has no truer friend than he; he battled on behalf of the colony for years before prosperity came; went all over the goldfields, endured all kinds of hardships on the arid plains, and earned his success fairly. The other two gold mines on the Kalgoorlie field belonging to the British Westralia Syndicate, and under the part control of Mr. Lane, namely, the Great Boulder South and Boulder Bonanza, are lower down the field, over the Golden Hill, and near the Great Boulder and Lake View Consols. The aforesaid mines join each other, and no doubt the continuation of the famous lodes of these great mines will be eventually picked up by the Great Boulder South and Bonanza. The diamond drill is being used to advantage, and great things may be looked for in the future from its developments.

The British Westralia Syndicate was formed by Messrs. F. L. Gardner and Zebina Lane in October 1894, and registered on the 6th of that month with a capital of £80,000 fully paid-up shares, the Syndicate really consisting of only four members, the other two being the late Mr. Barney Barnato and Mr. Woolf Joel, who was assassinated in Johannesburg.

Since the incorporation of the company, regular dividends of 50 per cent. per annum have been paid, and last year a 50 per cent. bonus was divided in addition. As I said before, the shares now stand high in the market, and show every likelihood of rising to £20. The Syndicate’s palatial offices in Moorgate Street are, if not the finest, one of the finest suites in the city of London. Mr. F. L. Gardner is the chairman of the company, and Mr. Z. Lane the managing director and superintending engineer.


In addition to the above-mentioned mines, Mr. Lane has recently taken in hand three properties in the Nannine country, Upper Murchison, all of which have developed into paying properties and are making good returns.

Mr. F. L. Gardner, chairman of the British Westralia Syndicate and its offshoots, has long been associated with Australian mining, but was drawn into West Australian ventures by his old friend Zeb. Lane. His speculations in Great Boulder, Perseverance, Lake Views, Crushing Company, Boulder South, and the ever-increasing dividend-paying British Westralia Syndicate, have amply repaid him for his courage.

An American by birth, with all the strength of mind and will of a big investor, he is a tower of strength in the market, known as a man of strict integrity and sound financial position, being in fact a millionaire, he has now the strongest following in London, and with Mr. Zebina Lane to engineer the mines which he controls, will soon be, if he is not already, the biggest man in the Western Australian Market, which more particularly concerns this book and this colony than any other market in which he may operate. Pity it is, for the sake of Western Australia, that we have not more combinations of such straight-going men as these two have proved themselves to be; then the investing public would have more confidence in mining speculations, and would certainly have, in horse-racing phraseology, a run for their money.


Frank Gardner


Mr. Z. Lane, generally known as “Zeb.,” may be described as the pioneer of successful gold-mining in Western Australia. Born, brought up, and educated to the mining industry, he for many years successfully managed the great silver mines of Broken Hill, New South Wales, and was unanimously elected the first mayor of that city when it grew into a municipality. He left Broken Hill in 1893, and paid an extended trip to Western Australia, where, after careful examination, he fixed on what is now known as the Golden Mile; but as Western Australia was then so little known, he had difficulty in getting working capital for the various holdings and had to drop some[233] of them, but pinned his faith to the Great Boulder and the Perseverance (certainly two of the best), and floated them both in London amongst his own friends. He started the first 10 stamps on the Boulder on April 10, 1895, afterwards increasing them by degrees to 30, and has since that date been instrumental in shipping over 15 tons of gold from the mines under his individual control—surely a wonderful record in a new waterless country, with so many difficulties to be contended with! He is a man of few words, but of iron will and determination, and is one of the most popular men in Western Australia—has been repeatedly asked to allow himself to be elected to Parliament and to the Mayorial Chair of Perth, but prefers to look after his mining interests. Perhaps he is quite right in doing so. He is a Justice of the Peace for every colony in Australia, is a good public speaker and debater, and will be greatly missed in Western Australia should he decide to settle down in London, as many of his co-directors in the various companies are anxious that he should do.

Hannan’s Public Crushing Company

Crossing another road I came to the Brookman Boulder, a very fine mine. Mr. Brookman has amassed a large fortune and settled in Perth, and is spending his money where he made it, instead of going away to other countries to live, as most of the lucky people do. Mr. Brookman and Captain Oats recently[234] paid a visit to Ballarat, the Queen Gold City of Victoria, and at a banquet given in his honour, Mr. Brookman said that in a few years Kalgoorlie would, no doubt, be as fine a city as Ballarat, an opinion with which I most emphatically agree. I must mention that this is one of the places that caused such a stir in the world fifty years ago, on account of the wonderful goldfinds there.

Two of the largest nuggets found in the district were the Welcome in 1858, weight 154 lbs., value £8872; and the Welcome Stranger in 1869, weight 190 lbs., value £9000. I trust this digression will be pardoned.

Central Boulder Mines and Manager’s House

There are two large and splendidly furnished clubs here, namely, Hannan’s and Kalgoorlie for the well-to-do, and several institutes, affording opportunities for reading and recreation to the miners. I must not forget to mention the fine park, cricket ground, and racecourse.

Having finished my journey round the wonderful mines, I feel how poor has been my description of them. It has been almost impossible even to mention half the important discoveries that have been made in these marvellous chambers of the earth. I have tried to explain some of the developments that stand out most strikingly. The rapid progress that is being made in all ways makes it quite safe to say that what has already been done is as nothing to what will be done in the future, and that by the time the new century is a few[235] years old, and all the latest processes of extracting gold from the ores are in full swing, we may hear of such great returns as will amaze the most incredulous. As I go along the three miles between Boulder City and Kalgoorlie, and think of the wonders I have seen, it seems quite safe to say that very soon the whole three miles will be covered with buildings and the predicted population of 300,000 an actual fact.

The scale of wages on the field is as follows:—


Occupation. Rate per Day.
s. d.
Timbermen 13 4
Rock-drill men 13 4
Miners (wet) 13 4
Bracemen 11 0
Truckers 10 6
Blacksmiths 15 0
Labourers 10 0
Carpenters 15 0
Millmen 13 0
Batterymen 11 8
Battery boys 8 4
Engine drivers, 1st 13 4
Pitmen 16 8
Assistants 12 6
Miners (dry) 11 8
Plattmen 11 0
Tool sharpeners 13 4
Strikers 11 0
Draymen 11 8
Fitters 15 0
Masons 15 0
Feeders 10 0
Cranide labourers 11 8
Engine drivers, 2nd 11 8

There are more than 6500 men working in the Kalgoorlie mines, and over £28,000 weekly is paid in wages. The cable from the Government to the Agent-General for Western Australia, London, October 1901, gave the crushing returns of the colony for that year as 1,580,950 ounces, valued at £6,007,610, making a total gold production of £27,726,233 sterling. Several millions of money have been paid to the shareholders of the various mines in dividends since the Adelaide and Coolgardie Syndicate took up the ground at the Boulder, and that ground, which was chaffingly alluded to by the prospector’s friends as a “sheep farm,” has certainly produced many “golden fleeces.”

The Kalgoorlie field has yielded in its short life over thirty-one[236] tons of gold, Western Australia’s total output since it first entered the world’s list as a gold-producer in 1886 is sixty-two tons of solid gold; now, with the new machinery that is being erected, with the latest methods for extracting gold from ore, it will not be surprising if the output from each of our golden giant mines should shortly be doubled. In all the mines I have been down there is enough amazingly rich ore at sight to keep the crushing stamps going for years. Miners should be proud of having brought Western Australia into the position of the greatest gold-producing country in the world.

The Witwatersrand, South Africa, has but a narrow belt of gold-producing country, thirty miles long. In Western Australia the auriferous belt is over one thousand miles in length, and three hundred miles in width, and out of a territory of 975,920 square miles, the area of the goldfields is 324,111 square miles. Bear raids and slumps may come and go, unscrupulous speculators may cause depression in the share market through bad reports for their own gain, “but the gold is here,” and energy, pluck, and perseverance, will overcome all the difficulties there may be to obtain it, in this truly golden West.


Saturday Afternoon at Kanowna


Kanowna—The Great Alluvial Rush—Big Nuggets—“The Joker”—Father Long’s Golden Sickle—Nobility Represented—Bulong.

Looking at the town of Kanowna, White Feather, at the present time, one can hardly believe that two years ago there were 20,000 people there. It is now a quiet settled little town, the outskirts riddled with holes, like an immense rabbit warren. Even what was once the large cemetery is now dug up in all directions, with just a little plot fenced in where burials had really taken place. The other portion, which, owing to the richness of the surrounding ground, was thrown open for digging, had, of course, not been used for burial purposes. I first went to Kanowna in November 1897, at the commencement of the great rush. I wanted to see a rush on the spot, and accordingly started one morning by coach from Kalgoorlie. On arrival at Kanowna, quite a stranger, I had to carry my own portmanteau around and look for a hotel to stay at.[238] There was no sign of a man about the little town. I afterwards found that all the men were up at the Lead, as it was called. At this time there were only three hotels in the town, now there are more than twelve. I was fortunate enough to secure the only vacant room in Donnelon’s Hotel; so, after getting off some of the red dust of the 12-mile coach ride I started for the said Lead, about half a mile from the hotel. When I first saw it I was amazed, not only at the number of tents and bough-houses, the thousands of windlasses at work, the thousands of men with tin dishes washing the ore for gold, the thousands of cradles (not babies’) being rocked for the same purpose, but at the thousands of men rushing about in all directions in a state of wild excitement. People at that time came from all directions to see the wonderful alluvial field—miners to take up claims, speculators to buy out claims, men to buy gold, men to buy ore, and plenty of people only as spectators, who wanted to see the gold as it was washed off. In this, however, they did not always succeed, for those men who had time to do it had made bough-sheds and pitched tents, and had their cradles inside, where they could wash their ore in privacy, and not let everybody know how many ounces would go to the dish. It was my good fortune to make friends with many of the mining-parties and to see the gold washed off, often 8 and 10 ounces to the tin dish. Many nice little slugs were given me by those kindly miners as a souvenir of my visit. Many days in succession I visited the Lead, as it was called; much kindness did I receive, and many a billy of tea was boiled for my refreshment.

At the beginning of the Lead the first claim was held by Sim and Gresson; the latter joined the second Australian Contingent, and has since been fighting for our Queen in Africa. George Sim, the original finder of the rich cement ore, told me that he had worked there for 18 months, with very poor results, and yet felt sure of ultimate success, so that he was not surprised when one day he “struck it rich,” as the miners’ saying goes, and since then he and his partners have been taking[239] out cement, full of rich gold, as fast as pick and shovel can dig, and have taken over £10,000 worth of gold out of their ground. The next claim, held by Morris, Long, and party, also turned out very rich. From 60 tons of cement they obtained 555 ounces of gold, 200 ounces of this being taken from the dish, that is, obtained merely by washing the stuff in the dish and picking out the gold; the rest was treated at the battery. The cement is a greenish-looking stuff, more like pipeclay than anything I have ever seen. Most of it crumbles up in the hand when touched, and the gold is plainly visible, but there are occasionally some hard lumps as well. There were hundreds of other claims around here, notably that of P. McManus, Huntington, and party. Poor Paddy McManus has since joined the great majority. He was one of the best and kindliest of men on the field and was regretted by all. This claim yielded an enormous quantity of gold. Then Tassy O’Connor, Doyle, and party’s claims, called the Arctic Circle and Klondyke, yielded the partners a fortune each. Ninety tons crushed for Jackson and party yielded the handsome return of 497 ounces of gold. At Casey’s Claim, the day I was there, they had just washed off some wonderfully rich coarse gold. They had about 40 ounces of the precious metal in a frying-pan, no other article being available to hold it since all the tin dishes were required for gold washing purposes. Some nice pieces of gold, running to about 27 dwts., are often found in these dishes.

Deep Lead, Kanowna

These claims, with numbers of others just as rich, were on the Main, or Fitzroy Lead; on the right, and to the north, was the North Lead, where more riches have been found. Eaton and party refused a large sum for a ninth interest in their claim; they were making hundreds a week, and none of them felt disposed to sell out. Close to this claim was the famous Donegal. While I was there four buckets of ore were brought to the surface thick with gold, and when washed were found to contain nearly 300 ounces. There was great excitement on the Lead that day, although the miners keep things of[240] that sort as much as possible to themselves. It is reckoned that £12,000 worth of gold has been obtained from this claim alone. The Red, White and Blue Company have also taken phenomenal quantities of gold from their claim near the Donegal, about £600 or £700 worth of gold having been taken from the earth every week. Many of these men who had now struck such wonderful good luck had previously worked for years for what in mining parlance is called “tucker” (food). No doubt pluck and perseverance are the two essentials required, and if everybody could see the 12,000 miners on Kanowna field as I saw them, and could hear of all the hardships that the majority of them had endured prior to striking this rich field, no one would deny that their good fortune was deserved. Another very rich lead was called the Golden Valley. Here the ore chiefly obtained was that called “pug”; it proved very rich, but there was great difficulty in extracting the gold from it until a special process was discovered. The Death Valley and Cemetery Claims also proved to be very rich. Enormous quantities of gold were taken from Kanowna in 12 months; but it is difficult to obtain really accurate returns of an alluvial field, as many miners keep quantities of their gold, while others carry it away and sell it at different places; but I saw with my own eyes the enormous richness of the field, and, if I never see another alluvial rush, shall consider I was in luck[241] when I saw Kanowna, not only because of the information I received, the money I made by being advised in what to speculate, but for the mere sake of seeing the place as it was in the full tide of its golden glory. There were no very large nuggets at this rush, but about two years before, at a place called Black Flag, one weighing 303 ounces was found; it was called “The Joker.” In company with it were four other nuggets and a piece of quartz containing 60 ounces of gold. The Joker was an exceptionally bright piece of gold, three-cornered in shape, with a bit out of one base. The other nuggets weighed 73 ounces, 51 ounces, 37 ounces, and a little over 10 ounces respectively. All of this gold was found at a depth of 6 feet, and in the course of one week’s work, the total weight being 537 ounces. One day all Kanowna and the surrounding country were roused to a state of tremendous excitement by the report spread by Father Long, the parish priest, that an enormous nugget, weighing 1636 ounces, valued at £6500, had been found close by, and had been named the Sacred Nugget, or the “Golden Sickle.” When the news reached Koolgarlie and Coolgardie, parties were organised, horses and buggies, cabs, carts, bicycles, and every other available vehicle taken possession of, and thousands of persons started for Kanowna field. In the meantime no authentic information could be obtained in Kanowna as to the place from which this tremendous lump of gold had come, the lucky finders keeping that a profound secret. However, search-parties were organised, and set off to look for the spot whence the nugget came, some one having given the slight clue: “It was near the Dry Lake.” Off the parties went to the neighbourhood indicated, and a very lively drive they had. It took an hour to reach the Lake, and there a consultation took place. It was decided to skirt along the Lake, but nothing came in sight except a boundless track of low bush. Another halt took place, when a journalist among the search-party, more venturesome than the rest, climbed a steep hill, and at once gave a loud “Hullo!” Every one thought the object of the journey had been attained. The spy[242] had discovered tents some distance away. Off went the horses and vehicles at a hard gallop. The tents were all a dream, however. There were no tents, and there was nothing in sight. It was resolved to turn round and try in another direction. At another likely spot a halt was again made, and here occurred the most amusing incident. One of the vehicles had been left by all its occupants except a lady. Everybody was engaged in individual searching when a loud cry from the lady recalled every one to the drag. Perhaps she had been more fortunate. “Look there!” said she; “look at all these men running and shouting;” and lo and behold, about 200 men were seen rushing down an adjacent hill toward the party, each with a branch of a tree. It appeared, however, that the newcomers had only been following the conveyances. Off went the vehicles again, down the Lake, up the Lake, and round the Lake. Everywhere did these parties go, but no gold or signs of habitation were seen. Father Long was besieged by people, over 300 visiting his camp to find out where the lucky spot was, but the priest said it was told to him under the seal, and he could not divulge the spot. After searching all over the country near to Kanowna no discoveries were made, and the searchers returned sadder but wiser men. You may be sure Father Long came in for no small share of abuse from thousands of disappointed people. The truth of this remarkable story has never come to light, but it is quite certain that no such nugget was ever found, no official notice of it having been recorded, and no bank ever having had charge of it. Father Long has since passed away from earth and nuggets, dying of typhoid fever in Perth Hospital in May 1899, and what was his share in reporting the find will never now be known. Many people are inclined to think that Father Long really thought he did see the nugget, and therefore spoke of it in good faith. A version of the affair given me by a good authority at Kanowna, after it had all blown over, was that a certain party of men, who owned one of the richest claims in the neighbourhood, had all the gold they had collected for some time at one of the hotels[243] and that one of the partners, an Irishman, placed all the lumps and pieces of gold together in the form of a sickle, and called it the “Golden Sickle,” the collection of pieces looking exactly like a huge lump of gold. Father Long, being near at hand, was invited to see the splendid specimen, which he immediately blessed and called the “Sacred Nugget.” The partners did not undeceive him, but bound him to secrecy concerning the names of the party who found it and the alleged locality from whence it came. This promise poor Father Long faithfully kept, thereby gaining for himself the condemnation of the multitude. None of the partners were brave enough to own what they had done, and Father Long had to bear the burden to the last.

Alluvial Diggings, Kanowna

In those times Kanowna was a place never to be forgotten. At night, after work was over, thousands of men used to flock into the little town, and the three hotels being quite inadequate to their wants, grog-shops existed in dozens and plied a big trade. I must say, however, that, considering all things, Kanowna was in general strikingly orderly and peaceful. Of course there[244] were occasional fights. We witnessed several from the balcony of the hotel, the only place where we could sit in the hot summer evenings. The hotel was crowded, hundreds were unable to get served, and men were waiting five deep in the bars; all drinks cost 1s. The hotel-keepers made rapid fortunes from the bars, and were, besides, partners in claims on the Lead. Two hundred and thirty thousand ounces of gold have been obtained from this great alluvial field. It is well known that miners, more especially the prospectors, are very kind-hearted and resourceful men. If they “strike it rich” they spend money freely, and are generous to a fault to any old mates they may meet who have not been so fortunate as themselves. It cannot be denied that, for strong and able-bodied young men, life in the West, with its freedom and many chances of good luck, is one not to be despised. Men from surprisingly different classes are to be met on the goldfields, and yet, so to speak, all classes are alike. I met during my travels on the Lead several university men who were trying their luck with the pick and shovel, and were not ashamed of their clay-stained moleskins. There are a good many new chums (arrivals), easily recognisable. The nobility is also represented; one trooper who was there belonged to a noble family in England. Another, a sprig of Scotch nobility, was on one of the large mines adjacent to Kanowna, and was said to be a fine fellow and universally liked. One meets quite a large proportion of men and women recently arrived from the old country, who seem always to make for the goldfields by preference, while most Australians seem to love the towns and want to stay there. There are several deep-level mines within a short distance of Kanowna, none of them, however, calling for special mention, with the exception of the White Feather Main Reefs, which occasionally gives a good yield, and the managers of which look on it as having better things still in store; recent crushings have been highly satisfactory, and future ones are expected largely to increase the profits of the shareholders.

Bulong is a mining township 12 miles from Kanowna, and[245] as several good finds have been made there, one of 500 ounces of gold, I should not be at all surprised to hear of a more sensational find some day, followed by the inevitable rush. The Queen Margaret Mine has given good returns, and there are a number of men on the alluvial ground who make a good living, and a little to spare, all the year round. The ground has not been thoroughly prospected yet, and its worth remains to be decided. Sixteen miles from Bulong, at Black Hills, two men, who had been prospecting, lately came across a nice little find of 2000 ounces of gold from a few tons of quartz. The usual subsequent rush to rich finds of course took place. In October 1900 a large nugget weighing 13 lb. was found by a man named Eddy, at Kurnalpi, about 40 miles from here, not 200 yards from the place where the nugget weighing 168 ounces was found the year before by John Symonds. Kurnalpi has been one of the richest districts of the goldfields, and who knows how soon some still more sensational finds may startle us all!


Hill End Mine—Broad Arrow


Broad Arrow—Menzies—Rich Mines—Lady Shenton—Luncheon in the Caverns of the Earth—Hon. H. J. Saunders—Welcome Tea and Cake—Native Murder—A Lost Prospector—Cake of Gold—Box-seat of the Coach—Mount Malcolm—Gold Escort—Windmills and Fresh Water.

I went back to Kalgoorlie this time by train, the railway having now been open over twelve months; stayed at Wilkie’s Hotel, opposite the station, and found it most comfortable as well as convenient. Wilkie Brothers, who were the successful tenderers for the Coolgardie Railway (which brought them a profit of £300,000) own this hotel. The next morning I set out for more goldfields, and arrived at the Menzies after an interesting journey through various small townships, Paddington and Broad Arrow being the best. There are some large mines at Paddington giving excellent returns. Broad Arrow, a very nice little place, has lately been the scene of an alluvial rush, and the usual population of 300 was quickly increased to 3000. There are a post-office, four hotels, several stores, and a good many shops, as well as some nice dwelling-houses. It is now a very thriving place of some importance and a scene of bustling activity. Shops which a short time ago would not let at any price now command such rents as their owners scarcely dreamed[247] would ever be possible. There are several very rich claims which have bottomed on rich gold; in fact, gold is everywhere. The extent and value of the golden ground can only be conjectured. One claim, called the Blue Duck, was exceptionally good; so is the Maltese Cross; while the Bird’s Nest is a veritable golden hole. The names of these claims struck me as being very peculiar; another rich one, owned by men who, until they struck this, had had a continued stream of ill-luck, is called the Battlers’ Reward, and indeed they richly deserved their splendid find, the gold from which stands out to the wash in halfpenny-weight pieces.

Farther along the line is Bardoc, from which place much rich gold has been won. It was at Bardoc that an accident recently happened in one of the mines, a poor man being killed by five tons of rock falling on him.

Twenty-six miles before we reached Menzies was Goongarrie, which a few years ago made a great sensation in the mining world.

Part of Lady Shenton Battery

Menzies was the nicest small mining town I had seen. There was a wonderful air of prosperity about it. As I walked up the principal street it seemed almost to say, “This is a good place,” and the people were extremely kind to the stranger in their midst. Until quite recently Menzies was one of the “back-block” towns, only accessible by coach from Kalgoorlie, a distance of 90 miles. The people in what we Australians call coach-towns always seem more genial and warm-hearted than those who can pop into a train and be whirled along to the metropolis, and Menzies only having had the train service recently has not had time to get spoiled. I think it is because of their isolation that people in these places, as a rule, hail strange faces with more pleasure than others do. There are some very nice houses in Menzies, and the hotels are especially good. The Grand Hotel (I can speak from experience) is a model of comfort. A very well-built post-office and court-house adorn the town, and there are many other substantial buildings in the place, which is, no doubt, a most important centre of[248] business and industry, and which has made great strides during the last twelve months, especially since it received a new impetus from the advent of the railway. The town is literally surrounded by mines, not only of gold; copper has been found near in lodes of 50 feet wide, that bear 5 dwts. of gold as well as 60 per cent. of copper. Menzies is quite a young town, and is named after Mr. Menzies, the explorer, who, in 1894, went prospecting from Kalgoorlie to see if he could discover any more Kalgoorlies. After travelling some weeks he discovered some rich “shows,” and telegraphed to the syndicate, of which Sir George Shenton and the Hon. H. J. Saunders are head, to that effect. Application for ground was made and accepted, and works afterwards commenced, with what success may be imagined from the results of that noble mine the Lady Shenton, which, since 1897, has paid 12 dividends of over £88,000, besides expending large sums of money on machinery, &c. The Lady Shenton Mine occupies 36 acres of land. There is a splendid electric-light installation, both on the surface and underground, at the main shaft as well as in the crushing-sheds, and in many other places where it is useful. The total output of the mine is 97,278 ounces of smelted gold, exclusive of gold from tailings and concentrates, the latter sometimes giving a very high percentage of gold, since as much as 327 ounces had been taken from 73 tons when I was there; 14,000 tons of tailings were awaiting treatment. Some time ago, when Sir Gerard Smith visited the mine, luncheon was served to the visitors in the 300-foot level. I happened to be at the Lady Shenton Mine at “crib” time, and[249] after “crib” the miners went out with their football to have a game before beginning work again. They were fine looking specimens of colonial manhood, and seemed thoroughly to enjoy their friendly game.

The sleeping tents of the miners are some little distance from the mine, but there were several dinner tents close by. The men form themselves into little parties of five or six, taking it in turns to act as house boy, or, as I should say, tent boy. In the day time the menu is cold, and looking at the stock of tins of preserved meats (elegantly termed tinned dog), fish, jam, milk, cake, and vegetables, it is easy to see that they do not neglect their meals. Why should they, since they are in the receipt of high and regular wages?

The next large mine is the Queensland Menzies, from which there have been large returns. There are some other first-class mines from which great things are expected. Four miles from Menzies is Kensington, where there are more good mines, also two splendid breweries. I next travelled across the country for about four miles, all alone, with only the pony I was driving for company; but happening, with my usual luck, to strike the right track and not get lost, I came to the Four Mile, where there is a little township (small settlement), and a magnificent mine called the Menzies Consolidated. There are 120 men engaged on this mine, who form quite a little colony by themselves. There is a fine tennis court, where several of the officials of the mine were enjoying a game. Mrs. Strickland, the sub-manager’s wife, insisted on getting tea and cake for me, and seeing that my horse also was refreshed after the heat of the day. On my way back to Menzies by another road, a metalled one this time, I passed many prospectors and dry-blowers, who all seemed quite satisfied with what they were getting. When I got in sight of Menzies I took a short cut through the Bush, and found I had to pass through abandoned alluvial diggings and several shut-down mines. I was glad to get back again on to the hard road and to Menzies, for the shades of night were falling fast. Next morning I learned from the paper that a[250] murder had been committed by natives and the body found near Kensington the day before. I must have passed quite close to it, and am very glad I did not see it. Many crimes are committed in these remote parts, the perpetrators of which are never discovered. A long-standing mystery has just been solved: a man named McInnes disappeared about two years ago; he was known to be a thorough Bushman, and fora few days no notice was taken of his disappearance. However, as he did not return search-parties went out to look for him, but he was never found. Shortly after his supposed death his brother came from Victoria, took charge of his affairs, and vowed that he would never leave the colony until he had solved the mystery of his brother’s disappearance. This has apparently been done by a blackboy named Tiger, who found the skeleton of a man at the Bullarchi Rocks, 12 miles off, and Mr. McInnes, the brother of the missing man, being sent for, identified the remains as those of his long-lost brother. The poor fellow had evidently, in Western vernacular, “done a perish,” like so many others, in the course of searching for gold.

An extraordinary meteor was witnessed here a short time ago. A magnificent ball of fire shot across the heavens from the north-west to the north-east, leaving an almost straight trail of light behind it. At the head of this trail of light appeared a ball of fire, which became gradually diffused around the luminous trail or meteor in convolutions resembling the movements of a serpent. For some moments the display bore a likeness of a pillar of light with a serpent twined around it. Gradually this semblance was transformed into the figure of a man standing upright, with his arms partly spread and his hands clasped. This form grew gradually into an attitude as if the figure were about to spring, the head and shoulders being inclined forwards and the legs slightly drawn up, and in this attitude it remained till the luminosity, gradually becoming paler, was absorbed in the silver light of the breaking day. Altogether the phenomenon lasted from 10 to 15 minutes.




To the west of Menzies is Mulline, where there are some[253] very rich mines. Mr. De Baun, of Perth, has a mine there from which he recently brought to Perth a very nice little cake of gold weighing 447 ounces, valued at £1700. Then on the east side there are Yerilla, Pendinnie, and Eujidine; here the Nita Mine, lately called the North Fingall, has recently had a fine crushing. At Pendinnie, 120 miles from Menzies, a find lately took place, and the scene along the road was a repetition on a smaller scale of the rush to the Boulder a few years ago. Camel and horse teams crowded the way, and everybody was smitten with the feverish race to get to the promising spot; nothing stupendous has yet been found, but the place is good and fair results have been obtained. The Waihi Mine, about 32 miles from Menzies, is one of the latest sensations, and promises to be of great value. Much of the stone is being broken out, showing rich gold, and, on being tested, gave results from 6 to 20 ounces per ton. Although only discovered in October 1900, the lucky prospectors in November were offered £20,000 for the mine by a syndicate, and since then a company has been floated and over a hundred thousand shares taken up.

I went on by coach to Mount Malcolm from Menzies. Certainly there was not much but sand and scrub to be seen in the way of scenery. We arrived at Niagara, the end of the first 30-mile stage, quite ready for dinner at 1 o’clock. This little place did not present a very attractive appearance; in fact, it was most remarkably dull looking. The mining district of Niagara is scattered, but there are some good mines about. After the 60-mile coach drive I was very pleased to see the lights of the little town of Mount Malcolm appear, which is the most typical mining place I have ever seen. As I strolled down the one street in the morning I said to myself, “I am indeed getting away from town life, and shall now see real mining business to my heart’s content.” The coach journey is indeed terrible, the road being almost one sand patch, and the horses having to walk a great part of the way, so the sooner the railway comes the better for all parties concerned. There[254] seemed to be some grass growing about Malcolm, which was quite a fresh sight for me, and I am sure a boon for the horses and their owners in these parts, where fodder is so expensive. Then the beautiful supply of fresh water is a blessing to every one, and a great aid to the development of the country, the work of digging for gold being rendered so much easier than in the sterile wastes of country where water is scarce. Mount Malcolm might almost be called Windmill Town, on account of the windmills over the wells; nearly all the public-houses and many private places have their own water supply. The gold escort had just gone down, taking the month’s gold to Perth. I saw it start from the post-office, which is quite a nice large one for a mining township. The warden’s offices, or court-house, are nearly opposite—such a funny place!—just two Hessian tents with bough-sheds built over to protect them from the sun. (A new warden’s office has since been built.) There is no lock-up here, so any one who misbehaves is chained to a small tree not far from the court-house and left there all night. This seemed to me a custom more fit for the barbarous dark ages than this enlightened century. A little while ago a man was chained up for being intoxicated. It appears he woke from his tipsy sleep in the night and felt very thirsty. He tried to get the chain off his leg, but could not. The tree they had chained him to that night did not happen to be firm enough in the ground, for he pulled and pulled until he got it uprooted, and then made his way down the street to an hotel, dragging chain and tree after him, and with his blanket fluttering in the wind made night hideous with his cries and woke the whole town with his noise. As the authorities could not give him a month under the tree for this, they packed him off in the coach next morning to the nearest gaol.

There are not many mines in the immediate vicinity of Malcolm. The Richmond Gem was under exemption, also at that time under a cloud, but it had been a good mine, and will, no doubt, recover itself. Another large mine about half a[255] mile out is the North Star, where very good results have been obtained. There are many men employed here, and on Saturday nights they come into Malcolm and make the little township lively. A novel procession passed up the street while I was there; it was a new engine for the Malcolm Mohr battery, drawn by 14 horses, and caused quite a flutter of excitement. Malcolm was comparatively quiet, as there was a rush to Mertonville, 18 miles off.

The ex-Premier, at a recent visit, said that when he was last in the district, 30 years ago, he stood on and named Mount Malcolm, and in those days never thought that it would be the centre of a great mining district. On the earlier occasion he was at the head of a small exploring expedition sent to see whether the reports of the natives that white men had been murdered there were true; it was thought that these white men might be members of Leichhardt’s expedition.

During my stay at Mount Malcolm I was shown many really beautiful specimens by the managers of some of the principal mines. Many of these were from deep levels, and would, I am sure, much surprise many people who are sceptical about the richness of the mines in these parts. I received some very pretty little specimens, souvenirs of my visit, which I shall always value very much. There is no lack of money; every one appeared to be well off. The following story may serve to show what a lucky miner will sometimes do after he has had a good crushing or found some good specimens. A man who had unearthed a nice slug—30 ounces—in the Lake Way district came into Malcolm for a spree, and on one occasion, while drinking “not wisely, but too well,” he upbraided the Hebe behind the counter for wiping the glasses with an old towel. The delinquent pleaded poverty as an excuse, and straightway the accuser threw down ten sovereigns and suggested the purchase of a new towel. Another man at another township, who had a splendid claim, and had taken over £2000 worth of gold from it, has now not a penny, because every time he realised on his gold he immediately spent the whole sum in the[256] hotels. As there are but two of these in the township, they have made good profits from this man’s mine. When he has spent all his money, the hotel-keepers put him into a cart and drive him out to the mine to recover himself. After he has done so, he usually sets to work for a month or two, and unearths some more nuggets for another spree (drunk).

Shortly after breakfast a few friends and myself drove to some nice gardens a little way from town. Although the weather was very warm, everything was delightfully fresh and green, the flowers were smelling sweetly, and the vegetables a perfect picture. What a blessing is plenty of fresh water! Any quantity can be got here by digging a well, and the experts from the Goldfields Water Supply Department, who were here recently, say that the country between the hills is really a subterreanean reservoir extending for miles. We drove on to the Mount, which is five miles farther away. A splendid view of the surrounding country for fully 30 miles is obtained from the Mount. The Trigonometrical Station here is very interesting. We had lunch on the very top of the hill, and returned to Malcolm in good spirits, having passed a most enjoyable day.

Daseyhurst, 35 miles from Menzies, is a coming goldfield, and North’s Consolidated Blocks, owned by Mr. J. H. North and Mr. W. E. Millar, may yet rival the fame of Great Westralian Mount Morgans, of which mine these gentlemen were the pioneers. Mr. North has recently successfully floated a company in London to further develop the North Consolidated, and we expect to hear great things in the future from this promising mine.


Merton’s Find, Mertondale


A New Field—Mertondale—Stupendous Richness—Gold, Gold everywhere—A Lucky Prospector—Garden in the Bush—Murrin! Murrin!—A Welcome Surprise—Western Australian Mount Morgans—Golden Hills—Blackfellows on the Trail—The Lagoon.

My investigations at Mount Malcolm took me some days, so, after a good rest and pleasant time at that very lively little township, I started one Friday, at 7 o’clock, for the new goldfield of Mertondale, to which there was a rush. One morning Malcolm folk woke up to the startling news that a new and phenomenal rush had begun 18 miles off. Soon everybody was on the qui vive to see it. All the vehicles in the township were loaded, and the male population started en masse for the new find. It turned out to be a great one, and many stories have been told me concerning the richness of it. There was nothing of great interest on the road to Mertondale. A bough-shed off the road in the distance, pointed out to me as the place where a prospector had lately chosen to shuffle off this mortal coil by cutting his throat, and that just as his claim[258] had struck gold, was about all that varied the monotony of the journey. The Australian Peer Mine was the first seen on the road. It was the one at which Merton and Gallagher were working when Merton went out one day on his bicycle to look for a lost horse and found the lucky hill which has since yielded so much gold. Mr. Merton said that when he discovered it he did not think it was so good, until he commenced breaking the stone he picked up on it, and found in every instance that it contained gold. After discovering the reef he applied for a lease, and put on two men to work at carrying out the quartz. The stone had to be taken two miles to the Waitekari Battery, but in the short space of two months £3206 worth of gold was crushed. A short time afterwards, Mr. Merton, who was a poor man at the time of the find, purchased a 20-head battery, and now crushes the stone on the spot where it is found. The reef of solid quartz is 100 feet wide, and traverses the whole of Merton’s area of 36 acres. He said that he would want a higher price, cash down, for his holding than has ever been paid for any mining property in Western Australia; so, from a poor man, a few months have made this lucky prospector a millionaire. On arriving at Mertondale the sound of the battery waked the stillness of the morning. The township is very small as yet, merely a few Hessian houses and tents, but I saw before me the hill, with the battery in full work, in which I was interested. So I asked the driver of the coach to take me there, which he did as a very great favour, for he was carrying the mail and had not yet been to the Bush-house post-office. However, as it was a very hot day, gallantry to the fair sex prevailed and the mail had to wait. I got down from the coach at the foot of the hill, and at the battery-house found Mr. Robinson, the manager, who kindly took me round and showed me everything of interest. First he went to the spot where Merton picked up the first rich stone. Plenty of it was still lying about. We went down into the open cut (or quarries) where the men were digging out the stone. I took a pick and dug out a piece myself, striking rich gold at the first[259] stroke. Several other pieces followed, and I keep them as specimens. We then went down the underlay shaft, on the western side of the big quarry. It was 12 feet deep. I got down by means of a rope, two of the men at the bottom holding their spades against the sides of the shaft for me to put my feet on. I managed to make a successful descent and began to use the pick again with much success. I could see the gold running through the rock quite plainly, so, having permission to do so, dug out several nice pieces, after which I essayed to climb the rope to the surface again, and, assisting myself by sticking my feet upon the jutting pieces of rock on the sides of the shaft, I soon got out of the rich hole. I then walked all over the hill and found many pieces of quartz lying about, all containing gold. Mr. Robinson afterwards took me to the battery and showed me the plates into which the gold and amalgam run after being crushed by the mill. I scraped some of the rich stuff off the plates; to my disappointment it looked like silver, but Mr. Robinson explained to me that this colour is caused by the action of the mercury used in the process, and that when smelted pure gold appears. Some idea of the power of the mercury may be given by this fact: I put in paper the piece which I had scraped off and placed it in my purse, in which was a gold ring that I had just put there to take to be repaired. Next morning, when I went to take it out, the gold ring was gone, but a silver one remained. The jeweller had to retort it (put it in fire) to regain its colour. Merton’s Hill is, no doubt, a perfect mine of wealth, and, so far, all on the surface, as the deepest digging then was the 12-foot shaft I have mentioned. Over £40,000 worth of gold had been taken out in the few months since the beginning of the rush, besides fully 20,000 tons of rich stone that will give 7 or 8 ounces to the ton, and as every ounce is worth nearly £4, a nice little sum is looking at lucky Merton out of the stone.[5] There are many other claims[260] on the field, but the one on the hill is the most valuable. It gives gold, gold everywhere. I was so much taken with this wonderful place that I pegged out an 18-acre lease for myself, and am hoping to strike a rich patch on it at some not far distant day. In the Golden West one never knows when luck may come to one.

It was great fun and hard work pegging out that lease. To enable one to do so, in the first place one must be provided with a miner’s right, which costs ten shillings per year; this document enables the holder to take up any ground he or she desires (not previously taken) in mining country; after the lease has been approved by the Warden of the Goldfields, one may start and dig or put men on to dig, and the gold found would be private property; if, however, any one dug and found gold without these preliminaries, the precious metal would have to be handed over to the Warden as the property of the Government.

Behold me then (knowing all this, and having secured a miner’s right before I left Perth) accompanied by some kindly miners and the lady under whose roof (canvas) I was domiciled, with my sleeves tucked up and a spade in my hands digging holes for the pegs to be put in, which must be done personally; as it was an 18-acre lease the distance between the four pegs was considerable, and required some walking to be done in the hot and dusty morning. However, I successfully planted my pegs, marked my number on them, and after paying the fees in the Warden’s Court at Mount Malcolm on my return, I became a leaseholder.

Another rich find had lately been made at Wilson’s Creek, 30 miles from this place, by two prospectors named Paddy Crowley and Dick Donovan. Over twelve months ago they found some alluvial gold there, but until a few months since nothing phenomenal; then they found a lode at a depth of 10 feet, with rich leaders running in all directions. One of the partners went into Malcolm the other day with a bagful of specimens weighing 372 ounces, and the other partner is digging[263] out more as fast as he can. Mr. Hamilton, of the Great Boulder Mine, Kalgoorlie, recently visited Mertondale, and gave it as his opinion that the place would turn out a second Great Boulder and the Flying Pig Mine a second Golden Horseshoe. As yet all the gold obtained has been found near the surface, and if the deposit continues down lower the possibility of incredible wealth lies in this wonderful spot. As yet Western Australia’s surface seems only to have been scratched in a few places. If the bodies of ore prove to go down, Mertondale bids fair to outrival the Boulder, Kalgoorlie.




The weather being intensely hot—109°—I decided to return to Malcolm in the moonlight, and a friend succeeded, after a great deal of trouble (for horses and vehicles are not yet very common here), in borrowing the only horse on the field, and managed to get an old buckboard buggy to drive me down. Camels are the usual mode of transit in this district, but I refuse to ride these animals.

Starting the next morning by coach from Malcolm at half-past five for Westralian Mount Morgans, I was fortunate in having the box-seat of the coach. A cool breeze had sprung up in the night, no doubt accompanied by a willy willy, which, as I told you before, is a terrific whirlwind of dust that sweeps along everything before it, and frequently carries verandahs away bodily and deposits them on the roofs of adjoining houses, besides removing tents as it passes. On arrival at a little hotel at 8 o’clock I felt quite ready for breakfast, and wondered what kind of fare we should get in these remote parts. Nearing the place, which rejoices in the name of Bummer’s Creek, a fine vegetable garden surprised me. It looked very refreshing to see the nice green garden after nothing but sand and mulga-trees for 10 miles. On going into the hotel (a tin one) evidences of comfort out of the usual order of “back-blocks” travelling appeared. Many little dainties were on the table, and we were served with an excellent breakfast, fresh eggs, fresh milk, and hot scones coming on us as a complete surprise. There were two lady passengers besides myself:[264] Victorian girls who were on their way to an engagement at the next hotel, where one of them was to be a “companion” at a weekly salary of £2 10s.

Twelve miles farther on we reached Murrin Murrin, where I stayed for a day. Here I visited the Malcolm Proprietary, and was much interested in the works and management of the mine, a fine one, giving good returns. An interesting feature is the tailings hoist, worked by a compressed-air plant. Returning to the Murrin Hotel for dinner, I was surprised at the delicate way in which it was served, at a table with beautiful napery, elegant silver, and glass ware. On becoming acquainted with the little landlady, I was no longer surprised, for I found her a cultured lady, who invited me to stay a few days as her guest, and I thoroughly enjoyed the quiet change from the roughness to which I can never accustom myself.

There is a great deal of copper about Murrin, and many copper mines are being worked with good results, the Anaconda taking the first place.

On arrival at Mount Morgans I found it quite a flourishing township. Twelve months ago there were no houses, but now the place is increasing wonderfully. The Westralian Mount Morgans Mine is less than a quarter of a mile from the township, and is on a hill overlooking the surrounding country. The large machinery on it made it look very imposing. From the hill Mount Margaret is visible, a township now quite deserted, all the houses having been bodily moved to Mount Morgans, and the hospital to Laverton, another rising mining place, the former name of which, British Flag, was changed to Laverton in compliment to Dr. Laver, who has been mainly instrumental in bringing the place into prominence and attracting an inflow of British capital.

There are some very valuable mines here, as well as the Westralian Mount Morgans, Guest’s Mine being the next in importance, and rapidly coming to the fore as a gold-producer. A company in England has recently been floated with a quarter of a million of money to deal with this mine. The reefs[265] are very large, and known to extend over 20 miles. The Westralian Mount Morgans, which bids fair to be one of the biggest gold-producers of Western Australia, is named after Mr. A. E. Morgans, the Member for Coolgardie, the largest shareholder. There was an enormous quantity of ore waiting to be crushed, and, although the gold is too fine to be seen by the naked eye, it realises from ½ ounce to 3 ounces per ton. Thousands of tons of this ore, sufficient to keep the battery going for five years, are visible, waiting to be taken out. Occasionally some rich pockets of gold are found, the rock simply glistening with the precious metal. The output of this mine is very large, and nearly 200 workmen are employed. Water for crushing purposes not being abundant, a pipe-line was laid to an extensive lagoon 6 miles away, and now brings an ample supply. The cyanide plant can treat 2500 tons of tailings monthly. Two thousand cords of wood are neatly stacked by the mine ready for use, and more is obtainable at a short distance.

Westralian Mount Morgans Mine

The working-men’s club and library, a very nice building, built of mud-bricks in their spare time by the men, who are very proud of it, faces the mine. The term “mud-bricks” may need explanation: the bricks are made from a kind of reddish soil found here, and when moulded into shape look very well.

The first hotel in Mount Morgans had just been opened when I was there. I had great difficulty in getting accommodation, and was obliged to share the room of the landlady’s daughter. The[266] proprietor was doing a roaring trade. There was a large dining-room, which was turned into a dormitory at night. Visitors were constantly coming and going, so much being heard on the lower fields of the recently wonderful finds. The post-office is as yet a very primitive place, merely a canvas tent with a bough-shed over it; but new buildings are going up in all directions as fast as they can be built. Land brings a good price, plots now fetching as much as £300 (which six months ago could have been got for the pegging out). When a goldfield is proclaimed, the warden of the place gives permission for people to take up ground for residential areas. Then comes a wild rush to get in the first pegs. These pegs are to mark the ground which an applicant desires to take up. When the warden’s permission was given, at a court held at Mount Margaret, numbers of men hurried to Mount Morgans to peg the best plots of land. Some went on bicycles, some on horses, and those who arrived first of course got the best choice. One well-known man had an old racehorse which he had “kept dark,” as they say, and he outpaced them all and got the choicest plot on the township. He has since erected the second hotel there, and sold it, I am told, for a very large sum before it was completed.

Very few women are yet on the field, and as I sat writing in the only little parlour, all the male population seemed to walk past the open door (the room being too small and hot to shut it) and to gaze at me as if I were something rare and remarkable.

With the exception of the few golden hills, the country was very flat, and cyclists were constantly arriving. The country around Morgans is very pretty in some parts, and there is plenty of nice grass growing. Every coach coming up from Menzies was crowded with miners and prospectors, who, having heard so much of this wonderful district, where a plentiful supply of water is to be obtained, were getting out as fast as possible. Not far from Mount Morgans, a mine, which is reported very rich, has lately been discovered by Mr. Dunne, who found the Wealth of Nations Mine at Coolgardie. Mr.[267] Alick Forrest is largely interested, and lately paid a visit of inspection to it.

It is a very pleasant drive of six miles to the now deserted township of Mount Margaret, and three miles farther on is the Mount itself, from which a grand view of the country is obtained. The enormous Lake Carey (salt) stretched far away in the distance. This is one of the innumerable salt lakes of Western Australia, and with the glorious sun shining on it it looks like a lake of gold. Sir John Forrest was the first white man to set foot in this district, and stood on the Mount 30 years ago, when he named it Margaret after his mother and his intended wife.

As I returned to Mount Morgans in the cool of the evening, a very large tribe of blacks (natives) appeared on the scene, but they were very peaceful, and asked me for “bacca” and sixpence, which the king having obtained, they all appeared satisfied. They were dressed in civilised clothes, and looked quite fat. “White-man’s tucker,” as they call it, and which they beg for as they go along, seemed to suit them. They had just lit their camp fires. The aborigines’ means of fire lighting is by wood friction, and as it takes a long time to get a spark they usually carry fire-sticks, which keep alight a long time and save them much trouble. They often bring into the townships or camps pieces of gold which they have found in the bush, for they know they will receive something, although they do not know the real value. They know, however, the superior value of silver to copper, being aware that they can get much more “bacca,” or food, for a silver piece than for a copper one, and when they take their finds to any one, asking “how much this fella?” meaning “what is it worth.” If it is a small find, and they are told the value in pennyweights, they will say “Bael (no) pennyweight, that fella shillingweight.” (The native, in his attempt to talk English, terms nearly every person place, or thing “fella.”) They told me in their broken way that this tribe had travelled from Kalgoorlie, and was going to the Murchison, looking for a renegade blackfellow called “Kangaroo,” who had transgressed their laws, and whom[268] they meant to kill. Let us hope, for “Kangaroo’s” sake, that they never found him.

Mount Wilga is a very rich property which lies on the other side of Lake Carey, is in a country that might almost be called undiscovered. But Mr. G. W. Hall has discovered its richness, and sent up a manager and gang of men, who are working away with great vigour. The lode is as big and rich as any one could desire. Some of the ore from a good depth that has been assayed has yielded 20 ounces to the ton; how much equally rich will be got remains to be proved.

Although the supply of water for mining purposes at Mount Morgans is not adequate, there is plenty for domestic purposes, the wells sunk in many parts of the township giving a good supply. In the rainy season, which, however, seldom comes, the lagoon that supplies Westralian Mount Morgans Mine with water is a huge lake, and teems with waterfowl. Kangaroos and wallabies sport around its banks, and give great opportunities to the sportsmen, who during other parts of the year have to let their guns lie idle.


Mine at Laverton


Laverton—Excitement among the Miners—Bachelors and Grass Widowers—More Souvenirs—Lucky Discoveries—Erlistoun—Lost—Eagle Nugget—Euro Mine—Hospitality in the Bush.

The coach to British Flag, or Laverton, turned out to be a large kind of conveyance with three open seats and no cover; consequently, as the day had been hot, I was glad when we drove into the township at 8 o’clock in the evening, for I was fairly tired out. Every one in the place was looking out for the mail, which only goes up three times a week. Several gentlemen whom I had known in other parts of the colony were here, and having heard that I was to arrive by this coach, were waiting to receive me, and three pairs of stalwart arms were held out to help me down. I was escorted into the hotel, and from the time I arrived until I left was the recipient of so much attention from the numerous and kindly fellows as to be almost bewildered.


The very comfortable hotel was kept by three bachelors, one looking after the hotel business and the other two after the store which they also own. Wages up here are very high: cooks get £3 10s. per week, and two young women, one of whom acts as housekeeper, while the other attends in the bar, were receiving £5 per week! Another young woman was making a small fortune by washing and mending the clothes of the gay bachelors, who, having plenty of money, do not mind what they pay for work done for them. The whole of the country seemed to be a vast auriferous area, and thousands of miles of rich country higher up yet are absolutely unprospected.

Horses being very scarce, I was indebted to Mr. Campbell Shaw for the use of his horse and buggy during my stay. Mr. Shaw drove me out to the Augusta Mine, of which he is manager. This little mine is very rich, and had just been bought from the three original prospectors for £2500 in cash and 1300 shares. There was no battery there as yet, and so the stone raised was taken to the Hawkes Nest Battery, 9 miles away, every morning by a 60-camel train, the camels returning at night for their next morning’s load. The country around is really pretty, and from the hill on which the Augusta Mine stands you can see the houses at Mount Morgans, 20 miles off, through the clear air. Some very fine specimens have been sent from this admirable little mine to the Glasgow Exhibition, and I was fortunate to get some myself. The camps here were all very neat and tidy, and yet there was not a woman on the mine, all the men being bachelors or grass widowers. I intended to go down the shaft, but there had been an accident the day before, and two young men had been injured—happily, however, not very seriously—so I thought discretion the better part of valour and did not go down. As no women were at the mine I volunteered to do a little nursing by putting cold bandages on the injured men’s arms, and making them nice cool lemon drinks, for which the poor fellows were very grateful.


Going back to Laverton, just as the sun was setting, I thought the little township looked very flourishing. It is wonderful how quickly these places spring up! A few months ago only a few tents marked the spot which then was called British Flag. We stopped at Dr. Laver’s old camp and surveyed the little township with wondering eyes, and two lucky prospectors coming up gave me a pretty little nugget they had found that day. These men had previously struck a patch in an abandoned shaft near where they were camped a few miles out. They thought they would go down and look all over it, and did so with such perseverance that they found a leader. Following it up, they discovered it to be 18 inches wide, and eventually came across a rich pocket from which they afterwards took £4000 worth of gold.

Driving into the township we went down to the post-office, not a Bush one, but really a nice building. As it was the mail night all the folk were there waiting for their letters. Most of the shops and houses are built of galvanised iron, and are very hot during the day; but this drawback has to be endured, for the place is in the Mulga country, where the trees are very small and only fit for firewood, and the distances are too great to bring timber from elsewhere. The Western Australian Bank had a very nice place; it was one of the best buildings there.

I was now over 600 miles from Perth, the capital, and had reached the very last township in the Mount Margaret district.

Erlistoun is another rising mining place, where there have recently been some rich finds. It is 60 miles from Laverton. Several old prospectors have been there for years, and have quite lost the customs of civilisation, so much so, that one old man called Jack, on hearing that one of the miners had brought his wife to the Erlistoun, and that she, having a goat, had brought it up with her (at a terrible inconvenience, as you may imagine), in order to have fresh milk in her tea, remarked: “I shall pack my swag and go farther back, now that women and goats are arriving here; this is no place for me.”


I saw some marvellous specimens, more gold than quartz, from the Erlistoun, and should not be surprised to hear any day of a tremendous rush there. Consignments of plump wildfowl from beyond Mount Black and the Erlistoun are frequently sent to Perth, and the country about is said to be very fine.

The Craig-i-more was the scene of my next mining visit. This mine belongs to Sir Donald Currie, and, like most in this district, is worked at the expense of the owners without the aid of the outside public as shareholders. The machinery is very fine. I found the people most hospitable; they made tea for me, and one of the managers presented me with several valuable native weapons and curiosities, which I was proud to add to the already fine collection in my pretty home at Claremont.

Next day I set out to drive myself to the Euro Mine, about 12 miles from Laverton, and refused all offers of escort, wishing to explore the country myself. All went well for about seven miles, then I came to two roads, did not know which to take, and of course took the wrong one. After going on for about a mile the track grew very indistinct; I found I was on the wrong one, and presently lost it altogether. However, knowing by the sun that I was now going quite in the opposite direction, I turned round, found the track, and determined to trust to luck and keep to the left. When I had gone on for about a mile the track began to get very indistinct, again being woven into others in a most confusing way. The wind having risen made it also very dusty and disagreeable. I now felt completely lost, but drove on hoping to strike a road once more. Presently, a few yards to my right, there appeared a huge “willy willy.” It interested and amused me at first, but presently it whirled nearer, too near for my fancy and also to suit my horse, who needed no urging on. Surely I heard a shriek. No! it was only the horrid “willy willy”; then began a race, and “willy willy” was edging nearer. I turned my horse’s head and let him gallop in the opposite direction; “willy willy” had turned too and was following us. Half mad with[275] fright I gave my horse his head, who, by-the-by, took a small rut as if he were out with hounds, the buggy and poor I taking it also. But where was “willy willy?” Right away back, slowly dying (perhaps of laughter at giving us such a fright). I slackened speed, and, looking around, was surprised to find that we were nearly back at the Junction. We had struck the road again somehow, the horse, perhaps, knowing his way better than I did. After all, “willy willy” had done us a good turn. “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good,” I said to myself as I straightened my hat and drove sedately down the road.




Seeing smoke rising amongst the trees, I drove over to the place, hoping to find a camp where I might get water for my horse. I found the camp and one solitary man working by it, who had been in the neighbourhood prospecting for months. He asked me to give my horse a rest, offering to attend to him and also to make some tea for me, which hospitable offer I gratefully accepted. While the “billy” boiled he told me much about the hardships he had endured for many months. “But now,” said he, “luck has turned; look here, ma’am.” At the same time he unearthed from the ground an old jam tin, which proved to be full of little lumps of gold. For months, he told me, he had been fossicking (that is, searching the top ground), and looking for shows of gold, and one day had struck a patch. Picking out one little piece he said, “That’s the first bit I found, and you are the first white woman I have seen for months, so I’ll give it to you for luck.” The piece was almost exactly in the form of an eagle, and is now one of my gold treasures. He said that he had often been without food, or the money to obtain it, but had subsisted on the kindness of other prospectors, who had helped him from their often scanty store, and of the storekeepers who had given him tick (credit). (I have since heard that the man afterwards struck an immense find, and is now thoroughly successful.) Bidding my hospitable entertainer “good-bye,” I again started on my journey and soon found myself at the Euro, not having met even a solitary kangaroo on the road.


In the early days this mine was known as Quartz Hill, and the company owning it was unlucky. Thousands of pounds were spent, but nothing much was got, and the mine was finally abandoned; but some prospectors, who often have a liking for fossicking on an abandoned spot, thought that it had not had a fair trial, and two men, named Champion and Mason, determined to give it another. Knowledge or chance led them to continue a costéen, and they were not long coming on stringers (thin courses) of rich quartz. Mr. G. W. Hall eventually came upon the scene in company with Mr. A. W. Castle, and these well-known gentlemen were not long in making a proposition to the prospectors, from whom they shortly afterwards bought the mine for a considerable sum and renamed it the Euro.

There is every appearance of a brilliant future for the Euro. There is a large body of ore in sight. The reef is 10 feet wide, and some of it gives assay equal to the rich Kalgoorlie claims. Many nice houses are being built for offices, manager’s house, and stores. Farther on is the Sons of England, another rich property acquired by Mr. Hall.

At the Euro I was most hospitably entertained by the manager’s wife. There were two other visitors at the mine that day, and we made quite a merry party in the cool Bush-house, where we were invited to a very nice lunch.

Mount Weld was the object of my next day’s journeying. I did not lose myself this time, but on the way came across some prospector’s camping, and stopped to have a talk with them. They showed me a bottle full of gold that they had recently got. One of them, the old man of the camp, went very mysteriously into the camp and brought out something tied up in a piece of an old bag. It turned out to be a nugget which must have weighed 60 ounces. A small piece of gold was given me as a souvenir, and I was bound to secrecy for a month about the big nugget; but, as the month will be long past when this is published, I may now safely speak.

At Mount Weld the miners seemed amazed to see a lady[277] drive up alone, and all work was suspended for the time by the hands on top. At the same time an “Hallo” was given to those working below, with the message, “Come up; a lady visitor.” The reply came, “You’re codding” (joking); but when I went to the top of the shaft and called down, “It’s quite true,” they came up the rope (dispensing with the bucket) with great alacrity. Several claims here were yielding splendid returns, notably the new find, 7 miles from the Mount, where Bates and Whelan have recently struck a rich patch.

Another new place is called Bett’s Find, and 150 men were working there; but, the heat having been terrible and water rather scarce, a good many of them had left the place. The North Country, as this part is called, has the advantage of rock not nearly so hard as on the fields lower down, consequently the ores can be more easily treated.

The time came when I had to bid farewell to Laverton and to its many interesting mines. As time goes on the now modest little township will, no doubt, develop into a fine city, for it is the centre of a very rich district, although almost up in the Never Never country (where there is no white population). Many mines of which I cannot speak are full of golden promise, and many more will yet be discovered. The country around is mountainous, and it is near mountains and hills that all the rich reefs are found.

It was on a lovely morning that I started for my return journey to Mount Malcolm. As I had 70 miles to go, and as I was on the front seat of the coach, I was thankful that the weather was cool. At first some difficulty was experienced in getting the off-side leader to go. He was a young horse, just broken in, and had never been in harness before; the way he stood on his hind legs and curvetted around put terror into my heart, for I am not strikingly brave where horses are concerned; with a great effort I controlled myself and sat still, for I could see that the coach-driver had full command, and, after about ten minutes of fear to me and fun to the crowd[278] who gathered round, we got away, the unmanageable animal behaving admirably for the rest of the journey.

There was only one other passenger (a gentleman) besides myself, and he kindly got down and gathered Australian quondongs,[6] and some very rare flowers new to me. Farther on the spinifex was very plentiful. I begged some of that, not knowing its terrible prickly nature. It is a deceitful plant that grows in pretty green grasslike clumps, with a flower—out at this time—that looks almost like golden wheat, but is, oh, how wiry and prickly!

About 12 miles from Laverton was Hawke’s Nest, where the coach stopped for a while at the store. This is a flourishing alluvial place, where many nuggets are often found by dry-blowers and prospectors. A man came into the store while we were waiting there with a nice piece, which the storekeeper weighed; it was 14 ounces, and he had another of 7 ounces. A little while ago a man found a piece weighing 27 ounces, and these good finds are not of unfrequent occurrence.

On arrival at Mount Morgans we changed coaches and found the new one crowded.

By the time I got to Murrin Murrin I was pretty thoroughly tired, and decided to stay at the nice hotel and once more see silver and pretty glass-ware on a table, for Mount Morgans and Laverton, although rich with gold, are not exactly rich in comfort.

I wanted to get to Malcolm the next day; there was no coach going, but I was determined, and, my little landlady providing me with a horse and spring-cart (the only conveyance obtainable), I made a start the next morning like a veritable Bushwoman. I had no adventure beyond seeing a long camel-train with three Afghan drivers, before getting near whom I made a détour into the Bush, for horses are invariably[279] afraid of camels. I then resumed the road and got safely into Malcolm.

A railway is soon to be begun to the Mount Margaret goldfields, and, considering that this field is producing at the rate of 13,000 ounces of gold per month, almost double the output of any other colonial field except Kalgoorlie, it is to be hoped that the line will be finished with as little delay as possible.


Sons of Gwalia Mine, Mount Leonora


Leonora—The Gwalia Mines—In a Gingerbeer Cart—More Nuggets—Gold Blocks—Pastoral Land—Swampers—Scarcity of the Fair Sex—Saturday Life—Alas, poor Prospectors!

From Mount Malcolm to Leonora I drove 12 miles through very pleasant country spread with wild flowers of all colours. About 2½ miles before reaching Leonora lie, a little off the main road, the great mines called the Gwalia Group, which seem likely to develop shortly into a second Kalgoorlie. Leonora is a new place, and its great importance has not yet been fully realised, but some managers told me that there are belts of richness there similar to those in Kalgoorlie and Boulder City, so that, when the railway is finished, no doubt thousands will flock to Leonora, which by coach is now at a distance of 80 miles from Menzies. The Gwalia Group occupies about a mile of ground, and is a leasehold of some 477 acres. Over that expanse all the miners’ huts, camps, and tents are scattered. I stopped at several and found a great many women and families there, and some of their places were very comfortable inside, although the outside was not much to look at. The men who work in this mine are chiefly from Victoria, and they are bringing over their wives and families every week. As the mine[281] is evidently likely to be permanent, and the men see a prospect of years of work before them, the people there are very happy and have quite a little township of their own. The principal mine of the group, the Sons of Gwalia, is on a hill, from which place you look down over a mile of Bush dotted about with various camps. The smoke rising from the chimneys, the poppet-heads of the other mines lying beyond, with a blue haze of hills behind them, combine to make up a good picture of life on the goldfields.

There are 500 men working on this mine who turn out some thousands of ounces of gold per month, independent of the tailings, which are almost sure to give 1½ ounces to the ton. No doubt in a short time there will be a tremendous boom here.

The small town of Leonora very much resembles Mount Malcolm, except that the main street is longer, and that there are a few more buildings. It boasts of three hotels, one made of wood and two of mud bricks, but withal not ungainly looking, and tolerably comfortable. Expenses are heavy but wages are good, and there are so many lucky prospectors that there is always plenty of money there. On Saturday nights a great deal of business is done, especially on the pay Saturday, which at the Gwalia mines arrives once a month; then most of the men come in and have some amusement in the way of visiting the hotels and playing billiards; there is nothing else for them to do. There is no good hall for amusements yet, and if there were the men would have to provide their own play, for no company of any calibre has yet ventured so far into the “back-blocks.” A handsome semi-grand piano had just arrived at Thompson’s Hotel from Perth, and the son of the landlady, who was an excellent musician, played a selection from several new operas for my pleasure, as well as that of the crowd who thronged the place. There is not much music to be had in Leonora, but the inhabitants are quite able to appreciate it when it comes. There is one luxury here, however, which is generally denied to the people on the[282] fields lower down towards Kalgoorlie—the luxury of bathing at the public shower-baths. The men can have three baths daily by paying the weekly fee of 2s. 6d. There are three splendid wells in the town, with windmills, giving good supplies of fresh water. Horses are very scarce; I had great difficulty in getting a horse and trap in order to drive out and see the different mines; in fact, I had one day to enlist the assistance of the local baker to take me out to one mine that I wished very much to see, while another day the driver of the gingerbeer carriage gallantly gave me a lift.

Another day I had quite an adventure. I started in a cart, but the animal called a horse, after jog-trotting for a mile or so, refused to go any farther. The driver explained: “You see, ma’am, he’s an old ’un, and knows at this time he ought to be going towards home, so he won’t go any farther away from it.” All coaxings and persuasions were vain, so I had to get out and walk. The day was intensely hot, and after walking some distance I had to sit down on a log, feeling that I could go no farther. At last in the distance a conveyance appeared coming from the place to which I wanted to go, and proved to be that of the butcher. I stopped the cart, and, with the sweetest smile I could call up, asked the young man to take me to the mine. “But I am just going away from there.” “Oh, never mind, turn back; I will pay you any money to take me there.” After much hesitation he consented to do so, but would not accept payment. I am glad to say that from the mine the manager sent me back in one of their own buggies. The only people who kept horses for hire had let theirs out to graze during the night and could not find them in the morning. At last, in desperation I telegraphed to Mount Malcolm for a buggy and horse, which were brought down to me, and I finished my inspection in comfort. However, on my second visit to Leonora I found that the place had advanced with great strides, and that now I had no difficulty in obtaining a nice horse and buggy in the township to take me to the different places I wished to visit.


Going into one of the banks (there are two there), I collided at the door with a rough-looking man carrying a canvas bag. This he emptied out upon the counter. It proved to contain some splendid nuggets of gold and a quantity of gold-dust. Seeing my eyes full of admiration, the man, rough as he was, picked out a pretty little piece, and holding it towards me, said, “Will you accept this, ma’am, from a rough miner who hasn’t spoken to a lady for two years, and may I shake hands with you?” You may be sure I did not refuse either of these offers, made in a most kindly spirit.

We were now nearly 600 miles from Perth in a different direction to Laverton.

The Great Boston Reward Claim is only two miles from Leonora. Here O’Brien and party made a vast profit out of the gold and nuggets they obtained from their rich claim. The same party have another claim at a place called Savannah, where they are also getting great results.

Farther along the same road, which is the main road to Diorite and Lawlers, is the Trump Mine, which has a small battery of its own, for which the proprietors paid out of their first crushing of 10 ounces to the ton. There are dozens of working-parties of men about this particular part, which is exceptionally rich. Close to the Trump are the Leonora Gold Blocks, which for richness have not been surpassed in the district. This mine also has its own battery, bought and paid for out of its first profits, so now the lucky owners have nothing to do but raise the stone and extract the gold on the premises, independent of everybody. The ample water supply makes work here comparatively easy, and I came to the conclusion that this was an excellent place to look for gold. When one looks back and thinks of the difficulties miners have had to contend with at Hannan’s, I should say that a man would rather work in the Leonora district, even for lower pay, than down below, where there is no fresh water and few vegetables; and the fact is that wages are higher here. There can be no doubt that a very great future lies before the Leonora, or, I should say, Mount Malcolm[284] goldfields, and probably in two years from this time, instead of 1000 there will be 10,000 people on the field. There are now scores of mines there, about which nobody hears anything. Steady work is in progress everywhere in the district; there are no unemployed men, the country, all the way from Menzies, is being rapidly opened up, and so many improvements have been decided on by the various mining companies, that thousands more men will shortly be required to do the work. There is, therefore, nothing to prevent this rich field, which has the advantage of being extensive, consistent, and well watered, from developing shortly into a great community. Mr. Morgans, who should be a good authority on mines, says that he sees no reason why the Gwalia Mine should not shortly turn out 10,000 ounces of gold per month, and that there are fully a dozen mines in the neighbourhood of Leonora with striking lode formations which in the future will be as rich as any in the district.

On the road to the Diorite King, which is about 40 miles from Leonora, there was nothing much to see except a good many swampers. A “swamper” is a man tramping without his swag, which he entrusts to a teamster to bring on his waggon. Arrived at the camping-place, which is recognisable by the old fires, the swamper awaits the teamster’s coming, recovers his swag and spends the night at the camp. While on foot the swamper will generally leave the track, and prospect, and shows wonderful skill in recovering the track again, after these deviations. The country, however, was certainly prettier than that of the Coolgardie district. I was somewhat surprised when the coach pulled up at a small-looking hotel, called the Kurrajong, with a few houses about it, to find that I was at Diorite King township. It is certainly the smallest place I ever stayed at. However, I was not sorry to get to my journey’s end, for the heat and red dust had made me long for a refreshing cup of tea, which I got at the hotel. I was fortunate in getting a nice comfortable room, which, however, I was told was reserved for the manager of a mine who was expected soon, but I was[285] allowed to have it until he came, and I am thankful to say he did not arrive while I was there, so that I remained for a few days in undisputed possession.

At Diorite the township consists of one hotel, one store, one baker and butcher’s shop combined, one blacksmith’s forge, a few mud houses, and two galvanised-iron ones, the house of Mr. Williams, the manager of the Diorite Mine, and a post-office. My readers may perhaps wonder why I stayed so long. Certainly of all the uninviting desert-looking places I ever saw, Diorite is the worst, but mines of wealth lie close to it. There are only four women in Diorite, the landlady, the barmaid of the hotel, a shopkeeper, and the wife of one of the men on the mine. Women, being so few, are looked upon in these parts as goddesses, and are treated with reverence, and I was made quite an object of adoration. Of course there was no chance of getting a horse and vehicle here (how I regretted leaving my bicycle at Menzies because I would not pay full coach fare for it!) so one mine was explored by the medium of the grocer’s cart. However, the day after, Mr. Williams kindly lent me his horse and buggy, and safe transit to the other mines was then assured.

Camels at Diorite King

The Diorite King Mine is about two miles from the township, and lies between two hills. A great deal of gold has been got there. I found myself most hospitably entertained, as the men were all at their “crib” when I arrived, and being invited into their dining-room, a bough-shed with two benches and long table, I took the mug of “billy” tea offered me, but did not feel[286] disposed to partake of the corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes, although everything looked very nice and well cooked, and also well served up by the cook of the day. This mine, and another called the Middlesex, have both turned out good results, and while I was there I saw some of what is called “surface stone,” freely splashed with gold all over. On the way back to Diorite a long string of camels, over eighty passed on their way to Lawlers with stores. What would the people in these remote places do if it were not for these “ships of the desert”?

On one of them, in a kind of wicker basket, was a poor little lamb, looking wonderingly around with its head out of the cage. I thought, perhaps, it might have been a pet of one of the Afghans. “No fear, ma’am, it’s to be killed at sundown; they won’t eat any meat killed by Europeans, drat them,” said the grocer, for like all Westralians he had a hatred of the wily Afghan.

The Calcutta Mine is not far from Diorite, and has a splendid reef. It adjoins the Little Wonder, owned by Doyle and party, who a few years ago had a find of gold so rich and phenomenal that thousands of pounds worth of gold were taken in no time, and the men are working in daily expectation of cutting a rich leader again.

Mount Stirling is another mine held by a Perth syndicate. Very rich ore was lately struck there, and the syndicate have now erected their own crushing battery. Plenty of fuel and water is available in the vicinity. Hundreds of tons of the valuable ore lie on top waiting to be crushed, and thousands more are plainly to be seen below waiting to be dug out. This is the richest stone that has ever been found near here, and is causing much excitement on the lease adjoining Mount Stirling. A lode was being worked by some miners at a depth of 90 feet, a pocket of some of the stuff assaying the immense value of 100 ounces to the ton. A great many more men have claims about the vicinity of Mount Stirling Mines, but it is almost impossible to know what is being got, as they keep silence over their findings. The manager[289] of the store says that a large quantity of alluvial gold is sent away from the district of which the warden knows nothing. His firm, being buyers of gold, often purchase from the men as much as 100 ounces a month, £390 worth, sometimes more.




Last, but far from least, I went to the King of the Hills Mine. The farther I got away from Diorite the nicer the country looked. When I came to the King of the Hills the surroundings were really pretty. The wonderful gold got there has been obtained by sinking to no great depth. The main shaft was only 25 feet deep at the time when I saw it. Many rich quartz veins have been found in the workings, the finds being occasionally most sensational. A small parcel of 18 tons of stone was treated for a yield of 280 ounces of gold; 14 tons yielded 276 ounces, and since then a further sensation has been caused by 1 ton of quartz which yielded 116 ounces of gold. On one of the shafts large sacks of ore were stacked which fairly glistened with gold, and were expected to give as high a result as that just quoted. The mine was owned at this time by Read and party, but has since been sold to Mr. Raymond, of the Harquehala Company, for £6000 cash. After pegging out their claim, Reid and party obtained over 1600 ounces of gold, worth about the nice little sum of £6200. That, with the sale of the mine, makes a fortune of £12,000 for four partners.

Saturday afternoon brought all, or nearly all, the miners from the surrounding country into Diorite, where, as you can imagine, the hotelkeeper was kept busy. The hotel proprietor, no doubt, has made a fortune out of these Saturdays, the men having no other means of spending their money; there is no bank where they can change their gold into coin, but the storekeeper does that necessary kindness for them, or the landlady notes a score on her little slate. All the time that I was there one lucky claim-holder was falling about the place intoxicated. Some of the scenes witnessed are by no means pleasant, but I suppose the four women of the place had got quite used to them, for they did not seem to take any notice of anything that went on. Many[290] of the men on the Saturday night become incapable of going back to their camps, and there being no sleeping accommodation at Diorite beyond the one hotel, they take shelter in any empty hut or under any cover they can find. The men are all very kind to one another, only a few fights occur, and the fighters soon shake hands and make friends again. There is no police protection, and not even a tree lock-up, so every one does pretty well as he likes at Diorite King; but when one thinks of the life these men lead, shut off in a desert country from almost every trace of civilisation, one feels that their faults should be looked on with a lenient eye. One man seemed terribly drink-sodden, and I was told he had taken thousands of pounds worth of gold as a partner in a certain claim, and his friends had tried to get him away to reclaim him, but he would not leave the place, and preferred to spend the money as he got it in the desert. Occasionally some poor miner gets lost in the Bush and is never heard of again. The blacks were very troublesome at one time about here, but there are now very few. Mr. J. Leyland, one of the original owners of the Little Wonder Mine, was killed by them about two years ago. He had gone out to look for two horses that were lost, and having found them had camped for the night at Doyle’s Well, about 20 miles off, and was boiling his billy when he noticed a bush in motion close by, and before he could arm himself two blacks sprang upon him and hit him on the head with a waddy, and then speared the horses, leaving Mr. Leyland, as they thought, dead. They then, having satisfied their thirst for blood, decamped. On the poor man’s return to consciousness he dragged himself to the horses and found one poor beast dead but the other not severely injured. He managed to mount it, and horse and rider, covered with blood, managed to make their way back to the mine. The horse dropped dead on their arrival there, and poor Leyland only lived long enough to relate his terrible night’s experience. Two men were lost in the Bush a little after this, and parties went out searching for them. One poor fellow was found dead under a tree, with his billy beside[291] him, on the smoked part of which was scratched: “Dying from thirst; Jim tried to go on, follow him.” A horse lying dead close by mutely told a dreadful tale. The search-party, going on for many miles, at last came across a hut near a well. The hut-keeper told them he was awakened by a noise at daybreak, and on looking out saw a dark object leaning over a rough hollowed-out tree trunk (used for giving his horse a drink) and ravenously gulping down the water like a thirsty wild animal. It was hardly daylight, so he could not distinguish what it was, but knowing there were no wild animals about he ventured out to see, and found it was the other poor lost man in the throes of death. He took him into the hut and cared for him as well as he could, but it was too late, so all the search-party could do was to dig a grave and bury the second poor mate as they had done the first.

About 62 miles from Leonora is the splendid goldfields’ pastoral station, called Sturt’s Meadows, which belongs to Mr. Manuel, and consists of 570,000 acres of land. There is an abundance of water, and wells have been sunk in many parts to supply the enormous herds of stock which Mr. Manuel sends to the southern markets. The boundary of the station lies 20 miles away, and we drove 18 miles, during which we were always on the property, before coming to the homestead. Here we were hospitably received, and tasted “Brownie,” a currant loaf peculiar to this station, of which I can personally speak in the highest terms. Mr. Manuel drives four and sometimes six brumbies, and the way he gets over the ground is simply amazing.


Off by the Coach to Lawlers


Lawlers—Splendid Vegetables—Waiting for a Samaritan—Mount Sir Samuel—While the Billy boils—The Kangaroo—Lake Way—Across the Country—The “Back-blocks”—Camping out—Arrival at Nannine—Bed once More—Splendid Mines of the Murchison—Peak Hill—The Gold Patch—An Old Friend—A Hearty Welcome.

Another coach journey of 50 miles brought me to Lawlers. I was now out of the Mount Malcolm and Mount Margaret districts, and in the East Murchison. Mount Magnet, which is on the Cue railway line, is almost in a direct line with Lawlers, and it is 130 miles from Lawlers to Menzies. Lawlers is a nice little town; all the people so friendly and pleased to see a strange lady on the field that many of them came into the hotel to see me. The buildings are creditable, and a great amount of business seemed to be doing. The gold output is steadily increasing, but although much good ore is realised, there is great difficulty experienced in getting it crushed, the batteries being too small. The people seem unusually healthy. They say no one is ever sick at Lawlers, and the soil is magnificent for growing fruit and vegetables, despite the small rainfall. Mr. Homann has a very fine garden, watered by the surplus water from the Great Western Mine, and from a well with a windmill. Melons, tomatoes, and cabbages are fully equal to any I have seen. There are also some vines that have borne beautiful grapes. If there were only a plentiful fall of[293] rain, which unfortunately seldom happens, Lawlers could compete with any place in the matters of agriculture and viticulture. Everything has to be carted to the place by team or camel-train, consequently things of all kinds are very dear, the actual cost of carriage from Mount Magnet being £12 per ton by team and £8 by camel-train. The coach fare to that place from Lawlers, 192 miles, is £5, and to Menzies, 130 miles, £4. Until the railway went to Menzies from Kalgoorlie, most of the supplies came from Mount Magnet, but now that the traffic of Lawlers is going to Menzies, since the train service commenced, instead of Magnet, it increases daily. This, of course, will naturally benefit both places, since Menzies will now also obtain some of the splendid vegetables grown in Lawlers. Previously there were only tinned vegetables to be had there. The people of Menzies have no desire to see a railway line extended past that place, but as the Government has now decided to build a railway speedily to Leonora, the Lawlers people are hoping that at no distant time the line may be extended to their town also; Lawlers will then be the pivot between the Murchison (Cue line) and East Murchison goldfields, and with its excellent soil, its rich[294] mines, the Great Eastern for instance, will probably become one of the principal towns in the goldfields. When the railway reaches Lawlers there will be only 192 miles of this part without train service, through which a railway could soon be made to Mount Magnet, completing a belt of rails from Perth right round the Yilgarn, Coolgardie, Mount Malcolm, Margaret, East Murchison, Murchison, and Yalgoo goldfields.

Lake Way Gold Mine

I next prepared for a long journey through the Western Australian Bush. My destination was Lake Way and Wiluna. How I was to get there I did not know, as there were no coaches even for the mails, which were only taken once a week, and then by bicycle, over a distance of 120 miles, a journey too long and too lonely for me to take alone. However, I was cheered by the news that some miners were expected at Lawlers in a day or two for whom horses were waiting. So, never doubting that they would be gallant enough to offer me a seat, I rested quietly and waited for their arrival. When they came they proved to have two friends with them, who proposed to travel on what is called the “buckboard,” that is the kind of ledge, about three feet long, for carrying luggage at the back of the buggy, and as there was only room for two persons in front there seemed to be a difficulty about conveying the whole party. However, the pleasure of having a lady to drive with them for 120 miles was great enough to make the party alter all their arrangements. One of them borrowed a bicycle, and two of us in front of the buggy, a lad and other friend on the buckboard, and four brumbies in hand, we gaily started off one fine morning. We reached the first stopping-place, Mount Sir Samuel, 31 miles off, at 4 o’clock, and put up there, as I wished to see this little place, where there are some very good mines—one, the Bellevue, being a first-rate property. Another, called the Sulphide King, is very promising. Mining here is not so hard as in some places, owing to the softness of the ground and the plentiful supply of water.

Lake Darlot is about 20 miles from here, and there is now a very promising goldfields township in the district. A wild rush[295] occurred a few years ago. This was one of the places where great hardships were endured by the diggers on account of the terrible scarcity of provisions; the price of flour, when procurable, was at that time £5 for a small bag!

Every one at Mount Sir Samuel was very kind and hospitable, and I felt quite sorry to leave next morning, as we did at daybreak, for we wished to make a long journey that day. We should have, we knew, to camp out. I looked forward to this unusual experience with great eagerness.

As I was watching the camp making I heard “Coo-e-e! Coo-e-e!” the Australian bush cry, and presently a party of four miners rode up. They had just sold their mines for £17,000, and were on their way to Melbourne, en route for New Zealand to see their parents. They told me that, five years ago, they landed in the West with £200 between the four of them, and are now leaving with the above-mentioned sum; but they hope to come back to the Golden West after a six-months holiday. As you may imagine, they were very jolly; they took off their kits (bags), which contained provisions, we combined forces, and made a very pleasant meal under the shade of some pretty kurrajong-trees. At night, attracted by our fires, some natives appeared, but I felt quite safe with so many protectors. They made up a bed of bushes for me under the buggy, and put branches all around it. I felt as if I was in a Mia Mia (native hut), and was as comfortable as possible. I heard the natives saying, “Mimi lubra,” which means, “Woman in a tent.” They thought the men would not trouble to make a place like it for themselves, and their conjectures were right; they are not such a stupid race after all!

Early in the morning we parted company and started off again. An adventure shortly after stirred us up. A kangaroo, pursued by an emu, came on the scene, but, being so fleet, both were soon out of sight. After the excitement was over the boy on the buckboard repeated to us an essay he said he wrote at school, on the kangaroo, which struck me as being so funny that I give it you verbatim:


“The kangaroo is a quadruped, but two of his feet is only hands. He is closely related to the flea family, an’ jumps like him, an’ has the same kind of resemblance. He is Australian by birth an’ has a watch-pocket to carry his children in. There is two or more kinds of kang’roos, but they are mostly male an’ female, and live on grass, cabbage, and curren buns. The kang’roo’s tale is his chief support; it is thick at one end, and runs to the other end; it is good to jump with, and the kang’roo when it’s cut off don’t know his way home, and has to walk on his hands. The kang’roo is good for makin’ soup and bootlaces and putting in zoos, and sometimes he is presented to the roil Family to represent Australia.”

We reached Wiluna, the township of Lake Way, next day, and found it a very nice little place. There are three hotels and stores, and I was surprised to find everything so nice away up in the wilds of the West. There is plenty of fresh water in this district and several nice gardens. Watermelons grow splendidly, and, with the thermometer at 114°, are very welcome. Tomatoes also grow in profusion, and several people are growing fruit and vegetables as a business, so that Lake Way is not a bad place in which to find oneself. There are many good mines, turning out handsome yields, and companies have recently been floated in London to take over several properties here. The chief characteristics of the reefs are evenness of quality, great wealth, and permanency. A very nice cake of gold, weighing 145 ounces, from one of the claims was shown me; it came from a claim called The Brothers.

The people about Wiluna are, in spite of the heat of the climate, very fond of dancing. It really is almost their only amusement. The evening of our arrival a ball was held; it might truly be termed a Bachelors’ Ball, for so few of the opposite sex are in the district; however, the boys, as they are termed, arrived in great force, their dancing costumes being riding breeches and coloured shirts, with turned down collars and broad hats, real “back blocks” costume. As it was a very hot and bright moonlight night, they danced on the open plain, and seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly. At about 9 o’clock a terrific shouting and native yabber, yabber (talk) from a part[299] of the Bush, where a tribe of aborigines were encamped, gave token of rival amusement. The natives were holding a Corroboree. They had camped at Wiluna, but were travelling to some particular part of the country, where a favourite large grub, which they used for food, was to be found in quantities. Natives always travel from place to place in search of food, and they know the parts in which the different kinds will be plentiful or in season.



Copyright—Gambier Bolton


Wishing to see a Corroboree dance, I, with some of the onlookers of the Bachelors’ Ball, migrated to the camp. The black fellows, who had ornamented their heads and kangaroo-skin garment with what feathers and tufts of grass they could obtain and coloured their faces and bodies with wilgey, were leaping up in the air, with a spear in one hand and a shield in the other, and contorting their bodies in most grotesque fashion to the accompaniment of native music supplied by some of the men of the tribe, who squatted on the ground chanting strange sounds and beating sticks, while the lubras (wives), gins (girls), and pickaninnies (children) sat or lay around, making a fearful noise and clapping their hands vigorously. In the light of the camp fire it was a novel and weird sight, but a little of it sufficed me. Before leaving, the head man of the tribe threw the boomerang, which is a native weapon shaped like a quarter-moon, and so constructed that it assumes a return motion at the will of the native who throws it. It really was wonderful to hear it whirr as it started through the air to a great distance and height, and then come back to exactly the same place it started from. The boomerang is not so unique as many people think; a weapon almost the same was used by the Abyssinians hundreds of years ago, and still earlier by the people of ancient Egypt.

The journey from Lake Way to Nannine, over 120 miles of rather barren country, was one to be remembered. No coach having yet been started on this route, I was fortunate in being able to join a party of people, including two ladies, who were going there in their own conveyances; they had been in the[300] “back-blocks” for four years, and thought it time to take a holiday, especially as their husbands had made over £6000 each from their mines, and had given them £500 each to go to Victoria, see their friends, and have a good time, as I have no doubt they did. We camped out for four nights, but the weather was fine, and it was very pleasant to be under a canopy of stars, although towards morning it got pretty cold. The two ladies took it in turn to do the cooking, and would not hear of my doing anything, saying it would be a pity to roughen my hands, which, by the way, were becoming almost as brown as theirs. I quite enjoyed the bush-cooking. Johnny cake or “damper,” as it is called here, cooked in the wood-ashes, is very nice, especially with good butter, which we had in tins. Then there were plenty of wild turkeys about, some of which were shot for us. My companions had brought some tinned asparagus also, so, taking it altogether, our manna in the desert was not to be despised. We met a few aborigines during our journey, but they were generally very quiet and only asked for bacca and food. The lubras were carrying their pickaninnies in a coota (bag) on their backs (this is their usual custom except in the colder parts of the colony, where they are supplied with blankets and also with rations); they were also carrying sticks and some freshly killed birds. The women always have to carry all the burdens, their lords and masters stalking on ahead with their spears, no doubt on the look-out for game.

A Well near Lake Way

One night, as we were sitting round the camp-fire, several of them again appeared and demanded more bacca and food, which was given them, and they were told to go away, but they would not do so until the men of our party fired off several[303] shots, which soon caused them to disappear, as they are very much afraid of fire-arms.




Another night we camped in company with two teams. Each team had ten horses and splendid large waggons, one of which the teamster gave up to us three ladies, and we had quite a luxurious bed on sacks of chaff that night. The teamsters were educated men; one had received a college education, but had been eight years in the “back-blocks.” He said he had not been in a lady’s company for years, and the poor fellow seemed delighted to talk to me about his mother and sisters, who, he said, were in dear old England, but he never wrote home, as he was the black sheep of the family. I made him promise that when he got to Nannine he would write to his mother, who, no doubt, in her heart was thinking, “Where is my wandering boy to-night?” I do hope he kept his promise. On our arrival at Nannine I bade a reluctant farewell to the party, who took the coach to Cue, en route for Fremantle, there to take the steamer to Victoria to spend their well-earned holiday.

We were now in the Murchison district. Nannine is a nice little place, and everything seemed to be flourishing. The people form a very happy, lively community. Several good buildings adorn the town, and I considered myself fortunate in getting very comfortable quarters, for I was really tired after my journey and late camping-out experiences. It was delightful to rest on a nice soft bed and to have my breakfast brought me in the morning. There are two good hotels at Nannine, which do a splendid business. There are over 80 mines in the district—the first in which gold was discovered in Western Australia. This first discovery dates from 1854, when Robert Austin was sent by Governor Fitzgerald to explore the country in the Gascoyne district above Peak Hill for agricultural and pastoral land for settlement. Mr. Austin was accompanied by the sons of some of the early settlers, and the little band of explorers underwent many hardships. Most of their horses were poisoned by the Bri-gastrolobium plant, and the party had to travel on foot for[304] many weary months. It was owing to this circumstance that the gold discovery was made, for while reconnoitring for grass and water Mr. Austin came across some likely looking stone, which he broke, and found it contained gold. The only prospecting tools available (except a tomahawk, a small hatchet always carried by explorers and prospectors), being a knife and a pannikin, much progress could not be made. On Mr. Austin’s return to Perth from the expedition he informed the Government, who did not think it worth while to make further inquiries. Had they done so, the colony’s prosperity might have dated 35 years earlier than it has done, as Mr. Austin correctly described the auriferous nature of the belt of country around Mount Magnet, Lake Austin, and Mount Kenneth, and also predicted that the Murchison would become one of the greatest goldfields in the world. The little party were the first white men who ever set foot in that part of the colony, and I do not think that their efforts were ever recognised. Mr. Austin is now a very old gentleman, and last year was mining surveyor at the Mines Department, Hodgkinson Goldfields, Queensland, from which place he wrote to the papers in Perth asking that his claims as the first discoverer of gold should be recognised by the present Parliament, and giving interesting particulars of his travels. In 1856 gold was discovered at Kojânup, but little attention was paid to gold in Western Australia in those days. It was not until 1884 that Mr. Hardman, the Government geologist, discovered rich gold at Kimberley in the far north of Western Australia, and this was followed in 1887 by the find of gold at Mugakine while a man was digging a well. Golden Valley and Southern Cross followed, and an era of prosperity for the colony opened which I hope will never be closed.

At the Aberfoyle Mine, to which I went from Nannine, I saw some beautiful quartz thickly encrusted with gold. Twenty-two pounds of this stone contained over 62 ounces of gold, valued at £230. This rich piece of quartz has been secured for the Glasgow Exhibition. There are seven shafts on this really amazing mine, from each of which the ore taken is so marvellously rich[305] that they are watched at night. Splendid machinery is being put up, but sufficient masons cannot be got to do the work, consequently the progress is slow. The Nannine Mine has shown wonderful results during the year. In six weeks 1371 ounces were crushed from 285 tons of stone. The chute (opening) from which this was taken improves still richer as the mine opens up. The Champion is another group of mines, from which excellent returns have been taken. At the Royalist, another mine owned by the oldest mining resident of Nannine, as much as 300 ounces in two weeks have recently been obtained. There are many other mines, but I cannot specify them all. Mount Yagahong is also a rich part of the field, and Meekatharra, 25 miles away, is rapidly forging ahead as a gold producer. Then 14 miles from Nannine is Burnakura, from which place 71 lb. of specimens, containing 700 ounces of gold, some of the pieces being nearly pure gold, were recently brought into Nannine and lodged in the Western Australian Bank. Previous to this, £2000 worth of gold was taken from the same claim, called Jewett’s United Lease, and still more recently a Perth paper records that “A small parcel of stone, weighing 4¾ cwt., from Jewett’s Union Mine at Burnakura, and crushed at the Nannine battery, yielded 494½ ounces of gold. Nine hundred tons of stone lie at grass—that is, on the top waiting to be crushed—on the property.” This magnificent mine is owned by a local syndicate of seven people. Gabanuntha is a rich mine near Nannine, and Star of the East another. A leasehold with a peculiar name is “After Many Years,” which gives every indication of turning out rich. This district, and Peak Hill, owing to their remoteness, have not attracted speculators much, but must eventually become prominent, for they are as rich as any part of Western Australia, and after many years will, no doubt, fully verify Robert Austin’s prediction.

To drive another 120 miles through the Bush to Peak Hill did not seem to me a very agreeable undertaking, but the advent one day of a spanking four-in-hand at Nannine, bringing three[306] gentlemen, one of whom I was fortunate enough to know, and who gallantly offered to take me to Peak Hill, altered the case completely. One of the party was an Englishman inspecting Western Australian mines with a view to large investments. Relays of horses had been sent on to the different stages along the road and sleeping accommodation arranged for. I am afraid I put out these arrangements considerably, but the gentlemen did not seem to mind giving up the best to me, gallantly saying that my company compensated for any discomfort. I felt at first that, as they were on mining business, they did not want womenfolk around, but they soon found out that I took as much interest in mining matters as themselves, and we became bon camarades. Knowing that the menu at these places would not be of the best, the party had sent ahead supplies of everything necessary for table comfort, also a man cook and waiter, so you may well understand that the journey to Peak Hill was a most enjoyable one to me.

As we approached the famous Peak Hill, which is a nice little mining town, endowed with wonders of which you will presently hear, we passed several dry-blowers working. These men fossick (look) over the old workings, and by aid of a tin dish, in which they place any earth they think contains gold, and a coarse riddle with which to sift it, afterwards blowing away the fine dirt, they frequently find gold at the bottom of the dish. The ground is remarkably rich in gold, and I find it impossible to describe the magnitude of this golden country, which, like other fields, seems only to have been tested in a few places, those places being so rich that one wonders what the country will be when the hundreds of miles of good ground that I have passed have been opened out by miners. We were now far, far away from Perth, and the country looked different from any I had seen before in Western Australia. Peak Hill lies very high, 2000 feet above the sea-level. The ascent is steep and very rocky, four miles of it going through the Robinson Ranges. An interesting sight is found at the top,[309] which has the appearance of a wide plain, with shafts and dumps of the thrown-up earth all over it. The manager of the principal mine here has a very comfortable residence, and the miners’ camps give the place the usual prosperous appearance. There are over 600 men on this field. The whole of the leases of Peak Hill have been taken over by a syndicate, which has formed a company in London. The finds have been marvellously rich. I went down one shaft, and saw some very interesting specimens being dug out. The gold is in a kaolin formation, and in some parts the kaolin is of all kinds of colours, and with the gold shining through looks really lovely. In other parts of the mine the kaolin is quite white, and the deposit easy to dig out. The results from the Peak Hill reef have been as high as 2621 ounces 15 dwts. of gold from 331 tons of this ore. Some of the mines have given as much as 21 ounces of gold to the ton, which is a wonderful record. The Christmas Gift is a rich mine, and many others have had such phenomenal crushings that the Peak Hill district is unsurpassed in wealth of gold. When Sir Gerard Smith, late Governor of Western Australia, visited Peak Hill, the mine-owners had a solid gold plate and a cup, to use at dinner, cast for him.




There are some really fine public buildings, and the hotels, especially the Peak, are very comfortable. A nice Miners’ Institute, for meetings, entertainments, &c., has recently been finished. Land for building sites realises splendid prices, nearly £1000 having been paid for different allotments. The private houses seem very comfortable habitations. Many of the people have made fortunes, and everything seems prosperous about the place.

A very original character, called “Tom the Rager,” sold his interest in one of the leases some time ago for £15,000. This man, an old Irishman, made a memorable journey from Kimberley, in the North-West, across the greater part of Western Australia, accompanied only by his faithful dog “Paddy,” and subsequently got an interest in some of the[310] richest claims at Peak Hill, as the sale mentioned may testify. The Golden Patch, as it is called, in which all the rich mines are, covers about a square mile of ground of quite a different nature from that in other parts. This mile of ground is formed by a mass of rich veins of quartz, and the wealth contained there is unsurpassed in any part of Western Australia. Were Peak Hill not such a tremendous distance away from the capital, its growth would, no doubt, be as quick as that of Kalgoorlie, which it so much resembles. Some of the wonderful crushings from a few of the golden mines may interest you. The Peak Hill Reef, from 331 tons of stone crushed 2621 ounces of gold; Daisy Bell, 82 tons, gave 1245 ounces; Golden Chimes, 195 tons, gave 1402 ounces. The Horseshoe and the Golden Patch are supposed to be the two richest spots in the colony. Some of the specimens taken from the Patch are not only rich but vastly interesting in other ways, some of the pieces being not gold held together by quartz, but vice versâ; the small pieces of quartz, if tapped by a hard substance, vibrate like a tuning-fork. The gold is very brilliant, and positively sparkles in the light.

I drove out to the Horseshoe Mines, a distance of about 20 miles. There were over 50 men working there, and getting a great deal of gold; some of them gave me some pretty pieces. I have now got enough nuggets to make any other collectors envious. While there I met a young man who knew me in Melbourne when he was quite a boy. I did not recognise him, as he had grown up and had a moustache; but he came to me almost with tears in his eyes, so pleased was he to see me so far away from home. For the moment I could hardly realise that I was nearly 800 miles in the interior of Western Australia, and felt inclined to cry with sympathy. He gave me a very pretty little nugget, which cheered me considerably. Alluvial gold often takes most singular forms; it is usually found on the surface, or not far below, while reef-gold is got in a quartz lode, or vein, at some depth underground. Some magnificent nuggets have been found in this part; one weighing 132 ounces, worth over £500, was found in one of the[311] gullies which we passed when driving to this spot. The name of Horseshoe is taken from the long range of hills shaped almost like a horseshoe, and the gullies between them have made many of the miners wealthy. There are two very rich reefs here, which have been proved for six or seven miles. The specimens are very massive, gold predominating to a large extent in the quartz, and the ironstone fairly glistening with richness. I was now getting so much accustomed to looking at and handling gold that I began to fear I should look coldly on the common articles of everyday life. The miners, with the usual hospitality of their class, would boil the billy and give me tea, and all the best that their “back-block” larder afforded. Times are much changed now, since the early days of the fields, and the miners can live very comfortably. I said good-bye to them all with regret, wishing I could stay longer in this grand part of the country, the scenic beauty of which is also great. I enjoyed the drive back very much, and could not help thinking what store of wealth must lie beneath the ground we were driving over. The great bulk of this part of the country must contain untold gold.

Revelstone is another rich mining camp a few miles from Peak Hill, where a public crushing plant has been erected, at which the miners of the neighbourhood can have their ore crushed as soon as they raise it.

Farther on still is that wonderful Nor’-West country, to which I hope some day to go. The biggest nuggets the colony has produced have been found there. “The Bobby Dazzler,” which I was fortunate enough to see, and tried to lift, before I left Perth, and which is to be shown at the Glasgow Exhibition, came from Marble Bar, Nor’-West. It weighs over 400 ounces of gold, and is worth over £1600. Another large nugget was found in that district a few years ago, which weighed 334 ounces; so that people wishing to pick up the precious metal in large lumps had better try their luck in the far North.

After spending some days at Peak Hill, I started, with my kind friends, on my return to Nannine, and passed through[312] acres and acres of the finest everlasting flowers I have ever seen. The beautiful cream-coloured starry flowers were as large as a florin; the country looked like a foamy sea. Then, in other parts, bright-coloured flowers surrounded us, like patterns in a huge kaleidoscope.

We came to Abbot’s Find, some miles before reaching Nannine; the locality is very rich; it was near here that last year a lucky prospector, named Campbell, found some splendid specimens. The stone was creamy-white, thickly permeated with gold, and was obtained from near the surface. The place is full of outcrops (likely places for gold), leaders, and reefs, it is wonderful that no rush has yet begun; but the rich spots are so many, and the men comparatively so few, that they cannot prospect them all. There are several important mines at Abbot’s, notably the New Murchison King, White Horse, Abbot’s, and others, which have all given good returns.


Mine at Cue


Tuckanarra—The Lights of Cue—Surprising Vegetation—Sweet Flowers Again—High Wages—Splendid Meat—The Island—The Mirage—Jolly Faces—Mount Magnet—Donkeys—A Tasteful Camp—The Morning Star—Windsor Castle.

After a good rest at Nannine, which is 50 miles from Cue, we started off for Tuckanarra, where I stayed for a day to see the much-talked-of spot where so rich a find was lately made, my friends going on meanwhile to Cue. The country around here is much broken and there are many large caves. It was at the head of a huge gorge that the big find was made, right on the surface, and many hundredweights of rich specimens were quickly dug out. The lucky prospector communicated with Mr. Zeb. Lane, in Perth, who went up, inspected the find, and took an option of the mine for the British Westralia Syndicate, taking 4 cwt. of the rich stuff home to England with him. However, the find proved to be a pocket, and all the gold had centred there; consequently Mr. Lane surrendered the option, as not being valuable enough for flotation. (He has since floated in England the Anchor Consolidated Group, which includes several good mines at Tuckanarra.) The original owners, Messrs. Taylor and Co., have now retaken the work of opening up the mine with much success, and have recently[314] struck a rich reef, a parcel of 34 tons of stone from which have yielded 138 ounces of gold. Boyd’s Claim is the best one here, over 3000 ounces of gold having been taken out of it by crushing and dollying, while the tailings, concentrates, and blanketings brought the yield up to a considerably larger amount. At present Tuckanarra is a quiet little place, but there is no knowing at what moment the colony may be electrified by more finds. It was Warden Dowley’s blackboy who first discovered gold in the Tuckanarra district. Whilst travelling with the warden to Nannine he showed a piece of gold to his master and pointed out the place where he found it, on which the warden marked the spot and afterwards circulated the news. The usual rush ensued, and many claims were pegged out.

Only 25 miles of Bush travelling now lay between me and the town of Cue. The coach driver favoured me with the box-seat, much to the disgust of a male passenger, who wanted the seat and did not feel inclined to give way to a lady. But the driver of the coach is always the boss (master) of the box-seat, and this one, being fond of ladies’ society, gave me the preference, not resembling in this point the driver in one of the other districts, who said he “didn’t want no women sitting alongside of him.”

At last I saw the lights of Cue. Electric lights in the streets, horses and carts, the shrill whistle of the railway engine, boys calling out the evening papers, and the stopping of the coach to deliver the mails at the brilliantly lighted and splendid post-office, told me that I had emerged from the “back-blocks” and was once more nearing the metropolis.

Inclined Shaft, Cue One Mine

I had heard a good deal about this centre of the Murchison, Cue, and, now that I was here, found it an agreeable place to spend a few days in. The living is in many ways immensely good, fresh milk is abundant, eggs are, it is true, 5s. a dozen, but are obtainable. The meat is the finest I have seen in the colony, and the vegetables are equally good. Passing the door of the kitchen one morning I saw a pile of cauliflowers,[315] the outside leaves of which were 4 feet high, and the white flower on the same scale. The cabbages were as hard as a rock and over a foot and a half in diameter. Turnips and other kinds of vegetables were equally surprising. The cook told me that they were grown at Mr. Rickett’s garden, two miles out of town. To look at the barren country one would think that nothing would grow, but it justifies the words of Sir Frederick Weld, one of the first Governors, who, when people described Western Australia as a sand heap, said, “If it be only sand, it is sand that will grow anything if you give it water.” I was agreeably surprised one morning to receive a lovely bunch of mignonette and a few violets, the first of the season. I did enjoy the gift; no garden flowers ever smelled sweeter or looked prettier to me, for it was a long time since I had seen any. It was a perfect Sunday morning, and picnics and drives were the order of the day; several parties were just setting out. The people seem to be very happy, and, though so far away from their old homes, have got quite used to goldfields life and get plenty of enjoyment out of it. I drove out to some of the gardens and was surprised at the green[316] spots in the desert. Plenty of water is got by sinking wells and the gardens are well irrigated.

There are two newspapers published at Cue. At a dinner given to the Press while I was there, one of the toasts was as follows: “Woman, second only to the Press in disseminating news.” Are we ladies to take this as a compliment, or otherwise?

It is proposed to carry the railway from Cue on to Nannine. The Cue people do not want this, as it would make Nannine the centre and spoil Cue. A splendid court-house and warden’s offices are here, as well as many other fine public buildings, shops, dwelling-houses, and hotels.

There are some good mines, but a great many of them are under exemption at present; that means, allowed to stop working for a specified time named in their application; consequently many men are out of work and the town is comparatively quiet, because these men have to go out back-prospecting, to keep their wives and children.

There are many families in Victoria and elsewhere who bless the day when the goldfields of Western Australia were discovered, and a great many miners in these districts have brought over their wives and families and have made humble but comfortable homes for them. They all seem happy, and I have talked with many of the women, who tell me that, though the life is rather rough, yet they have money always regularly coming in, while, on the other side, they had nothing to keep themselves with the failure of the banks and general crash in Melbourne having ruined so many people.

Coming back from a drive I passed the racecourse, with such a funny little grand-stand, perched on top of a rocky hill. There was to be a wild-flower show soon. The ladies were working hard to make it a success. There seemed to be a great many of them here, and yet it is only a few years since the arrival of a fair lady in Cue was an event of importance, in which almost the entire population showed their interest by crowding round the coach. Wages are still very good. A housekeeper will get £3 a[317] week; barmaids, £3 10s.; housemaids and waitresses, £2 10s.; and a lady to whom I was speaking told me she was extremely tired, from having had to do all the washing for the family herself, as the laundrywoman wanted £1 per day for doing it, or 15s. for half a day! Chinese are sometimes engaged as servants, and, as a rule, give satisfaction. No Chinaman or coloured man is allowed to mine; in Western Australia they are tolerated as gardeners or servants only.

Mr. A. W. Walder has a large station called Coodardy, 20 miles from Cue. It extends nearly 100 miles up towards Lake Way. There are always 1500 head of cattle and 4000 or 5000 sheep on it to supply the necessities of the Cue and Mount Magnet districts. This number is supplemented by drafts from the far north, even as far as Gascoyne and Kimberley. The feed is good, as may be supposed from the beautiful quality of the meat. It is chiefly salt-bush, of which the stock are very fond, and which does not grow very high, but is most nourishing. The water supply for them is drawn from wells by blacks kept for that purpose.

Day Dawn, where the largest mines are situated, is four miles from Cue. One of these is called the Consolidated Murchison Gold Mines, Limited. The machinery on these mines is magnificent, and has cost an enormous sum of money. The cyanide process, all of which the assayer showed me, was most interesting. The various articles used in assaying are very delicate—scales that will weigh a breath and little wee china basins the size of a doll’s cup. The splendid laboratory was full of different chemicals; there were three immense rooms for the cyanide and assaying processes.

Coming back to Cue, I called at the Lady Forrest Mine, which is in quite a picturesque spot, and I was not surprised at the beautifully arranged collection of wild flowers and ferns that the manager had picked around the mine and dried. The mine not working, he had plenty of time to pursue his favourite pastime of botany. He also showed me a fine collection of choice orchids; these are found at the Granites, a few miles[318] out. Parrots, with brilliant colouring, and cockatoos, are to be seen about here, especially when you are near a soak (well). Occasionally an iguana glides along, looking like a tiny land-alligator. Iguanas, though not agreeable to the eye, are considered almost sacred in the Bush, because they destroy snakes.

The Island is a wonderful little place, a real treasure-house, 16 miles from Cue. It is in the centre of the salt lake Austin (called after Robert Austin, the explorer), from which it is separated by channels 1000 yards wide. The lake, like all Western Australian lakes, is dry; but when the sun is shining on it it looks like a sheet of glistening gold.

The Mainland, dignified sometimes by the name of Salt Lake City, is a few miles farther off. I do not know whether there are any Mormons settled there or not. There are several good mines at the Mainland and the Island. The reefs are highly auriferous. The Golconda is the largest mine, giving very rich yields, and is now owned by an English syndicate. The representatives of this mine are very careful not to let outside people know too much about it; they keep the doors of the battery locked, and no one is allowed to go in to inspect. The Island Eureka is a small but rich mine owned by a syndicate on the Island. Mrs. Hurfit, who is part-owner of the mine, lives close to it. This lady who is the first white woman that came to these parts, showed me a fine collection of specimens of all kinds of minerals found here. The gold quartz is very beautiful. The jewellery Mrs. Hurfit has had made from it by Streeter, of London, is unique, some of the polished quartz with veins of gold showing through it being the handsomest I have ever seen.




Seeing a peculiar-looking place on a hill, I climbed up to see what it was, and found a large hut composed of big flat stones. These stones were lying around in great quantities. Some men were working near, but they were Italians, and as they could not speak English and I could not speak Italian, our conversation was nil. The view from the hill was charming; the salt[321] lakes shimmering in the sun, the flat country with the grass and wild flowers, the low-lying purple hills in the background, a lovely and most peculiar colouring in the sky, the rising stacks of the mines, and the high metaphoric rocks in the distance, formed an uncommon and pretty picture. Just as I was leaving, the sun came out with unusual brilliancy, casting exquisite reflections on the glistening golden sand, which seemed to crystallise into various forms. I almost felt as if I had dropped into fairyland, but in a moment the sun hid behind a cloud and the beautiful scene was gone.

There are about 150 people at the Island and Mainland, and they all appear to be in comfortable positions. On the day I left it was raining heavily, and I had to wait an hour at the station for the train, which was late in arriving. This brought to my mind the story of a gentleman who had promised to attend at a certain place and make a speech, but found himself unable to do so on account of the heavy rains having destroyed a section of the railway line. Accordingly he wired, “Cannot come; wash out on the line.” The reply came: “Come any way; borrow a shirt.”

At last the train made its appearance, and I took my seat and went to Mount Magnet (not to be confused with Mount Margaret, which is in quite a different part of the country), about 32 miles farther on. On arrival there the railway station was so crowded that I could scarcely get out. There were about 300 young men of all sorts and sizes, and with such jolly smiling faces that I began to feel quite hilarious myself. They turned out to be the successful footballers just returned from a match at Cue. Several buggies and horses were waiting at the station, and I had no difficulty in being conveyed to an hotel, which bore the significant name of “The Oasis.”

My first impression of Mount Magnet next morning was that there were a great many donkeys—I mean, of course, of the four-footed variety. They seemed to perambulate the town in dozens, and a team of about 20 going out of town with a wagon was a novel sight. I can assure you that, while I was[322] writing these words, two inquisitive donkeys put in their heads at the door and almost said “Good-morning,” recognising a friend, perhaps. The outlook from this place was very dreary, as nearly always seems to be the case where gold is found. Several nice specimens had just been brought into the hotel by a lucky prospector, some of the pieces weighing several ounces. The Mount is about four miles from Magnet township, and was named Mount Magnet in 1854 by Mr. Austin, because the stone was so mineralised that it attract the compass to an extent which rendered it useless. Despite the barren-looking country, there are many varieties of wild flowers growing in the neighbourhood, and the desert octopus or tiger-plant is most remarkable. It bears a fairylike pink flower, and seems almost to be a living thing. The leaves of the plant are remarkably sensitive, and there are numerous little caplike flowers fringed with tentacles and filled with a sweet substance; any insect that approaches is seized, and the plant, which grows only a few inches in height, and is also known as “Rainbow” or “Fly-trap,” absorbs the life of it.

Five miles away is Boogardie, or Jones’ Well. A singular discovery was recently made there. Portions of underground rock, on being broken, were found to contain a living frog at a depth of 40 feet! Many of these have been found. Query, how did they get there?

There are many tidy houses in the little township; one Hessian camp, containing three separate rooms, was most tastefully arranged with pretty art-muslin and cretonne, a nice carpet on the ground, and cane furniture beautifully draped. The bedroom was quite elegant, and the kitchen had cocoanut matting on the ground; there were, as usual, no floors. A bright Peerless Cooker stove and spotlessly white dresser and crockery finished as natty a little home as a man and woman could wish for. The men out here all work their own claims, and are very comfortably off.

A few miles from Magnet is the Morning Star, a low-grade mine, but still a paying one. Mr. Bryant, the manager, made[323] me most welcome, and explained to me very conclusively that, to make a mine pay, it is not necessary to find gold in occasional very large pieces, and that a steady quantity, though small, will, if the supply hold out, prove profitable. The mine is worked almost entirely by men from Clunes, Victoria, where Mr. Bryant formerly was; they have quite a camp of their own, and with their reading-room and recreation-ground, where they play cricket and football, they pass a very jolly life and seem quite contented. Total abstinence is the rule of this mine. Before the train service was started they had to cart all the machinery and stores 200 miles to the mine. Farther on is Lennonville, another important mining centre, where rich finds have lately been struck; and farther still, what is called the 10-Mile. There are many good mines in these localities. The Long Reef is a fine mine, and with its magnificent new machinery looks imposing. The plant is one of the finest in Western Australia, and there is enough good ore to show profitable results for years to come.

Donkey Team, Mount Magnet

Coming back from these mines I stopped at the Lennonville Hotel (to have dinner), the landlady of which was the biggest woman I had ever seen, she weighed over twenty-one stone.

The scenery of this district is far more pleasing than the barrenness of Magnet township. There are plenty of enormous emus scudding through the scrub, and occasionally a few kangaroos enliven the scene. Some of the big hills are completely riddled with enormous holes made by the earthworm. It must have taken centuries to make these tunnels. I thought they must be mining excavations, but one of the mining managers,[324] who is a mining expert and engineer, and who ought to know, told me they were the work of earthworms.

In another direction from Magnet is the New Chum Mine; farther on the Two Chums, and others; all giving good results.

There is a fine hospital, with a skilful surgeon, such skill being very necessary where mining accidents ate liable to occur. The country is by no means unhealthy, and there were only four patients in the hospital on the day I visited it. The nurses seemed to be very kind women, and the patients said it was like being nursed at home to be in the Magnet Hospital.

East Mount Magnet is about 50 miles away, and the coach journey to it is tedious. There is a tidy little township, and some of the mines are very rich. Mr. Zeb. Lane, before going to London last year, paid a visit to this place, and took over the Windsor Castle Mine, a fine property, upon which Mr. Lane estimates that there are 25,000 tons of good ore at sight ready to pay handsome dividends. The Havelock Mine has given splendid results, and a wonderful collection of specimens was recently lodged in the Bank. Christmas Gift is another good mine, and not far off is another rich find called Payneville. Several rich patches have been found and hundreds of ounces of gold taken out of them. The district seems to have a bright future before it. I was glad to return to Magnet, and to have made my last coach journey for the present. One of the miners to whom I was speaking looked so fearfully cadaverous that I asked him what was the matter. He told me he had once been poisoned by lead in a mine, and had never got the poison out of his system. I told him about the new cure by electricity lately discovered. He seemed very thankful and said he would see the mine doctor about it at once. Over 30 experiments with this cure have lately been carried out successfully in England, and I hope it will soon be generally known, and many cures made in the colonies.



Yalgoo—A Cold Welcome—Native Shepherds—Geraldton—Pearls—The Abrolhos—Dutch Navigators—Aborigines—Finis.

I reached the uninteresting township of Yalgoo at 2 o’clock, very cold, tired and hungry. I stepped from the train with my portmanteau and sallied out of the station to look for a vehicle to take me to the hotel to which I had been recommended; but, alas! there was no sign of a conveyance. A drearier-looking place I never saw. So disheartened did I feel that I returned and got back into the railway carriage again, intending to resume the journey and go on to Geraldton; but on looking out of the now open window I saw so many nice and jolly-faced people on the platform that I thought it might not be so bad a place after all, so I took a second thought and got out of the carriage once more. Approaching the gate I discovered a small boy in charge of a cart, on which I placed my belongings, and told him to take them to the Emerald Hotel, I walking behind. When we arrived there he put out my luggage and left me. Not a soul was about the hotel or the street. I felt like a sailor in a desert. I essayed to reconnoitre the place, and went in and out of several rooms, with no result. I then tried the kitchen, and found every one out there also, except the fire, which luckily was in, so I took possession and sat down on a box to warm myself. Looking out of the window, I saw two enormous emus stalking about and peering into everything. I was afterwards told that they are the most curious birds in existence, and their prying ways often cause them to be taken captive. Presently the cook turned up; strange to say, a woman cook, as most cooks in these parts are Japanese men.[326] I asked her for some dinner; she said she had none in the hotel, it was all at the railway station. I may as well here explain that the proprietor of the hotel also caters for the railway station, and his staff goes down there to attend to the train passengers at the dinner-hour, everybody who requires dinner being supposed to get it there. The whole male population of Yalgoo goes to see the train come in; it is the event of the day. However, the cook made me a nice cup of tea and some hot toast, and boiled some fresh eggs, after partaking of which I felt myself again. Taking a look out of the front door I saw the street just as deserted as ever, so, going into a bedroom, I took a siesta until 4 o’clock, when sounds about the neighbourhood told me that the townsfolk had returned from the railway station. I accordingly went forth to make their acquaintance, and having done so I am able to speak of them in the warmest terms.

The township being such a barren-looking place I was surprised, on driving around, to find very beautiful environs. The rains had brought up millions of wild flowers of all colours, and the grass and trees were exceptionally green. There are a great many sheep stations in this district, and the mines are a considerable distance away, so I did not go to them. The exception was the Emerald Mine, which is almost in the township, and which has returned its owners a large fortune. Fifteen thousand pounds worth of gold was dollied out of it before it was sold to an English company, who then erected machinery and crushed large quantities of rich ore with big results. It was on this spot that Yalgoo’s first find was made by a native shepherd and his lubra, who told some prospectors that they knew of a quartz-heap with bright stuff on it. You may be sure the prospectors lost no time in finding the heap; other finds followed, and the Yalgoo rush commenced. Aboriginal shepherds are almost the only ones to be had in the West, and they are not very reliable; yet if any animal is lost they can always find it; they are wonderful trackers, and can follow up the track of anything[329] alive; this power has been cultivated in them by hunting for food from infancy.




The next day I left Yalgoo, longing ardently for a breath of sea air once more. After a journey of eight hours in the train I arrived at Geraldton, on the shores of Champion Bay; the town nearest the point at which the history of the colony really commences. It is a shipping port for a large agricultural and pastoral country, although as yet only 2000 acres are under cultivation. I went for many beautiful drives, and one night to a “social” given by the footballers, to which I was invited; but as I did not dance, and contented myself with being a “wallflower,” my participation in the enjoyment was not very keen; I consequently returned early to my comfortable parlour at the Club Hotel. The new public buildings here are quite an ornament to the town, and the people may well be proud of them. There are also some other fine buildings and many nice shops. Altogether Geraldton is a very jolly place in which to spend a holiday. It can be reached from Perth by boat instead of the long train journey of 297 miles, for the steamers going to the far north of Western Australia and Singapore every fortnight always call; there are also several coasting-boats. The extensive and rich goldfields of the Murchison make Geraldton a very important place, and in course of time, when the North is more known and visited, it will, no doubt, become one of the most important towns in Western Australia.

Some beautiful pearls were shown me by a trader from Sharks Bay in the North-west district of Western Australia, and I wished I were a queen who could order a necklace of them. As it was I had to content myself with one for a ring. They were really exquisite gems, especially three pink ones. The trader also had two black ones, which are rare and very valuable, but I prefer those of delicate hue.

Pearls to the value of £285,000 and pearl shell valued at £1,000,000 have been raised from the North West Fisheries during the last ten years. Nearly two hundred luggers, with over a thousand Malay, Japanese, Chinese, and Manilla men,[330] with whites for officers, are engaged in the pearl industry. For diving, natives are chiefly employed, they being such wonderful swimmers and divers. Occasionally dissensions take place between these mixed people and their masters. Not long ago a terrible tragedy occurred on a pearling vessel, the Ethel, and the captain, his son, and the first mate were cruelly murdered by some of the Manilla and Malay crew. The offenders escaped at the time, but were afterwards captured (chiefly by the instrumentality of a poor Chinese cook, who was loyal), and have since paid the penalty of their terrible crime.

There is a pretty river near this place, called the Chapman, which falls into Champion Bay. Garnets are found in the sand near the mouth of it, and you may be sure that any one who visits the place spends some time looking for the jewels. I was no exception to the rule, and found a few small ones, but until they are polished they are not very beautiful.

The orange groves are exquisite, and produce quantities of splendid oranges. Mr. Jupp, one of the growers, had just sent into Geraldton some immense loads, the whole of his golden crop. The rainfall having been exceptional in the previous season, the country was bright with grass and flowers. It seemed quite a pity the fine grass should not be feeding more cattle.

The view from the top of the lighthouse, where we stopped on the way back from a river picnic, is very grand. The rocky Abrolhos, 35 miles away, with the surrounding agricultural country, Champion Bay, and, farther out still, the grand rolling Indian Ocean, make up a most impressive scene. The lighthouse has a revolving white light, brilliantly flashing every 40 seconds, and visible for 16 miles; two other lights, lower down, showing red rays, visible from the north and south. Another day I drove to Greenough Flats, a level and fertile plain, with many fine crops, principally wheat, under cultivation. These flats were, no doubt, in former days vast lagoons, which accounts for the unlimited supply of good underground water. The grass is very nutritious, and the sheep and cattle[331] looked fat. At Minchooka, Mr. Redhead’s station, the stock was looking exceptionally well, and a fine crop of wheat returned 26 bushels per acre from 11 acres. Mr. T. McGuiness, of Greenough Back Flats, lately had a peculiar experience while cleaning out his well, which is 96 feet deep, and was dry. In the hope of obtaining a fresh supply, Mr. McGuiness sank the well 13 feet deeper, and, when driving down his bar, struck water, which spouted up so quickly and with such a rush that he had hardly time to escape drowning; the water rose 30 feet in a very short space of time.

The Greenough river runs between the flats, and there is a nice little township, with public offices, hotels, churches, and many comfortable dwelling-houses; there are also several large farms in the district, which is a magnificent grain-producing one.

Newmarracarra Station, 20 miles from Geraldton, was formerly the property of Mr. Maitland Browne, the resident magistrate, who at one time used his land exclusively for horse-breeding. Thirty thousand acres of the station are now utilised for sheep-farming at great profit, there are 24,000 sheep on the run in splendid condition, as well as many beautiful high-bred cattle. Mr. McKenzie Grant, the owner, manages this station himself, and has spent £55,000 on improvements. A grand water supply comes from the Greenough river and also from twelve springs in different parts of the land, which is very picturesque, with its hills and rich flats, covered with waving grass, and, in some spots, is brilliant with wild flowers. All kinds of native trees add beauty to the scene.

Mr. Broadhurst, to whom I am indebted for all the information relating to the Abrolhos, 35 miles from the mainland, gave me, as a great favour, a copper coin from the Batavia, wrecked there in 1629, also a part of a pair of scissors that have nearly lost their form, and other relics of the past. A very interesting curiosity is a pair of large silver buttons with links, in splendid preservation and very slightly tarnished. The figures on these buttons represent Joseph and Potiphar’s[332] wife. The Abrolhos are the abode of countless millions of birds, principally the noddy and sooty tern, which in the breeding season congregate there in such numbers that the sky is quite obscured by their flight, and everything is in almost total darkness. The group of islands have been leased from the Government since 1883 by Messrs. Broadhurst and McNeill, who command a very large trade in guano. The main stations in the group are Rat, Pelsart, and Gun Islands, on each of which there are commodious managers’ quarters and laboratory, besides kitchen and quarters for 48 hands. No Australian should neglect to see the relics of the wrecks on the Abrolhos that are in the Perth Museum. Mr. Broadhurst showed me a book, printed in the Dutch language, that he accidentally came across on a London bookstall in 1895, being then on a tour and engaged in collecting information concerning early Australia. The book bore the date of 1647, and has since been translated into English by Mr. Siebenhaur, a Dutch gentleman in Perth, and proved to be, strange to say, a complete narrative of the wreck of the Batavia and the massacre of the people, in 1629, at the Abrolhos Islands. The Batavia was the commodore’s ship of a fleet of eleven vessels sent from Amsterdam in 1628 to the East Indies in search of treasure and to form a colony on one of the islands. Storms arose, the commodore’s vessel was separated from the others, and finally got down among the perilous banks of the Abrolhos, where the vessel became a wreck. After much danger, the people, numbering several hundreds—soldiers, sailors, women and children—were landed on two of the islands, several trips having to be made between the ship and the shore before this could be effected. Some water and bread was also got ashore, as well as some cases of treasure, jewels, and gold-laced clothing belonging to the Dutch Government that the commodore was anxious to save. The ship shortly afterwards foundered and the hardships of the seafarers commenced. It was found that there was very little fresh water on the island, so the commodore, Pelsart, and several of the men set off in the sloop, which had been saved,[333] to the mainland to look for water for their fellows. After much difficulty six of them succeeded in landing by swimming, the shore being stony and rocky, and great breakers beating violently against the rocks so that it was not safe to take the sloop in too near. They saw smoke rising, and going towards it, saw four dark figures creeping on their hands and knees, who, on the approach of the sailors, leaped to their feet and fled away at full speed. Each carried a stick, no doubt a boomerang. Around the fires were the bones of birds. The savages were naked, and were the first ever seen on Australian soil by white men. The sailors dug holes, trying to find fresh water, but could find very little, and returned to the ship disconsolate. The commodore then, knowing that by returning to the islands he could do no good for his fellow sufferers, determined to return to Batavia for assistance. On arrival there he obtained speedy help from the Government, and provided with all necessaries and a good crew, at once set out again for the Abrolhos to succour the shipwrecked people. On arrival there they saw, close to where they had been wrecked, smoke from several fires, and were much rejoiced, hoping to find all or most of the poor people alive. Having cast anchor, the commodore, taking with him a cask of water, bread and wine, went in his boat to the highest island, but on arrival there found no one, at which he was much astonished. Jumping ashore, they saw a little boat coming round the northern point with four men rowing; one of them jumped ashore and welcomed the commodore, but begged him to return to the ship, as there was a party of miscreants who intended to seize the vessel. He then told the terrible story of the massacre. These miscreants had murdered 120 people on the island, now called Pelsart Island, or “Batavia’s Churchyard.” The commodore then sorrowfully returned to the ship. The man who told the commodore all this was named Webbey Hayes, and he with forty others had tried their best to save their comrades, and were then on what they called Long Island. The commodore took some boats and men and brought them away, arming them with muskets. With these he[334] proceeded to Batavia’s Churchyard and captured the mutineers. They found them all dressed in the beautiful clothes trimmed with gold lace belonging to the Government, and jewels were scattered about in all directions. The mutineers were divested of their gay clothes, put in irons and conveyed to Seal Island, to remain there till they should be tried, which was afterwards done, and they were then executed for their crimes. This is a very short and crude synopsis of the interesting translation of the Dutch book of which I have spoken, but may serve to give some idea of the Abrolhos. The many curios of this time that are spoken of on page 51 are well worth seeing. Previous to this, in 1540, Portuguese vessels had been driven on to the coasts of the Great South Land, as it was called. Houtmann, a Dutchman who had served with the Portuguese, had sighted the cluster of rocky islets and called them Abrolhos, a contraction of the Portuguese “Abro vos olhos” (“Keep your eyes open”). In far-back ages Chinese junks used to sail down to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the natives of that part of Australia are now said to have a distinctly Mongolian cast of countenance. Marco Polo, at the close of the thirteenth century, alluded to the Great South Land. Allusions to this unknown land are also met with in writings dating as far back as Alexander the Great in the fourth century; Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy also[335] make mention of a mysterious territory, which was probably the continent of Australia. Dampier is said to have been the first Englishman to land on the coast of Western Australia, which was then, in the reign of William III., called New Holland. His report was so unfavourable, that Australia was left to itself again until 1770, when Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay, New South Wales, and not until 60 years afterwards was Western Australia found to be suitable for colonising. In 1829 the first governor, Captain (afterwards Sir James) Stirling, with his family and over 60 settlers, arrived at the Swan River and founded the settlement which is now the city of Perth; two years previous to this, Captain Fremantle had hoisted the British flag at the entrance of the river, and the port of Fremantle is named after him.

Four generations of the Western Australian Native

For some time past I have been collecting all the facts of interest that I could concerning the natives of Australia, and have gathered a really fine collection of the native weapons, boomerangs, nulla-nullas, spears, waddies, womerahs, shields, &c. There are a good many aborigines about Geraldton at present, but civilisation has made them lazy, and it is not easy to get many of their weapons. Mine have chiefly been given to me by friends who have gone to the trouble of collecting them for years. The blacks are not a very pleasant race, still we ought to have a kindly feeling for the poor creatures, whose chief capacities seem to be hunting, fishing, and tracking. Their own laws, and the way they keep them, are somewhat remarkable, especially those relating to the affinities and the division of the people into families.

There are four tribes or clans amongst the aborigines of Western Australia, namely—Booranggnoo, Banagher, Kimera, Palgarie. A Booranggnoo man may marry a Banagher woman, their children will be Kimera; a Banagher man may marry a Booranggnoo woman, their children will be Palgarie; a Kimera man may marry a Palgarie woman, their children will be Booranggnoo; a Palgarie man may marry a Kimera woman, their children will be Banagher.


Children take the name of the mother, and intermarriage between the same tribe is not allowed. Polygamy is permitted. A native may have several wives and various families, but each family incurs the responsibilities of the mother, and all such relations become involved in the guilt of any crime; if the offender cannot be reached, any other relative may have to suffer instead. In case of death by violence, the nearest relative of the slayer is found and punished. Homicide in obedience to law is therefore common among them. Their law is blood for blood, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Girls are betrothed when they are young, and may be claimed at any time. A blackfellow must take his lubra (wife) from the clan or tribe which alone is eligible to give a wife to him, otherwise he becomes an outcast. The women are severely punished by the men even for trifling offences. On the death of the husband the wives and children pass to his brother; all property in land is held for hunting and obtaining food. They are very fond of music and dancing, their songs being chiefly extempore. The dances, or corroborees, are adapted to the various circumstances of their lives—marriage, birth, death, war or hunting. It is not usual for the women to take part in these dances, but on rare occasions they do, and they carry a peeled stick tufted at one end, as was the custom of the ancient Bacchantes. Songs are composed by musical natives of the clan, and are soon learnt: every blackfellow knows the songs of his clan, and if one is composed for any special occasion it is soon learned. The food of these natives is very varied and peculiar, one kind being the knomat, the gum of the swamp mimosa. There are also six kinds of kangaroo eaten, two kinds of opossum, twenty-nine sorts of fish, three kinds of turtle, emu, wild turkey, and many kinds of waterfowl; frogs, seven kinds of lizards, four kinds of grubs, twenty-nine roots, seven fungi, four gums, two kinds of manna, four fruits, four nuts—two of the zamia, which are poisonous without proper preparation—the seeds of many plants and the flowers of the banksia. Cannibalism is not common, but has been known in the North[337] and East. The weapons employed are suited for the chase as well as war. These are the codja or hatchet, the dabba or knife, the meera or throwing-stick, the guicka or spear, the dowark or club, the womerah or digging-stick, and the killy or boomerang, which they throw with great skill. Their skill in hunting is remarkable, weirs are made for fish, stakes driven to intercept the kangaroos at their watering-places, and the fish are commonly speared by day and by torchlight. Their mias, or huts, vary in construction from a light shell made of brushwood to a dome, large enough to contain several persons, of logs covered with clay, and in size according to season and locality. From the Murchison northward, and also in the interior, the natives go naked; but southward, near the coast, the dress is the “booka,” a sort of cloak made of kangaroo-skins, that of the men being longer than that of the women, who use bags of skin, coota or boka, and mats of vegetable fibre, for carrying their children and domestic necessaries. They have many ornaments, and work opossum fur with yarn to make girdles for carrying things and bands to twine round the head to stick feathers in. They tattoo their bodies, and during the operation of tattooing, other natives swing round small curved pieces of wood, producing a whirring noise. They cover themselves with wilgey, a sort of red ochre, charcoal, or white clay. They send messages by marked sticks or bomar, the markings being quite intelligible to them, but to us just looking like a number of jagged chips in the sticks. They are not deficient in gratitude, but rather treacherous, although they will offer themselves up for punishment, a thing which very few white men ever do. They are very superstitious; the power of evil is a constant source of terror to them. They have their karakats, boolga-men, or medicine-men, able to inflict as well as cure diseases. They greatly fear an evil spirit, Jingie, and an imaginary monster, Wangul, inhabiting the fresh waters, and chiefly making victims of women. Each family has its kobong, or cognisance, some animal or vegetable for which they have a reverence, and which, therefore, is not used as food by the family[338] who adopt it. Some of the domestic and personal habits of the natives resemble those inculcated by the laws of Moses. Their social intercourse is regulated by very strict and ceremonious customs. There are forms of meeting, also forms of parting. Mrs. Canfield, who had charge of the school at Amesfield, Albany, especially reports their fondness for music. One girl, sent to Sydney, played the harmonium in St. Philip’s Church for some time. Several other native scholars have become good housewives; some are now employed as school-teachers. Mrs. Canfield also notes the fondness of the boys for mechanical arts. The native Mission home is near Guildford, and another is in the Vasse district, but there are only about 40 children in each place. The natives around Geraldton are half-civilised; in fact, some speak quite good English. I suppose the heavy fine of £50 for supplying drink to natives keeps them sober, as they find it difficult to obtain strong drink, of which they are very fond. They have been known to go to a large heap[339] of bottles, and taking one, empty into it the dregs of all the others, until they get sufficient to take a drink, which they seem to relish exceedingly.

Aborigines with Spears

Native wells or “namma-holes” have saved may a prospector from death by thirst, and men well used to the Bush soon know how to find them. Some of the wells are not more than two feet deep; others go down to ten or twelve feet, and are usually found by rock-holes, or certain trees that are near them. Some wells have a small drive at the bottom, so arranged by the blacks that, when the water gets shallow, it cannot be seen from the top of the hole. The old prospectors have learned from the blacks how to find these oases in the desert, but “new chums” might pass dozens while parched with thirst and never find one.

After saying good-bye to the numerous friends I had made in Geraldton, I set out for the south in the Perth mail-train, my destination, however, being Dongarra, a little station 24 miles from Geraldton. On alighting there I found that the hotel was some distance off, and I regretted that I had got out of the train at all. However, a good-natured boy with a cart solved my dilemma by saying: “Get up, missus, I’ll give you a lift.” I accepted his invitation with much pleasure, and drove on through wonderful grass lands. I thought, as it waved in the wind, that this must be a cultivated crop, but found it to be common wild grass. A great deal of the land about here is rented to the farmers at 10s. per acre, and they have an average yield of 16 to 25 bushels of wheat and 30 bushels of barley. Wheat can be grown at a large profit, as the cost of growing it is not more than 4d. a bushel, and the timber being light in the district, the expense of clearing the land is small.

There are a number of farms about Dongarra, which is one of the prettiest little country places I have seen in the colony. The township is situated near the mouth of the Irwin river, and so there is no lack of water. There is a small and safe harbour at Dongarra, formed by a reef at the river’s mouth, which is the outlet to the valley of the river. There are many early settlers[340] living here. The following notice that was fastened on a tree I thought very comical: “If any man or woman’s cows or horses get into this paddock, his or her tail will be forthwith cut off, with no respect to persons.” This is on a par with a letter written by a justice of the peace in one of the places that shall be nameless:—

“To J. murphy: thars 5 kows of yourse runnin in mi paddock and if they aint tuk out be Frida nite ime goin to sit the lor agen yer; ime on the binch and ile make it warm for yer.”

The little hotel at Dongarra proved very comfortable, and next morning I resumed my journey in the train, which took all day. In the afternoon we stopped for awhile at a place called Watheroo. I gathered a pretty bunch of wild flowers while waiting; some red ones especially took my fancy. They smelt very sweet, something like honeysuckle. I found that they were of the “verticordia” species, and that they grow in great profusion near the Irwin river. In the evening, at seven o’clock, I left the train at Gingin, for I wanted to see some of the famous orange and lemon groves there. After quite a pastoral supper at the little inn where I put up I retired early, feeling somewhat fatigued after my long journey in the slow train. In the morning I set out to see some of the groves. The forest scenery through which I passed looked particularly grand after the monotony of the goldfields, and the beautiful orange groves further enhanced the scene. I have seen oranges growing in various parts, but the fruit hanging here in golden clusters was the finest I had seen in Western Australia. In returning I stopped at a large garden, where strawberries and other fruits were growing; some children were picking the ripe fruit, which looked so tempting that I went to the door of the little homestead and asked whether I could buy some. “Oh, certainly, and cream, too,” replied the mother of the children, who had now come in with their spoils from the garden. After I had finished my unexpected treat, the mother put on her big white sun-bonnet (the usual head-covering in country parts),[343] and, with the children following, showed me all over her selection and farm (which was a very fine one), and, with true Australian hospitality, pressed on me many gifts of fruit and flowers. There are about 350 people in the district of Gingin, mostly gardeners and graziers; all kinds of cereals are grown, as well as the fruits I have mentioned, and grapes of the finest quality are produced. Fat cattle and horses are also raised for export; a splendid clear stream of water runs near the township; sportsmen can have good shooting, for kangaroo; wallaby and wild duck are abundant in the vicinity of this pretty little place, which is 50 miles from Perth.




In the morning I took the train for Perth and Fremantle, and on arrival at the Perth railway station there, waiting for me, were my own horse and Ralli car. Didn’t we spin along through the park? I thought of the Mulga scrub and red dust “out back”; here the roads were red, but “with a difference,” and the grass and the trees delightfully fresh and green; surely the water never looked so sparkling. In and out through the trees along the winding road we drove, past the little villas, with their sweet gardens, up the hill, around the bend to the dearest spot on earth, “Home, sweet home.” The house and verandah were almost hidden by the glossy green leaves of the “Canadia” and passion vines; through the lattice of the fern-houses peeped the delicate pink blossoms of the tall ivy-geranium twined with the ever-flowering purple runner. The gate-porch and garden fence were embroidered from end to end with blue and green. Blue sea beyond, blue sky above. The gate was open, and thus my journey of two thousand miles came to an end. I hope that my record of it may help the reader to gain an idea of Western Australia.

Our hands are outstretched to our brothers and sisters across the sea. We want them to come and work with us. Energy and courage are the best cards to bring out to this big land. Should they wish to see the country for themselves, as I have done, I trust that my efforts will help to make their tour as easy as possible.


Like all new countries, it has its rough uncultivated tracts, but I have also tried to show that it has its “meadow sweet” as well. Hundreds of thousands of acres of the soil are waiting to be tilled by strong willing hands and to yield richly of its fruits, while underneath the earth is “golden,” “golden,” overhead the glorious sun is shining, and the Austral sky is blue.



[1] These are names given to each other by the Australian-born people of the then separated colonies.

[2] For most of these particulars of the early days of the goldfields I am indebted to Mr. Calvert’s book, “The Coolgardie Goldfield,” 1894.

[3] A stope is the part of the workings in a mine between the levels.

[4] The levels are the drives, or excavations, at different depths in a mine.

[5] Since the above was written the mine has been sunk over 100 feet, and Mr. Merton has now gold valued at over a hundred thousand pounds.

[6] The nut of the tree that, when polished, makes pretty ornaments.

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The Golden Butterfly