Coolgardie [gold rushes, 21 March 1894]

[Editor: This article is an extract from the “Coolgardie” column, published in The Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW), 21 March 1894; it was reprinted from the Hillgrove Guardian (Hillgrove, NSW).]


The Hillgrove Guardian says:— “Letters received here show that none of the Hillgrove men who are at Coolgardie regret having gone there. They have met with some queer experiences, no doubt, and many times and oft have sighed for one or more of the long beers for which this place is famous, one writer setting a Wade’s ‘Baker Creek’ down at 2s 6d and dirt cheap at that.

The railway is completed as far as Northam, 67 miles from Perth; thence, 120 miles is negotiated by contractor’s train to Merridan, a mere end of the line, as Joe Mills says, “nothing to distinguish it from thousands of square miles of similar desert — not even a bush shanty.” The engine used, manages to struggle over the ground at the rate of 10 miles an hour, and is so energetic at spark-throwing that the monotony of the journey is relieved by a succession of fire alarms: she is stated to he the first locomotive that was imported to Australia and in any other country would be on a monument, but Western Australia is too young and poor to afford any luxuries of that sort. From Merridan to Southern Cross is 54miles, negotiable by coach, thence to Coolgardie 120 miles, total from Perth 360 miles— eight days’ journey.

Water this dry month was fearfully scarce all along the road. One party of Hillgrove men have secured a couple of leases at the 25mile; they have two reefs on the ground, one 2ft 6in wide and the other 11ft, both running into Lord Percy Douglas’ claim which was floated in London for £160,000. They have suspension of labour — no water.

Coolgardie climate is fairly sulubrious; the nights are cool, a blanket (and sometimes two) being always welcome; but the air is fouled with the abominable smell of camels and their Afghan drivers, and the ants are very troublesome. Living is expensive, everything being about 400 per cent. dearer than in Hillgrove, it costs from 25s to 30s per week to live, water 9d to 1s per gallon extra.

At the time of writing, three new rushes were reported, one party of three men being credited with getting 1500ozs. in six weeks, distances 80, 104, and 150 miles, teamsters asking £1 for 10 miles for passage; gold is worth £4 per ounce; water is the great trouble.

People are arriving in droves and if the place and surrounding rushes turn out all right, there will be work for thousands. So far, all the big finds are in the vicinity of big quartz blows, and outside there are scores of reefs that will go 8ozs. to the ton, the stone resembling the dark quartz in Baker’s Creek. In alluvial, one writer says, there is no such thing as sinking for the gold; it is all on the surface and is roughly sifted and the coarse gold picked out of the sieve.”

The Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW), 21 March 1894, p. 3

Editor’s notes:
oft = often

[Editor: Changed “sulubrious” to “salubrious”; “seive” to “sieve”.]

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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