[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in The Golden West (Perth, WA), 1919.]
A Song of To-day and To-morrow.
[For The Golden West]
You are pegged from South of the Boulder
To Feysville’s cyanide vats;
From Robinson’s rock-ribbed shoulder
To Woolabar’s firewood flats.
Shaft and shallow sinking,
Quarry and chain costeen;
Three leagues of leases linking —
Not a block unplanned between.
Winding windlass and bucket,
Whip-horse pulley and rope;
Dumps where the lucky struck it,
Graft where the ground gave hope.
And what shall the New Year bring them?
Shall Fortune frown or smile?
Shall the cast-steel dollies ring them
The song of a Golden Mile?
Hampton Plains, Hampton Plains!
Rivers of rock and silica veins!
Shall we see a city grow out of a camp?
Shall we hear the beat of the battery stamp?
Shall your teams give way to trams and trains,
When the crowd rolled into Coolgardie
In ’Ninety-two and thee,
Blazing the track for the tardy
From the shore of the Indian sea,
It was coach and camel and buggy
Passing the swamper by;
Mist when the morns were muggy,
Sweat when the sun was high.
But now there’s a march of motors
Out from the Boulder base,
And a phalanx of mine promoters
With a section of soil to place.
The pant of the petrol-driven
The honk of the insolent horn,
The forest of yesterday riven
Where a town of to-day is born.
Hampton Plains, Hampton Plains!
Have you gutters of gold and alluvial lanes?
Do your diorite walls a lode enclose,
Where the glittering gouts of gold repose?
Shall the wide world echo your golden strains,
They are rolling their drums at Darwin,
Half Derby is booking a berth;
There are swags tight-bucked at Barwon
Marked “Second-class single to Perth.”
Grafters, hard-doers and dreamers,
Miners, musicians and ’Ghans,
Are staggering here on the steamers,
Or waiting their turn on the Trans.
Bulls who were bitten by Bayley’s,
Bears whom the Brookmans broke;
Scribes from the Sydney-side dailies,
Buyers whose banks are a joke.
Stockmen and sheep-men and spielers,
Rouseabouts youthful and old;
Down-and-outs, doctors and dealers,
Drawn to the Goddess of Gold!
Hampton Plains, Hampton Plains!
What are your losses? What are your gains?
Shall out of your gums primeval rise
The halls of the wealthy and the worldly wise —
Streets and squares and roads and lanes —
Where your saltbush flats stretch greyly
And your salmons stately rise,
Shall your smoke-stacks vomit daily
To smudge the virgin skies?
Will the camel-bell cease its tinkling
When the clock-tower lords the air?
Will the camp-fires’ feeble twinkling
Be dimmed by the roasters’ flare?
Will the dog-and-damper shanty
To the table-d’-hote give place,
And the shed of the bush bacchante
In the club-house leave no trace?
Shall a population placid
Inhabit your villa abodes,
When steel and fire and acid
Have proved your living lodes?
Hampton Plains, Hampton Plains!
Shall perseverance, pluck and brains
Carve from out your rugged rocks
The worth of a hundred million flocks?
Is the vital metal in your veins,
The Golden West (Perth, WA), 1919, p. 28
The Golden West was an annual publication.
alluvial = of or relating to alluvium containing heavy minerals (in an Australian context, specifically regarding alluvium containing gold); of or relating to alluvium: loose or unconsolidated sediment or soil (consisting of clay, dirt, gravel, sand, silt, etc.) left behind by the movement of water (creeks, rivers, floods, streams, etc.)
bacchante = a priestess or female follower of Bacchus (in Greek mythology, the god of wine and of the grape harvest); can also refer to a priest, priestess, or follower of Bacchus, in a non-gender-specific sense; a drunk party-goer, a drunk reveller (especially a female)
Barwon = the Barwon River (Victoria); the Barwon River (New South Wales)
battery stamp = a machine which uses a heavy metal vertical arm, or multiple arms, to stamp down upon and crush ore, so that minerals could be extracted; the building in which such machines are located (also known as a “stamp battery” or a “stamper battery”)
See: 1) “Ballarat School of Mines Stamper Battery”, Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project, Federation University
2) “All Nations Hill Stamper Battery”, Bingara Visitor Information Centre
3) “The gold process”, Wentworth Main Mine (Orange City Council)
Bayley’s = Bayley’s Find: an area now known as Coolgardie (a large find of gold by Arthur Bayley and William Ford in 1892 triggered a gold rush to the area)
bear = an investor who sells shares in the belief that the market will decline in price (conversely, a “bull” is an investor who buys shares in the belief that the market will rise in price)
Brookmans = A mine in Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) which was run by the Brookman Brothers Gold Mining Company
See: 1) “Hampton group, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire, Western Australia, Australia”, MinDat
2) R. O. Giles, “Brookman, William Gordon (1859–1910)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
bull = an investor who buys shares in the belief that the market will rise in price (conversely, a “bear” is an investor who sells shares in the belief that the market will decline in price)
Coolgardie = established as a gold-rush town in southern Western Australia, now a populous city
costeen = (also spelt “costean”) a pit or trench dug through surface soil to the underlying rock so as to locate and examine an outcrop or vein of ore and determine its extent or course; to dig such a pit or trench
cyanide vat = (in the context of mining) cyanide vats were used in the process of extracting gold and silver from crushed quartz
dailies = daily newspapers
damper = a flat round cake which is made from flour and water (without yeast or any raising agent), which is baked in the coals and ashes of a campfire; the dough for damper cakes
Darwin = the capital city of the Northern Territory (located on the northern coast of the NT)
Derby = a town located on the north-eastern coast of Western Australia
diorite = a granitoid rock, principally composed of hornblende and feldspar, with biotite and/or augite (when quartz is present in a sizable quantity, it is called quartz diorite)
See: Albert H. Fay, A Glossary of the Mining and Mineral Industry” (Bulletin no. 95), Washington: Department of the Interior, 1920, p. 219
dog-and-damper shanty = a shanty which serves “tinned dog” (tinned meat) and damper
dollies = plural of “dolly”: an instrument used for breaking and mixing clay in a puddling tub
See: Albert H. Fay, A Glossary of the Mining and Mineral Industry (Bulletin no. 95), Washington: Department of the Interior, 1920, p. 225
down-and-out = (regarding a category of person) someone who is considered to be “down-and-out”, i.e. down on their luck (very poor; in financial distress; destitute; homeless) (also rendered as “down-and-outer”)
Feysville = a town located south of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia); it was established as a gold-rush town, now abandoned
’Ghan = someone who comes from Afghanistan, or is of Afghan descent
Golden Mile = an area rich in gold, located to the east of Kalgoorlie and Boulder, in Western Australia; the first gold find in the area was made by Paddy Hannan in 1893, and the area soon became the site of a major gold rush; most of the gold field is now part of the Fimiston Open Pit (also known as the Super Pit)
graft = work; especially hard work
grafter = someone who works hard
Hampton Plains = an area of plains located east of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia)
See: 1) “Map of Hampton Plains, WA”, DATE
2) “Hampton group, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire, Western Australia, Australia”, MinDat
3) “Hampton Plains – WA”, ExplorOz
lease = in the context of mining, a mining lease
riven = cleaved, split, or torn apart
Robinson = Robinson Gold Mine, Kalgoorlie (Western Australia)
See: “Robinson Gold Mine, Kanowna Goldfield, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Shire, Western Australia, Australia”, MinDat
rouseabout = an unskilled worker, someone employed to carry out odd jobs or unskilled tasks, especially used regarding someone working in a shearing shed
shanty = a pub, especially an unlicensed pub; may also refer to a small roughly-built cabin or hut
smoke-stack = a tall chimney, especially an industrial chimney
spieler = someone with a glib and plausible manner of speaking, with a style that is intended to persuade, and often speaking at length, especially regarding a salesman giving a sales pitch (may also refer to an announcer on radio or television, particularly one who does commercials; a barker employed at a circus sideshow; or a swindler)
swag = a swagman’s bundle, being a number of personal belongings rolled up in a piece of calico, tent-fly, or blanket, secured tightly together (e.g. with rope or straps), or placed inside a cloth bag (such as a flour sack); swags were hung from the shoulder, making them easy to carry whilst their owners tramped many miles; a swag was also commonly referred to as a “Matilda”, “drum”, or “bluey” (from the colour of the blankets, which were often blue)
swamper = someone who travels by foot, whilst his belongings are carried by a wagon (especially entrusting one’s swag to a teamster); (in Western Australia) someone who travels by foot to the goldfields
See: 1) “The roaring nineties: Swamping it to Coolgardie: What Hunt missed”, The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA) 1 December 1907, p. 11
2) Sidney J. Baker, The Australian Language, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1945, p. 103
Trans. = the Trans-Australian railway, a 1036 mile railway line that was built to link Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, by crossing the Nullarbor Plain, so as to lessen the isolation of Western Australia and its capital city, Perth, from the eastern states, thus enabling rail travel between all of the capital cities of the mainland states of Australia (construction of the line commenced on 14 September 1912 and was completed on 17 October 1917)
Woolabar = (also spelt “Woolibar”) an area located south of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia)
Leave a Reply