TREASURE HILL on SHEEP STATION
Youths and Fortune
If the story of early Broken Hill had been known only as a romance it would have seemed too improbable for readers of fiction to accept. The reality, which outdid the imaginings of novelists, has been recalled by the death at Rose Bay, Sydney, of Major Philip Charley, one of the original syndicate of seven which formed the first Broken Hill Company, the fore- runner of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd.
THE Broken Hill, a curious forma- tion, discovered by the explorer Sturt in 1844, was not thought of as a producer
of treasure till many years after that time. Country surrounding and including the Hill became the Mount Gipps sheep run of 1,400 square miles, which, from 1871, was managed for McCulloch, Sellars, and Co. by George McCulloch, a nephew of Sir James Mcculloch, head of the firm, known in history as Premier of Victoria. There had been a disastrous gold rush to the Barrier in 1867, and in years following the mid 'seventies there was talk of the possibilities of silver and copper mining in several localities. Discoveries of rich silver ore led to a rush, and to the rise of Silverton, a rough mining town.
Boundary Rider Investigates
In the early 'eighties there were many silver mines in the region, but returns in most instances had been poor, and in none startling. By September, 1884, for different mines, they ranged between £30,000 and £80. But soon Broken Hill
was to be heard of as a source of wealth.
Charles Rasp, a boundary rider on Mount Gipps Station, had become inter- ested in a mild way in prospecting,
depending largely on information in a
cheap handbook. Like several others, he
gave attention to the Broken Hill and,
deciding that it was rich in tin, he pegged out a 40-acre block for himself and two
dam-sinking contractors, David James and James Poole. Knowing McCulloch's
strong objection to prospectors. Rasp told him, with some trepidation, of his action, but the manager had been stirred lately by frequent talk of mineral possibilities, and when Rasp had talked for a while he showed unexpected geniality.
Mcculloch proposed that a syndicate should be formed to peg out the whole Hill. A meeting attended by station employees and the dam-sinking contrac- tors was held the same night, and the first Broken Hill syndicate was formed. It consisted of Rasp, Mcculloch, James, Poole, George Urquhart (sheep overseer), George A. M. Lind (storekeeper and book- keeper), and Philip Charley (station hand).
Youngest of the members of the syndi- cate. Philip Charley, who was born in Ballarat in 1863, had been in a solicitor's
office in Melbourne, but after an illness he had been advised to take up country
life. Sir James Mcculloch had recom-
mended him to his nephew, and life on Mount Gipps Station had agreed with the youth.
There were disappointing reports by experts on Rasp's "tin" specimens, but after amateur experiment he decided that another dlscovery was silver. Really it was lead. Beginnings of mining were
hampered by insufficiency of money, and for some time thoughts were diverted from minerals by a devastating drought.
Lind and Urquhart dropped out of the syndicate, and shares changed hands in
varlous ways, for early results continued
to be disappointing. Almost anyone could have bought some of the 14 shares into which the original seven had been divided. A newcomer. William Jamieson, paid Rasp £110 for one share and gave James the same price for another. From young
Philip Charley, through McCulloch, he bought one of the youth's two shares for
Game of Euchre for
From an Englishman named Cox, McCulloch asked £200 for one of his shares, and after some bargaining he accepted Cox's suggestion that they should play three hands of euchre to decide the price. If McCulloch won two out of three, Cox was to pay him £300, and if Cox won, the payment was to be £120. Cox won, and received for £120 a share which, in six years, undivided, would has'e been worth-in market value, dividends, and bonuses-£ 1,250,000.
But McCulloch, lamenting the sale for £ 120, persuaded one of the station hands present at the game to sell him imme- diately a share with vast possibilities for
Shareholders continued to drop out, and others came in. When the Broken Hill Company was in its early days of great success, there remained Rasp, McCulloch, David James, James Poole, and Philip Charley. Among the other nine names of that time were those of Bowes Kelly and
W. R. Wilson.
Within 34 years the Proprietary mine had paid its shareholders more than £13,000,000, and its employees a similar amount. The rest of the story, telling of many remarkable developments, is recent history.
Phillp Charley became a leading stock- breeder, the owner of Belmont Park. Rich- mond, New South Wales, and of other properties. At the time of his death more than half a century had passed since, as a youth, he entered the syndicate with glowing hopes and, a little later, sold half his Interest in early Broken Hill to help
him to retain the other half.
MAJOR PHILIP CHARLEY.